With barely two weeks remaining until the 2022 NFL Draft, there’s no point beating around the bush.
Desmond Ridder is going to be in Seattle today. And there you have it.
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder is visiting the #Seahawks today, per source. The first (and only?) known pre-draft quarterback visit for Seattle.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 13, 2022
This is huge news for any number of reasons, but primarily because this is the most significant interest the team has shown in a QB following the Russell Wilson trade. Ridder’s NFL prospects could be called polarizing, to say the least. The Draft Network has this to say:
“Ridder has room to improve his mechanics so that his ball placement isn’t as impacted when he cannot achieve his desired sequencing. For a team in need of a franchise savior at the top of the draft, Ridder might not be the right target. For a team with a sound infrastructure and running game that can be relied upon, Ridder has the makings of a reliable starting quarterback with appealing physical traits, experience, and leadership qualities. “
So, while teams sprint through the final two weeks of draft prep and fans scour the internet for information on Top-30 visits while trying to discern what — if anything — these visits mean. The majority of these visits, obviously, won’t materialize into anything more than information gathering; they do, however, provide some insight into what direction teams may be looking to go on draft night and what types of players they are setting their sights on throughout the process.
For the Seattle Seahawks, reports have connected the team to a small handful of new names this week, and while several of these players are likely viewed as mid- to late-round prospects bordering on priority FA status, a couple names are sure to generate some discussion. Of the players reported to be in Seattle, Minnesota EDGE Boye Mafe and North Dakota State Wide Receiver Christian Watson are two names that fans are likely to recognize. Both are in the top 75 of the 2022 PFF Big Board, for those who put stock in the draft rankings of PFF.
“SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Minnesota, Mafe played the boundary defensive end position in defensive coordinator Joe Rossi’s 4-3 base scheme. Despite not being asked to play high-volume snaps, he led the Gophers in tackles for loss and sacks as both a junior and senior. Mafe bursts out of his stance with the muscle twitch, arc acceleration and active hands to capture the corner. Despite his unique athletic gifts, his on-field instincts and impact don’t consistently mirror his traits, especially in the run game (averaged only 2.6 tackles per game in 2021). Overall, Mafe isn’t yet the sum of his parts and requires further schooling as a run defender, but he can get after the passer with natural explosion in his lower body, hips and hands. He projects as a sub-package NFL rusher with starting potential as he continues to be coached up. GRADE: 2nd Round (No. 48 overall)”
Christian Watson played for the North Dakota State Bison, where he turned out a career performance in 2019 which helped Trey Lance go on to be a Top-3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. His absolutely asinine career YPC stands at 20.4, which is actually down after a 2021 season that saw him put up career highs in receptions, TDs, and total yards while still managing to average nearly 19 yards per catch. Standing at 6’4” and running a sub-4.4 40 has certainly helped his draft stock. He can do a bit of everything, and is no stranger to getting designed touches out of the backfield. Per Dane Brugler:
“SUMMARY: A three-year starter at North Dakota State, Watson was an outside receiver in offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl’s run-heavy scheme. A late bloomer who fell through the recruiting cracks, he developed into one of the best deep threats in the FCS (20.4 yards per reception during his career) with four touchdowns of at least 65 yards in 2021. With his smooth acceleration, Watson displays vertical tempo as a route runner and is quarterback-friendly with the way he works back to the ball and expands his catch radius. He never faced an FBS opponent while at NDSU and will see a sizable jump in speed and physicality when facing NFL competition.Overall, Watson is unpolished as a route runner and must improve his consistency at the catch point, but he is an intriguing size/speed athlete with the explosiveness to win vertically. He projects as a WR4 as a rookie with WR2 upside and offers kick-return experience.GRADE: 2nd-3rd Round (No. 61 overall)”
The team currently has picks 40 and 41 in the second round, so it is not unthinkable that they could be targeting an Edge rusher sometime after their first selection. However, Mafe is difficult to project, as he is starting to creep into the first round of mocks and pass rushers with plus size and athletic traits typically don’t last long on draft night. Similarly, Watson is a high-ceiling/tough-to-project-floor type as well, as his height and speed scream NFL-ready (he tested similarly to DK Metcalf, and even bested him in a couple of drills at the combine, although he obviously doesn’t have DK’s length or strength), but his record of drops and injuries suggest caution. But Mafe and Watson aren’t the only players who are making waves with their elite testing numbers; Seattle also had Lenoir-Rhyne WR prospect Dareke Young in for a visit, as well.
Lenoir-Rhyne WR Dareke Young is headed to Seattle for a “30” visit with Seahawks, source tells me— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) April 12, 2022
Young’s pro day performance has stoked more interest with private workout/zoom requests flowing in
Possible 5-6th rd pick — and Seahawks have spent lot of time on him
Young played for the Division II Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, who went 8-3 in 2021. While his name is just starting to creep into the public lexicon, his aura has been growing in draft circles since he weighed in at the East-West Shrine Bowl. A big-bodied receiver with a solid frame, Young stands at 6’2” and tips the scales at 220. With a daunting wingspan greater than 78” to go along with his massive hands, his imposing size is complemented by his blazing speed; his 40-time of 4.47 puts him pro-ready territory (numbers courtesy of The Athletic’s Dane Brugler). While he only played in a small handful of games in 2021, he did have a breakout 8-catch, 160 yard performance to go with a triumvirate of TDs against Mars Hill, according to the official Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics website. And not just that, here he is describing his game to The NFL Draft Network;
“[Playing at Lenoir-Rhyne and being a ‘small school prospect’] just makes me carry a chip on my shoulder. It’ll be that way for the rest of my career...”
“I’ve played on every special teams unit throughout the past five years. I like playing special teams. I was on every special teams unit at the East-West Shrine Bowl as well and I was the punt returner for the actual game.”
In addition to the above mentioned players, Cameron Goode from California is another noteworthy name to monitor at OLB/Edge.
Cal outside linebacker Cameron Goode, who attended Texans' local prospect day, visiting Seahawks today after visiting Dolphins, works out privately for 49ers on Thursday, per a league source #NFLDraft2022— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 13, 2022
Physically, Goode profiles similarly to a slightly smaller but also slightly more explosive KJ Wright with his combination of height, length, and agility. However, he is pretty clearly a 3-4 OLB/Edge type of player, as he finished 2021 leading the Golden Bears with 7.5 sacks, according to the Cal State Official Team website. For those keeping track at home, this is actually a half-sack more than Kayvon Thibodeaux. While many currently projections place him in the UDFA category, Goode could sneak onto more team’s radars moving forward.
And last but not least, Corbin Smith of Seahawks Maven reports that the team is also hosting Nebraska Cornhuskers safety Deontai Williams. According to DraftScout.com, Williams earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention for his performance in 2021 as a redshirt senior. With the Seattle Seahawks pretty set at the safety position and a bevy of other needs in 2022, seeing them scout some unknowns with the intent of adding some competition at the position in the days following the draft seems likely.