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Seahawks unlikely to fix 2023 defense in 2023 draft

When the Seahawks head to the podium next week in Kansas City, it will be more about 2024 and beyond than 2023.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Barely a week remains until the start of the 2023 NFL Draft, and fans of the Seattle Seahawks are more excited and ready than they have been in recent years. Holding a pair of picks in each of the first and second rounds of the draft, Seattle is in a position to select players with the significant potential to make an impact. That impact is what many fans are looking forward to, with the opportunity to fix the defense with the five picks the team currently holds on the first two days of the draft.

However, while the Seahawk certainly hold the picks to draft players who can make an impact for several seasons to come, the reality is that the immediate expectations of many fans may be too high. Specifically, coming off a 2022 draft class that was the most productive and successful for Seattle in a decade, expectations regarding the contributions of the players added to the roster in the 2023 draft - especially early - are lofty.

This is in spite of the fact that the track record of the Seahawks has been to consistently keep drafted players on the bench as rookies. The overwhelming majority of players drafted by Seattle, even those chosen on the first two days of the draft, do not make significant contributions on the field as rookies. Thus, in order to get a better understanding of what might be expected of the players the team drafts this season, here are a couple of different looks at how much playing time the Day 1 and Day 2 picks of the Seahawks have seen the field as rookies over the past decade.

To start with, here are the raw numbers in terms of snaps played for every offensive player selected on the first two days of the draft since 2013.

Rookie season snap counts of Seahawks Day 1 & Day 2 draft picks since 2013

Player Draft Position Snaps Played
Player Draft Position Snaps Played
Charles Cross 1.9 1091
Ken Walker 2.41 575
Abe Lucas 3.72 978
Dee Eskridge 2.56 187
Damien Lewis 3.69 967
DK Metcalf 2.64 927
Rashaad Penny 1.27 181
Ethan Pocic 2.58 638
Amara Darboh 3.106 191
Germain Ifedi 1.31 840
C.J. Prosise 3.90 147
Nick Vannett 3.94 84
Rees Odhiambo 3.97 33
Tyler Lockett 3.69 663
Paul Richardson 2.45 498
Justin Britt 2.64 1058
Christine Michael 2.62 26

That certainly is not a bad group, and the 17 players in that list average 534 snaps as rookies. However, seven of the draftees in that list are offensive linemen, and that obviously has the ability to skew the numbers to the high side since linemen who play tend to play every single snap. Thus, taking a look at the averages of each group of the seven linemen and the ten non-linemen yields the following averages:

  • Offensive Linemen: 801 snaps
  • Skill Position Players: 348 snaps

It’s obvious that the snap count totals are pulled higher by the offensive linemen, but even the average for the skill position players is driven in large part by a small number of the players in the group. Therefore, to get a better understanding of these, here’s a look at the distribution of snap counts for just the skill position players followed by the distribution of snap counts for the offensive linemen.

So, of the 14 skill position players the Seahawks have drafted on the first two days of the draft since 2013, just four have played more than 200 snaps during their rookie season. In contrast, it has been a different story for rookie offensive linemen (Author’s Note: With the exception of Rees Odhiambo, of course).

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, here is a look at the raw numbers.

Rookie snap counts of Seahawks Day 1 & 2 defensive picks since 2013

Player Draft Position Snaps played
Player Draft Position Snaps played
Boye Mafe 2.4 424
Jordyn Brooks 1.27 367
Darrell Taylor 2.48 0
L.J. Collier 1.29 152
Marquise Blair 2.47 230
Cody Barton 3.88 151
Rasheem Green 3.79 201
Malik McDowell 2.35 0
Shaquill Griffin 3.9 875
Lano Hill 3.95 32
Naz Jones 3.102 284
Jarran Reed 2.49 477
Frank Clark 2.63 323
Jordan Hill 3.87 64

What immediately jumps out from that table is that Shaquill Griffin is the lone defensive player drafted by Seattle in the first three rounds of the draft who saw the field for more than 500 snaps as a rookie. There have been a handful of other defensive players drafted on Day 3 who managed to break the 500 snap threshold as rookies during the past decade, but the list is not long and is limited exclusively to defensive backs:

  • Tariq Woolen: 1,134 snaps
  • Coby Bryant: 756 snaps
  • Tre Flowers: 903 snaps

Coming back to the players added on Day 1 and Day 2 of the draft, the distribution of snaps played is telling.

In short, for those declaring or hoping that the Seahawks can simply deploy the five selections they hold on the first two days of the draft to “fix the defense”, if that is something that is done it is a strategy that is more likely to address the 2024 and 2025 defensive units than the 2023 Seattle defense.