The 2022 NFL Draft was the most important iteration of the event for the Seahawks in quite a few years. Already this offseason, Seattle has parted ways with two of the best players in franchise history so, regardless of what the front office members say, a rebuild is officially underway.
That means the Seahawks needed to hit on their picks more desperately than in any rears. There are no longer any Russell Wilsons or Bobby Wagners to make up for the lack of production from the rookies. The nine players drafted by Seattle over the weekend were selected with the hope of being solid contributors over the next few seasons. Obviously, not all of them will but the Seahawks did draft a class with the potential to lay the groundwork for the next decade of football.
The easiest of all the picks to project is tackle Charles Cross. Seattle selected Cross out of Mississippi State with the ninth overall pick, making him the third offensive lineman selected. The immediate goal for Cross is to compete for, and hopefully win, the left tackle position that is currently wide open. He is an excellent pass blocker after playing in an Air Raid offense in college, meaning he had a lot of pass protection reps. If Cross is only able to do one thing at the pro level it was be pass-blocking, which has been a huge area of weakness for Seattle for a while. The Seahawks also believe that his run-blocking ability will come around as he gets more reps and experience in a balanced offense.
The main reason why this pick is such a great one for the Seahawks is that they played it perfectly for how the board fell. Most of the other players that many considered to be in play for Seattle at number nine were already off the board when Seattle was on the clock. Instead of making an unwise decision and reaching for a player, which is a very common draft move for the Seahawks, they made the smart decision to take a player that projects as a high-quality left tackle for a long time.
The second round gave Seattle the chance to bolster its draft class because it selected back-to-back with picks 40 and 41. With pick number 40, the Seahawks took a high upside pass rusher in Boye Mafe. Mafe was one of the players in the class that rose up draft boards after the season due to his physical ability and athletic testing. This pick is very similar to when Seattle selected Darrell Taylor in 2020, which has worked out pretty well so far.
Mafe won’t have to step in a be a starter right away because he was drafted in the second round. The path forward for him probably looks like contributing as a rotational player and situational pass rusher as a rookie before transitioning into a more every-down player as he develops and learns the offense. If he is able to live up to his potential as well, then he could be a very good player for a while.
Seattle’s second pick of the round was running back Kenneth Walker. This is the most divisive pick of its class, but I think it could prove to be very smart. Walker was the best running back in college football last season and did so as a very powerful runner, which translates well into Seattle’s offense. A lot of people dislike the idea of taking running backs in the early rounds but if Walker plays well those people will be eating their words. Just in recent years, Jonathan Taylor, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, and Derrick Henry have all been selected in round two. If Walker becomes the next version of any of those players, there will be no reason to hate on the pick.
The other reason that I like this pick is that it shores up the running back position when it needs it. Rashaad Penny played great down the stretch last year, but he has been anything but consistent in his career. He is also signed to just a one-year deal so Seattle could easily move on from him if he doesn’t continue his good play. The other big question mark in the room is Chris Carson. I think the selection of Walker could signify bad news about Carson’s health. The Seahawks are far more likely to take Walker if they know that Carson is unlikely to be back to his previous health or even play this year. Walker represents some stability at running back, which could be very helpful for the team if it is also paired with solid production.
Seattle finished up day two of the draft by selecting Abraham Lucas out of Washington State. Lucas played right tackle all four years in college and, since Seattle had already selected Cross, that is likely where he settles in long term for the Seahawks. Lucas is an exceptional value for the Seahawks because he should be a day one starter on the offensive line. He has similar questions surrounding him as Cross because he also played in very pass-heavy offenses in college. Lucas is a hometown kid though, considering he went to high school nearby in Everett and then played in-state for the Cougars. He will already become an instant favorite for WSU fans (like myself) that root for the Seahawks and that is a win by itself.
Seattle used the third day of the draft to add depth to positions that needed it. The Seahawks started by addressing the cornerback position, which was arguably the biggest weakness of the roster heading into the draft. They added Coby Bryant from Cincinnati and Tariq Woolen from UTSA. Both players provide incredible upside but have their drawbacks, which is why they were on the board on day three.
Bryant won the Thorpe Award, which is given to the best defensive back in college football, in 2021. He benefitted from playing next to Ahmad Gardner, who was drafted fourth overall, which may have contributed to his success in college. Nevertheless, he represents a talented and proven corner that could man one of the outside spots within the next couple of years. Woolen is almost the opposite of Bryant. He doesn’t have a ton of production or experience as a corner in college, he started out as a wide receiver, but he does have a boatload of potential. He is 6-foot-4 and ran a 4.26-second forty-yard dash at the combine. If the Seahawks were asked to create a cornerback prospect in a lab, they likely would have ended up with Woolen. Seattle will love his length, speed, and ball skills, the only question is whether he will be able to produce enough to stay on the field.
The Seahawks went back to pass rusher with their next pick, selecting edge rusher Tyreke Smtih out of Ohio State. He should provide depth along the defensive line in year one, with the potential to develop into a legitimate rotational player or even a starter. Smith wasn’t super productive in college but he did play next to far more talented players on the Buckeyes line. This pick represents Seattle taking a chance on Smith’s frame (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) and physical traits and believing that he has the potential to develop into a better player than he was in college.
Seattle ended the draft by taking two wide receivers in the seventh round. The first selection was Bo Melton, a speedster out of Rutgers. Then, Seattle took Dareke Young, a big-bodied target from Lenior-Rhyne. Picking up some depth at the receiver position was a wise move for a Seattle team that had very little production from receivers beyond Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. The odds of both receivers making the roster are slim but it’s very possible that one of them sticks around. Seventh-round picks aren’t supposed to be superstars in the making, they are supposed to fill out the roster and maybe earn some playing time, which is what either of those guys could do.