The ultimate 2019 Seahawks Draft preview
HawkTalk’s 2019 Seahawks Draft preview, with everything 12s need to know (and then some!) before the 2019 NFL Draft.
As much as I enjoy grinding tape, my favorite part of Draft SZN is mocking the Seahawks. And no, I don’t mean taking jabs at the coaching staff on Twitter.
A year ago, it was mocking Rashaad Penny, Rasheem Green, Will Dissly, Shaquem Griffin, Jacob Martin, Alex McGough, Poona Ford, and other UDFAs to Seattle in the week leading up to the draft. In 2017, it was Malik McDowell, Shaquill Griffin, Delano Hill, Amara Darboh and Chris Carson. Who will they ultimately pick this time around!?!?
The 2019 Seahawks Draft preview sums up my thorough attempt at answering this question. There are 4000+ words here, covering Seattle’s draft trends, team needs, pre-draft meetings, draft strategy, and potential targets at each position on the roster. As well as some overarching Seahawks draft themes to start things off, such as “Smart-Tough-Reliable.”
But first, here’s the culmination of everything covered below – my 2019 Seahawks Draft Board:
That’s a must-have resource for fans on draft day, fine-tuned through months of analysis (years, really). Are you ready for the method behind the madness? Let’s go:
2019 Seahawks Draft Themes
1) Smart-Tough-Reliable + Fast & Physical: GM John Schneider repeatedly mentions these traits to describe the football players he looks for in every draft.
(On whether there was a theme for this draft…) John S: “It’s been the same: smart, tough, reliable. Obviously, the speed and bringing guys that will have that mentality about being able to compete in our locker room…”
That quote is from 2014, and his S-T-R tune hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s intensified since Seattle’s ever-so-popular “culture reset” last offseason. Schneider and HC Pete Carroll exclusively drafted high character football players without medical or effort red flags in 2018. And we can probably expect more of the same this year, as Carroll continues to build a culture of competitiveness & accountability in his post-LOB-era program.
2) Always Compete + Humility: These tie into S-T-R. “Always Compete” is the essence of Carroll’s “Win Forever” philosophy, and PCJS have repeatedly talked about targeting prospects with the drive to come in and take someone’s job over the last year-plus:
Flip the coin over, and we’ve also heard them praising how humble some of last year’s picks are, including 1st-rounder Rashaad Penny. There’s every indication they’ll continue to greatly value competitiveness and football character in the 2019 NFL Draft.
3) Too many holes to fill: In a way, it was easier to predict LOB-era Seahawks drafts because there were so few holes on the roster. But things have changed with last offseason’s (purge) transition. Seattle only has four draft picks as of now, so they don’t have the capital to adequately hit every roster need in the draft. Even if (when) they trade their way into more picks…
4) Trade(s) to acquire more draft picks: A virtual certainty. Whether it’s trading down from 21st overall, trading Frank Clark (gulp), trading excess 2020 draft capital to add 2019 picks, or some combination of the above – Seattle will surely add to its currently slim collection. It’s telling that they’ve met with so many projected 2nd-round prospects during the pre-draft process (despite not owning a R2 pick), not to mention Schneider’s extensive history of trading down or out of the first round.
5) Seahawks draft trends: Carroll and Schneider are closing in on a full decade of draft classes in Seattle – a massive sample size for us to work with. They’ve established some crystal-clear tendencies over the years, which we can use to help identify potential draft targets. Some are well known (tall & long CBs), though there are several other predictive trends to work with. We’ll go into detail on all those specific positional tendencies below.
2019 Seahawks Draft preview: LEO Defensive End
LEO draft trends: The Seahawks have two fairly distinct DE positions: LEO & 5-Tech. The former is Seattle’s speed rusher position, rushing almost exclusively off the edge… Among past DE draft picks, only Frank Clark has fit both the LEO and 5T profiles. He was drafted as a 5T before transitioning to primarily a LEO nowadays… Classic speed rusher profile: undersized, speedy & bendy. All but one LEO draft pick ran a 4.70 or lower 40, and a sub-7.10 3-cone. Obum Gwacham was the only (minor) exception, and he had exceptional length (34.5” arms) to make up for it… PCJS have never drafted a rush linebacker to play LEO. Each LEO in the chart below was a college DE in 4-man fronts, like those primarily used by Seattle…
Team need – Low OR High: It all depends on the status of Frank Clark. If Seattle ultimately trades Clark, then LEO becomes the team’s #1 draft need and it’s a near certainty they spend at least one day 1-2 pick at DE. Otherwise, they’re virtually set at LEO for next season. Clark would eventually sign his franchise tag (or more likely a long-term extension) and there’s great depth behind him in Jake Martin, Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard. While that wouldn’t necessarily preclude a draft pick at LEO, it may push the position way down the list of draft priorities. That lack of demand is one of two reasons why I hesitate to mock a LEO to Seattle early in the draft – a popular choice in national mock drafts.
Pre-draft interest: D’Andre Walker (30-visit), Ben Banogu (interest), Jalen Jelks (Senior Bowl), Jabrill Frazier (Pro Day)
LEO draft strategy: Supply (or lack thereof) is the other issue with tying LEOs to the Seahawks. While this is an incredible class of edge rushers, not many cleanly fit Seattle’s LEO profile outside the early-mid first round cluster. Montez Sweat, D’Andre Walker and Chase Winovich are the type of NFL-Ready edge guys who could play lots of snaps immediately in the event of a Clark trade. Sweat may reportedly drop to the mid-late 1st round or beyond, due to a heart condition. I also love the upside of Combine star Ben Banogu, and underrated Eastern Michigan DE Maxx Crosby. Though it’s worth noting both Walker and Banogu were rush OLB’s in college, while the Seahawks have exclusively drafted LEO’s who were college DE’s in 4-man fronts. PSA: If you trade Frank Clark and have the opportunity, draft Brian Burns.
*EDIT* – HERE WE GO:
Best LEO fits: Montez Sweat (R1-2), Chase Winovich (R2), D’Andre Walker (R2-3)
Clear LEO fits: Brian Burns (R1), Maxx Crosby (R2-3), Ben Banogu (R2-3), Jamal Davis, (R6-7)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview: 5-Tech Defensive End
5T draft trends: Seattle 5-Tech DE’s line up over or outside Offensive Tackles on rushing downs and often flex inside in passing situations… Size & length are the prioritized physical traits. Every PCJS 5T draft pick (and Michael Bennett) weighed over 270 lbs with 33+ inch arms…
Team need – Moderate: Depth is strong, with essentially the same cast of characters returning in 2019: Quinton Jefferson, Rasheem Green, Branden Jackson, and even Naz Jones possibly transitioning to 3T from 5T. There was a significant drop-off in play last season following Michael Bennett’s departure however, making it a spot Seattle could target to improve its pass rush.
Pre-draft interest: Rashan Gary (30-visit), Charles Omenihu (Pro Day), L.J. Collier (30-visit)
5T draft strategy: In a potentially historic Defensive Lineman class, many are great fits for Seattle’s 5T profile. From my POV, picking a 5T early-ish in the draft is the clearest path to upgrading the pass rush in 2019. Seattle may feel the same way given their keen interest in a few early-round 5T candidates. Charles Omenihu particularly stands out as perhaps the Seahawkiest 5-Tech I’ve ever evaluated, and one of the most underrated players in this draft.
Best 5T fits: Charles Omenihu (R2), L.J. Collier (R3-4), Jerry Tillery (R1)
Clear 5T fits: Kingsley Keke (R3-4), Anthony Nelson (R2-3), Rashan Gary (R1)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview – Defensive Tackle
DT draft trends: Nothing close to universal, but it seems Seattle looks for at least one standout physical trait in interior linemen. Length, stoutness or quickness, for example. Unfortunately, there’s not much else we can really use to narrow down the field from an athletic testing perspective. I’ve seen it suggested that the short shuttle is prioritized – Nah… Run-stuffing ability is likely a necessity for interior-only DT’s. You may have heard the Seahawks like to run the ball? They also like to stop it on defense. It’s priority #1 for Pete Carroll DT’s…
Team need – Moderate: Jarran Reed and Poona Ford form a promising interior duo for the present and future. Naz Jones might still figure into the 3-Tech mix, and Seattle has been linked to several free agent DT’s yet to sign a deal. They’ll likely sign one of them after the comp deadline passes in May, leaving space for a draft pick at DT.
Pre-draft interest: Jeffery Simmons (30-visit), Greg Gaines (Pro Day)
DT draft strategy: Lots of ways they could go here. There are some dudes at the top of this interior DL class, and Seattle’s interest in Jeffery Simmons could indicate willingness to draft one early. Khalen Saunders would form a dynamic rotation with Jarran and Poona moving forward as well, if they’re willing to pay his day-2 price. Given needs elsewhere and their comfort using cheap FA DT’s, my best guess is waiting until day-3 though. I’m a big fan of Greg Gaines, and he makes so much sense for the Hawks in the 4th or 5th round.
Best DT fits: Greg Gaines (R4-5)
Clear DT fits: Khalen Saunders (R2-3), Jeffery Simmons (R1-2), Trysten Hill (R3-4), Armon Watts (R4-5), Chris Slayton (R6-7)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview: Cornerback
CB draft trends: Seattle’s drafted 9 CB’s during the PCJS era, none higher than Shaquill Griffin in the late 3rd-round. 7 of 9 in the 5th or 6th round… All 9 CB’s have 32+ inch arms (technically 31 3/4+ inches). And all except slot-corner Walter Thurmond were at least 6-feet tall… Preference for explosive CB’s with a >10-foot broad jump & at least a mid-30s vertical jump… All CB draft picks and relevant UDFA signings ran under 4.60 in the 40-yard dash… Physicality – Carroll has a strong preference for physical corners who are willing and able to defend the run… Have used traditional nickel CBs like Justin Coleman & Marcus Burley, but they’ve stuck to the trends above when adding nickels on draft weekend (Thurmond, Smith, Lane, Tyson, Elliott). Generally just a tad smaller & more agile than their typical outside Corners…
Team need – Moderate/High: Some more depth/competition at outside Corner wouldn’t hurt, though Flowers and Griffin are likely the presumptive starters for the foreseeable future. The real pressing need is at nickel, where the current top names haven’t proven anything in the NFL (Kalan Reed, Jeremy Boykins). Akeem King and Neiko Thorpe are more-so outside corners who can flex inside to cover TE’s in dime looks.
Pre-draft interest: Justin Layne (30-visit), Sean Bunting (30-visit), Lonnie Johnson (Combine), Blessuan Austin (Pro Day), Saivion Smith (interest), Derrek Thomas (30-visit), Jamal Peters (interest)
CB draft strategy: The Seahawks will likely draft a CB given need + the level of pre-draft interest shown at the position. And on top of the pressing need, signs point to it being a nickel corner. Seattle’s only reported interest before free agency was in traditional outside CBs (Johnson, Smith & Peters). Then Justin Coleman walked in free agency, and since then it’s been all slighter CB’s who may project inside in Carroll’s defense. That seems telling! Layne and Bunting are projected day one or two picks, so we can’t rule out an early selection. It’d be flying in the face of history though, meaning the best bet is drafting the next in a long line of day-3 CBs. There’s also a chance they bring in nickel competition through free agency or trade after the draft, as they did with Burley and Coleman. Not to mention drafting a Free Safety who excels in the slot as well (Spoiler: there’s a few of them in this class). Which leaves the door open to drafting an outside corner in the mid-late rounds. Who Carroll then develops into a future Pro Bowler because of course.
Best CB fits: Blessuan Austin (R5-6), Tim Harris (R5-6), Corey Ballentine (5-6)
Clear CB fits: Justin Layne (R2), Sean Bunting (R2), Lonnie Johnson (R3-4), Isaiah Johnson (R3-4), Mike Jackson (R4-5)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview – Safety
SAF draft trends: Size, length & power at SS. Speed, instincts & playmaking ability at FS… Big ball production at FS. The interception & pass break-up numbers charted below are each FS’ career high season in college. It’s a small sample size of draft picks especially, but still a trend we can work with… Earl Thomas & Kam Chancellor were entrenched for so long, it’s tough to know how willing Seattle is to deviate from their respective profiles. Delano Hill mirrors Kam more than Tedric Thompson does Earl…
Team need – Moderate: SS is set up so nicely with Brad McDougald and Hill. I’m excited to see Hill’s role grow at dime-safety this year after John Schneider talked him up at the Combine. Tedric Thompson did a serviceable job as starting FS last season, yet it’s a spot that could use some competition. And depth at the very least, as Thompson is essentially the only FS on the roster.
Pre-draft interest: Nasir Adderley (Senior Bowl), Juan Thornhill (30-visit), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (workout), Darnell Savage (30-visit), Amani Hooker (Combine), Corrion Ballard (30-visit)
SAF draft strategy: Seattle has met with a who’s who of top FS prospects in this draft, with all but Ballard on that list projected to be top-75 picks. They did the same last year, showing interest in the likes of Jessie Bates, Justin Reid and others. You may recall a certain Earl Thomas situation hanging over our heads at the time (try as I do to forget!). If the Seahawks had agreed to Dallas’ heavily-rumored trade offer, I’m near-convinced they would’ve drafted Bates or Reid at 50. Both came off the board shortly afterwards. But now Earl’s gone, and the significant pre-draft focus suggests Carroll isn’t satisfied with Tedric being unchallenged as the starting FS moving forward. It would be a bit of a luxury pick with a greater need at nickel-CB (and WR, depending on Doug Baldwin), not to mention the need for talent across the Defensive Line. Yet I think FS is as strong a candidate as any position for Seattle’s early draft pick(s). Nasir Adderley is as Seahawky as it gets, while Juan Thornhill, CGJ and Darnell Savage are also great fits. All of them offer intriguing slot/nickel versatility as well, creating a two-birds-one-stone opportunity that could be too good to pass up for a team with limited draft capital.
Best SAF fits: Nasir Adderley (R1-2), Juan Thornhill (R1-2), Darnell Savage (R2)
Clear SAF fits: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (R1-2), Sheldrick Redwine (R3-4), Marquise Blair (R4-5), Corrion Ballard (R7-FA)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview – Linebacker
LB draft trends: Speed, speed and more speed. Of the 8 LB’s drafted by PCJS, 6 ran sub-4.55 in the 40… Similarly, most posted elite marks in the broad jump (well over 10 feet) and vertical (mid-high 30’s)… K.J. Wright is the obvious exception, though he was far from a poor athlete. Seattle clearly valued his extreme length (35” arms), which is something to consider at all positions…
Team need – Low/Moderate: Seattle went to work shoring up the LB-corps for 2019 this offseason, re-signing both K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. Bobby Wagner of course leads the group at MIKE, while Shaquem Griffin will continue to compete at the WILL position this year (try finding two players easier to like than them, I’ll wait). The one spot in question is SAM, where cutting Barkevious Mingo would save over $4 million in cap space. The SAM LB spot has become a bit of an afterthought with Carroll transitioning to mostly nickel and dime sets, but it’s still nice to have one who can set an edge vs. heavy offensive sets. Lastly, the Seahawks don’t currently have much money committed to any LBs past the 2019 season…
Pre-draft interest: Ty Summers (Pro Day), Kaden Elliss (30-visit), Justin Hollins (Pro Day), Jahlani Tavai (workout), Drew Lewis (Pro Day), Dre Greenlaw (30-visit), Connor Strachan (Pro Day)
LB draft strategy: That pre-draft interest list is filled with mid-late round & UDFA LB’s, many of whom profile at SAM due to their size. Consider Seattle’s hand tipped. Justin Hollins and Jahlani Tavai are super-intriguing prospects with terrific size, speed and versatility. Yet they could be a bit too costly in the middle of the draft. Whereas Ty Summers and Kaden Elliss may come cheaper on day-3, and both have very Seahawky tape & athleticism as projected SAMs.
Best LB fits: Kaden Elliss (R5-6), Ty Summers (R5-6), Andrew Van Ginkel (R6-7)
Clear LB fits: Otaro Alaka (R5-6), Drew Lewis (R7-FA), Justin Hollins (R4-5), Jahlani Tavai (R3-4)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview – Wide Receiver
WR draft trends: Out of 9 WR draft picks (plus Doug Baldwin & Jermaine Kearse), only one ran slower than the 4.4s range… Preference for WR’s who played in pro-style offenses (or at least run-heavy offenses), which can theoretically ease the NFL-transition…
Team need – Moderate: Everything changed when news of Doug Baldwin’s third offseason surgery (sports hernia, to go along with knee & shoulder operations) amplified whispers of him contemplating retirement. Since then, the Seahawks have been connected to a trio of slot receivers in the draft. It’s starting to sound like Baldwin will be back next season, though they need to plan for the long term at the position. Tyler Lockett excels in the slot as part of his Z/flanker role, but Seattle may be reluctant to transition him away from the Z-position where he just set records for efficiency. Many fans want the Seahawks to upgrade at X-receiver (myself included), giving Russell Wilson the first physically dominant go-to-guy of his career. But resource scarcity, need in the slot, and a potentially historic 2020 WR draft class may all lead Seattle to wait on X for at least another year. Leaving another season of competition between David Moore, Jaron Brown and Amara Darboh. Keep in mind that Will Dissly is returning at TE, so the Seahawks may be more inclined to use 2-TE sets this year with him and George Fant. Not to mention their interest in adding a move-TE to help the passing game, which we’ll cover in a minute.
Pre-draft interest: N’Keal Harry (30-visit), Parris Campbell (30-visit), Nyqwan Murray (workout)
WR draft strategy: Parris Campbell and Nyqwan Murray were both primarily slot receivers, while N’Keal Harry was a hybrid who played some of his best football in the slot. The latter’s big-slot profile is intriguing, with a few more prospects available who project well to that role. We can’t rule out a high pick at WR with so much talent available on day one and two, plus the pre-draft interest shown in early-rounders Harry and Campbell. And while that’d be exciting for us fans, the prudent move may be drafting from the strong depth of this WR-class and focus premium picks on other areas of need. Tough call!
Best WR fits: N’Keal Harry (R1-2), Parris Campbell (R2), Jalen Hurd (R4-5)
Clear WR fits: A.J. Brown (R1-2), Hakeem Butler (R2), Deebo Samuel (R2), Terry McLaurin (R3-4), Dillon Mitchell (R4-5)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview – Tight End
TE draft trends: Every PCJS draft pick and key UDFA signing at TE ran a 3-cone time faster than 7.10 seconds, which is very quick at ~250 lbs. So did Jimmy Graham and Zach Miller… 3-cone is a valuable test for edge-rushers, and it seems Seattle values it in the TE’s who block them as well. A sub-7.10 cone at TE is roughly as high a threshold as 32” arms are at CB…
Team need – Low/Moderate: The norm is 3 TE’s on the 53-man roster and the Seahawks theoretically have them already with last year’s crew returning: Will Dissly, Ed Dickson & Nick Vannett. Tyrone Swoopes also lingers on the practice squad, while George Fant should continue to receive reps in 6-OL sets. So we’re all set right?… Well not exactly. Seattle’s been peeping potential move-TE’s to pair with Dissly (in-line Y-TE) this offseason. They brought in seam/RAC demon Jace Sternberger for a pre-draft visit and were reportedly interested in signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Which makes sense considering the complete lack of a move-TE on the current roster.
Pre-draft interest: Jace Sternberger (30-visit)
TE draft strategy: Aside from late-round/UDFA flyers, the only TE’s in this class to run a sub-7.10 second 3-cone are T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, Dawson Knox and Kaden Smith. The Iowa boys probably come off the board too early for the Seahawks to even consider in R1, making Knox and Smith prime day-2 and day-3 options (respectively). Sternberger didn’t quite meet the 3-cone threshold, so perhaps Seattle is willing to consider an athletic pass-catcher who fell just short of the 7.10 mark. Such as Josh Oliver, or one of my personal favorite TE’s in this class – Kahale Warring.
Best TE fits: Dawson Knox (R3-4), Kaden Smith (R4-5)
Clear TE fits: Kahale Warring (R2-3), Jace Sternberger (R2-3), Josh Oliver (R3-4)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview: Running Back
RB draft trends: 8 PCJS draft picks plus Marshawn Lynch & Thomas Rawls paint a clear picture of the Seahawks’ RB profile… All but one of those players weighed at least 215 lbs. The only slim-framed RB was 7th-rounder Zac Brooks, a 199-lbs 3rd-down back. Which is something to keep in mind this year… Seahawks RB’s have generally tested well in the vertical & broad jumps. They like explosive athletes at the position…
Team need – Low: Seattle has its thunder and lightning backfield set up for the foreseeable future with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. However, they may be interested in adding competition to the 3rd-down role following Mike Davis’ departure. Incumbents J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise haven’t exactly been pillars of good health, with Prosise especially vulnerable to contact, soft-tissue injuries, and strong breezes.
Pre-draft interest: Myles Gaskin (Combine), Darwin Thompson (30-visit/workout)
RB draft strategy: Draft three running backs to be safe, one on each day… Oh that was just a fantasy Carroll & Schotty shared? Alright, well there’s still a chance they strike at RB late in the draft. If they do, it’ll almost certainly be a pass-catching back who can compete for a 3rd-down role immediately. I really like Darwin Thompson or Tony Pollard for the role, and Myles Gaskin if he falls far enough.
Best RB fits: Tony Pollard (R6-7), Darwin Thompson (R6-7)
Clear RB fits: Kerrith Whyte (R6-7), Patrick Laird (R7-FA), Khari Blasingame (R7-FA), Myles Gaskin (R5-6), Trevon Wesco (FB/TE, R4-5)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview: Offensive Line
OL draft trends: PCJS have drafted a whopping 17 Offensive Linemen over the last 9 years – 15 G/T and 2 Centers… Every single OT and OG pick measured at least 6’4” with 33+ inch arms, a trend that pre-dates the Tom Cable years…
Team need – Low/Moderate: Currently 2-deep at every spot across the line, Seattle is in a rare position where it’s not necessary to draft an OL this year. They’re set at LT for the foreseeable future with Duane Brown and Jamarco Jones. Some fans like the idea of trading Justin Britt for a draft pick and sliding Ethan Pocic in at Center, but Britt’s contract structure makes that cost-prohibitive this offseason. And I believe the Seahawks plan to eventually sign either Germain Ifedi or George Fant long-term at RT, with 2019 being the final “audition year” for each. (Note that Fant’s cap hit is greater than Ifedi’s this season *eyes emoji*). The Seahawks could stand to find a long-term upgrade at Guard if the opportunity arises though. And it’s worth mentioning that no OG on the roster is too costly to move on from this offseason (from a dead-money perspective).
Pre-draft interest: Andre Dillard (interest), Kaleb McGary (Pro Day), Matt Fitzpatrick (Pro Day)
OL draft strategy: If they do draft an OL, it’s anyone’s guess when that occurs. I tend to think an OL pick would either come early-ish in the draft (a value pick they like too much to pass on) or more likely a very late depth/competition pick. And I’m guessing it would be a Guard or OT-to-OG transition.
Clear OL fits: Connor McGovern (R2-3), Michael Deiter (R2-3), Dru Samia (R3-4), Matt Fitzpatrick (7-FA)
2019 Seahawks Draft preview – Quarterback
QB draft trends: Russell Wilson’s past backups: Tarvaris Jackson, Austin Davis, Trevone Boykin, Stephen Morris, B.J. Daniels, Alex McGough & Brett Hundley… All have similar athletic profiles: Sub-4.80 speed & size ain’t necessary…
Team need – Low: “Aye Seattle… we got a deal.”
Pre-draft interest: Jake Browning (Combine), Gardner Minshew (Combine)
QB draft strategy: Bring in UDFA-competition for Paxton Lynch for the right to be crowned clipboard/tablet-holder. Or late in the draft if they like a developmental guy and acquire enough picks.
Clear QB fits: Jake Browning (R7-FA), Easton Stick (R6-7), Eric Dungey (R7-FA), Gardner Minshew (R6-7), Taryn Christion (R7-FA), Marcus McMaryion (R7-FA)
Stay tuned the next couple days – I’m dropping a handful of Seahawks 7-round mock drafts on here and/or Twitter, looking at the different directions Seattle could go with its first pick & beyond. Go Hawks!