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A frank discussion about the Seahawks defensive ‘needs’ in the 2023 NFL Draft

Needs = front seven + secondary; did we miss anything?

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

If you’ve ever found yourself in the market for a new-to-you home and found yourself wanting something that’s more than you can afford, you’ve undoubtedly had a firsthand lesson in “want” vs. “need.”

This example comes to mind for two reasons:

  1. As a former (and future) real estate agent, I have seen a lot of people label their wants as needs and then struggle with which is which when told that they can’t have it all given their current resources.
  2. My girlfriend and I might be moving in May. For the last 7-1/2 years, we’ve been in a 1BR, 1BA condo that has a loft (aka my office) but no garage. We want a garage so we can get rid of our nearby storage unit (and so I can park my Mustang inside during the winter). We need a 2nd bathroom because two (or more) people sharing one toilet for 7-1/2 years is decidedly not fun.

My oversharing aside, it’s time for another “Frank” discussion, this time about what the Seahawksneed“ on defense.

As usual, I will try (and sometimes fail) to keep my personal opinions out of this . . . until we get to the Comments section.

Unlike the first two frank discussions (QB connections, Jalen Carter), the section headings this time won’t be “talking points”; instead, they’ll be player positions. Then, inside each section, there will be:

  • A breakdown of who the Seahawks currently have on their roster.
  • One argument FOR the position being considered a need.
  • One argument AGAINST it being a need.

Note: For most, if not all, of the positions, there will be more than one argument that could be made for and/or against the position being a need. I am limiting myself to one so that this doesn’t become a 5,000-word op-ed. In some cases, the argument I’ve posited isn’t the biggest one; it’s just the one I chose to write about.

Defensive Tackle

Current roster:

  • Dre’Mont Jones (3/$51M UFA signing)
  • Jarran Reed (2/$9M UFA signing)
  • Myles Adams (ERFA, tendered qualifying offer in March)
  • Bryan Mone (may miss most/all of the 2023 season)
  • Jarrod Hewitt (signed to Futures contract)


Argument FOR this being a ‘need’: Where’s the depth? Especially at Nose Tackle where the only player on the roster who is even remotely suited for the role is rehabbing an injury that may turn out to be career-ending. Unless the plan is for Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed to really earn their money by playing over 90% of the defensive snaps, this is arguably the biggest need the Seahawks face heading into the 2023 NFL Draft.


Argument AGAINST this being a ‘need’: You know how sometimes when you look at a Voters Guide and there’s no submission for one side of an issue or there’s a candidate who didn’t send in a bio? Yeah, this is like that.

EDGE Rusher (aka Outside Linebacker)

Current roster:

  • Uchenna Nwosu (had 9-1/2 sacks last year)
  • Darrell Taylor (also had 9-1/2 sacks)
  • Boye Mafe (selected at No. 40 last year, played 424 defensive snaps, had 3 sacks)
  • Alton Robinson (2020 R5, missed the entire 2022 season)
  • Tyreke Smith (R5 selection in 2022; missed entire season)
  • Josh Onujiogu (2022 UDFA, 17 total snaps with 6 of them on Special Teams)
  • Chris Garrett (signed to Futures contract)


Argument FOR this being a ‘need’: Sacks tend to get a lot of attention, but a big part of an EDGE’s job is run defense and if you saw how Seattle’s ostensible starters performed in that regard last year, it’s super clear that at least one of those players should be coming off the bench on passing downs instead of starting.


Argument AGAINST this being a ‘need’: If Alton Robinson and Tyreke Smith are healthy and ready to go, our EDGE rotation is five players deep, and while Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor may have struggled against the run, having 9-1/2 sacks each takes some of the sting out of it (both were in the top-20 league-wide last season); plus, it’s not like they were the only Seahawks defenders we should be pointing fingers at when assigning blame for the abysmal run defense last year.

Inside Linebacker

Current roster:

  • Bobby Wagner (1/$5.5M UFA signing) - Welcome home!
  • Devin Bush (1/$3.5M UFA signing)
  • Jordyn Brooks (rehabbing an ACL injury; could miss entire season)
  • Nick Bellore (signed 2/$6.6M extension in February)
  • Jon Rhattigan (ERFA, tendered qualifying offer in March)
  • Vi Jones (2022 UDFA, had 43 total snaps, all of them on Special Teams)


Argument FOR this being a ‘need’: The only ILB on the roster that is currently signed past this season is Nick Bellore.

Note: I’ll let someone else argue that Bobby has “lost a step” and/or that Bush is a cautionary tale for Brooks since Bush hasn’t been the same after tearing his ACL in the 5th game of his 2nd season.

Argument AGAINST this being a ‘need’: Bobby was PFF’s top rated linebacker last year with a 90.7 overall grade, Bush could excel in a new environment, and Brooks could be back after the Seahawks bye (whenever that ends up being). Okay, that’s actually three reasons so let’s combine them into one: It shouldn’t be difficult to re-sign any or all of the trio of Wagner, Brooks, and Bush in 2024.


Current roster:

  • Jamal Adams (6th overall pick in 2017; set NFL record with 9-1/2 sacks in 2020)
  • Quandre Diggs (3+ INTs for six years running)
  • Julian Love (2/$12M UFA signing)
  • Joey Blount (2022 UDFA, core Special-Teamer with 175 snaps last year)


Argument FOR this being a ‘need’: Regardless of where you stand on the trade that brought Jamaal Adams to Seattle or the 4-year, $70M contract extension he signed in 2021, it seems reasonable to say that he hasn’t lived up to expectations, and with him currently rehabbing for the 1,200th time and his status for Week 1 currently uncertain, it’s quite possible that the writing is on the wall as far as Adams’ tenure with the Seahawks is concerned.

Note: As JPG has pointed out (more than once) over the past few weeks, it’s incredibly unlikely that Seattle will cut or trade Adams this year, but if John and Pete think 2023 might be his final season here . . . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Argument AGAINST this being a ‘need’: Adams and Diggs are both 3x Pro Bowl players who are signed through 2025 while Love and Blount are signed through 2024. That, in and of itself, should be enough, but let’s take it a step further . . .

The combined cap hits for those four players account for 19.7% of Seattle’s $208.2M salary cap this year ($18.11M for Adams, $18.1M for Diggs, $3.91M for Love, and $874,333 for Blount). Do we really want to spend more money on the Safety position?


Current roster:

  • Tariq Woolen (2022 R5; tied for league lead with 6 INTs and finished 3rd in DROY voting)
  • Coby Bryant (2022 R4; had four forced fumbles last year)
  • Michael Jackson Sr. (ERFA, tendered qualifying offer in March)
  • Tre Brown (2021 R4; passer rating against was 59.7 his rookie season)
  • Isaiah Dunn (2021 UDFA with Jets; played 87 Special Teams snaps in 2022)
  • Chris Steele (signed to Futures contract)


Argument FOR this being a ‘need’: Tariq Woolen appears to be the real deal and Michael Jackson had a decent season last year (1 INT, 11 PBUs, 86.5 passer rating against), but Coby Bryant was inconsistent, Jackson’s PFF grades were abysmal (career lows in coverage [56.8], tackling [49.0], and overall [58.4]), and Tre Brown has only appeared in 11 games over his first two seasons, so as optimistic as we might want to be, cornerback is a need.


Argument AGAINST this being a ‘need’: Assuming the safety we recently signed (Julian Love) is viewed as the first man up in the slot, the three-way competition between Jackson, Bryant, and Brown to see who’s going to be the starter at LCB could drive one (or more) of them to be Tariq Woolen’s equal in 2023 (and beyond).

Phrasing that another way (but not actually providing an additional argument):

  • Brown has had terrible luck health-wise, but has looked good in limited action;
  • Bryant was playing out of position last year (aka he’s not a natural slot guy); and
  • Jackson’s PFF grades in 2021 (86.4 in coverage, 84.4 overall) were much better than in 2022.

Thus, if all the Seahawks “need,” in addition to Woolen and Love, is to find one starter and two quality backups . . . we’ve already got three quality options on our roster.

FTR’s 2¢

Drafting Jalen Carter at No. 5, trading up from No. 20 to grab Christian Gonzalez in the teens (if he makes it that far), then using our duo of R2 picks on a linebacker and an EDGE rusher would (potentially) solve a lot of problems on defense.

But at what cost, and . . . what if it doesn’t?