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The Mike Clay Report burns the Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks find themselves with the third overall draft pick, per the latest large-scale NFL projection.

Mike Clay of ESPN puts together a whopper of a packet every year that contains unit grades and win/loss ‘projections’ for the upcoming season.

It’s a beast. The entire thing is here but we’ll include the relevant pics.

This year, it’s a choose-your-adventure from many interesting paths to travel. To help navigate this quest, I have provided a map.

Quarterback - Running Back - Offensive Line - Jordyn Brooks - Safety - Total Wins

Quarterback

Our journey begins where most do: with one man, standing alone, holding a powerful object. I’ll give you the spoiler from elsewhere in Clay’s chart, he believes Drew Lock is going to win the job, play about 60% of the snaps, and is the worst QB in the NFL.

That’s a series of bold claims in and of themselves, but....man. Clay’s got Lock down for 13 TD and 9 picks, or four Russell Wilson games in the middle of the season.

Running Back

Player A: 263 attempts, 1636 yards, 18 TD

Player B: 253 attempts, 1603 yards, 13 TD

Stay with me:

Another Player A: 6 games started, 119 attempts, 749 yards, 6.3 Y/A, 6 TD

Another Player B: 8 games started, 219 attempts, 937 yards, 4.3 Y/A, 10 TD

With both Rashaad Penny’s scorching finish to 2021 and the new arrival of college’s best runner in Kenneth Walker III, Seattle has a better RB room than six teams according to this list.

In the first comparison - Player A is Walker’s final year of college. Player B was Christian McCaffrey’s. In the second, Player A was Penny in 2021. Player B was Derrick Henry.

Regardless of how one thinks the offensive line will play (Clay thinks not good), either one of these guys have breakaway skill enough to have warranted far higher consideration on this list. The national attitude towards Penny this year has been fascinating, as analysts have squarely said last year second half was a fluke, and that he is in fact and will remain quite bad.

If that is the case - and I do not believe it will be - Walker is right here. And if Pete Carroll will give anybody anything, it will be a running back given hundreds of chances to find a rhythm and prove themselves.

Offensive Line

From left to right:
Rookie - guy who struggled switching sides - a former Ram - good guard - rookie.

The Seahawks spent two high draft picks on guys who are natural and talented players at the position they were drafted to play. This is a new thing for the fans of this team. Unfettered optimism is to be expected, even allowed.

But unfortunately, Clay might be right here. This may absolutely be the group with which to move forward, center notwithstanding. However, it’s three new players, two rookies, and jury is still out on Damien Lewis on the left side. They still have to go against Aaron Donald and Nick Bosa twice. This unit may play far above the 5th-worst ranking Clay gives, but it likely will take some time.

Jordyn Brooks

Off to the right of the defensive players check out the FF Rank column. Jordyn Brooks comes out here as the #1 linebacker for fantasy football purposes, ahead of Roquan Smith and Foye Oluokun.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Clay thinks Brooks is the best, but is all in and the tackle machine continuing to produce at an incredibly high level. He’s gained national notoriety for his decisiveness and consistency.

For those wondering, Patrick Queen was ranked #39.

It did not however, help the overall linebacker core ranking, as Clay has seeming little belief in Cody Barton and the others.

Safety

This remains year after year the weirdest part of this. Quandre Diggs is now a Seattle Pro Bowl Staple, setting NFL records for most consistent interceptions and generally balling out. Jamal Adams, while he makes for a very good meme nowadays, is an undeniable talent and the best ever at what he does when used correctly. I’m on the homer/hype train that his injuries were significant and that Ken Norton was as helpful as a piece of last week’s chewing gum out of Pete Carroll’s mouth, which is to say expect marked improvement this year.

But regardless, every year this duo ends up with 8-12 safety units ranked above it on here.

Total Wins

5-12. This remains consistent with the most common projections, somewhere around 5.5 for the Seahawks. What’s interesting here is that would give Seattle the third pick in the draft.

This year, it would be the number five pick, and in 2021 it would have been 7th.

But try this one on as we wrap up: The Seahawks are 15-2 against the San Francisco 49ers since 2014. Clay gives a 25 and 29% chance to beat the Niners this year.

Even with a near-guaranteed improvement on defense, there’s a lot that needs to go right for Seattle to make real waves this year. Some of these thoughts may hold up, but I think the big heads will be surprised by more than a few players on the roster this year.