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Ted’s Talk: Lessons learned from the Seattle Seahawks 2023 draft

The dust has settled on the Seahawks 2023 draft class, and there are plenty of common threads and themes throughout the philosophy behind the 10 players selected.

NFL: APR 27 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

John Schneider and Pete Carroll entered the 2023 NFL Draft with 10 selections. They exited the draft with 10 players plus a 2024 third-round draft pick (thanks Denver!). Now that the hay is in the barn, what can we learn from the past weekend’s festivities?

The Seattle Seahawks went Best Player Available (BPA) – for THEIR team

Leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, Schneider said on multiple occasions that one of the reasons the 2022 draft class was so successful was that they really focused on taking the best players instead of pushing lower-graded prospects up their board.

Devon Witherspoon, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Zach Charbonnet all clearly follow this philosophy. Seattle’s biggest need was for the biggest men to hold down the trenches. Jalen Carter was a big man. Tyree Wilson was also a big man. And yet, the Seahawks picked a decidedly not big man, but a feisty cornerback.

No problem, they still had another first-round pick to beef up the defensive line. So, of course they selected a third (for now) wide receiver to work the middle of the field and move the chains.

In the second round, Seattle took a running back for the second consecutive year. At least, Charbonnet is a big-ish player for his position, right?

The Seahawks got THEIR guys. Witherspoon and Smith-Njigba were the first players off the board at their respective positions. Schneider had his pick of the litter and chose those two players. There’s no question as to whether they preferred another CB or WR. Charbonnet was only behind Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs – both of whom went in the first round. Seattle could have waited and went with someone like Roschon Johnson later in the draft, but instead selected the player they coveted. Schneider followed the same philosophy that helped their 2022 draft be so successful.

Seattle’s lack of draft trades may be the new normal

In the not-too-distant past, it was almost assured that the Seahawks would make multiple trades during the draft – usually moving back to acquire more picks. For the second year in a row, this wasn’t necessarily the case. Schneider made only one trade, sending No. 83 to the Denver Broncos for No. 108 and a 2024 third-round draft pick. That was a great trade value-wise by the way.

The 2023 NFL Draft featured 43 trades – the most in a draft in NFL history. Schneider only contributed to 2.33% of that which would have been outlandish to imagine a few years ago. It seems like Seattle might be focusing more on sticking and picking players they really like instead of going for more bites at the apple.

Besides a late-round flier, the Seahawks focused on big college programs

Here’s the breakdown of conferences for the Seahawks 2023 draft class:

  • Big Ten (4)
  • SEC (4)
  • Pac-12, but future Big Ten in 2024 (1)
  • Mountain West (1)

That’s 90% of the selections coming from “Power Five” conferences. Generally, these players will face stiffer competition at those schools and will ideally be better positioned to contribute early in the pros. If they can be successful at that level, their ability to transition to the NFL should be easier to project.

The Seahawks hit on Tariq Woolen out of UTSA in the fifth round last year, and also selected Dareke Young out of Lenoir Rhyne in the seventh round. They made a similar gamble this year with safety Jerrick Reed out of New Mexico in the sixth round. Early on, though, the Seahawks focused on players from established programs.

Schneider won’t force a pick at quarterback

Armed with the highest draft pick since taking the helm in 2010, Schneider was well positioned to draft one of the top quarterbacks. He and many members of the coaching and scouting staff made the rounds on their “QB Selfie Tour 2023 Edition” attending pro-days for Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis.

By the time the Seahawks were on the clock at No. 5, however, the only one remaining of that group was Levis. They not only passed on a passer there, but for the entirety of the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite Schneider’s repeated mentioning of his mentor, Ron Wolf, and his proclivity for taking quarterbacks, Schneider has still only drafted two signal callers since 2010 - Russell Wilson in the third round in 2012 and USFL superstar Alex McGough in the seventh round in 2018.

There were plenty of other developmental prospects available throughout the draft including Hendon Hooker. whom the Seahawks had been rumored to be interested in. Yet, Schneider held firm. It seems pretty clear to me that while he’s not opposed to drafting a quarterback, he’s going to be VERY picky when choosing one in the early rounds.

There’s a whole offseason to unpack the Seahawks 2023 draft class and dig into the details, but these were just a few themes that stuck out to me in the immediate aftermath of the 2023 NFL Draft when comparing it to last year. Now, if this class can contribute in the same way as the 2022 selections did, Seattle will be well on their way to closing the gap on the top teams in the NFC.