Much was made about the Seattle Seahawks drafting cornerback Devon Witherspoon at No. 5 in the opening round of the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s the first time Pete Carroll and John Schneider have used a Round 1 or Round 2 pick on a cornerback in what is now their 14th draft together, and clearly the hope is that Witherspoon and Tariq Woolen can form one of the NFL’s best cornerback duos.
What’s arguably a bigger deal is the Seahawks using the No. 20 pick on Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Seattle has used second-rounders on Dee Eskridge, Paul Richardson, and DK Metcalf, and obviously they gave up a first-rounder for Percy Harvin, but this is the first time the Seahawks have drafted a wide receiver in Round 1 under Carroll.
In fact, this is only the third time in franchise history that the Seahawks have drafted a receiver in Round 1. The previous two occasions were Koren Robinson in 2001 and Joey Galloway (also an Ohio State alum) in 1995. JSN ended a 22-year gap between Round 1 receiver selections, which was the longest in the NFL. Now that distinction belongs to the Green Bay Packers, whose last first-round WR pick was Javon Walker in 2002.
The Seahawks are only two years removed from trying to beef up the wide receiver depth chart with the Eskridge pick, but so far that hasn’t panned out for mostly health reasons. Smith-Njigba is coming off a hamstring injury that shortened his 2022 season with the Buckeyes, but hopefully that’s not a problem that lingers into the NFL.
Seattle could’ve invested in the defensive line early given the pronounced struggles on that side of the ball, but instead it opted to take one of the top talents in the draft regardless of position, and if JSN’s potential is realized then that is a huge boost to the Seahawks passing offense.