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Analytics model mocks trench heavy first round for Seahawks

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The offseason has officially arrived for all 32 NFL teams, and Wednesday marks four weeks until the official start of free agency on March 15. However, many fans are more focused on the 2023 NFL Draft than free agency at this point, and with the Seattle Seahawks holding four of the first 51 selections, there is no lack of appetite for how the team might deploy its draft capital.

Continuing a survey of the mock drafts published, one interesting mock is that produced by Cynthia Frelund, a predictive analytics expert for the NFL. Frelund’s mock is generated by a model, without any human input once the model is programmed. For those curious on the basics of what the model takes into consideration, here is her quick summary of how it works:

I always do my mock drafts a little differently from the traditional method, in that my team-prospect pairings are based on optimizing for wins in the upcoming season — in a structured way. Here’s a quick look at my process:

1. I take the best available information about free agency, which right now is admittedly not much more than what we know about player contracts, to predict players’ market value.

2. I then check free agents’ projected market value against the anticipated salary-cap space for each team.

3. Finally, I add potential free agents or drafted players to different teams and identify which individuals increase teams’ projected win total the most. (My player model leverages historical pre-draft player data to forecast NFL performance.)

Now, creating a mock in such a way has certain shortcomings, specifically that because it is effectively based on maximizing WAR, it shies away from quarterbacks. The result is that only one quarterback is taken in the top five, with C.J. Stroud and Will Levis lasting until the eighth and ninth picks.

In any case, getting to what the mock mocked to Seattle, here are the players the model predicted the Seahawks would draft with their pair of picks in the first round:

  • 1.5 EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson
  • 1.20 DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson

While this duo would certainly help the defensive front, they would be among the youngest players Pete Carroll and John Schneider would have drafted in the first round. On that note, here is a look at the age of the players Seattle has selected in the first round since 2010.

Age of Seahawks first round picks under PCJS on date they were drafted

Player Date of Birth Date Selected Age when drafted
Player Date of Birth Date Selected Age when drafted
Russell Okung 10/7/1988 4/22/2010 21.553
Earl Thomas 5/7/1989 4/22/2010 20.973
James Carpenter 3/22/1989 4/28/2011 22.115
Bruce Irvin 11/1/1987 4/26/2012 24.501
Germain Ifedi 6/2/1994 4/28/2016 21.921
Rashaad Penny 2/2/1996 4/26/2018 22.244
L.J. Collier 9/12/1995 4/25/2019 23.633
Jordyn Brooks 10/21/1997 4/23/2020 22.521
Charles Cross 11/25/2000 4/28/2022 21.436

As for where this pair falls in relation to those other first round picks, on Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft Bresee will be 21.570 years old while Murphy will be 21.329.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting another ten weeks and a day until the draft arrives.