The Seattle Seahawks left the 2023 draft with 10 new players, their most since 2019.
While it’s rare that a team breaks camp having cut several of their newest additions, it’s inevitable that not everybody gets to play. Others find themselves called into important situations almost immediately. This new batch spans that entire spectrum, and we’ve ranked the rookie class by the likelihood they will be key contributors this upcoming season.
10. Jerrick Reed II, S, New Mexico
We’ll start with the comical, which is that Seattle took no linebackers and only one nose tackle, but added their 11th safety to the roster.
I don’t know how many there actually are, but it’s a lot. This Reed will have the hardest time of the class to even make the team. Assuming he does, he could technically play more than either offensive linemen if they’re only backups, because it would be as a Special Teams player.
9. Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia
McIntosh with the final pick is interesting enough that the Seahawks may not need to add another running back. Carrying four is not many, but with two rookies and a second-year, the group is fresh as it gets. McIntosh possibly beats out DeeJay Dallas for...something, but it will be Zach Charbonnet on third downs and other uses, not so much either of the other two backs.
8. Mike Morris, DE, Michigan
This one is fun and interesting. Morris is kind of this year’s L.J. Collier, taken 122 picks later.
I'm skeptical that Mike Morris was a true 295 in college. If he was, that's impressive for how well he moved on the edge. But also if true, 295 isn't big enough for him to be a factor on the inside on early downs based on his college tape. his college tape is not an inside player— Francis Ford Cope-ola (@cmikesspinmove) April 29, 2023
It’s been widely shared that the coaches want Morris to get or stay big, presuming they’re going to try him inside a bit, or at least against guards. This is good for him, because the outside rush group is large at this point. But it also might not be good for him, because if he can’t make that work as his primary function, he won’t see the field very much.
7. Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
Speaking of pass rush, this was the only pick that I really don’t love. Regardless of how I feel about it, it’s no question that Hall has an extremely challenging path to meaningful snaps. Ahead of him right now are Uchenna Nwosu, Darrell Taylor, and Boye Mafe. Ahead of him until proven otherwise are Alton Robinson and Tyreke Smith. It’s crowded, and he’ll get plenty of looks, but other guys have a head start on him, two with quite a bit still left to prove in Mafe and Smith.
6. Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan
I’ve gone with Oluwatimi over Anthony Bradford, because I believe Evan Brown projects better as a center and was brought in with that purpose. Neither has any history with this franchise, so it’s presumably a full-on open competition for both spots along the line. But for now, it’s probably easier to win the job against Phil Haynes at right guard than Brown at Center, though I fully expect that Olu has all the coaches’ hopes to become the starting Center of the future, by the opening of the 2024 season.
5. Anthony Bradford, G, LSU
See previous, adding in that Haynes has more injury history and was less effective than Brown last season. Bradford has an elite athletic score coming out of college, and I’m very excited to see one of these two rookies break into the starting rotation this summer.
4. Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
Yes, the pick was mocked. But it doesn’t take more than a couple seconds of searching to see how many people around the nation came out immediately to effuse praise of Charbonnet’s skillset.
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly with @SeattleSports on new Seahawks RB Zach Charbonnet— Maura Dooley (@Maura_Dool) May 1, 2023
"Going into the draft, they're going to poke and prod and try to find something wrong with every prospect. The only red flag with Zach Charbonnet is...there are no red flags."
As much as Pete Carroll loves to run the ball, one thing he’s quietly held onto is not letting any one back run all that much since Marshawn Lynch. You won’t see a lot of 25+ carry games (Chris Carson had five in his entire career) from a Seattle back.
This gives immediate ability to run as hard as Carroll wants, plus a complementary pair that this team hasn’t actually had. Charbonnet becomes the immediate favorite to be a consistent third down back that isn’t limited to like one Travis Homer draw and dump-off per game.
3. Cameron Young, DT, Mississippi State
He will play a lot because there is nobody else to play.
It is what it is.
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
These next two are fantastic. Regardless of whether you believe the roster had greater needs elsewhere, I don’t think you could have found two better fits than elite players at wide receiver and cornerback.
Teams are now forced to put their best two coverage guys on DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and put CB3 on a guy who once put up over 350 yards in a game.
That is not an enviable position.
If he comes out of camp healthy and knows the playbook, Smith-Njigba is going to get the ball a ton.
1. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Witherspoon is going to be confused out of his mind when opposing quarterbacks scan the field and conclude he might be the safer option to throw at.
Playing opposite Tariq Woolen is an unbelievable scenario for Witherspoon, who will likely have immediate opportunities to display his talents, just as Woolen did. Eventually teams will need to figure out how to solve this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if pass breakups or even interceptions come quite early for Witherspoon to start the season.