RENTON, Wash. – I sense your anxiety. Breathe into a paper bag if it helps.
Just be aware you might have to do it for another year before you start seeing what you really want out of the Seattle Seahawks.
From what I can tell, through the sound of gnashing teeth, fans are vexed at the 2022 Seattle Seahawks’ draft – specifically, that they didn’t draft a quarterback.
The fear is that, with Russell Wilson gone, Pete Carroll will go back to his Canton Bulldog game plan, and Drew Lock and Geno Smith will engage in a feeble battle for the starting QB job.
Consider these possibilities: 1) They didn’t draft a quarterback because it obviously was a bad year for college quarterbacks. 2) It’s months until training camp, and perhaps a castaway veteran with appealing talent and value will become available.
I’m seeing a likely third scenario: The Seahawks’ 2022 draft was an effort to lay a foundation for the 2023 draft, to build an infrastructure into which a worthy franchise quarterback may step right in next spring.
What the Hawks accomplished this week, though, was to pick a pair of potential anchor tackles, grab one of the best running backs in the nation and one of the best cornerbacks in the country, and get a number of athletic prospects with big upsides.
They didn’t address every need and they didn’t convincingly make themselves a division contender with the current crop of conscripts. The hole is too deep to emerge in one leap.
If you’re not obsessed with immediate gratification, you might view this as a throwback draft, reminiscent of 2010 and 2011, which set up the 2012 collection of key pieces in preparation for two Super Bowl runs.
“I think (this draft) was like the first draft in that we had the picks in the first round,” Carroll said. “We haven’t had that opportunity. John (GM Schneider) hasn’t been able to take advantage of that because of our (winning seasons). There’s a unique excitement about coming back into the building (post-COVID).”
Those lamenting the trade of Wilson to Denver might remember the Seahawks will again cash in a first- and a second-round pick in next year’s draft as a byproduct. That gives the Hawks two No. 1s and two No. 2s going into a draft that is reputed to bear a bumper crop of quality quarterbacks.
Until then? Yeah, well, that could be tough.
The Hawks haven’t seen much of Lock, who arrived via the Wilson trade. But they were somewhat satisfied with the performance of Smith in three starts last season when Wilson was injured. It’s too soon to tell which one will start.
So, let’s consider them as a conjoined prospect: Let’s call him LockSmith. LockSmith has thrown 59 NFL touchdowns against 57 interceptions, and “he” has won just 24 of 63 NFL starts. That kind of performance in Seattle will only enhance fans’ wonderful memories of Wilson.
Think back, though, to the “bridge” season of 2011, when Tarvaris Jackson quarterbacked the retooling Seahawks to a 7-9 record. Jackson was a placeholder as the defense and other parts of the offense came together. LockSmith could serve the same function.
Building the foundation upfront this week, they used their first- and third-round picks on tackles.
First-round pick Charles Cross was considered the best pass-blocking tackle in the draft. He’s a lean 315 pounds with such smooth set-up moves he’s been nicknamed “Sweet Feet.” Highlights reveal a hugely underappreciated talent: He seems adept at grabbing defenders at a crucial moment of leverage and releasing just before drawing a holding flag. That’s an NFL-level talent.
Former Washington State Cougar Abraham Lucas was taken in the third in hopes he can hold down the right tackle spot into the future. A couple of other high picks won national awards as the best at their positions: Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III (Doak Walker Award winner) and Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant (Jim Thorpe Award winner).
Carroll and Schneider, in their predraft comments, talked about sensing a pervasive feeling of renewal in the building. “There’s kind of (an) underdog feeling,” Schneider said.
That’s an easy sell, given they’re coming off a 10-loss season and their first last-place finish in the NFC West Division since their first season, 1976.
Remember that the Seahawks had gone 9-23 in the two seasons before Carroll and Schneider arrived. It took a couple of years, but the turnaround resulted in a Seahawks golden age.
Sometimes teams have to bottom out before they can bounce back up. And if you buy the premise, you might breathe easier.