Every year Mike Clay compiles a comprehensive assessment of each NFL roster and unleashes it upon the world.
Every year, we’ve followed suit with a simple response, because it’s never been favorable to the Seattle Seahawks and because the colors are very pretty.
Here is the pre-draft projection chart:
Here is the complete first run of 2023 NFL Unit Grades!— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 24, 2023
Each of the 10 units are ranked 1-32 based on current rosters (assuming Rodgers on NYJ for now) and weighted based on positional importance pic.twitter.com/tphWfvU1x7
In conclusion, the Seahawks, who finished 2022 with a better record than 17 teams, are projected to have a roster more talented than only 11 now.
Here’s a summary of Clay’s opinion the Seahawks roster:
- QB - 16th
- RB - 19th
- WR - 7th
- TE - 12th
- OL - 20th
- DL interior - 23rd
- EDGE - 25th
- Linebacker (two days before signing Bobby Wagner) - 25th
- CB - 26th
- Safety - 5th
In this instance, Clay’s gone a little haywire in both directions.
Quarterback: Geno Smith
At least it’s a better grade than last year? Smith finished the year as a top-10 quarterback in almost every meaningful category, and a top-5 in most of them. Clay’s not only betting on regression but betting pretty big.
Running back: Kenneth Walker and not much else
Is there depth? No there is not. But the runner-up for Rookie of the Year is not a worse back than Najee Harris. Walker had more yards, touchdowns, twice as far of a long run, 0.7 better yards per attempt, and more total first downs - on six fewer games.
Wide Receiver: DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett
This one is fine.
Tight End: George Fant, Will Dissly, the other tall guy
This is also fine; actually seems high if anything. Seattle schemed their tight ends very well last season, but nobody’s broken out as a true threat in and of themselves.
Three out of five guys were good; two out of five were bad. Is that the type of math that makes 19 teams better? I do not know. They keep changing math.
Defensive Interior: Dre’Mont Jones and......
I don’t understand how Clay even gave this unit a grade, much less the second-highest on this defense. At the time of writing there’s one and a half guys on the roster here, but if Jones by himself is better than the Bears then that’s exciting.
Defensive End: Uchenna Nwosu, Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, etc
It is at this point I become convinced that Mike Clay has not actually seen the Seahawks play football. Seattle had the 8th-most sacks in the NFL last season. This is a lazy and uninformed grade.
This is fine.
It is at this point, two position groups later, just when I had begun to forget about the d-line fiasco, willing to observe with objective eyes, that I become convinced once again that Clay has not watched the Seahawks on either television or internet. It does not matter who they put across Tariq Woolen, this is not possibly a unit better than five teams in the NFL. Besides, whoever they put across Woolen actually held up rather well because the opposing offense was too busy running the ball.
Safety: Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Julian Love
This was Clay’s best grade for the team. The entire team. Two things stand out:
- This comes after the addition of Julian Love and before the departure of Ryan Neal
- This can be nothing short of an extremely high view of Love and of Jamal Adams’ talent/return.
I don’t know what to make of the fact that safety jumped up so high after the season that Diggs just had and Adams just did not.
I’m getting ahead of myself, however - here are the grades from last season:
What the above signals to me above anything else is that Clay takes a significantly measured approach in making year-over-year changes. It helps explain some (not all) of the more outlandish projections.
Compared to the ‘22 season, when Clay - like many - thought Seattle would outperform two or three teams, the changes are minimal. Running back up a bit, receiver same, tight end barely down, o-line up a bit. On defense, interior down a bit, edge up, linebacker same, corner up but not enough, and then safety is the weird one.
The only truly significant alteration the ‘23 projection has against last year is the big jump for Geno Smith.
If anything, it’s a small nod towards how difficult it can be for certain teams to change national perception, and a bigger nod towards Smith getting himself noticed nationwide last season.
If Seattle makes the playoffs again, Clay might actually have to cave in and do something truly drastic like...project them in the top half of the league.