It’s no surprise that the Seahawks want to trade down from No. 9 – or that they might be entertaining moving back into the bottom of the first round to get a quarterback.
Those are moves we’ve been projecting in our own mocks leading up to this week’s draft. But the latter might be easier than the former.
John Schneider stated the obvious last week when he said, “People know that we’re very open to moving around. We’re pliable.”
But will any teams have incentive to trade up to No. 9? Which players would be targets?
Other than the Seahawks, the teams that need quarterbacks are Carolina, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.
Carolina drafts sixth, but the Panthers reportedly have talked to a bunch of teams about trading down – presumably to get their QB later. They also need picks – absent a trade, they won’t have another one until 137.
Atlanta picks just before Seattle, but the Falcons reportedly are targeting one of the top receivers.
That leaves Pittsburgh (20th) and New Orleans (16th and 19th) to possibly jockey for a higher spot to get their preferred passer. But how high would they go for Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett?
On the QB front, Schneider said, “There’s a quietness about it that makes people feel either anxious or extremely calm. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of buzz right now.”
Of course, he then pointed out the 2011 draft, when Jake Locker (8), Blaine Gabbert (10) and Christian Ponder (12) “all went really high” despite it being “pretty quiet” ahead of the draft.
If the Hawks are going to have a shot to move down, it probably will be with a team that is targeting a standout at a different position. If the Falcons take one of the top two receivers, Garrett Wilson or Jameson Williams, would the Saints, Chiefs or another team want to come up to get the other one?
Or would the Eagles (15th and 18th) make a move to claim one of the top receivers or defenders – maybe Jordan Davis, Jermaine Johnson or Derek Stingley? Would the Vikings come up for Stingley? Would the Chargers want to move up for Jordan Davis?
“We’ll be interested to see how other people see it,” Pete Carroll said. “Are they willing to come chasing that spot?”
A couple of general managers told Peter King that they didn’t foresee many trades in the top 10.
One said: “There will be trades, but I don’t see many until after 10.”
Another said: “If any team in the top six or eight wants to trade down, they won’t get what the trade chart says they should get. … This isn’t the year to get rich on your high picks.”
“We’ll see how it goes,” Schneider said, adding that Monday through Thursday, “we’ll be on the horn with everybody trying to figure out where we’re going to go and if we’re going to stay and pick.”
If the Hawks stay at 9 …
The Seahawks’ biggest need, by far, is left tackle. They need to get one.
They reportedly love Travis Penning, the tenacious tackle from Northern Iowa, and some think they may consider him at No. 9 if they cannot move down. Based on the consensus Big Board, that would be a significant reach – especially for a guy who might end up a right tackle in the NFL.
Of course, as Schneider is fond of saying, “We draft for our team, not the league” – in other words, stuff your Big Boards.
If the Hawks want Penning, though, a move down a few spots would be the best way to get him.
If the Hawks cannot move off 9, the best case would be to see receivers and/or a quarterback go in the top eight. That likely would leave CB Sauce Gardner or a pass rusher for them at 9.
Charles Cross has been mocked to the Hawks a lot, but no draft analyst who is familiar with the Seahawks thinks the Air Raid left tackle would be a good fit on a team that wants to run a balanced attack.
(For more on the top linemen, Ray Roberts was great on the “Man 2 Man” podcast. H/T to Paul Goode.)
could impact first round
This receiver class is not considered elite, beyond perhaps the first couple. As Senior Bowl chief Matt Nagy, a former Seattle scout, tweeted: “WR: Over-graded IMO. Too many pushed into first-round mocks. Some good high-traits options on Day 2.”
The Jets, Packers, Chiefs and Saints are among the teams interested in receivers – so there could be some veteran action ahead of the draft.
Deebo Samuel suddenly has replaced DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown as the top trade target among veteran receivers. The Jets reportedly are “all in” on Samuel and may offer the 10th overall pick for him. The Giants also reportedly are offering up 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney.
As for Metcalf’s status with the Seahawks, Carroll said they have not talked extension but Metcalf is in the offseason workout program as he rehabs a foot surgery. Carroll talked up Metcalf’s leadership and great attitude, but that doesn’t mean the Hawks won’t trade him if they get an offer they like.
Trading up for a QB?
The Hawks have the 40th and 41st picks, so they have the ammo to get into the bottom of the first round for Matt Corral or Desmond Ridder. It would cost their third-rounder though, so they would be surrendering two Day 2 picks for a QB who might end up being no more than a backup.
They should make this move only if they (1) are able to trade down from 9, adding another Day 2 pick or (2) trade Metcalf for a couple of high picks. With one of those moves, they still could get at least four guys in the first two days.
Absent any trades, though, they probably should sit on their Day 2 ammo. If Corral or Ridder slips to them at 40-41, they can take him there. Otherwise, look at needs at pass rusher, tackle, corner and linebacker.
This draft is deep
We’re always of the mindset that the best draft is the one where a team has four or five picks on Day 2. That’s where the value is always found.
That seems especially true this year, with Covid creating a deeper draft.
As one GM told King: “When so many college players had shortened seasons or no seasons (in 2020), a lot of them chose to stay and play a regular year last year. That’s why the draft’s deeper this year. Not just at the top, but all the way through.”
Several GMs told King the third and fourth rounds will be very strong. Schneider agreed: “This class, with all the seniors coming back, I think you see maybe less impactfulness and more quality throughout the entire draft.”
That is another reason the Seahawks would prefer to drop from No. 9 and add a pick or two to their two seconds (40 and 41), third (72), fourth (109) and two fifths (145 and 153).
So where is this draft deepest?
By the Big Board’s top 150, it’s wide receiver (21), cornerback (20), pass rusher (19), linebacker (15), running back (14) and offensive tackle (14).
Nagy is not big on the corners, tweeting: “Average class. Some fool’s gold in early-round mocks. A few cool traits guys that will go early Day 3.”
But Nagy does like the pass rushers, linebackers, running backs and offensive line. His takes:
“EDGE: Plenty pass rush talent available. Rotational/sub help into early Day 3.”
How it affects Seattle: This is why pass rusher is not necessarily a Round 1 priority.
“LB: Deeper than most years. Expect run on Day 2.”
How it affects Seattle: The Hawks seem likely to be part of that Day 2 run, looking to add a guy to pair with Jordyn Brooks.
“RB: Starter-level players will fall well into Day 3 like last year.”
How it affects Seattle: Chris Carson’s future is still up in the air and Rashaad Penny is no sure thing, so you can bet the Seahawks will draft a running back from this deep pool.
“OL: Strong at OT/OG throughout draft. Few quality true OC.”
How it affects Seattle: Whether it’s Penning in the first or Bernhard Raimann in the second, the Hawks need a left tackle. … At center, they reportedly are high on Cole Strange in the third round.
Draft strategy changing subtly
Under Carroll, the Seahawks have had certain physical criteria for their defensive players, but they are moving off some of that a bit – especially at corner.
“You take a look at the guys and see what they’ve got,” Carroll said. “I think I’ve become more flexible with … recognizing the talents that come in a different package sometimes. I thought Tre (Brown) was a great example of that.”
Schneider added: “The numbers are diminishing. You take what you can get.”
As for the change in defensive scheme to more of a 3-4, Carroll said, “There’s some subtleties to that. It’s still a hybrid 3-4 that’s very similar to the stuff we’ve done over the years. … (But) we’re working to expand. … You’ll see us being affected by the new outlook.”
You can take some hints in the moves they already have made: dropping Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa and Kerry Hyder and adding Uchenna Nwosu, Quinton Jefferson and Shelby Harris. Big ends (290 pounds or more) and pass-rushing linebackers are now in.
Another study shows
Schneider’s bad history
An ESPN study of the past 10 drafts (2012-21) showed that Seattle has gotten more out of its picks than any team in the NFL. But, that ranking is heavily weighted by Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, the two stars of the 2012 draft. Remove them, and the Hawks rank 21st in drafting since 2013.
Last week, Schneider unintentionally reminded everyone why the Seahawks have not been very good: They draft for need and reach way too often.
“We draft for our team,” he said. “We don’t draft for how the league feels about people. That’s how you get in trouble.”
The results say the opposite, but there’s nothing we can do but hope Schneider does better with high picks this year.