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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Seahawks take a Georgia player, but not the one you might expect

From quarterback to tight end to linebacker, could the Seahawks go for SEC talent early in the NFL Draft?

SEC Championship - LSU v Georgia Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

We haven’t done one of these NFL Mock Draft posts in a bit, and that’s because I can only do so much when multiple mocks keep saying the same thing (e.g. Jalen Carter at 5, Jaxon Smith-Njigba at 20, some cornerback the Seattle Seahawks are never going to draft at 20, so on and so forth). Now that the first wave of free agency is complete, we should have fresher, newer mock draft insights!

Let’s start off with Draft Wire, which did a three-round mock draft and therefore made five predictions for the Seattle Seahawks. Jeff Risdon sees the Seahawks taking Anthony Richardson at 5th overall, and it’s certainly not implausible given the way Geno Smith’s contract is structured.

5. Seattle Seahawks: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Seahawks are in the perfect position to take a developmental QB with Richardson’s record-setting athleticism. Geno Smith makes for a great bridge, one too tantalizing for GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll to resist taking the shot on Richardson.

For the record, the other quarterbacks of note all went off the board before 5th, and Tyree Wilson was mocked to the Arizona Cardinals at 3rd.

Seattle does address the defensive line some more with the selection of Calijah Kancey at 20th overall.

20. Seattle Seahawks: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

An undersized but lightning-quick interior penetrator from Pittsburgh; where have we heard this before…Kancey doesn’t have the playing strength anywhere close to Aaron Donald, but his ability to instantly win as a pass rusher is undeniable. The Seahawks can use him as an impact package player right away.

There are no write-ups for the second- and third-round picks, but here are the selections anyway:

  • Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia (37th overall)
  • Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE, Kansas State (52nd overall)
  • Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn (83rd overall)

Three SEC players taken in five picks!

Washington is the big name here, because Seattle doesn’t necessarily need a tight end given Noah Fant, Will Dissly, and Colby Parkinson are all on the roster. But Fant is on an expiring contract, Dissly just had another season-ending injury, and Parkinson is also entering the last year of his rookie contract. Washington is a 6’7”, 265 lbs beast of a man who is the lesser known Georgia tight end compared to Brock Bowers, who’d probably be a first-round pick if he was eligible to declare.

Here’s Pro Football Network’s scouting report on Washington:

As a receiver, Washington combines a dominating catch radius and wingspan with high-level catching instincts, body control, timing, box-out ability, and indisputable hand strength. And once in open space as a RAC threat, he’s a bulldozer who’s nearly impossible to stop with solo tackles.

Washington can churn through opponents with his leg drive, and that same size and physicality make him a hyper-elite blocker who essentially serves as an extra lineman.

With his limitations in the functional athleticism department, Washington may never be a true TE1. He doesn’t have the natural separation ability to be a target funnel, and that lowers his ceiling as a prospect. But at the very least, Washington can be a superb rotational asset as a red-zone threat and short-range outlet with seam capabilities.

Washington’s elite blocking ability will get him on the field early and often. And for teams that employ a heavy dose of 12 personnel and value multi-phase tight ends, Washington’s value is especially high. He has a projected niche as a receiver and game-changing ability as a blocker, and at his ceiling, he could become an above-average starter in the NFL.

Seattle’s heavy use of tight ends this year makes taking a tight end early not inconceivable. Washington had just 44 catches in college and just three touchdowns, but raw volume numbers as a receiving tight end in college don’t always mean much in the NFL (see: George Kittle). Personally if Seattle is going to go for a tight end I’d rather they look at Dalton Kincaid or Luke Musgrave, but Washington is definitely a big-bodied target who could have the type of blocking value the Seahawks like in their TEs.

As for the other picks, Anudike-Uzomah was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Year for 2022 and is the two-time conference Defensive Lineman of the Year. Anudike-Uzomah recorded 11 sacks in 2021 and 8.5 in 2022, and he has a penchant for forcing fumbles. Run defense is an area that apparently needs improvement.

Lastly, Pappoe is a former five-star recruit who had 191 tackles and seven sacks in four seasons, including two as Auburn’s defensive captain. The Draft Network scouting report believes Pappoe could be a weak-side linebacker at the pro level, but notes “too many missed tackles” as a negative. At 6’0” and just 225 lbs he’s on the lighter side for an off-ball linebacker, but he’s got very impressive athletic traits. Seattle’s thin at the position and could use some depth there.

Expect more mock drafts to come, including the big SB Nation NFL Community Mock Draft which starts in a couple of weeks!