The Seattle Seahawks were limited to just three picks in the 2021 NFL Draft after the trades for safety Jamal Adams and offensive lineman Gabe Jackson.
Seattle was significantly busier in this latest draft, owning nine picks, including four in the top 75.
Three of the top four choices were used on offense, which was somewhat surprising since Seattle ranked 28th in total defense (31st in pass defense) in 2021 season.
We won’t argue with the top two picks. Mississippi State’s Charles Cross was one of the top offensive linemen available, while the U. of Minnesota’s Boye Mafe was viewed as an option for a team that did not want to use a first-round selection on an edge rusher.
Picking two offensive tackles in their first four choices was rather ironic, especially since former quarterback Russell Wilson made it clear he wasn’t thrilled about running for his life at times over the last two seasons. Now that Wilson is a Denver Bronco in a huge off-season deal, Seattle went and improved its offensive line.
While many of its early picks were well received, Seattle passing on one of the top passers was a bit strange, with Drew Lock and Geno Smith as the leading quarterbacks currently on the roster. That’s a major step down from Wilson at the position. If Lock, who was part of the compensation in the Wilson trade, proves to the answer, this draft is going to be better received than it is at this time.
Rebuilding in Seattle is going to take a while. It’s little surprise that NFL predictions currently list the Seahawks (+1200) a distant fourth in the odds to win the NFC West title in 2022.
Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how and who the Seahawks drafted.
Pick 9 Charles Cross | OT, Mississippi State Bulldogs
Seattle passed on the chance to find its quarterback of the future by selecting Cross, touted as the best pure pass-blocking tackle in the draft.
This is the highest pick that Seattle’s used on an offensive lineman since selecting tackle Russell Okung with the sixth pick in 2010. Okung was the Seahawks’ starting left tackle for six seasons, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2012. He finished his career playing with Denver, the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, then played his final season in Carolina in 2020.
Cross most certainly addresses a need, as Russell Wilson was under duress rather often in the last couple of seasons. Lock won’t have the ability to escape oncoming rushers in the same way Wilson did.
Pick 40 Boye Mafe | DE, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Seattle is in a division featuring the defending Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams and their strong-armed quarterback, Matthew Stafford. There’s Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals as well as he San Francisco 49ers, who made an aggressive move in 2021 to grab quarterback Trey Lance. So, the Seahawks’ ability to rush the passer is going to be of paramount importance.
Only eight teams recorded fewer sacks than the 34 Seattle had during the 2021 season. Mafe will be looked to help move that needle.
Seven of Mafe’s 15 career sacks at Minnesota were in 2021, only two against Big Ten competition.
Mafe, though, has all the physical traits to be a disruptive force at the next level. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds while listed at 261 pounds during the NFL Scouting Combine.
Along with the top 10 pick used to select Cross, it was a selection that was part of the haul Seattle received for shipping Wilson to Denver.
The Las Vegas odds have Mafe priced at +5000 to be named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, a tie for seventh among edge rushers.
41 Kenneth Walker | RB, Michigan State Spartans
This seemed a strange selection, considering that Chris Carson is more than capable of carrying the load. However, Carson has a neck injury that may worry Seattle, or maybe the Seahawks figure it’s better to be safe than sorry here.
Walker was either the first or second-best running back in the draft, depending on who was doing the evaluating. After two solid-but-somewhat-unspectacular seasons at Wake Forest, Walker hit the national scene with his transfer to Michigan State.
Walker never rushed for more than 131 yards in his 21 career games with the Demon Deacons, but he cut loose (264 yards) against Northwestern in his first game with the Spartans. Even though he ran for 233 yards against Rutgers. It was his 197-yard, five-touchdown effort in a win over Michigan that changed everything.
Walker then became a Heisman Trophy candidate and a top prospect in the draft. Despite not playing in the bowl game, Walker ended with more than 1600 yards and 18 TD runs during his lone season at Michigan State.
The 211-pound Walker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at the combine and that was solidified his position as one of the top running-back prospects in the draft.
According to the NFL betting lines, he has the eighth-lowest odds to be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Pick 72 Abraham Lucas | OL, Washington State Cougars
If Lucas was drafted after the 2019 season rather than this past one, any scouting report would focus on him playing in a pass-happy Washington State offense. However, the reality in 2021 was that the Cougars ran the ball almost as often as they threw it. That was also the case in COVID-shortened 2020.
Lucas did start 42 games at right tackle at Washington State, and he figures to be plugged into that position in Seattle. It is felt that his pass blocking is ahead of his run blocking entering the NFL.
A former basketball player, Lucas helped his draft stock by running the 40 in 4.92 seconds at the combine.
Seattle had used only one top-100 selection on an offensive lineman in the previous four drafts, certainly a point of contention for the now-departed Wilson. Excused him for chuckling a little bit, seeing his old team stockpile offensive-line selections after they excising him.
Pick 109 Coby Bryant | CB, Cincinnati Bearcats
It is easy to be overlooked playing alongside Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, considered by most draft analysts as the top cornerback prospect in the 2022 draft. Bryant had 28 pass defenses and eight interceptions over the last three seasons as Cincinnati opponents chose to throw at him rather than take their chances with the highly-touted Gardner on the other side of the field.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) May 7, 2022
With 171 career tackles during his time at Cincinnati, Coby Bryant has proven his ability and willingness to get involved in stopping the run.
Bryant’s not as physically imposing as the 6-foot-4 Gardner, but at 6-foot-1, 193 pounds and with a 40 time of 4.54 at the combine, there are all the physical traits to make it as an pro corner.
Pick 153 Tariq Woolen | CB, Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners
Seattle is in loves the workout warriors, and Woolen fits that description.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Woolen had a 42-inch vertical, timed in 4.26 seconds (40-yard dash) at the combine,.
Woolen’s a bit raw, hardly a shock when you consider he was a receiver in his first two seasons at Texas-San Antonio. Tariq Woolen had two interceptions and nine passes defended in 20 games over the last two seasons.
Seattle is betting they it can use Woolen’s rare size-speed combination to turn him into a player at this level.
Seattle’s Legion of Boom defense was led by a physical secondary, so if the ‘Hawks hit on the Bryant and Woolen it’s a step toward improving a defense that’s in need of help now.
Pick 158 Tyreke Smith | DE, Ohio State Buckeyes
Another pass rusher, although Tyreke Smith’s numbers at Ohio State were nothing special (11 tackles and seven sacks in 40 career games with the Buckeyes).
Smith’s time of 4.86 in the 40-yard dash at the combine pushed him down the dboard a little bit. There’s the potential to be part of the pass-rushing rotation, though the presence of Mafe might cut into his time.
Pick 229 Bo Melton | WR, Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Once again, the Seahawks took a chance on a standout performer at the combine..
Melton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds to go along with a 38-inch vertical leap and a broad jump of 10-1.
H3 was in the top five among the receivers in the 40 and the 3-cone drill at the combine. Explosiveness didn’t always translate to the field. Bo Melton averaged 12.2 yards per reception, with 11 touchdowns on 164 catches.
Pick 233 Dareke Young | WR, Lenoir-Rhyne Bears
Receivers with its final selections, as the 6-foot-2, 224-pound Young couldn’t be more different from the 5-foot-11 189-pound Melton.
Playing in just five games during an injury-shortened 2021, he had 14 catches for 218 yards. There were also 88 career rushing attempts.
With Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf on board, receiver doesn’t seem to be the highest priority for Seattle. However, some receivers are pricing themselves out a bit resulting in the team that drafted them sending them away. If that happens with Metcalf, perhaps one of these receivers can be an option in the passing game.
Grading the draft
The picks of offensive tackle Charles Cross, Boye Mafe and Kenneth Walker were all solid choices. It’s still hard overlooking the lack of a quarterback being taken or the statements from management that it doesn’t intend to trade. The only new addition at the position is 5-foot-10 ex-Louisiana-Lafayette star Levi Lewis, one of the undrafted free agents signed by the team.
The Seahawks have been a team that’s been willing to take chances on players who look better in the pre-draft process than they did on game tape. That’s no different here.
If fifth-round cornerback selection Woolen and seventh-round receivers Melton and Young become productive players in the league, this has the chance to be a special draft for the Seahawks. Let’s check the Super Bowl odds.