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ESPN analysts think Seahawks are poised for long-term success

Seattle is the NFC’s No. 2 team in the Future Power Rankings

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

One of ESPN’s many annual traditions is their Future Power Rankings and the 2023 iteration hit ESPN+ Wednesday morning.

Before we look at the many Seattle Seahawks-related surprises, let’s first look at ESPN’s methodology.

  • ESPN’s Panel of Experts = Dan Graziano, Louis Riddick, and Seth Walder
  • Focus = 2023, 2024, and 2025
  • Graded Categories = Quarterback situation, overall roster (minus QB), draft ability/capital, front office, and coaching
  • Grading Scale = 0 to 100 points per category (100 = A+; 90 = A; 80 = B; 70 = C; 60 = D; 50 and below = F)
  • Category Contribution to Final Grade (aka Weighted Contribution) = 30% roster, 20% QB, 20% coaching, 15% draft, 15% front office

Next, let’s look at who the top-5 teams were, what their overall grades were, and what the driving force behind their ranking was.

One. Philadelphia Eagles; 94.1; Top-5 in four of the five categories, including No. 1 for roster and front office, and No. 2 for draft.

Two. Kansas City Chiefs; 93.4; Top-5 in every category, including No. 1 in QB situation and coaching.

Three. Cincinnati Bengals; 91.0; Top-5 in four of the five categories, led by No. 2 ranking for QB situation.

TIE-Four. Baltimore Ravens; 89.9; Top-5 in three categories, including No. 2 for front office and No. 3 for coaching; no category lower than No. 8.

TIE-Four. Buffalo Bills; 89.9; No. 3 QB, No. 3 front office, No. 5 coaching, No. 7 for roster and draft.

I don’t know about y’all, but what stands out to me about the five teams at the top of the rankings is that they all graded very highly across the board - only six of their combined 25 grades were lower than 5th league-wide, and the lowest ranking was the Ravens landing at No. 8 for draft ability/capital.

I’ll also point out that only one NFC team landed in the Top 5.

No. 6 is where things get interesting, for two reasons:

  1. All of the teams that landed outside the top 5 have flaws - which seems obvious when you consider that 19 of the 25 possible top-5 rankings were swallowed up by the Eagles, Chiefs, Bengals, Ravens, and Bills.
  2. Seattle is ESPN’s No. 6 team!

The Seahawks overall score was/is 85.9.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Overall roster = 85.0 (11th league-wide)
  • Quarterback situation = 80.7 (12th)
  • Coaching = 84.0 (17th)
  • Draft = 92.3 (No. 1 , baby!!!)
  • Front Office = 91.0 (4th)

Kudos to John Schneider for being recognized for his awesomeness, both with his 4th-place finish in the Front Office category, but also for the No. 1 Draft ranking.

Pete Carroll (and the rest of the coaching staff) only 17th-best league-wide though?

And Geno, with his team-friendly 3-year deal at No. 12?

Still, No. 6 overall is great!

Especially when the Santa Clara Whiners San Francisco 49ers are ranked lower (tied for 8th place).

Here’s ESPN’s write-up about the Seahawks:

Reason for hope: The Seahawks’ two highest grades were in the front office and drafting categories, and it’s no surprise. GM John Schneider’s ability to manipulate the draft has kept the Seahawks competitive for more than a decade. Early returns indicate they fleeced the Broncos in last year’s Russell Wilson trade. And while a 32-year-old Geno Smith might not be their long-term answer at QB, his outstanding 2022 performance (tied for sixth in QBR at 60.8) at the very least bought them time to keep looking for one. — Graziano

Reason for concern: Can Seattle clean up its inability to stop the run and not get pushed at the line of scrimmage? This team has the potential to win the NFC West in 2023, but that defensive line needs to improve. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed and defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones will be major upgrades, as will rookie D-tackle Cameron Young from Mississippi State. — Riddick

Stat to know: Cornerback Tariq Woolen managed an impressive six interceptions last season as a rookie, but that wasn’t his only strong coverage number. He also posted just a 13.5% target rate, second lowest among all outside corners with at least 300 coverage snaps, behind only Pat Surtain II. He’s the headliner of a banner 2022 draft that has Seattle in great position going forward. — Walder

The Pittsburgh Steelers (84.1), Jacksonville Jaguars (84.0), 49ers (84.0), Dallas Cowboys (83.2), Detroit Lions (82.6), and Miami Dolphins (82.5) round out the Top-12.

Russell Wilson’s Denver Broncos landed at No. 19 (with their QB situation ranked 21st league-wide).

The Los Angeles Rams check in at No. 28 with a 70.7 overall score and a roster that landed at No. 31 overall league-wide.

Not surprisingly, the Arizona Cardinals are at the bottom of the list with an overall score of 68.5 which is buoyed by their No. 10 draft ranking (based largely on having six picks in the first three rounds of next year’s draft).

Bonus Coverage

Born with the curiosity of a cat, I had to know which coaching staffs ranked higher than the Seahawks staff.

And which coaching staffs ranked lower than Seattle’s.

Here’s the list:

And, for those who think that Seattle’s QB situation should have been higher than No. 12 (like I do), here’s the eleven teams that ranked higher:

  • No. 1: Kansas City Chiefs
  • No. 2: Cincinnati Bengals
  • No. 3: Buffalo Bills
  • No. 4: Philadelphia Eagles
  • No. 5: Baltimore Ravens
  • No. 6: Los Angeles Chargers
  • No. 7: Jacksonville Jaguars
  • No. 8: New York Jets
  • No. 9: Dallas Cowboys
  • No. 10: Detroit Lions
  • No. 11: Chicago Bears

Note: Seattle is tied with the Dolphins at No. 12.

Last but not least, and partly just to satisfy the completionist in me, here are the overall rosters (minus QB) that ranked higher than Seattle (which landed at No. 11 overall):

  • No. 1: Philadelphia Eagles
  • No. 2: Miami Dolphins
  • No. 3: Cincinnati Bengals
  • No. 4: San Francisco 49ers
  • No. 5: Kansas City Chiefs
  • No. 6: Baltimore Ravens
  • No. 7: Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys
  • No. 9: Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers
  • Note: The Jets and the Browns are tied with the Seahawks at No. 11.