The 2021 NFL draft kicks off on Thursday, April 29, though as things currently stand, the Seahawks will be sitting out Day 1 of the draft having traded their first-round pick to acquire safety Jamal Adams last summer. While the Seahawks could always add more picks via trades, for now they have just three picks due to the trades made to acquire Adams, defensive end Carlos Dunlap II and guard Gabe Jackson. And whether the Seahawks end up making just those three picks or if John Schneider works his magic and they end up selecting more players, there will still be opportunities to add talent to the roster, so over the next two weeks, Seahawks.com will take a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Seahawks, as well as the top draft prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position over the past 11 drafts under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.
So far we've covered the offensive and defensive lines, running back, safety and receiver, and today we take a look at where things stand at cornerback. Tomorrow, we'll turn our attention to tight end.
Seattle's 2021 Draft Picks: Round 2, No. 56 overall; Round 4, No. 129 overall; Round 7, Pick No. 250 overall.
Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider: Walter Thurmond (No. 111 overall, 2010); Richard Sherman (No. 154, 2011); Byron Maxwell (No. 173, 2011); Jeremy Lane (No. 172, 2012); Tharold Simon (No. 138, 2013); Eric Pinkins (No. 208, 2014: Pinkins later switched to LB); Tye Smith (No. 170, 2015); Shaquill Griffin (No. 90, 2017); Mike Tyson (No. 187, 2017); Tre Flowers (No. 146, 2018); Marquise Blair (No. 47 overall, 2019; has played safety & nickel corner) Ugo Amadi, (No. 132 overall, 2019; has played safety & nickel corner).
Where The Seahawks Stand
The Seahawks lost both of their Week 1 starters at cornerback in free agency, with Shaquill Griffin signing with Jacksonville and Quinton Dunbar going to Detroit.
As Pete Carroll said heading into the offseason knowing that Griffin and Dunbar were headed towards free agency, "We'll have some work to do on the corner spots," and the Seahawks have made some moves to add to the competition there, signing former 49ers starter Ahkello Witherspoon, and re-signing veteran defensive back Damarious Randall with the intention of moving him back to cornerback from safety.
And while Griffin, a four-year starter and one-time Pro-Bowler, will be missed, the Seahawks do head into 2021 feeling like they have some quality options at corner. Tre Flowers has significant starting experience at right corner, and D.J. Reed, a waiver claim last summer, played very well after taking over the starting job following injuries to Dunbar and Flowers. Between Reed, Flowers, Witherspoon and Randall, the Seahawks have four players with starting experience, so they have options, but it still could be a position they look to add to in next week's draft if the right player is available.
The Seahawks should feel very good about their depth at the nickel corner spot. Marquise Blair, who won the job in camp only to tear his ACL in Week 2, should be healthy for the start of camp, then there's also Ugo Amadi, who played well last season after replacing Blair. Depending on how things shake out in the competition for the outside corner spots, Reed could also be a factor at nickel having played there in the past, including at times last season.
NFL.com's Top 5 Cornerbacks
1. Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Overview (via NFL.com): Lockdown, press-man cornerback with elite size, length and talent to match up with any brand of receiver from any place on the field. He was a five-star recruit coming in and he consistently competed for championships in high school and college. Surtain possesses elite physical and athletic traits with the rare combination of length and short-area quickness that allows him to play on a press-man island and phase routes on all three levels. He plays to his length with plus technique and cover skills that make winning downfield a very challenging proposition. He was beaten in true man-to-man battles for 29-plus yards just five times during his career. His ability to stay connected to the route allows him to shut down yards after catch very quickly as a strong, wrap-up tackler. Run support goes in the "strengths" column, as well. He's been well-schooled at home and at Alabama. He's wired like a future All-Pro cornerback.
2. Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Overview (via NFL.com): Three-year starter with tantalizing combination of size and length that is clearly effective when matched in tight man coverage. Horn can line up in any cover scheme and often traveled with the opponent's most talented target. He plays with desired eye discipline from zone and the talent to impede release from press. He does an above-average job of closing, crowding and eliminating comfortable windows for quarterbacks to throw into, but his route anticipation is average. Horn can play with solid technique, but he became too reliant on the college game's tendency to allow mauling beyond five yards and that must be cleaned up moving forward. He needs more consistent effort in run support, but the traits and upside are extremely appealing despite a lack of high-end ball production. Horn offers immediate starting help with a high upside.
3. Greg Newsome II, Northwestern
Overview (via NFL.com): Long-limbed cornerback with angular frame and disruptive size and strength. Newsome is well-versed in Cover 3, quarters coverage and press man. He's equally adept at each, too. It's hard to get a gauge on his overall long speed, as most of the throws his way were underneath, but it's worth noting that he's above average with ball tracking and body positioning to defend the deep throw. While the takeaway totals are nothing special, his length, timing and sheer competitiveness make tape study of the contested catches he's allowed for completions a very short watch. He has the footwork and skill level to cover downfield without getting into receivers prematurely, but for now, those pass interference penalties from press-man are a concern. Newsome is a competitive, scheme-diverse outside cornerback with good size, speed and explosiveness. He has the talent to become a good starter within his first two seasons.
4. Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Overview (via NFL.com): Farley possesses rare size for the position and does an excellent job of utilizing his frame and length to charge rent inside the catch space. While his traits and ball skills will be coveted, he's still light on overall reps at the cornerback position. He needs to continue to improve his technique and discipline as he displays inconsistencies staying connected to routes at times. Farley is an ascending talent who fits more cleanly in a press-heavy scheme. Might require early patience as he continues to gain the polish necessary to become a quality NFL starter. Concerns surrounding his past injuries and latest back procedure could cause him to slip in the draft.
5. Tyson Campbell, Georgia
Overview (via NFL.com): Outside cornerback with undeniable physical traits and athletic tools. Smooth hips and agile feet guide him around the field, but he doesn't always trust his footwork and overall technique, which leads to occasional bouts with imbalance in coverage. Length and quick-twitch agility could lead to robust improvement and success in man coverage. Poise and confidence in matching routes and playing deep throws are the first order of business and those areas might take a couple of seasons to fine-tune. Campbell's traits outweigh the lack of polish and could lead to a solid NFL career.
NFL.com's rankings of the top cornerback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.