Life without Russell Wilson is in full swing for the Seahawks. Now comes their first big opportunity to lay the groundwork for the next era of their organization as the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off down in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The three-day event will be crucial for general manager John Schneider, head coach Pete Carroll and the rest of their staff after essentially betting on themselves to course correct in the wake of a regime-worst 7-10 effort a year ago. That put Seattle dead-last in the NFC West for the first time since it joined the division all the way back in 2002, further sparking the need for significant change this offseason.
With $26 million of Wilson’s contract still on the books for 2022, accounting for the majority of the team’s $44.5 million in dead money, Schneider and company were unable to accomplish much in free agency this spring. Instead of rebuilding their roster from the ground up, the Seahawks focused most of their energy on retaining their own free agents and were successful in that endeavor more often than not. But major needs, including the quarterback position, are still littered throughout this roster.
Some will be supplemented via the draft this weekend and Seattle is already off and running by making its first of eight scheduled selections at pick No. 9 on Thursday night. Following the conclusion of each portion of the event, this page will be updated with grades for all of the Seahawks’ choices.
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Round 1, Pick No. 9: Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State
Cross is arguably the best pass protector coming out of this class and should be able to wipe away any concerns about his skills in the run game soon enough. To say he survived the gauntlet that is SEC competition would be selling him far too short; he thrived in it, allowing just 2.0 sacks on a meager 16 pressures in 2021. There is legitimate All-Pro upside here and he won’t turn 22 until Thanksgiving time, giving the Seahawks a potential cornerstone for many years to come.
Round 2, Pick No. 40: Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
The Seahawks are quietly building themselves an interesting stable of young pass rushers, teaming the highly-athletic Mafe up with the budding talents of Darrell Taylor and newcomer Uchenna Nwosu. Mafe was one of the top testers in his position group and showed out at the Senior Bowl following a breakout season with the Golden Gophers. He’s still a bit raw and may have been Seattle’s fallback option after Arnold Ebiketie went to Atlanta, but the tools are loud and fun to dream on.
Round 2, Pick No. 41: Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
The decision to go running back this high is undoubtedly weird, but it’s not as inexplicable or unwarranted as some claim. Chris Carson’s recovery from neck surgery is a legitimate concern for the Seahawks, as is Rashaad Penny’s injury history. Walker was electric out of Michigan State’s backfield during his lone season in East Lansing, earning practically every accolade a college running back could ever strive for. He’s a unique talent who thinks well on his toes, packs a punch and runs with rockets strapped to his heels. But with all that he said, given the state of Seattle’s roster and what was left on the board at the time, it’s hard to feel as if his selection of him was the best use of resources in that particular spot.
Round 3, Pick No. 72: Abraham Lucas, T, Washington State
Nabbing their second tackle in as many days, the Seahawks have bookended their offensive line of the future. Lucas was widely regarded as a second-round talent after testing off the charts during the pre-draft process, but he wound up sliding to the benefit of Seattle. Landing this kind of talent as late as pick No. 72 is excellent value, especially for one of the draft’s top pass protectors. He and Cross should keep a lot of pockets clean together.