The Seahawks are coming off one of the best NFL Draft classes in recent memory. The offensive line added two cornerstones at tackle. The defense brought in two starting cornerbacks, with one of them even challenging for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Going further, the running back room added a leader atop the depth chart, with Kenneth Walker III playing at an elite level before his injury.
Seahawks: 8 First-Round Targets in the 2023 NFL Draft
What does general manager John Schneider have up his sleeve for an encore? Thanks to the Russell Wilson blockbuster last offseason, Seattle has an embarrassment of riches at its disposal for the 2023 NFL Draft. With two picks in the top 20, here are eight names to keep an eye on for the Seahawks on day one.
1. Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)
The best player in the 2023 NFL Draft is unlikely to last until No. 5 overall, but there is a greater than zero percent chance that quarterbacks come off the board 1-2-3-4. If that happens, the Seahawks shouldn’t think twice about running this card to the commissioner.
Will Anderson is the most polished pass rusher I’ve evaluated in the past few years. He is well-rounded, serving as an above-average run defender and an unblockable presence when rushing the passer. Anderson has no shortage of pass rush moves in his arsenal, mixing in swim moves, bullrushes, and even some spin moves during his time at Alabama.
The Seahawks desperately need a needle-mover on the edge. Former second-round pick Boye Mafe has shown promise, and 2022 free-agent signing Uchenna Nwosu broke out last season for Seattle, but neither guy touches the ceiling of Anderson.
2. Christian Gonzalez (Oregon)
The Seahawks landed a gem in the fifth-round last year when they selected Tariq Woolen out of UTSA. The front office also snagged a capable starter in Coby Bryant on day three, giving Seattle a couple of building blocks at cornerback. But, general manager John Schneider could opt to finish off his Legion of Boom part 2. Christian Gonzalez would provide that final piece of the puzzle.
Gonzalez boasts high-end traits across the board, including exceptional athleticism, superb instincts in coverage, and the willingness to lay a hit in run support. He possesses the ideal frame for a lockdown cornerback, using his length and recovery speed to deflect passes, even when he is beaten off the line. The Oregon star would pair perfectly with Woolen and Bryant.
3. Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)
If Anderson is off the board by pick five, the Seahawks might pivot to the Texas Tech stud Tyree Wilson. For a team that needs to upgrade its run defense — and create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks — Wilson presents the best opportunity to kill both birds with one stone.
Wilson is a stout run defender, using his length to set the edge and his power to terrorize interior linemen all game long. His motor is impressive, making him more difficult to cover as the game grows older. As a pass rusher, Wilson mostly wins with an explosion off the line, displaying remarkable strength and exceptional grip strength.
If the Seahawks can teach him how to win more efficiently with his hands, the sky is the limit.
4. Jalen Carter (Georgia)
If this article was made two months ago, I would say there is no way Jalen Carter is available at No. 5 overall. After his involvement in the automobile accident that cost two lives, and the subsequent arrest and plea deal, his off-the-field decision-making is being called into question.
The Seahawks leave no stone unturned during the draft process, so expect them to get all the info needed to make a well-informed decision on Carter. If he checks out, and this incident is ruled as a one-off poor decision, the Georgia superstar will go down as a steal at No. 5.
Carter is a bowling ball on the interior, providing consistent pressure on the pocket and stuffing multiple gaps in the run game. His gas tank is not what I would consider elite, but knowing how serious Seattle is about player development, the coaching staff has earned trust. The upside could prove to be too much for Pete Carroll and Co. to pass on.
5. Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State)
Joey Porter Jr. offers unparalleled length at cornerback, and more importantly, he knows how to use it. The Penn State defender possesses NFL bloodlines, and this shows up in his interviews, as Porter is well-spoken and knows what it takes to be a professional athlete.
On the field, Porter is as confident as they come. He loves press-man coverage and being left on an island one-on-one, but he is equally as capable in zone coverage. Porter exhibits elite instincts and uses his high football IQ to put himself in a position to make a play on the ball.
Porter and Woolen would form a terrifying duo for opposing signal-callers and pass-catchers, alike. Imagine dealing with Woolen on one side of the field and then going over to the other side and seeing the long-armed frame of Porter. That is nightmare fuel.
6. Zay Flowers (Boston College)
A wide receiver is a sneaky need for the Seahawks this off-season. DK Metcalf is set to lead the depth chart for years to come, but Tyler Lockett is approaching the wrong side of 30. Behind these two names are only unproven options. Enter Boston College’s, Zay Flowers.
Flowers lacks the prototypical size for an NFL wide receiver, but this hasn’t stopped the Seahawks before, especially when a prospect checks every other box imaginable. The BC alum is my highest-rated pass catcher in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is an underrated route runner, a sparkplug with the ball in his hands, and tracks the ball downfield better than anyone in the class.
Geno Smith’s ascension has been a fun one to watch. Give him a receiving trio of Metcalf-Lockett-Flowers, and watch him take the Seahawks to even higher heights in 2023.
7. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State)
Continuing on the wide receiver trend, Jaxon Smith-Njigba wins in different ways. He uses superb route running and a rare suddenness when working downfield. JSN is not the fastest guy in the world, but his agility drills at the NFL Combine highlighted why there is more to a receiver than top-tier speed.
Smith-Njigba consistently separates from his assignment and is deceptively elusive with the ball in his hands, thanks to his trademark shiftiness. He meshes well with Metcalf and Lockett and brings 100-catch potential as a rookie. The Buckeye star is worth considering on day one.
8. Peter Skoronski (Northwestern)
The Seahawks found two starting offensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft with Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas. Having two legitimate starters on rookie deals is invaluable to the roster-building process, but what about a third?
Peter Skoronski can start at offensive tackle in the NFL, but his upside is probably higher on the interior. He boasts picturesque technique as a pass protector and run blocker, exhibiting near-perfect hand usage and play strength that allows him to stifle any defender headed his way.
The Seahawks can plug Skoronski in anywhere on the interior of the offensive line. He would present Seattle with three high-end offensive linemen on rookie deals, giving Geno Smith (and whoever comes after him) a stacked group in front of him. It is unlikely, but still an option worth monitoring as the NFL Draft approaches.