The Seahawks ignored the defensive line with both first-round picks, instead drafting a corner and receiver in the round for the first time since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010.
Despite fielding calls for the No. 5 pick, they took Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon — a guy they were said to love as the draft neared.
At 20, they ended up with Ohio State WR Jaxon Njigba-Smith, a guy who was often mocked to them.
The Hawks eschewed defensive linemen Jalen Carter and Tyree Wilson early and Nolan Smith and Myles Murphy late. (The Eagles ended up with Carter and Smith.)
Witherspoon joins Tariq Woolen to ideally create a pair of lockdown corners. It’s the highest the Hawks have taken a corner since Shawn Springs at No. 3 in 1997.
Witherspoon is 5-11, 181 and runs a 4.43. He was a consensus All-American and the Big Ten DB of the Year in 2022 after recording 17 passes defensed and three interceptions.
Njigba-Smith (6-0, 196, 4.52) missed almost all of 2022 with a hamstring injury, but he caught 95 balls for 1,606 yards in 2021.
Scouting reports on Witherspoon
Some snippets from analysts Dane Brugler, Daniel Jeremiah and coaches to The Athletic on Witherspoon:
Brugler: “Witherspoon needs to walk the fine line of being aggressive without drawing flags, but his fiery play personality is a positive, along with his cover athleticism, ball skills and finishing toughness. He projects as an immediate NFL starter with scheme versatility.”
Jeremiah: “Witherspoon is a lean, rangy cornerback with outstanding quickness, instincts and ball skills. He is at his best in off coverage, where he is quick to read and drive on the ball. He is a very twitchy athlete and has the utmost trust in his eyes. He is extremely fluid to open up and mirror down the field, possessing enough speed to carry vertical routes. He plays with an attitude and plenty of energy. He is aggressive as a tackler but will have some fly-by misses. Overall, with his build and ball skills, Witherspoon reminds me of Samari Rolle. I see similar success in his future.”
NFL DB coach to The Athletic: “I think there’s only one premier corner in this draft, and that’s Witherspoon. All the rest have questions. He doesn’t have the length like the top-10 corners in the past, but he’s got great instincts. He can shut down that side of the field. Definitely got that alpha mentality.”
Scouting reports on Smith-Njigba
Brugler: “Smith-Njigba isn’t an elite size/speed athlete and won’t be an ideal fit for every role, but he is a crafty route runner with smooth short-area quickness and tracking talent to be a surehanded target. He projects as an early NFL starter who is at his best in the slot.”
Jeremiah: “Smith-Njigba primarily lined up in the slot for the Buckeyes, but he did get some work on the outside. He has a compact build with a strong lower body. … He doesn’t have ideal top speed, but he gets to his full speed very quickly. He is very polished as a route runner, leaning on defenders and quickly getting in and out of breaks. He has strong hands and thrives in the middle of the field, as he can pluck the ball while absorbing contact. He has some power and wiggle after the catch, but lacks a second gear. Overall, Smith-Njigba reminds me of Amon-Ra St. Brown, and I believe he’ll make a similar impact in the NFL.”
More on Witherspoon
A-Rich goes No. 4 to Colts
The Colts ruined some Seahawks fans’ hopes of Anthony Richardson, taking the Florida QB fourth overall — a changeup off the reports that they preferred Kentucky QB Will Levis.
Despite some talk that the Texans might veer away from Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud at No. 2, they ended up taking him after Carolina kicked off the draft with Alabama QB Bryce Young.
Houston then made an aggressive move to leap from 12 to 3 and take Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr.
The Texans gave up No. 12 and 33, plus their first and third in 2024 and got No. 105 in addition to the No. 3 pick.
Eagles move up for Carter
The Eagles were perhaps the best place for Carter, and they swapped spots from 10 to Chicago’s No. 9 to make sure they were able to add him to a line that includes Carter’s former Georgia teammate Jordan Davis.
The Seahawks obviously were not sold on Carter. Pete Carroll reportedly really liked him, but he also might have hinted with this “draft clue” that Schneider talked him out of it: “First comes love, then comes reality.”
7 thoughts on “Hawks go corner and receiver in first round, leaving DL to Day 2”
One of your regular readers did say that the Hawks might have to consider a cornerback!
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Devon Witherspoon will help shut down the deep pass, making the other team a one dimensional run game
Plus, the Hawks now have a chance to have an elite defensive position group. One of the many problems with the 2022 D was that too many of the players were just guys—not bad, not good.
Their secondary definitely has been elevated, with Love and Witherspoon.
I still argue that games are won at the line of scrimmage — and the Hawks are average on OL and incomplete on DL. Hopefully today addresses that!
I wanted a big boy draft
But I would rather have a star CB and WR than the next Marcel Darius or Clelin Ferrel or LJ Collier
that said, start bringing on the beef!
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Yes, I’ve been pounding the table the past 3 yrs that the run game was killing the defense, and tha the Seahawks needed bigger talent on the DL to shed blocks to shut down the run games. I hope they can address that need in the remaining draft. Altho, I’ve heard from several sources that there wasn’t much talent in this yrs draft after 1st round Jalen Carter.
I think there are some good space eating DT’s left, but they all lack the pass rush and all pro potential of Carter.
i wanted to get a motivated version of Carter, but if they don’t trust him, move on