Building around QB spot: Roster report after the draft

The Seahawks may not yet know who their quarterback will be – Geno Smith, Drew Lock or someone else — but they certainly are building around that position.

For once, the Seahawks played the draft by the book – and the result looks like their best set of rookies in a decade.

They filled all of their most pressing needs except center — adding tackles Charles Cross and Abe Lucas, running back Kenneth Walker, pass rushers Boye Mafe and Tyreke Smith and corners Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. They tossed in a pair of receivers/possible return guys in the seventh round.

The Seahawks got proper value for every pick. Cross, Lucas, Walker, Mafe and Bryant look like five foundational players – four who should be starters now or quite soon. Wooten is an intriguing project as well.

Appropriately, this draft harks back to 2010-12, when Pete Carroll and John Schneider built their Super Bowl team. This time they already have the safeties and some other pieces – but they basically combined three drafts into one, starting with the left tackle again (a la Russell Okung in 2010), a likely starting corner in the middle rounds (a la Richard Sherman in 2011) and a bonus pass rusher (a la Bruce Irvin in 2012).

There are two reasons the top three offensive players were smart picks by the Hawks: (1) They needed new starting tackles now and a starting running back for 2023 and (2) they needed to build an offense that can support a new quarterback.

“Three of the four picks make a statement about what we’d like to get done,” Pete Carroll said after the third round. “It rings true: We want to run the football and be good at it. These guys will come in blazing.”

The Hawks now have the core of their offense in place for the next three seasons. They just need a quarterback. For now, it’s Smith vs. Lock.

“The competition is underway,” Carroll said. “We’re fitting it together. It’s going to be a really strong, competitive group and we’re going to be smart.

“We know the system can fit and work. We’re really off to a very good start just a couple of weeks into the offseason. We’ll get on the field for the first time for Phase 2 this week. The coaches will finally get a chance to see the guys live and right up front. I’m really excited to see how that’s going and where they’re fitting.”

Let’s take a look at the roster (vets and draft picks only):

Quarterback

Roster: Geno Smith, Drew Lock, Jacob Eason.
Draft: None.
Status: The Hawks did not draft a QB, eschewing all of the options to instead build around that position. Carroll already had made it clear he feels Lock, a second-round pick in 2019, is better than any of the rookies in this draft. Smith is the favorite, for now, to step in as the full-time starter. Carroll seems content to sink or swim with these guys in 2022, knowing Seattle has two 1s and two 2s in 2023 and could trade up for an upgrade if the Hawks are in the top 10 again.
Carroll on Smith: “Geno is obviously ahead going in because he’s had all the background with us. He’s been with us for a number of years. He leads the charge right now. He’s in command of our system as much as a guy could be.”
Carroll on Lock: “We’re watching how Drew comes along. … He’s busting his tail to catch up and be right with it. We’ve been able to see Drew in great depth. We’ve seen everything. We went all the way back to all his college days and everything else, every throw he’s ever thrown, to show us what he’s capable of doing.”

Running back

Roster: Ken Walker III, Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, Chris Carson (injured), Josh Johnson.
Draft: Walker (Round 2).
Status: Penny, re-signed after a six-game flash in 2021, is the nominal starter for 2022. But does anyone think he will stay healthy for 16 games? Walker is the future – and it might come pretty fast. … Carson seems unlikely to play again – when even Positive Pete expresses doubt about a guy, that’s really all you need to know.
Carroll on Walker: “There (are) a lot of shotgun runs … in college football; it’s pretty zone oriented and straight forward. (Michigan State) had an NFL-style running game. They did a little bit of everything, so you are able to see him run zone schemes, run gap scheme principles, and he’s really effective in the counter game. It was a really good illustration of a guy being able to blossom with a variety of the run game, so it makes sense to us how he really could fit in.”

Wide receiver

Roster: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Dee Eskridge, Freddie Swain, Penny Hart, Cody Thompson, Bo Melton, Dareke Young.
Draft: Melton (7), Young (7).
Status: Metcalf is working back from foot surgery, and a new contract should be done by training camp, assuming the Seahawks are willing to pay $25 million a year. Metcalf recently said he expects to remain in Seattle “for the next coming years.” … Hopefully Eskridge can stay healthy in 2022 and become a big factor as the No. 3. It would be unfortunate if he took Paul Richardson’s injury-plagued path. … Swain has proven to be a solid No. 3, so the Hawks have good depth. … Melton, a 4.34 sprinter rated a Round 4 or 5 talent by some, seems like he could have a shot (if he can hold onto the ball).
Carroll on Metcalf extension: “It’s really important to us. We’ll kick it into John’s court here in the weeks to come after the draft. We’re really communicating great, and we’ve been on a great wavelength to move forward. Hopefully, this will all work out. We don’t plan on him going anywhere. We want him to be with us.”

Tight end

Roster: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Cody Parkinson.
Draft: None.
Status: The team is paying its tight ends a LOT ($6.8 million cap hit in 2022, $16.1 million in 2023), so Fant and Dissly had better get chances to earn that cash. With 130 catches the past two years, Fant has proven he can perform even amid QB instability. Dissly was WAY overpaid to come back, though. He needs to stay healthy and make some big plays.

Offensive line

Roster: LT Charles Cross, RG Damien Lewis, C Austin Blythe, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Abe Lucas, Jake Curhan, Phil Haynes, Stone Forsythe, Kyle Fuller, Dakoda Shepley.
Draft: Cross (1), Lucas (3).
Status: This unit has three new starters, so there clearly will be a learning curve in 2022. … Blythe knows the offense, so hopefully he offers better stability in the middle than Fuller and Ethan Pocic did in 2021. … The interior depth is pretty shaky, so Schneider needs to be on the lookout for a good veteran who can play both center and guard.
Carroll on Cross: “If you’re hurting at left tackle, then you’ve got problems. That’s why we’re all championing this decision to have a chance to get Charles to come here. Because we all know how valuable that spot is.”
Carroll on Cross and Lucas: “These guys can move their feet. … Both guys are very athletic. We’ve never been this athletic with two guys at the shot to start. So it’s exciting to see how that translates.”

Defensive line

Roster: Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Shelby Harris, L.J. Collier, Bryan Mone.
Draft: None.
Status: The Hawks are leaning more to a 3-4, so we’ll typically see three of these guys at one time. We project Ford, Woods and Jefferson as the first three and Harris on passing downs. … It would not be a shock to see Ford get another extension before the season. … It was no surprise that Collier’s fifth-year option was declined, but he might fare better as a 3-4 end.

Linebacker

Roster: Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, Uchenna Nwosu, Cody Barton, Boye Mafe, Alton Robinson, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Jon Rhattigan, Ben Burr-Kirven, Tyreke Smith.
Draft: Mafe (2), Smith (5).
Status: The 3-4 switch means Taylor and Nwosu will be playing outside Brooks and Barton. Mafe should be the No. 3 outside rusher. … The Hawks did not draft an inside linebacker, so either they think Iyiegbuniwe can be a good No. 3 or they will add another guy.
Carroll on Mafe: “We want a lot of guys playing at those spots so they can play at a really high intensity. Boye gives us that shot.”

Cornerback

Roster: Tre Brown (knee), Sidney Jones, Justin Coleman, Coby Bryant, Artie Burns, Ugo Amadi, Tariq Woolen, John Reid.
Draft: Bryant (4), Woolen (5).
Status: The Hawks have loaded up on corners as Brown rehabs his knee injury. If he is not ready for the season, Bryant may have his first shot at starting. … Coleman should win back his old job from Amadi, who simply has not been a good nickel corner (78.7% completions allowed in 2021). Burns might bump Amadi from the roster entirely. … Woolen is raw, but you can bet he will make the final 53 unless he simply stinks.
Carroll on Bryant: “It’s rare to get a guy that was chosen as the best DB in the country (Thorpe Award winner). It doesn’t happen very often. … But that’s pretty cool. It’s because Coby is such a good football player, just all-around. He can do it all. He’s big and strong, really aware leader on (Cincinnati Bearcats), on a championship club, and a really good playmaker.”

Safety

Roster: Quandre Diggs (knee), Jamal Adams (shoulder), Ryan Neal, Marquise Blair (knee).
Draft: None.
Status: Diggs and Adams are expected to be ready for the season, and new DC Clint Hurtt has taken full responsibility for getting Adams in position to play up to his $70 million contract. … Neal is a playmaking No. 3 safety who should get on the field more even when Diggs and Adams are there. … Blair has been a major bust since he was overdrafted in the second round in 2019. Injuries have limited him to just eight games the past two years. Even if he is healthy, he’s just a special-teams player at this point. … The Hawks added a bunch of UDFAs to help this thin spot for now. The best of those seem to be Joey Blount and Bubba Bolden.
 Carroll on Diggs and Adams: “Those guys are doing great. They’re really excited, enthused with what’s happening, really positive. … Both those guys are working and maintaining the rehab that they’re in to try to maximize these few crucial weeks until they get back in here.”

Specialist

Roster: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers, Tyler Ott.
Draft: None.
Status: Many fans want Myers to be replaced after a rough 73.9% season in 2021, but that seems unlikely at this point.

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