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2022 NFL Draft Grades: Media largely praises for Seahawks’ Charles Cross pick

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NFL: NFL Draft Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks selecting Charles Cross with the 9th overall pick struck me as something far too probable to actually come to pass on draft night. That is to say, every fiber of my being told me that Charles Cross was going to get picked at or before the 9th pick, I just assumed that the Seahawks wouldn’t be the ones to select him. Seems like I was far from alone in this sense.

And I was happy to be wrong, as Jody, John, and Pete sat stationed in the draft room and confidently made their selection for the projected top pass protecting tackle in this class. And the media responded with generally positive post-draft grades, which means little other than the fact that it has been a rare occurrence under Pete and John for their evals to lineup with the consensus board — the Athletic literally had Cross projected as the 9th best overall prospect. All things considered, I am certainly happy, with the results, and I think most fans will be (if they aren’t already) after reading the following blurbs:

The Seahawks have liked Cross for a while as their replacement for left tackle Duane Brown so it came down to whether they were interested enough in a quarterback early to replace Russell Wilson. Although Ekownu and Neal separated from him as big-time blockers, Cross is a mighty force in his own right with the right combination of run push and pass protection for what Seattle wants offensively under John Schneider.Grade: A

-Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News

While not a letter grade, Pro Football Focus awarded the Charles Cross selection the auspicious evaluation of “Very Good,” with Ben Linsey saying:

“Seattle snags PFF’s OT1 and the last of the top tier of offensive tackles available without having to trade up. Cross has been billed as the top pass protector in the group, and his 84.7 PFF pass-blocking grade in a pass-happy Mississippi State offense last year backs that up. He’s no slouch in the run game, either. Cross earned positive grades in the run game at a top-four rate and played in several different offensive schemes during his career at Mississippi State. He fills a clear area of need for the Seahawks with Duane Brown and Brandon Shell both hitting free agency.”

Cross has had tons of pass-blocking reps over the past two seasons, and the former five-star recruit showed significant improvement from 2020 to ’21. The two-year starter has plus length (34 ½” arms), athleticism, balance and hand placement. All of his starts have been at left tackle, and he provides the Seahawks with an immediate upgrade there as a day one starter. Cross was my ninth-ranked prospect, but many expected him to be off the board before this.Grade: B+

-Kevin Hanson of Sports Illustrated

They had a glaring hole at left tackle, so they had to get a left tackle. With the run on them, they end up with a player who is good in pass protection but needs work in the run game. If Seattle wants to run it better, they picked the wrong tackle. But he is good at protecting the quarterback.Grade: B.

-Pete Prisco of CBS Sports

With the Broncos’ No. 9 overall selection from the Russell Wilson trade, the Seahawks surprised everyone by staying put and picking Cross to start immediately on an offensive line lacking bodies. The average grade I’ve given the Seahawks does not reflect what I think of Cross. He reminds me of longtime starter Duane Brown as a pass protector — lean and smooth. Cross is also physical in the run game and isn’t stuck being an Air Raid tackle — because he wasn’t one before Mike Leach arrived in Starkville. It’s great that teams didn’t hold his relative lack of size against him.Grade: C

-Chad Reuter of NFL.com

Cross (6-foot-5, 307) started 22 games at left tackle in the past two seasons in Mike Leach’s pass-heavy scheme. Per Brugler, 78.9% of Cross’ college snaps were pass-blocking plays. Last year, Cross allowed just two sacks and no QB hits on 719 pass-blocking snaps. Even though Cross didn’t run block a lot, he looked capable of developing there. The Seahawks went into the draft with arguably the worst tackle situation in the NFL. Here, they get a good prospect who plays a premium position. They have a lot of work to do, but this is a step in the right direction.Grade: B

-Sheil Kapadia of the Athletic

The third tackle to go in the top nine is Charles Cross of Mississippi State. He’s 6-5 and 290 and played in a pass-happy offense for the Bulldogs. Without Russell Wilson, expect the Seahawks to run the ball more. This would seem to be contrary to everything Cross did in college with Mike Leach and the Air Raid offense. The Seahawks need a lot. This doesn’t feel like the player they needed.Grade: C+

-Barry Werner reporting for Yahoo Sports

Just to rebut these claims that Cross doesn’t know how to run block, here comes Pro Football Focus to save the day by reminding us that of the many things Mike Leach does do, the one thing he does not do is foster a strong running game.

Since the only other NFC West team on the clock last night would have been the Arizona Cardinals, and they traded their selection as part of a maneuver to bring a bit of Hollywood to Glendale, here is a brief summation of how this trade looks for the Seahawks’ southwestern rivals:

Cody Benhamin of CBS Sports gave the Cardinals an A for the trade, calling them the “clear winners” of the trade. He goes on to point out how this receiver group — which already included DeAndre Hopkins, Rodale Moore, and AJ Green — saying Hollywood’s “deep speed should enable Arizona to once again boast one of the game’s most explosive passing offenses. Just 24, Brown is an ascending talent out wide, improving his yardage total over his three NFL seasons. He’s also under a reasonable contract through 2023 thanks to the fifth-year option...”

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report was far less positive towards Arizona, pointing out that in his first 1,000 yard season (which came in 2021), he only posted and 87.9 passer rating when targeted, going on to say that he “may never become more than a high-end complementary receiver with (the Arizona Cardinals).” His full eval for the Cardinals is as follows:

Loser: Arizona Cardinals. “Look, we may revisit this trade and say that Arizona won in a big way. Perhaps coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray will unlock Marquise Brown’s full potential and make him a perennial Pro Bowler. He and Murray were college teammates, after all. However, Marquise Brown has done little in the NFL to this point to suggest that this will be the case. Based on what we’ve seen from him thus far, Arizona overpaid, plain and simple. What makes things even more confusing is the fact that he is only under contract for two more seasons—and that’s if Arizona exercises the fifth-year option on him. According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, Cardinals general manager John Keim has said that he will pick up the option. This means that Arizona will be on the hook for $13.4 million in 2023 for his contract. That’s significantly less than former Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk will make with the Jacksonville Jaguars ($21.5 million) in 2023, but it’s still a lot for a receiver who isn’t a top perimeter option. After next season, the Cardinals will either have to pay the former Raven or let him walk. Sure, Arizona got the 100th pick in the draft back as part of the trade, but that’s not enough to make this a fair and balanced deal.”