Sunday, April 30, 2023

Seattle Seahawks 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Seattle Seahawks? What are they saying about the Seahawks' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: A-

Seattle did a nice job on Day 1, using the No. 5 overall pick -- acquired from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade -- on the feisty Witherspoon and staying put at 20th overall to select Smith-Njigba, the top receiver in the draft. Hall is a gamer who should help the team's edge depth, and Charbonnet is a power back with some wiggle, though using second-round picks at that position in consecutive years is unusual.

I love Bradford's power at guard, as well as Young's ability to hold the line of scrimmage at nose tackle. Oluwatimi is another strong interior blocker who was a better value than many pivots selected before him. Seattle likes powerful edge rushers like Morris, even if he is not a quick-twitch athlete. McIntosh is a good seventh-round pick despite his lack of elite speed.

ESPN - Grade: A

I really liked Seattle's 2022 class and gave it a B+ last April, adding that "it's not quite an A because the quarterback issue could linger into 2023." Well, if I were doing a regrade, it'd have to be an A+, right? The Seahawks struck gold with cornerback Tariq Woolen and found solid rookie starters in offensive tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas and running back Kenneth Walker. And that quarterback issue? Geno Smith went out and threw 30 touchdown passes, earning himself a big new contract. He is going to be the starter in 2023, though the deal he signed gives the team an out after a year if he doesn't star again.

A year later, all the Seahawks had coming into this draft was ... four more picks in the first two rounds, thanks to the last of the Russell Wilson trade haul. They hit a home run in Round 1 with cornerback Devon Witherspoon (5) and wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba (20), both of whom fill an immediate need. They're going to make an early impact. Seattle landed two of my top 14 prospects.

I'm more down on the value of the Seahawks' two second-round picks, though, as I wrote Friday night. Edge rusher Derick Hall (37) had 16 sacks over the past two seasons, but he went over a couple of other better pass-rushers. And they had bigger needs to fill when they took running back Zach Charbonnet (57). There was a run on defensive tackles in Day 2, and I was surprised Seattle didn't jump on one instead of taking a second-round running back in back-to-back drafts. In fact, after Pete Carroll & Co. added Kenny McIntosh (237), they have now selected 11 backs in the past 10 drafts, most in the NFL.

The Seahawks went with two Michigan players I like on Day 3 -- defensive end Mike Morris (151) and center Olusegun Oluwatimi (154) -- and LSU's Anthony Bradford (108) is my fifth-ranked guard. I think Bradford could push for early playing time.

This team made a surprise playoff run in 2022, and after it snagged two rookie starters in Round 1, it is primed to compete again in the NFC. While I didn't love the two running back picks, I'm having a hard time downgrading the rest of this class much. Plus, maybe I owe general manager John Schneider an A after not giving him one last year.

SI - Grade: A-

The Seahawks might have won the first round with the selections of Witherspoon, a tenacious defender, and Smith-Njigba, a smooth route runner. Seattle now has a strong cornerback duo with Witherspoon and last year's gem, Tariq Woolen, to defend the game's best skill players, including the offensive weapons in San Francisco. The Seahawks also addressed a need at edge rusher by adding Hall, who had seven sacks last season. Drafting Charbonnet was somewhat of a head-scratcher because the Seahawks already have Kenneth Walker III, but having a dominant rushing attack is a part of coach Pete Carroll's philosophy.

PFF - Grade: A

Day 1: The Seahawks surprise everyone and take Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon at No. 5. Witherspoon was the highest-graded cornerback in the Power Five last season. In press coverage for 107 snaps, he allowed just one yard in coverage on those plays.

The Seahawks finish Round 1 with two top-10 players on the PFF big board. With a 91.7 PFF grade in 2021, Smith-Njigba outproduced 2021 first-round draft picks Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson that year at Ohio State on a per-snap basis.

Day 2: Hall was one of the SEC's most productive pass-rushers throughout his time at Auburn, earning a pass-rush grade above 80.0 in each of the past three seasons. While his run defense is a bit of a concern at the next level, he works speed to power exceptionally well. He has the quickness, bend and length to sustain his pass-rush production in Seattle.

The grade is not for the player here, but for Seattle using the No. 52 overall pick on a running back after selecting Kenneth Walker III early in the second round previously. Charbonnet earned elite rushing grades in back-to-back seasons, racking up over 4 yards after contact per attempt and 24 carries of 15-plus yards, which ranked ninth in college football.

Day 3: Bradford fits well in a gap scheme by bringing strength in the run game to Seattle, filling a position of need with an athlete that tested very well for his size. However, Bradford will need to develop as a pass protector, as he finished with a 51.7 pass-blocking grade.

Young projects as a rotational, early-down run defender. He has the length to hold down two gaps in the run game, but it doesn't translate to the passing game, as he put up just a 55.5 true pass-rush grade in 2022. The hope is likely that he turns into something comparable to Folorunso Fatukasi.

Morris profiles as a powerful option on the edge who wins with strength and length. He never had an extensive role in the Michigan defense, given their talent along the defensive line, but put up 37 pressures and a career-high 86.6 PFF pass-rushing grade in 2022.

Oluwatimi is good value at this stage of the draft and fills an area of need at center for Seattle. He's a high-IQ, strong prospect with four years of starting experience — most recently anchoring the Joe Moore Award-winning Michigan offensive line in 2022. Oluwatimi put up PFF grades of at least 80.0 in each of the past two seasons.

Another strong safety/slot hybrid, Reed was a bright spot for the New Mexico defense. His consistency was evident as he only posted two game grades under 63 this past season. There also isn't a ton of high-end play, with just two game grades above 80 in his career. Reed played nearly 600 special teams snaps in his career, which may be his best path to playing time.

The Packers add another running back after drafting Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet in the second rounds of each of the past two drafts. McIntosh was a consistent producer in a rotational role in Georgia's backfield, averaging over 5.0 yards per carry and putting up 80.0-plus PFF rushing grades in each of the past three seasons.

Fox Sports - Grade: B+

For a second straight season, it appears Seattle drafted a handful of difference-makers to improve their roster. Cornerback Devon Witherspoon plays fast and physical. The Illinois product should improve an already good secondary that includes Pro Bowlers Tariq Woolen and Quandre Diggs. Receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba gives Seattle another playmaker to work the middle of the field and UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet provides another physical runner to pair with Ken Walker III. The Seahawks also added a pass-rusher in Auburn outside linebacker Derick Hall.

USA Today - Grade: A

Seemed they continued to make the most of what increasingly looks like a lopsided trade of former QB Russell Wilson to Denver last year. First-round CB Devon Witherspoon and second-round pass rusher Derick Hall are direct byproducts of the megadeal and should fortify a 26th-ranked defense. Offensively, Seattle obtained Round 1 WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Round 2 RB Zach Charbonnet with its own capital. And even if those two seem a bit redundant for a team that already had plenty of firepower, you can't argue with the quality — a team that appears it might be one of the top four in the NFC now scarily deep. On the value side, keep tabs on fifth-round DE Mike Morris.

The Ringer - Grade: A

The Seahawks had one of my favorite Round 1 hauls in Illinois corner Devon Witherspoon and Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, both of whom should be early contributors and big-impact playmakers. Seattle then did that thing they tend to do and took a probably-too-early running back in Zach Charbonnet in the second round, but overall, the rest of their class filled out nicely. They added a high-intensity edge rusher in Auburn's Derick Hall, potential future starters on the interior offensive line in LSU's Anthony Bradford and Michigan's Olusegun Oluwatimi, and grabbed rotational interior defensive linemen in Mississippi State's Cameron Young and Michigan's Mike Morris. They picked Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh in the seventh round for good measure, filling out their running back room with a quality pass-catcher out of the backfield. All in all this looks like a group of players who should see the field for Seattle sooner than later.

Sporting News - Grade: B+

The Seahawks filled some key defensive needs vs. pass with Withersppon to complement Tariq Woolen and Hall to add rushing juice to newcomer Dre'Mont Jones. Smith-Njigba and Charbonnet were ideal depth pieces to make their offense more dangerous overall. Everything else was more like their typical deep digging with John Schneider and Pete Carroll.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: A+

Thanks to the Russell Wilson trade, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll came into this draft with the ability to make two first-round selections for the first time since 2010 — their first year together in the Emerald City. Schneider and Carroll got this draft rolling with Devon Witherspoon, the best cornerback in this class, and if you're factoring in Jalen Carter's off-field stuff, perhaps the best defensive player. Witherspoon has every attribute you want in a cornerback, and his combination of aggressiveness and match footwork should make him an instant star. Then, Seattle got Jaxon Smith-Njigba with the 20th pick, and Smith-Njigba probably would have gone in the top 10 had he not lost so much of his 2022 season to injury. He's Cooper Kupp, the sequel.

Seattle's second round was far more like last year's in that they took an edge-rusher and a running back. Derick Hall reminds me of Boye Mafe as a productive pass-rusher, and Zach Charbonnet is more of a Marshawn Lynch type than Kenneth Walker's Melvin Gordon-style slasher profile. Charbonnet was my RB3 behind Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs, for what it's worth.

Perhaps the sleeper of this group — and a guy who might be a Day 1 starter — is Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi, who fills a need that Schneider and Carroll wouldn't stop talking about before the draft.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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