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Why the Seahawks not adding a quarterback through the draft shouldn’t be surprising

NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Barring something dramatic, one of Geno Smith or Drew Lock will be the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks in the 2022 season. When Russell Wilson was traded in March, it was only logical to assume that Seattle would try and add to its QB room beyond just the acquisition of Lock. Well it obviously didn’t turn out that way despite numerous opportunities from Rounds 1-4 to take, say, Malik Willis or Desmond Ridder or Sam Howell.

You may be a little disappointed (or not) but you shouldn’t be surprised. This is how the previous “rebuild/retool” under Pete Carroll and John Schneider went for two seasons.

Back in 2010, Matt Hasselbeck was in the last year of his contract and looking super cooked. Seneca Wallace was let go and went to the Cleveland Browns. Prior to the NFL Draft — Seattle, of course, had two first-round picks thanks to Tim Ruskell fleecing the Denver Broncos — the Seahawks gave up a 2011 third-rounder and traded down in the 2010 second-round to acquire Charlie Whitehurst.

After the trade went through, John Schneider said Whitehurst could be considered part of Seattle’s draft class and that they didn’t rule out taking a quarterback. Guess what? They didn’t. Sounds familiar. Whitehurst obviously didn’t beat out Hasselbeck for the starting job, but Pete was very much Charlie’s PR man.

As for the 2010 quarterback class, it was pretty bad and not that much stronger than the 2022 class is perceived to be. Sam Bradford went #1 overall to the St. Louis Rams. The only other QBs taken in the top-96 were Tim Tebow (No. 25), Jimmy Clausen (No. 48), and dreaded Seahawks foe Colt McCoy (No. 85). Some prominent Mock drafts had the Seahawks selecting a QB, and it was usually Clausen.

Seattle still had a quarterback problem at the end of 2010 but history has proven them right as far as not taking anyone from that class.

Okay, what about 2011? Same problem but Hasselbeck is gone. The Seahawks sign Tarvaris Jackson in free agency, reuniting him with newly hired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. This was a lockout year so the NFL Draft happened on time but draft trades involving players were forbidden and free agency didn’t begin until late July.

Seattle was picking in the 20s and this superior (on paper) QB class saw four guys taken in the top-12: Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder. Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick went back-to-back at picks 35 and 36, and then the only QBs of even minor consequence (aka started a playoff game/is still in the league) taken after them were T.J. Yates in the 5th round and Tyrod Taylor in the 6th.

By now you know the story from John Schneider: Seattle had interest in Andy Dalton but went with James Carpenter instead.

“We debated with Andy Dalton, there’s no question about it. But I think we all felt like we were at a point in our development where we couldn’t pass on a starting tackle right now,” Schneider said on the Kevin Calabro show on 710 ESPN Radio.

“Quite honestly, we’d like to have a guy, especially a rookie, be more of a developmental type and a guy more like Aaron Rodgers and sit for a year or two. So that was really the only point in the draft where there was a guy where we were like, ‘There he is, that’s a very viable option.’”

Dalton didn’t have to sit in Cincinnati since Carson Palmer basically quit on the team and he became a perfectly fine, above-average starting quarterback who had everything but a playoff win to his name. Carpenter’s tenure as a starting tackle lasted for only a handful of games before his ACL tear, but he did carve out a better role as a guard afterward.

Two years of Pete and John looking for a franchise quarterback, zero rookies taken in the draft. The team went a combined 14-18 but by the end of 2011 it was very clear that they had pieces in place to be a contender except at the QB position.

I do not need to rehash what happened in 2012, but let’s just say it worked out extraordinarily well for the Seahawks and we should always cherish those great seasons. To this day, the only other QB Seattle has selected under Carroll and Schneider is current USFL player Alex McGough.

It’s not a perfect comparison but Lock and Smith are effectively the 2022 equivalent of Whitehurst and Jackson, only Lock actually has starting experience. The front office may very well see the Lock acquisition much in the way they saw Whitehurst. We’re not too far removed from Carroll saying Drew Lock would’ve been the first QB taken in this year’s draft.

This is how Pete and John operate. They do not seek possible franchise quarterbacks first and then build the team around them. The golden era of Seahawks football came as a direct result of placing Russell Wilson on a team with a formidable rushing attack and a top-10 defense. Lest we forget that by 2013 the offensive line, which had two PC/JS picks in Russell Okung and James Carpenter as well as 2009 second-rounder Max Unger, was the most expensive one in the league.

Which brings us to 2022. Seattle ostensibly still has one of the top receiving duos in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. They will hope that last year’s surge in rushing offense will carry over into next season with the addition of Kenneth Walker III and the re-signing of Rashaad Penny. They’ve secured the services of Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams in the long-term and (at least in theory) don’t have to worry about the safety position. The offensive line, just like in 2010, is rebuilding with a top-10 pick spent on hopeful franchise left tackle Charles Cross. Are there still serious flaws with this roster beyond quarterback? Absolutely. There’s a significant chance the Seahawks are bad this year. But put yourself in the mindset of Pete and John and you’ll see that the early part of their team-building process post-Wilson is not terribly different from what we saw post-Hasselbeck.

All that remains is finding the next long-term answer at quarterback. It’s probably not from the current depth chart, which effectively guarantees Carroll and Schneider safe job security through this season. What will make or break this franchise for years to come is what they do in 2023.