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ESPN rewinds the 2023 NFL Draft and instantly improves the Seahawks’ run defense

Would Pete Carroll be more than an advisor if this had been the Seahawks draft?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It’s said that hindsight is 20/20, and one of the best ways to prove that is to re-draft previous NFL drafts like ESPN did earlier this week with the first two rounds for the class of 2023.

Note: The full article is behind the ESPN+ paywall so the link is worthless if you don’t have access.

As is typically the case, ESPN imposed some arbitrary rules. Of particular importance is the fact that there are no trades in the re-draft which means the Arizona Cardinals picked third instead of sending that pick to the Houston Texans (not that it changed the pick; Will Anderson Jr. is still the first defender off the board), and the Detroit Lions don’t move back from No. 6 to No. 12 and add No. 34 in the process (which is a bummer for them since they end up with OT Paris Johnson Jr. instead of doubling up with RB Jahmyr Gibbs and TE Sam LaPorta).

Wide Receiver Puka Nacua makes the biggest move in ESPN’s re-draft, vaulting all the way up to No. 4, which is 173 spots earlier than he was actually selected (R5.177). As a fan of the Seattle Seahawks, I applaud this because it gets him out of our division and our conference while also weakening the Los Angeles Rams.

Five of the sixty-three picks in Rounds 1 and 2 remain unchanged, including four of the first nine picks overall.

Devon Witherspoon is one of those unchanged picks.

The Seahawks were open to taking a quarterback at this spot in the actual draft and rated Anderson as their top defender, but with Anderson and Stroud gone, Witherspoon is a no-brainer. They’d feel fortunate he’s still available at No. 5 after an excellent rookie season in which he made the Pro Bowl and is a finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He finished with 79 tackles, three sacks, an interception and a defensive touchdown. — Brady Henderson

Seattle goes defense at No. 20 as well, selecting Wake Forest DT Kobie Turner (who was originally drafted by the Rams).

Passing on Smith-Njigba is hard, but Seattle’s run defense was awful — even after trading for defensive end Leonard Williams in October. In this scenario, Seattle would beef up its D-line with Turner, who led all rookies in sacks (nine) and run stop win rate (38%, 20th among all linemen). And it likely would have prevented the Seahawks from having to give up a second-round pick for Williams at midseason. — Brady Henderson

The Minnesota Vikings take Jaxon Smith-Njigba off the board at No. 23, but ESPN shows some love for Seattle’s offense by sending WR Tank Dell to the Emerald City with the first of the Seahawks’ two 2nd-round picks.

A part of the thinking in passing on Smith-Njigba at No. 20 overall, even after his strong rookie season, was that Turner wouldn’t get past the Rams at No. 36, whereas a good receiver should still be available here. The Seahawks get one in Dell, who outproduced Smith-Njigba with 709 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games for the Texans before he fractured his left fibula in early December. Hall had 30 tackles in 300 defensive snaps. — Brady Henderson

ESPN uses Seattle’s second Day 2 pick (No. 52 overall) to curry more favor with the 12s by selecting/poaching Tennessee OLB Byron Young.

Charbonnet had a strong season (671 scrimmage yards, one touchdown) as the Seahawks’ No. 2 running back, but their underperforming defense needs an upgrade on the edge. Young was second to Kobie Turner among rookies with eight sacks, which was eight more than Seattle got from its actual pick at No. 37, Derick Hall. And as with Turner, this pick prevents him from going to the division-rival Rams. — Brady Henderson

To recap . . .

Seattle’s original draft class from Rounds 1 & 2:

  • No. 5: CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
  • No. 20: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
  • No. 37: OLB Derick Hall (Auburn)
  • No. 52: RB Zach Charbonnet (UCLA)

Seattle’s re-drafted class from Rounds 1 & 2:

  • No. 5: CB Devon Witherspoon (Illinois)
  • No. 20: DT Kobie Turner (Wake Forest)
  • No. 37: WR Tank Dell (Houston)
  • No. 52: OLB Byron Young (Tennessee)

__________

Obviously, there are no re-do’s in the NFL Draft.

But . . .

Hypothetically . . .

One might wonder if the Seahawks would have made the playoffs and/or if Pete Carroll would still be the head coach had ESPN made Seattle’s selections in last year’s draft.

My guess?

Probably yes (playoffs) and probably no (Pete).

Go Hawks!