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NFL Draft Buzz: The Seahawks’ streak of not drafting Round 1 cornerbacks could end this year

If the Seahawks don’t go for defensive line or quarterback at No. 5 overall, there’s a third option that’s reportedly being explored.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Virginia at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are t-minus two weeks until the start of the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, and as ever the rumors, intel, and other info (perhaps misdirecting info) is buzzing around the football world.

ESPN+ published an article checking in on the draft status of all 32 teams, including a “what we’re hearing” section for every team as far as their plans. Checking behind the paywall, there’s a really interesting nugget in the Seattle Seahawks section about what they could do come April 27. It’s widely expected that they will take a defensive lineman or quarterback Anthony Richardson with the 5th overall pick, but if neither happens... what about Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon?

What we’re hearing about the Seahawks’ draft: The Seahawks might be checking in on the quarterbacks, but a source in Seattle said to expect defensive line help over quarterback at No. 5 overall. That would seem to point to a belief that either Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) or Jalen Carter (Georgia) will be available, a situation that’s highly likely at this point. But here’s one more Seattle nugget that throws a wrench in that: I was told it loves cornerback Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) if the top pass-rushers are gone. — [Matt] Miller

It seems that every year the Seahawks are linked to taking a cornerback in the first-round (or at least in seasons in which they have a first-round pick), and that’s just not how Pete Carroll and John Schneider have ever operated. Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback in Round 1 since Kelly Jennings in 2006, and haven’t taken a corner in the top-half of Round 1 since Marcus Trufant in 2003. The Seahawks’ highest ever selection of a cornerback in franchise history was Shawn Springs at 3rd overall in 1997, a draft which saw them take a Mr. Walter Jones just three picks later.

Whether through performance or trade, Seattle hasn’t picked this high in the draft order too often over the past couple of decades, so while cornerback is absolutely not a top need for the team, perhaps there’s more on the table than realized given where they sit in the draft order.

Witherspoon and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez are expected to be the top two corners taken in Round 1, with Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. also in the mix but perhaps as a mid-to-late option. We know Seattle has found a Day 3 gem in Tariq Woolen, but the opposite side is less certain even with the solid play of Mike Jackson and the hope that Tre Brown will be in the mix for snaps next season. I still doubt it happens at No. 5, but Seattle investing a little more in corner could definitely materialize.

What say you? Would you be surprised if the Seahawks take a corner with their first pick? Keep in mind the possibility of a trade down from this position, as the odds of both Will Anderson and Jalen Carter being off the board at No. 5 seem remote.

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