The 2023 NFL Draft is fast approaching and the anticipation is mounting, both inside and outside Seattle Seahawks HQ, with the main focus being on the first Top-5 pick that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have had since coming to Seattle in 2010.
As I see it, there are roughly half a dozen players that could hear their name called by Commissioner Goodell around 5:45pm on April 27th.
Of those half dozen players, I think four fall into the “likely” category and two fall into the “unlikely” category.
Let’s start with the two that I consider UNLIKELY.
Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. = UNLIKELY
There are two players atop the non-QB list in this year’s draft class and Will Anderson Jr. is the “safer” of the two.
Unfortunately, Anderson has been mocked to the Arizona Cardinals at #3 more than any other player to any other team since the middle of February.
And it’s not even close.
Amusingly, if recent reports are to be believed, and I believe they are, there is a decent chance that the Houston Texans will use the #2 pick to ruin the dried out desert dream of Anderson-to-Arizona.
Thus, Will Anderson Jr. doesn’t make my list of players that the Seahawks are LIKELY to select at #5, simply because I don’t think Anderson will be on the board when Seattle goes on the clock.
And, unlike Brock Huard, I don’t see the Seahawks trading up to take him.
Texas RB Bijan Robinson = UNLIKELY
Admittedly, I am raining on my own parade here since Bijan Robinson is my biggest draft crush in YEARS, and Seattle needs another good / potentially great running back at the top of their depth chart (along with K9).
The idea of having back-to-back Doak Walker award winners lining up in the backfield of a high-powered Seattle offense would be a dream come true.
Alas, there is a good chance that Robinson will be the proverbial Best Player Available (BPA) on the board when Seattle goes on the clock at #5, and an even better chance that it will not matter.
Because so-called “positional value” and the fact that Robinson would instantly be the 11th-highest paid running back in the league (based on APY) are anathema to the idea that the Seahawks could shock everyone by selecting a running back at #5.
That said, I’m not giving up on the dream of a “Bijan Walker” backfield in 2023.
I don’t see it happening at #5, but IF Robinson slides into the late-teens or (holds breath) all the way to #20 . . . Seattle could (pretty, pretty please) end up with the league’s best 1-2 punch at running back for years to come.
Now, let’s look at the four players that I think are LIKELY to hear their name called at #5 . . .
. . . Starting with a massively talented player that the Seahawks brought in for a Top-30 visit earlier this month:
Georgia DT Jalen Carter = LIKELY
Yes, there are red flags with Jalen Carter and, yes, he’s a polarizing figure with the fan base (of just about every NFL team), but . . .
Dude is crazy talented.
Most evaluators consider him the best player in the 2023 draft class.
Were it not for his (since-resolved) legal issue and his poor showing at Georgia’s Pro Day, Carter would be in the UNLIKELY category for the #5 pick because someone would almost certainly take him before then.
As is, Carter could easily slide past #5 and, potentially, out of the Top-10.
Seattle has met with him though, and . . .
Assuming that Carter answered all of the questions that were asked of him to the satisfaction of Seattle’s top guys - aka John and Pete + Carter’s would-be position coach(es) . . .
It wouldn’t be surprising if Carter’s was the top name on the Seahawks’ draft board come April 27th.
After all, BPA aligning with an obvious position of need is THE DREAM.
Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson = LIKELY
In his 4/17 ‘Football Morning in America’ article, Peter King said, “It’s become almost a cliché, how many team officials think the Seahawks will take Carter with the fifth overall pick.”
To me, the #1 cliché about Seattle and the #5 pick is the misguided idea that Tyree Wilson is the obvious selection.
Mock draft after mock draft after mock draft have saddled the Seahawks with a player who is better suited for a 4-3 defense than a 3-4.
That said . . .
The Seahawks didn’t run a “true” 3-4 last year any more than they ran a “true” 4-3 in years past, and it seems extremely likely that Seattle’s “hybrid” approach to their defensive scheme will continue in 2023 (and beyond).
If so, “a prospect that possesses high-level physical traits that should allow him to make an immediate impact as a run defender” could be extremely tempting at #5.
I would not personally like hearing Wilson’s name at #5 (unless it’s another team making the pick), but, unlike Anderson (and potentially Carter), there’s a pretty good chance that Tyree Wilson will still be on the board when Seattle goes on clock, and . . .
I could see John and Pete picking him.
Florida QB Anthony Richardson = LIKELY
This would be a polarizing pick with many lamenting the fact that Richardson is unlikely to see the field (as a QB) until 2024 at the earliest. In fact, Richardson could end up being stuck behind Geno Smith (and/or Drew Lock) for most of his rookie contract (a la Jordan Love in Green Bay ).
There would also be concern about his low completion rate and generally subpar stats from his single college season as a starter.
That said, Richardson is arguably the most athletic quarterback to ever attend the NFL Combine and he continued to turn heads (and drop jaws) at Florida’s Pro Day.
If there is any quarterback in this year’s draft that John and Pete could fall head-over-heels in love with, it’s Anthony Richardson.
And, given the outsized positional value attached to quarterbacks, it’s hard to imagine Seattle not taking Richardson if he’s still on the board at #5.
Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon = LIKELY(ish)
I don’t think John and Pete are heading into the draft with the intention of selecting a cornerback with the 5th overall pick.
I don’t even think they’re “planning” to take a cornerback on Day One or Day Two, given the amount of confidence they have in their current group of CBs.
But . . .
It’s been widely reported that the Seahawks have an interest in Witherspoon and they did bring him in for a Top-30 visit, so it can’t be ruled out.
My gut says that John and Pete are hoping Witherspoon is still available at #20 - or in the mid- to late-teens so they can (potentially) trade up to grab him.
I do NOT see them taking him at #5 . . .
Unless . . .
- Will Anderson Jr., Jalen Carter, and Anthony Richardson are off the board;
- They’re unable to find a suitable partner to trade down from #5; and
- They decide that the best CB is a better option at #5 than the 2nd-best EDGE rusher.
Bottom line: Witherspoon may be a safety net, but don’t be surprised if the shutdown corner hears his name called at #5.
John and Pete have a well-known tendency to zig when others zag, and to draft players that leave folks scratching their head and wondering “What the heck just happened?”
They went away from that tendency last year and had what most consider to be their best draft since 2012.
My sense is that they’ll do (more or less) what we would expect this year, and that one of the players I have identified in this article will be the Seahawks’ first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Amusingly, all of these players will be in attendance at the draft.