The Seattle Seahawks have selected 10 players in the 2019 NFL Draft, six of whom play on the defensive side of the ball. Last year, the Seahawks offseason focus seemed to be on improving the running game and re-starting the defense with some new talent once they could no longer afford to pay their former stars. This year, the Seahawks offseason focus has been — well, let’s just say that sometimes history repeats itself.
Seattle lost Earl Thomas and Justin Coleman to big free agent contracts then traded Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s a starting safety, slot corner, and defensive end.
On Thursday, the Seahawks selected defensive end L.J. Collier, on Friday, safety Marquise Blair, and on Saturday, cornerback Ugo Amadi. Nobody here is claiming that these three players will step in and replace those stars so easily, especially not in 2019, but the objective to replace them looks pretty 1:1 at face value.
And keep in mind that Collier went a full round above where Clark went and Coleman was acquired for just a seventh round pick two years ago. Blair would have the biggest shoes to fill, but nobody’s asking him to come be Earl Thomas. What’s encouraging though is Pete Carroll coaching the second-highest drafted safety/DB of his Seahawks career and watching that develop this fall.
Has one man had more influence on position and future career earnings over the last decade than Carroll and secondary players?
That’s just a fraction of what Seattle did in this draft, with 8/11ths of that pie remaining and a similarly obvious focus: securing options at receiver in the wake of the news that Doug Baldwin might not play football again. The Seahawks selected D.K. Metcalf at the end of round two — the third-highest drafted receiver of the Carroll era, after Paul Richardson and Golden Tate — and Gary Jennings in round four. Seattle drafted two receivers in 2017 (Amara Darboh, David Moore) and 2014 (Richardson, Kevin Norwood) and have not had a ton of luck with receivers taken after round three: Kris Durham, Chris Harper, Norwood, Kenny Lawler, and we’ll see about Moore.
But Jennings is his own player and for the first time since 2010, there may not be a job locked down by Baldwin. Not to finish 2019 with a mere 10 picks, Seattle snuck into the back of round seven and selected receiver John Ursua out of Hawaii. Ursua slips a bit because of age (24) and injury (previously torn ACL) but he could also compete for snaps in the absence of Baldwin: he’s 5’9, 178 lbs, and had 1,343 yards with 16 touchdowns last season.
As far as investing in the run game goes, the Seahawks took run-blocking guard Phil Haynes in round four and running back Travis Homer in round six. Homer is the 10th running back drafted by John Schneider, with day three backs including Chris Carson, Alex Collins, Zac Brooks, Kiero Small, Spencer Ware, and Robert Turbin. Not at all a bad track record there. And though the Seahawks drafted two receivers, I do believe the offseason — including the $140 million to Russell Wilson — has been geared towards maintaining the NFL’s best rushing attack.
Seattle signed Wilson to $35 million per year after finishing first in rushing yards, not before. He’s been doing exactly what they want him to do and he’s the fourth quarter, down-by-six threat that they need him to be when they need him to be. But the last two years — Rashaad Penny, Mike Solari, Ed Dickson, Will Dissly, Brian Schottenheimer, D.J. Fluker, Homer, the players they removed from the equation — add up to an improved and focused rushing attack. Haynes and Homer add to that, whereas Metcalf and Jennings are necessary additions to have hope that the receiving corps will have at least two viable options every week.
There’s also potentially going to be a lot of money to go around in May-September when the Seahawks are wooing the last of the free agents and the top of the waiver pile: $17 million was freed up by trading Clark, another $6.8 million will be opened if Baldwin retires, anywhere from $2-$5 million could be saved by releasing Kam Chancellor, $4.1 million if they release Barkevious Mingo, and $2.75 million by letting go of Jaron Brown. There will be plenty of opportunity to sign Ezekiel Ansah, Nick Perry, Ndamukong Suh, and many other players who are or will be available. They could also contemplate releasing Ed Dickson, though by not drafting a tight end this year, that could have given added security to Dickson, Nick Vannett, and the recovering Dissly.
Finally, Seattle drafted two linebackers, looking to avoid a problem similar to the one that they had last season with the unpredictable rotation of K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. Though Wright and Kendricks are still under contract for next season, Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven have been added to the mix. The only linebacker drafted higher by Carroll and Schneider than Barton was Bobby Wagner in 2012.
Their final pick was defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas in the sixth round, which is where the Seahawks found Jacob Martin last year, a prospect highly-regarded by many fans today.
With UDFA signings rolling in next, here’s a look at some updated position charts following the draft:
QB - Russell Wilson, Paxton Lynch
RB - Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, JD McKissic, CJ Prosise, Travis Homer, Bo Scarbrough
FB - Tre Madden
WR - Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings, John Ursua, Amara Darboh, David Moore, Malik Turner, Caleb Scott, Keenan Reynolds
TE - Dickson, Dissly, Vannett, Tyrone Swoopes
OT - Duane Brown, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jamarco Jones, Elijah Nkansah
OG - Fluker, Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons, Haynes, Jordan Roos
C - Justin Britt, Joey Hunt, Marcus Henry (and maybe Pocic)
DE - L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Quinton Jefferson, Cassius Marsh, Nate Orchard, Branden Jackson
DT - Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Nazair Jones, Demarcus Christmas, Jamie Meder, Ricky Ali’ifua
LB - Wagner, Wright, Kendricks, Martin, Mingo, Barton, Burr-Kirven, Austin Calitro, Shaquem Griffin, Emmanuel Ellerbe
CB - Tre Flowers, Shaquill Griffin, Akeem King, Kalen Reed, Amadi, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Boykins, Simeon Thomas
S - Bradley McDougald, Blair, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson, Shalom Luani, TJ Mutcherson, Marwin Evans, Justin Currie
K - Jason Myers
P - Michael Dickson
LS - Tyler Ott