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Potential instant impact sleepers from the Seahawks’ 2022 draft class

NFL: Seattle Seahawks OTA Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 Seattle Seahawks draft class saw the organization bring in nine new players, five of which came on Day 3 of the draft. It is always expected that outside of special circumstances like taking an injured player or a quarterback, Day 1 and 2 picks are expected to make an instant impact in some way. Although the same cannot be said about Day 3 players, many of whom do not make an impact until their sophomore season or later (or never). However, Seattle might have found a few players who can go against the grain and make an impact on Day 1 despite being drafted on the third day.


Tyreke Smith - Defensive end

The defensive end/outside linebacker room is not overly crowded as outside of the likes of Shelby Harris, Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor, there is little in terms of proven NFL talent. Former first round pick L.J. Collier only has 22 career pressures and Alton Robinson has shown some flashes in his first two seasons but not enough to be a roadblock for other players. That leaves the door open for some of this year’s rookies, including Ohio State’s Tyreke Smith to walk in on Day 1 and make an impact on the edge/OLB rotation. He brings with him some versatility as he played in both two- and three-point stances at Ohio State, which will allow him to be used in more situations.

It is difficult to envision him making much of an impact as a run defender or on early downs. However in obvious passing situations or on third down he could receive a significant number of snaps. Additionally, something that cannot be discounted is the threat of injuries. As previously discussed, edge is not a very deep position group for the Seahawks which means if one or two players were to go down in front of Smith, he could suddenly go from a rotational piece to being thrust into a starting role or becoming the team’s third rusher.


Tariq Woolen - Cornerback

Unlike Smith, Woolen is in a deeper position group at cornerback. Seattle made it a point of emphasis to address corner, signing Artie Burns and Justin Coleman in free agency and drafting Coby Bryant and Woolen in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively. As a result, Woolen is buried on the depth chart as the fifth or sixth corner depending on the website you look at. This is for good reason though as Woolen is too raw as a corner to receive many snaps on the defensive side of the ball this season.

Due to his overall rawness, Woolen’s instant impact for the Seahawks will come in special teams, both as a gunner in punt coverage and as a contain or bullet player in the kickoff coverage game. Woolen’s combination of stack and shed ability, a rapid first step, game breaking speed and stickiness as a tackler will allow him to be an impact gunner for Seattle and could make him one of the better gunners in the entire NFL. These traits are something that will show on kickoff coverage as well as his speed and ability to brush off blockers will make him one of the first players downfield.


Bo Melton - Wide receiver

Melton’s Day 1 impact will not come as a receiver as like Woolen, he is buried at his respective position. With the addition of Marquise Goodwin (assuming Goodwin sticks on the roster), Melton is likely the seventh or eighth receiver on the depth chart. As a result, Melton’s impact is going to have to come away from the receiver position and there are two ways this can happen:

1.) If offensive coordinator Shane Waldron decides to use him as a true gadget player where he can see a few snaps in the backfield or be put in jet sweep or orbit motion prior to the snap. The reasoning for this style of usage for Melton is it would allow him to get in space where he can use his strength, speed and overall athleticism to be a nightmare for defenses. He would not get many snaps as a gadget player but when used he would be impactful regardless of if he gets the ball or not as he would be changing the eyes of the defense, which with weapons like DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Noah Fant on the field could be deadly for defenses.

2.) He could also be an impact returner for all of the reasons listed above as to why he would be a dynamic gadget player for Waldron. According to Scarletknights.com, Melton only had 11 kickoff returns and 5 punt returns in his college career so it was not something he did much in college. However, the skillset is there for him to become an impactful returner both in the punt and kickoff game.