ESPN’s famed NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr has released his latest mock draft, which takes into account moves made during the first week of free agency. For the Seattle Seahawks, they have two first-round selections and before, say, February you probably would’ve been inclined to believe the Seahawks would just spend pick after pick rebuilding an inconsistent defense. Subsequent free agent and cap casualty decisions have made it a bit more interesting as to what they’ll do next, and Kiper believes Seattle will go offense-offense at 5th and 20th overall.
Let’s start off at 5th overall, where he sees Seattle standing pat and selecting Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The finer details of Geno Smith’s new contract show it’s really only a one-year commitment; Seattle absolutely could take a quarterback here. Think of Alex Smith and Joe Flacco when the Chiefs and Ravens, respectively, drafted Patrick Mahomes (2017) and Lamar Jackson (2018) and essentially used the veterans as one-year bridges to the rookies. Then again, I thought the Seahawks might take a quarterback last year, and coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider decided against it, instead turning their picks into the NFL’s best rookie class.
Why Richardson? The upside is so, so high. He’s a 6-foot-4, 244-pound signal-caller who can make any throw and who also ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the combine. If he’s given time to catch up to the speed of the NFL, he could be a star. This would be a great situation for him, on an offense that has young stars. Plus, the Seahawks have another Round 1 pick at No. 20 — if any team is in a spot to take a high-risk player, it’s them. By the way, four quarterbacks going in the top five picks has never happened before.
Jalen Carter was still on the board but he bypassed Carter and has him going to the Detroit Lions at 6th. Will Anderson was off the board after going to the Arizona Cardinals at 4th, who traded down while the Indianapolis Colts grabbed Will Levis at 3rd.
Then we fast forward to the 20th overall pick, and Kiper predicts the Seahawks take their first Round 1 wide receiver since Koren Robinson way back in 2001.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
This was a tough pick for me. It could be a front-seven player; Seattle ranked 27th in yards per carry allowed (4.9) last season, though it added free agent tackle Dre’Mont Jones to help. Edge rushers Will McDonald IV (Iowa State) and Myles Murphy (Clemson) could make sense. I also thought about interior offensive line, but it might be a little too high for guard O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida). So if I’m getting the Seahawks a project quarterback at No. 5, why not add a wideout who could make things easier on offense?
Smith-Njigba has a chance to develop into a true No. 1 receiver. He didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but he looked effortless in the pass-catching drills and led all receivers with a 6.57-second 3-cone time and a 3.93-second short shuttle. A hamstring injury limited him to just five catches last season, but he caught 95 passes for 1,606 yards in 2021. He could be a plug-and-play starter for a team that already features Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. He could alternate reps outside and in the slot.
Kiper’s first mock draft had Seattle taking Kentucky’s Will Levis and Tennessee pass rusher Byron Young, while his previous mock draft had Seattle trading down and getting Anthony Richardson (pre-combine, obviously), followed by Clemson’s Myles Murphy. This is his first offense-only mock for Seattle.
I think I’ve made my thoughts on getting a wide receiver early very clear. You win with passing offense in today’s NFL and Tyler Lockett isn’t going to be around forever. While I like the potential of Dareke Young I am not interested in Seattle’s very familiar habit of hoping a UDFA or late Day 3 pick pans out and then rises up the depth chart. Dee Eskridge might not be working out for Seattle thus far but that doesn’t mean you just stop investing at the position.