Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently released their ‘Early 2023 NFL roster rankings for all 32 teams’ with strengths, weaknesses, rookies to watch, and more.
To their credit, PFF says the rankings are, “where all 32 teams stand on paper heading into the 2023 season.”
Working against them is the fact that they put the Seahawks at No. 11.
On the bright side, PFF has the Los Angeles Rams at No. 31, and the Arizona Cardinals at No. 32 - which, as a 12, is always nice to see.
Before we look at what PFF has to say about Seattle’s roster, let’s look at the Top 10:
- Philadelphia Eagles
- San Francisco 49ers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Buffalo Bills
- Dallas Cowboys
- New York Jets
- Baltimore Ravens
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Miami Dolphins
Are there teams on that list that the Seahawks could be ranked above?
My answer would be, “Yes,” but I wouldn’t argue very hard.
Personally, I’d prefer Seattle was ranked 12th.
For the obvious reason.
Ready for what PFF said about the Seahawks when installing them as the No. 11 roster?
Biggest strength in 2023: Vertical Passing
Geno Smith was the NFL’s premier deep passer in 2022, carrying a 99.2 passing grade on 20-plus yards throws. He made 32 big-time throws to just seven turnover-worthy plays on deep balls. Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Marquise Goodwin all finished with 95.0-plus receiving grades on deep balls, as well. This was a big-play offense that now adds dynamic rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba and is supplemented by a healthy Kenneth Walker III. This could be a really dangerous offense again in 2023 if Smith keeps the momentum going.
Biggest weakness in 2023: Run Defense
Most of Seattle’s poor efforts on defense came against run-heavy teams. Their defense was overmatched three times against the 49ers, as well as in games against the Raiders and Falcons. They even allowed 161 yards on the ground to the Buccaneers’ feeble attack. Reuniting with Bobby Wagner should be a massive boon to a front seven that was too often gashed last year.
X-Factor for 2023: QB Geno Smith
The Comeback Player of the Year had an excellent 2022, but there are signs that regression could be coming. It’s challenging to repeat outlier-level deep ball performance year over year. The Seahawks should lean more on the run game and easier throws if they want to improve on last season’s success. Smith will also have to be more consistent. His passing grade in Weeks 1-8 last season was 84.4, third best in the NFL, but that number dropped to 64.0 in his last 10 games.
Rookie to watch: CB Devon Witherspoon
The fifth pick in the draft creates a potentially fearsome duo with Tariq Woolen. Woolen led the league with six interceptions last year. Witherspoon brings rare aggression on the outside and fits seamlessly into a defense that generally operates with one high safety. Witherspoon’s excellence in man coverage was nearly unmatched in this draft class. Seattle could have the best pair of cornerbacks in football very soon.
Over/Under 8.5 win total: Over
The gap will widen between the haves and have-nots in the NFC West. Seattle had an excellent offseason. The rookie class and Bobby Wagner fit in seamlessly. They should secure four wins against the Cardinals and Rams. They don’t match up well with the 49ers and Geno Smith may regress a bit, but there’s enough talent here to post a winning record and contend for a wild-card berth.
It sort of seems like a cop-out, but I don’t really have any arguments with what PFF has to say about the Seahawks’ roster.
- Our passing attack is going to be crazy good. CHECK.
- Our run defense is suspect until they prove otherwise. CHECK.
- Geno Smith is the key to our season; he needs to be good all year long. CHECK.
- Devin Witherspoon is the rookie to watch. CHECK(ish); I might lean toward Jaxon Smith-Njigba, depending on the day and how I’m feeling.
- Seattle will win hit the over and win at least nine games. CHECK.
Seattle’s Projected Starters (per PFF)
For whatever reason, PFF selected 12 players on offense and 12 players on defense, but we won’t hold that against them.
- QB Geno Smith
- RB Kenneth Walker III
- RB Zach Charbonnet (R)
- WR D.K. Metcalf
- WR Tyler Lockett
- WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (R)
- TE Noah Fant
- LT Charles Cross
- LG Damien Lewis
- C Evan Brown
- RG Phil Haynes
- RT Abraham Lucas
- IDL Jarran Reed
- IDL Dre’Mont Jones
- EDGE Uchenna Nwosu
- EDGE Darrell Taylor
- EDGE Boye Mafe
- ILB Bobby Wagner
- ILB Jordyn Brooks
- CB Tariq Woolen
- CB Devon Witherspoon (R)
- CB Coby Bryant
- S Quandre Diggs
- S Julian Love
Zero arguments against the offensive starters. I think that Olu Olu and Anthony Bradford might win starting spots at center and right Guard (respectively) in training camp, but as things are right now . . . all good.
On defense though . . .
Well, let’s just say that my eyebrows are arched in a questioning way and leave it at that.
At least for now.
(I might sound off in the Comments.)