The ultimate 2018 Seahawks Draft preview

HawkTalk’s 2018 Seahawks Draft preview – everything 12’s need to know as Seattle gets ready for the NFL Draft.

As much as I enjoy evaluating NFL prospects, my favorite part of this season is projecting the Seahawks’ Draft. A year ago, I mocked Malik McDowell, Shaquill Griffin, Delano Hill and Amara Darboh to Seattle in the days before the draft. Who will they pick this time around?

The 2018 Seahawks Draft preview is my exhaustive attempt at answering that question. There are over 4000 words here, covering Seahawks pre-draft meetings, Draft tendencies, team needs, Draft strategy, and targets at each position on the roster. As well as some overarching themes affecting Seattle to start things off, such as “Smart-Tough-Reliable” and “Getting back to SPARQ.”

But first, here’s the culmination of everything discussed here – my full Draft Board of Seahawks targets:

Seahawks 2018 Draft Targets Board

That’s a must-have resource for Seahawks fans on Draft day, fine-tuned through months of analysis. For the thorough methodology behind that Board, keep reading. With that being said, let’s go ahead and get right into it:


2018 Draft Themes

1) Smart-Tough-Reliable: John Schneider listed these qualities at the NFL owners meetings when asked what he’s looking for this Draft. And then he reiterated during an ESPN 710 interview that he’ll prioritize them this year. He’s always valued those traits, though some recent draft picks haven’t checked all three boxes. Those risks occasionally work out (Frank Clark), and sometimes they don’t (Malik McDowell). The Seahawks want a culture reset with more accountability in the locker room, so expect them to essentially avoid risky 2018 prospects. Guys with effort, injury, and/or characters concerns likely aren’t serious Seattle targets this year. In their pre-draft press conference above, Schneider and Pete Carroll took that a step further:

“I think one of the things we’ve done is really cleaned up. There’s aren’t as many names on our board. You have to have certain criteria to be on our board and we’re making less excuses for players, I would say.”

2) Getting back to SPARQ: Along with S-T-R, Schneider also said he’s looking for guys who are “fast and physical.” Obvious, right? Well, not so much the past couple years. The last two Seahawks draft classes were filled with players who posted middling Combine and Pro Day results. Which was surprising for a team who was on the forefront of using SPARQ-like composite scores to find draft-value. With an aging defensive core to boot, it became clear Seattle is no longer the biggest, fastest or strongest team in the NFC West. We should expect the Seahawks to re-focus on superior athletes in the 2018 Draft as a result. Their list of pre-draft prospect meetings is filled with SPARQ-ed up athletes, and the draft class should follow suit.

3) Improve the running game: Carroll has repeatedly mentioned run-game improvement as an important offseason priority. Yet the Seahawks barely did anything in free agency to upgrade the Offensive Line or Running Backs. No surprise there, as the 2018 Draft class is absolutely loaded at Guard and RB. Seattle will certainly bolster the run-game through the draft this year, perhaps by using premium (Day 1-2) picks at one or both positions. The only issue is the lack of draft capital available to fill all the pressing needs on the roster…

4) Too many holes to fill: It was much easier to predict the last few Seahawks drafts because they had far fewer holes on the roster. This year is different, with significant needs at RB, OG, DE and CB, and depth or youth needed at most other positions. Seattle’s missing both of their Day-2 draft picks, 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…

5) Trade(s) to acquire premium draft picks: This is a virtual certainty. Whether it’s trading down from 18th overall, trading Earl Thomas, or both – the Seahawks will surely add more premium picks. It’s telling that they met with so many Day-2 prospects during the pre-draft process, despite currently owning no picks in that range. Each of my 2018 Seahawks mocks have had them acquiring at least two Day-2 picks, which feels right.

6) Seahawks Draft tendencies: Carroll and Schneider have drafted over 75 players during their time in Seattle – a massive sample size for us to work with. They’ve established some very clear tendencies over the years, so we can use that to help identify Seahawks draft targets. I’ll go into more detail on those tendencies below.


Seahawks Draft preview – Cornerback

Pre-draft interest: Isaiah Oliver (visit), Holton Hill (visit), Nick Nelson (meeting), Tony Brown (visit + meeting), Simeon Thomas (visit).

Seahawks CB tendencies:

  • Seattle’s drafted 8 CB’s during the PCJS era, none higher than Shaquill Griffin in the late 3rd-round.
  • All 8 CB’s have 32+ inch arms. And all except Slot-CB Walter Thurmond were at least 6 feet tall.
  • All CB draft picks and relevant UDFA signings ran under 4.60 in the 40-yard dash.
  • Preference for explosive CB’s who broad jump well over 10 feet, and vertical jump in the high 30’s.

Team Need at CB – HIGH: The Seahawks lack quality options for the present and future at the starting Left-CB position… While they’re set at Right-CB with Griffin, he’s the only Corner on the roster signed past 2018… Justin Coleman will start at Slot-CB this year, backed-up by either Mike Tyson, DeAndre Elliott or a rookie.

CB Draft Strategy: Seattle will surely add a Corner in the Draft, but the question is when? I think the latest they’ll strike is the mid-rounds (R3-5), though they might finally pick one in the early rounds this year.

Top CB Targets: Boston College’s Isaac Yiadom continues to be the best bet. His combination of size, athleticism, press-skills and physicality is exactly what Carroll looks for. He’s also one of the few potential targets who primarily lined up at Left-CB… If they buck the trend and pick a CB in Round 1 or 2, Isaiah Oliver is the top candidate. He’s a terrific athlete with elite length, making him well-suited for Seattle’s Cover-1/3 scheme… Seattle twice met with Slot-CB Tony Brown, which is interesting considering his sub-32” arms. He’s a bit raw & limited in coverage, but perhaps they’d like his 4.35 speed and physicality at Free Safety? He’s an option in Rounds 4-5… Simeon Thomas is over 6’3 with insane 35” arms, and tested explosively. That’s enough to get in the building right there, which is what happened with his top-30 visit. He and the highly long & athletic Christian Campbell are top late-round targets…

More CB Targets: Joshua Jackson, Carlton Davis, Nick Nelson (FS?), Quenton Meeks, Holton Hill, Tarvarus McFadden, Brandon Facyson, Levi Wallace, Chris Seisay, Chris Jones.


Seahawks Draft preview – Offensive Line

Pre-draft interest: Kolton Miller (meeting), Will Hernandez (meeting), Billy Price (visit), Austin Corbett (visit + interest), Cole Madison (visit).

Seahawks OL tendencies

  • PCJS drafted a whopping 16 Offensive Linemen over the last 8 years – 14 G/T and 2 Centers.
  • Every single OT and OG pick measured at least 6’4” with 33+ inch arms.
  • Clear preference for strong overall athletes, particularly valuing lower body explosion. The average of all 16 linemen is an 8’11 broad jump (81st percentile) and 30.5” vertical (80th).
  • How will these tendencies change with Mike Solari taking over for Tom Cable?

Team Need at OL – HIGH: It’d be a mistake to assume Seattle’s done on the OL after signing D.J. Fluker. In fact, Fluker’s small $300k signing bonus indicates he’s not even guaranteed to make the roster. He was merely brought in to provide depth, experience and competition on the right side of the line, which were all severely lacking before… There is still a big hole at Guard (probably LG), but the Draft is here to help.

OL Draft Strategy: This interior OL class is stacked with top-end talent, though there’s a huge drop-off after Rounds 2-3. Given that and the need, I think the stars are aligned for an early Seahawks draft pick on the OL once again. The pre-draft interest list backs that up – four R1/2 names and only a sole local visit among Day-3 prospects.

Top OL Targets: Seattle’s shown the most interest in Austin Corbett during the pre-draft process, who I covered here. He’s getting hyped as an early-2nd round pick, which seems rich to me. I think there’s a big gap between him and the other R1-2 guys. In fact, I have the same early-3rd round grade on him that I had on Ethan Pocic & Germain Ifedi… Billy Price is right up there with Corbett as a R2 target… I think Wyatt Teller is the top candidate, probably towards the end of Day-2. He’s underrated at his current R3-4 stock, as he’s highly athletic and had a fantastic career at Virginia Tech. he’s been a R3 staple of my Seahawks mock drafts which skip OG in the top two rounds… Last but certainly not least, Connor Williams, Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez are all 1st-round options who could substantially upgrade the line at LG.

More OL Targets: Kolton Miller, Frank Ragnow, Braden Smith, Skyler Phillips, Dejon Allen, Cole Madison.


Seahawks Draft preview – Defensive End

Pre-draft interest: Josh Sweat (visit + meeting), Kemoko Turay (visit), Dorance Armstrong (visit), Demone Harris (workout), Tee Sims (interest), Jacob Martin (interest).

Seahawks DE tendencies:

  • PCJS picked only 4 EDGE defenders in the past 8 Drafts, though we can also learn from Cliff Avril & Michael Bennett’s physical profiles.
  • All 6 of the above measured over 33” in arm length. They’ll make exceptions to the preferences listed below for guys with supreme length.
  • Seahawks’ LEO DE’s typically possess exceptional burst & quickness (think Avril & Bruce Irvin).
  • 5-Tech DE’s are at least 260-270 lbs with plus physical traits (think Bennett & Frank Clark).

Team Need at DE – HIGH: Not one Defensive End is under contract past the 2018 season… Clark & Dion Jordan are incredibly talented, yet they’re somewhat unproven for projected starters… Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson will all compete for roster spots and snaps… Barkevious Mingo also figures to rush off the edge in obvious passing situations. The depth isn’t nearly at the level Carroll prefers for his DL rotation however…

DE Draft Strategy: There is a significant cliff in this year’s stack of edge rushers, with a big drop-off after the 2nd or 3rd round. Given Seattle’s need at the position, there’s a decent chance they draft a DE early. And they’ll almost definitely take at least one at some point. It’s unclear whether that will be a 5T, LEO, or both, as they’ve shown interest in all types during the pre-draft process.

Top DE Targets: FSU’s Josh Sweat appears to be the top candidate for a Seahawks EDGE pick. Seattle met with him at his Pro Day, then brought him in for a top-30 visit. He’s an athletic marvel and physical run defender with just enough pass rush production to warrant a 2nd-round pick… Duke Ejiofor fits the Michael Bennett-mold as a plus-sized run-stuffer with the natural instincts and athleticism to create pressure from multiple alignments. I’d be ecstatic if Seattle’s able to land the talented 5T in R3… They may prefer the theoretically higher upside in Rasheem Green, however… Lastly, this would be a great year to draft another Bruce Irvin-style LEO / SAM LB. It would allow Seattle to hit two birds with one stone, and there are several strong options available. Kemoko Turay came in for a visit and may appeal the most to them, given his size, fluid athleticism, and relatively cheap R3 price tag…

More DE Targets: Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry, Lorenzo Carter, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Uchenna Nwosu, Tyquan Lewis, Dorance Armstrong, Ade Aruna, Kylie Fitts, Peter Kalambayi, Tee Sims, Demone Harris, Jacob Martin.


Seahawks Draft preview – Running Back

Pre-draft interest: Derrius Guice (meeting), Kalen Ballage (workout), Akrum Wadley (meeting), Ryan Nall (meeting), Chase Edmonds (interest), Ito Smith (visit), Trenton Cannon (interest), Chris Warren III (meeting), Khalid Hill (visit).

Seahawks RB tendencies

  • 7 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.
  • Like Seattle’s OL draft picks, the average Seahawks RB has also tested in roughly the 80th percentile in the vertical (36.5”) & broad jumps (10’2). They like explosive athletes at RB.

Team Need at RB – HIGH: There’s a lot of names in Seattle’s RB room right now, but little in the way of proven quality talent. And the Seahawks prioritize the RB position more than most NFL teams… They rightfully love Chris Carson, yet he’s still a 7th-rounder who’s never started anywhere near a full season at the NFL or D1 levels… There are things to like about C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic, though none are guaranteed a roster spot this year.

RB Draft Strategy: I assumed Seattle would pick an RB early in the 2018 draft for months. However, it could get pushed down without enough premium draft capital to cover all priority needs. There are tons of great complimentary backs to choose from on Day-3, and Seattle’s shown interest in several. If they want someone to compete for RB1 snaps though, he’ll probably have to come from Rounds 1-3. There’s a big gap between the top 8 RB’s and everyone else, and it’s possible the Seahawks nab one from each group.

Top RB Targets: Among the Day-1/2 RB’s available, Nick Chubb stands out the most as a Seahawks’ draft candidate. Few consider him a top-3 RB in this class, making him a potential steal for the lucky team that draft him. He also perfectly fits Seattle’s profile as a big, physical and explosive runner… A few interesting Day-3 names fit the prototype as well, including Bo Scarbrough and Ryan Nall. The Seahawks met with Nall at the Combine, and he’d be a tremendous value in the late rounds… Seattle’s top target across the entire RB-board might be Kalen Ballage in R4-5. Unfortunately, his college tape is as maddening as his physical profile is enticing… There are so many complimentary 3rd-down backs to choose from, that it’s hard to narrow it down. My favorites for Seattle are the following late round guys: Chase Edmonds, Jordan Wilkins and Boston Scott… Don’t be surprised if Seattle adds a Fullback as well, with Chris Warren as the top target.

More RB Targets: Ronald Jones, Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice, Sony Michel, Royce Freeman, Rashaad Penny, John Kelly, Josh Adams, Jaylen Samuels, Akrum Wadley, Ito Smith, Justin Jackson, Trenton Cannon.


Seahawks Draft preview – Safety

Pre-draft interest: Justin Reid (visit), Ronnie Harrison (visit), Jessie Bates III (interest), Natrell Jamerson (meeting), J.T. Gray (interest).

Seahawks Safety tendencies

  • Size, length & power at SS. Speed, instincts & playmaking ability at FS.
  • Earl Thomas & Kam Chancellor have been entrenched for so long, it’s tough to know how much Seattle would deviate from their respective profiles. Delano Hill mirrors Kam more than Tedric Thompson does Earl.

Team Need at Safety – MODERATE: It’s LOW if the Seahawks keep Thomas and HIGH if they trade him, so let’s hedge at MODERATE… Re-signing McDougald so cheaply was awesome. Not only is he a solid starting-caliber player, but he offers versatility at either Safety spot… I know fans like to knock the Thompson & Hill draft picks, yet they have promise at FS and SS, respectively. Schneider gave Hill the same R2 grade I did a year ago, and I’d love to see him receive snaps this year. I don’t think Seattle can upgrade on him at SS in this Draft.

Safety Draft Strategy: If Earl sticks around, I’d bet on Seattle avoiding Safeties until the late rounds (at the earliest). And if he’s traded, they could strike as early as their 1st pick in the Draft. 

Top Safety Targets: The Seahawks would need to seriously consider staying put at 18 if Derwin James somehow fell to them. That’s highly unlikely though… Seattle’s targeting a trio of top Free Safety prospects to hedge for Earl: Justin ReidJessie Bates III and Natrell Jamerson… Add Tarvarius Moore and Troy Apke to the group as well, since they’re elite athletes with intriguing tape at FS.

More Safety Targets: Ronnie Harrison, DeShon Elliott, Terrell Edmunds, Kyzir White, Marcus Allen, Dane Cruikshank, Joshua Kalu, Chris Cooper, J.T. Gray, Jordan Martin (CB?).


Seahawks Draft preview – Tight End

Pre-draft interest:  Dallas Goedert (workout), Will Dissly (meeting).

Seahawks TE tendencies

  • All 7 PCJS draft pick and relevant UDFA signings 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. 7.10 is roughly as high a threshold at TE as 32” arms are at CB.

Team Need at TE – MODERATE: The norm is 3 TE’s on the 53-man roster, and the Seahawks likely only have two of those right now in Ed Dickson & Nick Vannett… Tyrone Swoopes will compete, but more talent is needed heading into Training Camp.

TE Draft Strategy: TE is a sneaky spot they can target to improve the running game, though few NFL-ready blockers are available. Both Dickson and Vannett are in-line Y-Tight Ends, so Seattle could target more of an athletic move-TE instead. Either way, it’s a near-certainty they choose someone at some point. It’s hard to say exactly when that’ll be, but I’m guessing in the mid-late rounds.

Top TE Targets: Seattle put Dallas Goedert through a workout and may have hosted him for a top-30 visit. I’ve said for months that he’s a dark horse 1st-round candidate, and it may not be so farfetched after all. He’s the best receiving weapon in the Draft, and can make a difference as a blocker in the running game… Will Dissly is the best blocker in the draft and ran a 7.07 in the 3-cone. He’s also very similar physically to former Seahawks TE Zach Miller…

More TE Targets: Mike Gesicki, Ian Thomas, Christopher Herndon, Dalton Schultz, Tyler Conklin.


Seahawks Draft preview – Linebacker

Pre-draft interest: Shaquem Griffin (meeting), Foye Oluokun (visit), Jacob Pugh (visit), Zaire Franklin (workout), Ed Shockley (visit), Manase Hungalu (workout).

Seahawks LB tendencies

  • Speed, speed and more speed. Of the 7 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 (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 at LB – LOW/MODERATE: The Mingo signing did a lot to fortify the LB group for 2018, but Seattle is still in need of depth and youth. This is a good year for that, as the 2018 class is full of fast, explosive and talented Linebackers.

LB Draft Strategy: I think the earliest The Seahawks would Draft an LB this year is Day-2, and even then – only for one special player… It’s possible they add a couple LB’s in total, most likely in the late rounds and UDFA.

Top LB Targets: One name stands out above the rest: Shaquem Griffin. He’s everything that Carroll & Schneider are looking for this offseason: highly athletic, the ultimate competitor, smart-tough-reliable, and skilled. He’s the twin brother to Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin, has overcome the mother of all adversity, and met with Seattle at the Combine. Last year, I was most certain of Seattle targeting Delano Hill among all mid-draft prospects – Griffin is up there this time around… I don’t know whether Seattle likes Foye Oluokun at LB or SS, but I understand their curiosity in him. The Seahawks brought him in for top-30 visit and attended his Pro Day, indicating a very high interest. I tracked down some game tape of the Yale defender, and there is so much to like about him. He hits like a train and flies all over the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle drafted the small-schooler late on Day-3.

More LB Targets: Darius Leonard, Oren Burks, Matthew Thomas, Jacob Pugh, Zaire Franklin, Ed Shockley, Manase Hungalu.


Seahawks Draft preview – Defensive Tackle

Pre-draft interest: Maurice Hurst (visit), Derrick Nnadi (visit), Andrew Brown (visit), Jullian Taylor (visit), Poona Ford (visit), Abdullah Anderson (workout).

Seahawks DT tendencies

  • Nothing universal, but it seems Seattle looks for at least one standout physical trait in interior linemen. Terrific length for example, or quickness.
  • Run-stuffing ability is a necessity for interior-only DT’s.

Team Need at DT – LOW/MODERATE: The Seahawks rotation of interior-only DT’s appears mostly set with Naz Jones, Jarran Reed, Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen… However, they’ve shown interest in big 5-Tech DE’s who can rush the passer from the interior. Which isn’t a big surprise given Malik McDowell’s bleak outlook

DT Draft Strategy: They’re mostly targeting undersized DT’s, who could play a little 5-Tech in their Under defensive front. Chances are, the Seahawks draft one of those in either the mid or late rounds.

Top DT Targets: Here are those that best fit the above description, by projected draft order: Da’Shawn Hand, Breeland Speaks, Andrew Brown, Jullian Taylor, Abdullah Anderson. Most of which were connected to the Seahawks during the pre-draft process. I’d prefer Seattle wait for Taylor or Anderson in the late rounds, because they are intriguing athletes and IMO, not too far behind the mid-Draft guys as overall prospects.

More DT Targets: Maurice Hurst, Nathan Shepherd, Derrick Nnadi, B.J. Hill, P.J. Hall, Justin Jones, Trenton Thompson, Foley Fatukasi, Bilal Nichols, Poona Ford.


Seahawks Draft preview – Wide Receiver

Pre-draft interest: Christian Kirk, Keith Kirkwood

Seahawks WR tendencies

  • None, really. At least in terms of physical profiles, where there aren’t any clear patterns.
  • Seattle does prefer WR’s who played in pro-style offenses, which can ease the NFL-transition.

Team Need at WR – LOW/MODERATE: Some may consider WR a greater need, but I have faith in the development of Amara Darboh. He should compete with Jaron Brown for WR3 snaps this year… WR is still something of a need though, especially with Tyler Lockett’s contract up after 2018… Slot-receiver is not a need at all, as Doug Baldwin is the league’s best.

WR Draft Strategy: Seattle has enough depth to completely avoid WR this Draft, though there’s still a decent chance they choose one on Day-3.

Top WR Targets: None – it’s too tough to narrow down a short list of top WR targets. Even Christian Kirk, who worked out for Carroll AND Schneider, isn’t a top draft candidate for Seattle. He played over 90% of his snaps in the slot last season – why burn a high pick on Doug Baldwin’s backup? The real targets from that workout were RB Kalen Ballage, and QB Kyle Allen (Kirk’s former teammate). I think Kirk was primarily there for Seattle to gather info on Allen, and perhaps his WR-teammate Damion Ratley. Who’s bigger, a superior athlete, and posted 70% of Kirk’s production last year. Yet he’ll be available in the late rounds…

More WR Targets: D.J. Moore, Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk, Equanimeous St. Brown, D.J. Chark, Tre’Quan Smith, J’Mon Moore, Jaleel Scott, Allen Lazard, Justin Watson, Damion Ratley, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Keith Kirkwood.


Seahawks Draft preview – Quarterback

Pre-draft interest:

Seahawks QB tendencies

  • RW’s backups: Tarvaris Jackson, Austin Davis, Trevone Boykin, Stephen Morris, B.J. Daniels
  • All have similar athletic profiles: 6’2 or less & sub 4.80 speed.

Team Need at QB – LOW: Russell Wilson… That’s all the reasoning necessary to explain why QB isn’t a big need for Seattle.

QB Draft Strategy: It sounds like the Seahawks are finally ready to invest in a developmental backup, likely in the mid-late rounds.

Top QB Targets: A lot was made of Schneider attending Josh Allen’s Pro Day, though I think it was much ado about nothing. The chances Seattle moves on from Wilson anytime soon are slim-to-none… Instead, they’ve met with cheaper options who fit the undersized/athletic profile: Alex McGough and Kyle Allen. It’s possible neither are drafted… J.T. Barrett and Logan Woodside are the mid-late round options they may have interest in… Kyle Lauletta would be the perfect developmental backup. Unfortunately, the Seahawks likely have too many needs and too little draft capital to pay his R2-3 price tag…

More QB Targets: Kyle Lauletta.

 

Go Hawks!