The Seattle Seahawks had a really good 2022 NFL Draft from a value and positional perspective. So why the hesitation?
As the 2022 NFL Draft began, the football world awaited to see the landing spots of the top-ranked rookies. A ton of anticipation rose for what the Seattle Seahawks would do at pick nine. Having drafted Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier, and Jordyn Brooks in recent seasons (Brooks is looking good), who would the next surprise selection be?
The Seahawks shocked everyone by going straightforward, selecting Mississippi State’s Charles Cross with the pick. Cross was a consensus top three tackle in the class and was productive as a pass protector against the best pass rushers in the SEC.
Seattle came back with a pair of selections in the second round, going with Boye Mafe, an edge rusher who is trending in the right direction with his technique and hand usage at contact. His first step explosiveness and ability to win around the arc will come in handy. Then, Kenneth Walker III joined the party, and he’ll likely take over as the bell cow back in 2023 and share duties with Penny, who returned on a one-year deal for 2022.
Seattle got good value in Abraham Lucas in round three to potentially fill the right tackle position, then got two corners with potential on day three in Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. Bo Melton can help in the return game and provides another receiving threat in the slot.
So, with all that value, why the hesitation with their 2022 NFL Draft? It comes down to scheme and philosophy. Everyone is speculating that with Russell Wilson out of the building, the “Let Russ Cook” identity will disappear, and Pete Caroll will get back to the regularly scheduled run game, a heavy dose of it at that. They’ll subscribe to the idea of the run setting up the pass, with a big-armed quarterback in Drew Lock to push the ball vertically down the field to D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
The question is how this draft class meshes with the ideology in the building. The Walker pick makes sense if the above ideology on offense is true. He’s got the size, contact balance, burst, lateral agility in space, and home run ability to be the guy for a long time.
However, the Cross and Lucas selections do not. Both played a ton of snaps in a Mike Leach offense, where a massive majority of the snaps were in pass protection. Both players are great in that area, but don’t have a lot of run blocking reps. Cross has had some reps where he can cross the face of defenders in a zone run, but often finds himself sealing off the back side of the play turned around and not contacting the defender.
Now, that doesn’t mean that Cross or Lucas can’t develop into blockers who can get 45 degrees off the snap in power/gap concepts and move defenders while also using the quicks they have to improve their technique in zone blocking. The issue is that it’s going to take some time.
If they were selected because they’re great pass protectors and the offense wants to take more shots downfield, great! Then the Walker selection makes less sense. I’d lean to the former though, based on the history of what Carroll wants to do and the success he’s had with that offense. Teaching the finer points of run blocking is easier, but it’ll be a challenge nonetheless.
Regardless, it’s going to be a fun watch for the Seattle Seahawks this year. If Cross and Lucas can start, we’ll see how their progress as run blockers goes as the season rolls on, and if Walker can grow into a three-down running back.