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Analytically speaking, the Seahawks should land Will Anderson Jr. at No. 5

PFF put their analytics to good use and Seattle benefits.

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Texas A&M v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Let’s put this out there: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. would look very, very good in navy blue, wolf gray, and action green.

Of all the players that the Seattle Seahawks could select with the 5th overall choice in the 2023 NFL Draft, Anderson is far and away the “safest” one with All-Pro potential.

Plus, EDGE carries the positional value to justify the fully-guaranteed 4-year, $34M contract that the player selected at #5 will receive.

The “problem” is that almost no one believes Will Anderson Jr. will still be on the board when the Seahawks go on the clock at around 5:40pm on April 27th.

Pro Football Focus disagrees.

Or, rather, PFF’s analytics department disagrees.

In an analytical mock draft that was published on Tuesday, April 18th, PFF used their proprietary analytics to assign the top prospects to draft slots and teams.

Quarterbacks went 1-2-3-4, leaving the Seahawks as the first team for whom analytics demanded a non-quarterback.

Before we confirm what you already know (since the headline gave it away), let’s first look at the methodology that PFF used for this mock draft:

This is not a predictive mock draft, but a mock draft that exclusively follows “analytical” thinking by viewing positional value through two lenses: on-field value and surplus value compared to the veteran marketplace.

Each pick in this mock draft was made by factoring in a player’s statistics and grading from college, along with the value of the player’s natural position. While taking one of the best running back prospects we’ve seen in quite some time in the top 10 may seem fun, it isn’t the best allocation of resources given the depth at the position in this year’s draft.

When looking at team needs, we made sure to consider the long-term outlook of how the player fits in a roster, not just their impact in 2023. Expiring contracts, age in the position group and overall skill level in the group were all part of the process when mocking each player to their respective teams.

The top of the draft

As noted earlier, the first four picks were all quarterbacks: Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida‘s Anthony Richardson, and Kentucky‘s Will Levis went 1-2-3-4 to the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders (via a trade with the Arizona Cardinals), and Indianapolis Colts, in that order.

Seattle is on the clock at #5, and it’s time for a non-quarterback . . .

Will Anderson Jr., come on down!

Anderson seems like this year’s prospect that was so good so early on at the college level that we’ve begun to have hype fatigue, overanalyzing every little aspect of his profile. While there are reportedly teams with concerns about how exactly to deploy Anderson, a good organization should be able to figure it out.

Anderson ranked 14th in pressure rate on true pass sets (22.9%) among edge defenders in 2022, and his continued high-level success was important as a player who received maximum attention from offenses given how much he’d already proven in his college career.

Interestingly, PFF’s analytics has Georgia DT Jalen Carter going to the Detroit Lions with the next pick, #6 overall.

Off-field concerns notwithstanding, Carter would likely be the first non-quarterback taken in the draft with zero hesitation. Over the past two seasons among FBS interior defenders, Carter ranks fifth in pass-rush win rate on true pass sets (23.2%) and fourth in pressure percentage (19.6%).

Let that sink in for a moment.

What PFF is saying is that were it not for Carter’s legal issues and poor Pro Day performance, he would have been the Seahawks’ choice at #5, and the Lions would be adding Will Anderson Jr. as a terrifying bookend to Aidan Hutchinson.

Pulling players off the board from 7 to 19

There’s no word on what they got for moving back from #3 to #7, but the Cardinals use their new positioning to add Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez.

Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson goes to the Atlanta Falcons at #8.

A pair of Tackles round out the Top 10 with Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. going to the Chicago Bears and Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski going to the Philadelphia Eagles at #s 9 and 10, respectively.

JSN is the first wideout off the board at #11 (Tennessee Titans).

Houston uses their second R1 (#12) on the draft’s third EDGE (Iowa‘s Lukas Van Ness), and the Green Bay Packers take EDGE #4 (Georgia’s Nolan Smith) at #15.

The New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers add Offensive Tackles at #13, #17, and #19 selecting Georgia’s Broderick Jones, Tennessee‘s Darnell Wright, and Oklahoma‘s Anton Harrison, respectively.

Cornerbacks come off the board at #14, #16, and #18, with the Patriots taking the Fighting Illini‘s Devon Witherspoon at #14, the Commanders taking the Nittany Lions‘ Joey Porter Jr. at #16, and Lions using their second R1 (#18 overall) to select the Terrapins‘ Deonte Banks.

Seattle’s second R1

All hail analytics!

Translation: I love this pick!

The Seahawks have done well to provide Geno Smith with offensive weapons while building up their offensive line, but they’re still lacking a quality third wideout. Zay Flowers is similar to Tyler Lockett in terms of his frame, but different in the way they operate. While Lockett is notorious for not generating many yards after the catch, Flowers ranked 16th in college football in that category last year and would give the Seahawks a horizontal element to their offense.

Flowers is small (5-10, 177), and he would finish 3rd in a race with D.K. Metcalf (4.33) and Tyler Lockett (4.40) given that he ran a 4.42 forty at the NFL Combine, but . . .

He would be a GREAT addition to the Seahawks receivers corps.

The rest of Round One

Here are the rest of the first round picks in the PFF Analytics Mock Draft:

The BIGGEST takeaway

Aside from the obvious takeaway, which is that Will Anderson Jr. and Zay Flowers would be a phenomenal first round for Seattle, my biggest takeaway is . . .


In this mock draft, based on PFF’s analytics, Texas RB Bijan Robinson and Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs are both on the board when Day Two starts, and only five players will be selected before Seattle is on the clock with the #37 overall pick.

Tick, tick, tick . . .