Seahawks draft gut feelings
Seaside Joe 1148: I'm trying to do more listening than writing this week
I feel almost at a loss for words about the 2022 NFL Draft today. Unusual for Seaside Joe, especially as it should relate to Seattle’s most important draft class in ten years. But it’s probably because of the importance of Thursday and Friday and the abundance of things I could say about the draft that I’m finally starting to get my throat jammed up with ideas for what to write next.
What’s my gut telling me to say about the draft?
My gut says that the Seahawks will still trade down
Nobody knows how the first eight picks will play out, but I believe nine is a sour spot for Seattle’s needs and a sweet spot for teams that will be looking for quarterbacks, receivers, and top-five (but not top-three) prospects at edge and tackle.
Sure, the Seahawks could also use a quarterback and prospects at edge and tackle—potentially their top-three needs—but Pete and John have long established that they don’t grade players much differently when they fall between 10 and 20, or between 20 and 40, in the draft.
Seattle’s got three of the top-41 picks, four of the top-72, and eight in total. BUT only one pick after they make their seventh selection at 153. This may not seem like a big deal in general, it’s not as though the Seahawks need to draft 12 players out of this class. It is, however, a bigger deal to Pete and John than it is to most and I’d expect that the regime would be happy to increase their 2023 and 2024 draft capital by moving around the board this year.
I simply don’t see many players at the top of this class who separate themselves from the rest of the first round prospects to such as a degree as to expect Seattle to lose their minds if they “miss out” on him. How many of those prospects exist in the 2022 class? Is it more than three? Is there even one?
The best all-around prospects in this class either play the wrong position for the top-10 (Tyler Linderbaum, Kyle Hamilton, Jordan Davis) or they have mixed grades (Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker) or they require an immense amount of faith that “all will be fine with time” (Malik Willis).
It’s gotten to the point where I’m almost confused why Sauce Gardner isn’t the slam dunk pick for the Jaguars at one, and it’s not because of need (Jacksonville paid Darious Williams, Shaq Griffin in the last two years, drafted Tyson Campbell at the top of the second in 2021) or because Sauce is the best corner prospect of all-time. It’s just that there aren’t really any other prospects at the premium positions who seem to come close to his all-around prospect resume.
That’s unusual because most years, there would be at least five or six such prospects. Not so in 2022.
Unless the Seahawks look at the board and see a premium prospect like Sauce Gardner left on the table, I don’t see a great need for sticking at nine. Even if Seattle has to take a modest sum to move down, even if it’s only a short fall like it was from 12 to 15 in 2012, my gut says that the Seahawks aren’t picking ninth on Thursday.
My gut says the trade isn’t to move up
On Tuesday, NFL news caught up and realized that yeah, because number nine is such a sour spot, the Seahawks only options may be to trade up or trade down; either secure one of the few blue chippers in the draft (no, it’s not going to be for a quarterback) or see how much future draft capital you can acquire by moving down.
How probable is it that a team would trade up in the first round for a non-QB? It happens all the time.
2021: Alijah Vera-Tucker, DeVonta Smith
2020: Brandon Aiyuk, Kenneth Murray, Tristan Wirfs
2019: Kaleb McGary, DeAndre Baker, Montez Sweat, Andre Dillard, Darnell Savage, Devin Bush
2018: Rashaan Evans, Jaire Alexander, Tremaine Edmunds, Marcus Davenport, Vita Vea
2017: Reuben Foster, Takkarist McKinley, David Njoku
2016: Joshua Garnett, Will Fuller, Leonard Floyd, Jack Conklin
The last time a draft class was this bad, the Dolphins traded up from 12 to 3 to get Dion Jordan and it only cost them one second round pick.
The Seahawks would only be trading up if they felt it was their only way to secure Sauce Gardner, Evan Neal, Kayvon Thibodeaux… someone like that. It’s just that Pete and John have never been that desperate, so I don’t know what prompts them to get desperate this year when the team has so many holes it needs to fill for the long-term. If this is the one way to secure Sauce Gardner though, maybe that’s what forces their hand to change course.
I’ll go with my gut: The Seahawks don’t trade up for Sauce Gardner.
Seaside Joe is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
My gut says Evan Neal’s not that guy
Nothing against Evan Neal potentially being a Pro Bowl right tackle or an All-Pro left guard, but I worry people have overrated a lot of prospects in this draft because there’s a lack of realization that the class needs to be graded on a curve: Being the top-ranked offensive tackle in 2022 is not the same as being the top-ranked offensive tackle in most years.
The same goes for how Aidan Hutchinson is nowhere near the same class as Nick Bosa and Myles Garrett.
There are mixed reports about whether or not Neal has any medical concerns that have dropped him off of some boards. All in all, I do not expect him to even be available after the Giants pick and even the Falcons would have to consider picking Neal at eight as a replacement for McGary.
My main target for Seattle continues to be Bernhard Raimann. I’m willing to concede that there are other options with the Seahawks’ first pick.
My gut says that Trevor Penning can’t be ruled out
A 6’7, 325 lb left tackle with 34.5” arms, 83” wingspan, and runs a 4.89 with a 1.65 10-yard split is always going to get attention in the first round. I haven’t given Penning the attention he deserves yet. Of course, the Seahawks could select Penning.
Penning is taller than every first round tackle prospect other than Neal, who may only literally have him beat by one hair. He’s faster than any tackle prospect in this draft, though I’m not sure to what degree that tenth of a second will benefit him. He’s got a significant length advantage to Raimann, as most of the tackles in 2022 do. He’s also just shy of 23, while Raimann is soon turning 25.
Reports on Penning’s Senior Bowl performance have been mixed, which is another way of saying that some people found him to be one of the stars of the week—others didn’t see it that way. But surely some teams were impressed and that could include the Seahawks.
Dane Brugler’s report on Penning for The Athletic:
With only one season of high school experience on the offensive line, he dedicated himself to the weight room when he arrived at UNI and took his development seriously, growing into one of the best offensive linemen in college football, regardless of level. Penning is an athletic mover (fastest 10-yard and 20-yard splits among linemen at the combine) with the long arms and nasty attitude that consistently bail him out of trouble. His pass-set angles are inconsistent and he must do a better job with his lower-body bend and handwork to win the leverage game.
Overall, Penning’s fundamentals and on-field discipline need to be coached up, but he has an impressive blend of size, length, fluidity and power along with the physical presence to dominate the man in front of him. With his traits, he can be a rookie NFL starter as he works out the kinks.
I’ve been foolish for dismissing Trevor Penning as a viable Seahawks target in the first round. He could 100-percent be the pick and it still wouldn’t preclude Seattle from drafting another offensive lineman on day two.
My gut says that Sam Williams will be a Seahawk on Friday
It just feels like an exact copy of the Frank Clark pick in 2015. If there’s any regime willing to be the first to move on Williams, the type of prospect who may have risen into the top-15 of the draft by now if not for off-field concerns, it seems like it would be Pete and John. They’ve already done their due diligence on using the excuse of “due diligence” and they’ll do it again because Williams is an edge prospect who comes at a discount for all the wrong reasons.
The end result of the Frank Clark pick was four years of high-level play at a premium position followed by a trade that netted first and second round picks. What lesson did Pete and John learn other than to repeat that move?
My gut says that if it’s any QB, it’s Sam Howell
I wrote about “Why Sam Howell” once already before and I’m sticking to it. From Malik Willis to Jack Coan, what’s your gut telling you about the QB position and Seattle? Tell me in the comments!