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Seahawks select Tyree Wilson over Jalen Carter, along with Calijah Kancey in latest mock draft

The Seattle Seahawks are rebuilding... their defensive front, that is.

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NFL Combine Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks entered the offseason with needs along the defensive line, and if anything, those needs have only intensified. While they made a big splash when they signed Dre’Mont Jones, and a smaller splash when they brought back Jarran Reed, the team also lost some key players. Neither Al Woods nor Poona Ford are currently slated to be on the roster at this point. Not only this, but Quinton Jefferson is now with the New York Jets. All things considered, the Seahawks are likely to add more players to the mix, and the talent pool of available free agents has dwindled significantly at this point. The draft seems like the most viable option for the team to further improve along their defensive front. Enter Nick Baumgardner’s latest three-round mock draft from the Athletic.

Baumgardner has the Seahawks going all-defense in the first round. With the fifth overall pick, he has the team staying put and selecting the massively talented Texas Tech Red Raiders product Tyree Wilson. This move was a common projection early in the draft news cycle, but has since gone under the radar a bit as speculation around Jalen Carter has intensified. Interestingly enough, this mock has Seattle bypassing Carter all together, as he comes off the board with the next pick... to the Arizona Cardinals, who hold this selection due to a projected trade down with the Detroit Lions, who moved up for Will Anderson. with the third overall pick. A couple months ago, this would have looked absolutely baffling. But with an increasing number of question marks surrounding Carter, this no longer looks out of the question.

While selecting Tyree Wilson over Jalen Carter would likely be controversial, it wouldn’t be for lack of talent; Wilson is projected to be an impactful player as a pro. Here is what Dane Brugler had to say in the Beast (which was released this morning.... hooray!):

A three-year starter at Texas Tech, Wilson played field-side edge rusher in defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter’s 3-3-5 base scheme and reduced inside as a 4i/4 technique or dropped into space. After two years at Texas A&M, he transferred to Lubbock and led Texas Tech in tackles for loss and sacks his junior and senior seasons (his 22.3 percent pass-rush win rate ranked top 10 in the FBS in 2022). Big, long and strong, Wilson plays with linear explosion and power to get blockers moving in reverse. In the run game, he needs continued refinement but uses his long arms to lock out and separate, and he displays impressive tackling range because of his wingspan and chase effort. Overall, Wilson plays too upright and needs to become craftier and more strategic in his pass rush, but his length, speed and raw power are outstanding foundational traits. His ascending tools are ripe for development, and he has Pro Bowl potential. He should be the first Texas Tech defender ever drafted in the top 20 picks.

While the selection of Wilson instead of Carter is likely to raise some eyebrows, Baumgardner has the team making another surprising pick at 20th overall. He projects that the team will land the Pittsburgh Panthers talented defensive tackle Calijah Kancey with this pick. Kancey is gaining a lot of traction with the Aaron Donald comparisons, especially following his performance at the combine.

The biggest factor going against the odds of Kancey becoming a Seahawk may be his size, but his talent is obvious. He landed at 26th overall in Brugler’s Top 100, and third behind Jalen Carter and Clemson’s Bryan Bresee among interior defensive linemen. Here is Brugler’s summary on Kancey:

A three-year starter at Pittsburgh, Kancey was a 3-technique tackle in head coach Pat Narduzzi’s 4-3 base scheme, lining up everywhere from nose to the edge. After putting his name on the NFL radar in 2021, he led all FBS defensive tackles in tackles for loss (14.5) in 2022 and became the school’s first unanimous All-American since Aaron Donald. With his initial quickness and ability to maneuver his hips in the hole, Kancey wins at the snap to slant, stunt and cross the face of blockers and affect the backfield rhythm (46.8 percent of his tackles in 2022 came in enemy territory). He uses his balance and natural leverage to get underneath the pads of blockers, but can be displaced in the run game and will struggle to power through contact. Kancey’s undersized frame and average strength will be more pronounced versus NFL blockers, especially in the run game, but his get off, agility and quick hands allow him to leverage gaps and disrupt the backfield. Although not quite on Donald’s level as a pro prospect, the parallels are encouraging and he projects as a starting NFL 3-technique.

Baumgardner has the Seahawks going offense with their next couple picks and selecting interior lineman Steve Avila out of TCU and Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman at 37 and 52, respectively. Wisconsin linebacker Nick Herbig rounds out the mock, as the Seahawks return to defense in the third round with the 83rd overall pick.

Brugler lists Avila as his third overall guard prospect but notes his capability to slide over to center as a pro, saying that “he plays with a strong base to anchor and control at either guard or center. He fits both zone and gap schemes and should be an immediate starter as an NFL rookie.” Cedric Tillman may not be the answer at receiver that some of us were hoping for, but his size could be a good compliment to Metcalf and Lockett. Brugler calls Tillman “a big target with the acceleration, play strength and ball skills to exploit perimeter matchups. He has NFL starting traits as an X and should develop into a solid No. 2/3.” Herbig projects as a rotational pass rusher at the next level, as Brugler notes that his off-ball skills need work if he is going to become an every-down player.

So there you have it. In my opinion, this is one of the more interesting mock drafts for the Seahawks that I have seen as of late, particularly with regard to the Kancey pick. The team certainly would address some needs with these picks, but there would still be some question marks, to be sure. They still needs help at nose tackle, and their situation at off-ball linebacker is less than ideal. Regardless, seeing an infusion of young talent along their defensive front would be encouraging following their struggles in 2022, as would solidifying the interior of their offensive line. Also, I would simply be fascinated to see/hear/read the reactions if the Seahawks passed on Jalen Carter to select another player for their defensive front.