The Seattle Seahawks drafted Shaquill Griffin 90th overall last year, making him the highest-drafted cornerback in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era -- an era that has produced a future Hall of Famer, a CFLer-turned-Pro Bowler, a former sixth rounder who became one of the highest-paid cornerbacks of all-time, another former sixth rounder who did enough to be overpaid by the Seahawks in the last couple of years, a UDFA who cost Seattle a seventh round pick last year and is now one of the better slot corners in the NFL, another former UDFA who played safety before starting 22 games at corner before tearing his ACL, and now Griffin.
So imagine what they could do with a highly-touted prospect at cornerback.
Outside of Cary Williams, the Seahawks have never really made a huge mistake at corner since Carroll was hired in 2010. Walter Thurmond was too injured to be considered a great find in the fourth round, but even he found his place for one season at safety with the Philadelphia Eagles before deciding to retire. Tye Smith and Tharold Simon were only fifth round picks, and Smith is still working to carve out a career with the Tennessee Titans. It should be exciting to consider what Seattle will do next at the position, and yes there’s still significant work to be done:
As of now, the starting cornerback position opposite of Griffin, vacated because of the release of Richard Sherman, is really the only question mark left in the air were the Seahawks to go into training camp tomorrow; Byron Maxwell remains a free agent (and probably Seattle’s top priority at the moment) and Neiko Thorpe/DeAndre Elliott/Mike Tyson would be questionable starting propositions for now. With that in mind, the Seahawks are often linked to cornerbacks in the first round in many mock drafts, a proposal that continues to blow my mind if only because those mock drafters don’t even address the fact that Seattle has shown zero willingness to go high on a corner.
However, if they were to “go high” on one, Isaiah Oliver could make the most sense. BattleRedBlog’s Brett Kollmann did a profile on Oliver this week, calling him “the best cornerback in this draft” and a guy he think should go in the top 10, even if not many other people are saying that. It’s what could make him even more intriguing to the Seahawks at 18 should they remain there or trade down.
One of the standout stats from Oliver is not his pass deflections or interceptions though, it’s the length of his arms: 33.5”
That’s the longest of any cornerback in this draft and one of the longest measurements for a corner that we even know of, ranking in the top 10 over the last 20 years. Of course, an ongoing theme with the Seahawks and corners under Carroll has been arm length, specifically a 32” threshold. Since the drafting and development of Sherman in 2011, who at the time was considered perhaps “too big” and “too long” to be a high-level corner in the NFL but has since completely changed the position because of his success, arm length has often been everything to Seattle fans and draft hopefuls.
We may have gone over the “overhyped” line when he it comes to arm length, but it doesn’t mean we would discount that Oliver has it. Or that he’s a Colorado defensive back, same as 2017 Seahawks draftee Tedric Thompson, meaning that Carroll and Schneider have surely been watching Oliver a ton and perhaps waiting for his availability to become a reality. The Buffs have produced not just Thompson, but Ahkello Witherspoon and Chidobe Awuzie, making them one of the top “DBU” schools of the last two years.
If the Seahawks are sitting there at pick 18 and Oliver is on the board, as he is currently expected to be (but these things change rapidly), sure Seattle might take that into consideration because for the first time in seven years, outside corner is a concern. They might also see that if Oliver is still considered a late-first/early-second round talent, that they could trade down, acquire needed/wanted extra picks, and still get Oliver to develop and compete to play opposite of Griffin. The drafting of any corner in the first two rounds would give Carroll something as exciting as they’ve had at the position since -- well since they had Sherman and Griffin to open last year -- but nonetheless a scary-for-opponents development curve of two under-24 corners learning under Carroll and with the highest draft considerations of any corners during his tenure.
Oliver has the length, but he might also have the ability. Those are traits that have rarely gone hand-in-hand with cornerbacks since Sherman, which is why Oliver might be more worthy of early drafting consideration than most prospects in the last few years.