The Seattle Seahawks are known for trading down in the NFL Draft. They’re not known for having Top 10 picks. They’re known for reaching for players who make you go “who?” They’re not known for making the obvious choice.
What would it take for them, against all their established trends, to move up Thursday night and make the obvious choice? What set of circumstances would result in the last thing any of us expect?
(If any course of action is the last thing we should expect, that should make it the first thing we expect from the Seahawks, who have a Ph. D in reverse-psychology-counter-intuitiveness.)
Three stars would have to align.
A) In the top four picks, a run on one position
Should all three top pass rushers find themselves plucked when the Giants go on the clock at 1.5, that would mean one of the two top-rated tackles (Evan Neal and Ickey Ekwonu) would still be available.
Conversely, should both top tackles go in the top four, one of the top three pass rushers will automatically drop to 5. Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon, most likely, since Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker are both being discussed at 1.1 and the Lions have been heavily linked to Hutchinson.
A run on one position places one of the bluest of blue chips in the Giants’ lap. Which brings up the second requirement:
B) A willingness from the New York Giants to move down
And at a price that isn’t exorbitant.
We’ve mentioned the Seahawks’ favorable position in this draft so often that it might be lost on many that the Giants hold 1.5 and 1.7, an enviable position if there ever was one. They can pick twice, trade either selection, consider every offer twice, and generally feel like the most popular kid in school for half an hour. It’s a very special moment for them.
Dave Gettleman Joe Schoen is amenable to trading down slightly and picking up some extra draft capital, their most immediate and logical suitors are the Carolina Panthers at 1.6, the Atlanta Falcons at 1.8, and the Seahawks at 1.9. However, the first two teams are in the market for a QB and the Giants are seemingly committed to Daniel Jones. (That’s a different story for another day.) So according to conventional wisdom* there exists little incentive for Carolina and Atlanta to part with precious picks, unless they bid against each other or know one another to be interested in the same player. Which can happen! But absent some NFC South shenanigans, so far everything is primed to come up Seahawks.
* I know
Just last year, the Giants traded back from 11 to 20 and picked up an extra 1st, 4th and 5th from the Chicago Bears in the process. New Giants GM Schoen may see a roster with so many holes he looks to put together an encore performance. Even though I can’t squint hard enough to see the Seahawks offering three picks, or throwing in one of their 2023 seconds, Schneider should still be able to put together a package that doesn’t suck. More on this in a moment.
C) Finally, the FO has to adore one prospect at 5 who won’t make it to 9
So, one of Thibodeaux, Hutchinson, Walker, Neal, or Ekwonu most likely. Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner are strong possibilities as well, though the Seahawks would have to break with all their cornerback-drafting precedent to go that route. (Shaquill Griffin remains the highest they’ve drafted a corner, at 3.90 five years ago.)
C) is maybe the most treacherous obstacle to Seattle trading up. The only time in 12 years I can remember them showing obvious disappointment at missing their guy was in 2018, when safety Derwin James went off the board to the Los Angeles Chargers at 1.17, with the Seahawks sitting at 1.18. They immediately traded down with the Green Bay Packers and ended up with eventual NFL MVP Rashaad Penny nine picks later. So, not a total loss.
Ok, how would the currency of trading up work exactly? Well, the difference in draft value from 1.5 to 1.9 is estimated at 350 points. In reality, however, the team holding the fifth pick is unlikely to move down unless the offer is attractive. Seattle’s 3.72 and 4.109 are worth 306 points combined, so JS would probably have to part with both plus a 2023 pick to get Joe Schoen’s attention. And that doesn’t feel very Schneider-y. Remember how the Bears went nuts last year and filled the Giants’ coffers for a chance at Justin Fields.
In 2021 again, enamored with Trey Lance, the San Francisco 49ers jumped from 12 to 3, but they paid two firsts and a third to do so. It’s not cheap when you love someone.
Seattle’s 2.41 is worth 490 points so that’s a clear overpay in a vacuum. You’d need something back from the Giants in return, unless they sensed desperation and played hardball. Frank T. Raines, in the Field Gulls prediction post published Wednesday, theorizes the team could send 1.9 and 2.40 to the G Men for 1.5 and 3.81. The math is pretty equitable. On the plus side for the Seahawks, you get to exchange two picks for two picks. On the minus side for the Seahawks, you run the risk of unimpressing the Giants with a meh offer. Schneider might have to throw in a 2023 late-rounder to close the deal.
So a “consolation prize” of sorts for the Seahawks might be to try and pry away the Giants’ 1.7, which would come at a far cheaper price (possibly 3.72 and the Giants send back 4.112). Secretly that’s the trade I’d like. Don’t tell anyone. NY can still get their guy they wanted anyway at 1.7 because the Falcons need a QB; Seattle hangs on to both second-rounders.
That’s giving Schoen a lot of credit he may not necessarily deserve as a first time general manager, but hey, the universe has to help the Seahawks out sometimes.
Also, at 1.7 you’ve got Neal and Ekwonu off the board so the target is likely no longer an offensive tackle. But I’d like to submit that the Seahawks like their current tackles — Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan — a lot more than they’ve let on. They don’t neeeeeed an OT at 1.7 or 1.9. They can address the OL on Day 2. Or not at all. They’re the Seattle frickin’ Seahawks. They do what they want. As evidenced by, well, everything.
It might not be one of the biggest names, but someone highly touted is going to fall to 7 and the deal will be there with NY, to be made. While it doesn’t seem in Schneider’s DNA to move up, with 40 and 41 in his back pocket, and the ability those picks provide to move around on Friday, he can afford to be aggressive. Plus, if his entreaties with Schoen fail, Schneider can always fall back on trading down, a skill at which he’s almost peerless.