The 2022 NFL Draft kicks off later this month, and due to the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver, the Seahawks are loaded with the most draft capital they've had in the last decade, including the ninth overall pick, their first Top 10 pick since 2010, John Schneider and Pete Carroll's first draft in Seattle.
With eight total picks, including three in the top 41 and four in the top 72, the Seahawks are looking to use this year's draft to help reach Carroll's stated goal of building "the most competitive roster in the NFL."
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to help our franchise, which is what we're here to do," Carroll said of the 2022 and 2023 draft capital acquired in the Wilson trade. "We're doing everything we can to make it as good as we can possibly make it.
"We've got to make this the most competitive roster in the NFL, that's what we're out to do, and that means all the way through the ranks. That means you're going to get young, but we're going to mix it with a group of experienced players as well. That's the chemistry we have to create."
With the draft coming up soon, Seahawks.com is taking 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 12 drafts under Schneider and Carroll.
So far, we've covered quarterback, safety and receiver, and today we turn our attention to cornerback. Check back tomorrow when we take a look at where things stand at tight end.
Seattle's 2022 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 9 overall; Round 2, No. 40 overall; Round 2, No. 41 overall; Round 3, No. 72 overall; Round 4, No. 109 overall; Round 5, No. 145 overall; Round 5, No. 153 overall; Round 7, No. 229 overall.
Cornerback 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, 2019; has played safety & nickel corner) Ugo Amadi, (No. 132, 2019; has played safety & nickel corner); Tre Brown (No. 137, 2021).
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Where The Seahawks Stand
The Seahawks lost D.J. Reed in free agency, a potential blow to a cornerback group that was at its best with him starting on the right side last year, but Carroll still feels good about the talent at that position having re-signed Sidney Jones IV, and based on the small amount Tre Brown was able to show as a starter before his rookie season was cut short due to injury. The Seahawks also signed former first-round pick Artie Burns who in Chicago played for new Seahawks associate head coach-defense Sean Desai, and also brought back Justin Coleman, their starting nickel corner in 2017 and 2018. The Seahawks also hope to finally see what a healthy Marquise Blair can do after injuries cost him most of the past two seasons, and both he and Amadi should figure into the competition for the nickel job.
"We feel pretty confident that we know what we got," Carroll said when asked about his cornerbacks at last month's NFL annual meeting. "I know we didn't see a lot of Tre Brown, but we feel like we got a good feel for him. He just did not take any side steps along the way. We had to just believe what we were seeing and give him enough opportunity, so he's there. Sidney coming back. Sidney really developed and his confidence really showed. So we feel strong about what he can do as well. So we'll see how this position continues to grow. Artie Burns is coming in. We've got background on him, we've coached him before with our guys, and he's a premier athlete for the position. Ugo Amadi, the nickel spot. We're going to take a look at Blair again to see what Marquise looks like back at the nickel spot—remember, we started with him. So, that's a very competitive spot for Justin to enter into."
All of that being said, the Seahawks very well could still look to add to that group, possibly even early in the draft. In 12 drafts together, Schneider and Carroll have never taken a cornerback earlier than the third round—Shaquill Griffin at pick No. 90 is the highest pick used by Carroll and Schneider on an outside corner—so their history suggests they'll more likely try to find a hidden gem later in the draft, much like they did with Brown last year. But this year's draft does feature some very intriguing prospects, and with Seattle holding three picks in the top 41, perhaps this is the year the Seahawks buck that trend and take a corner in the first two rounds. If they don't however, Carroll and company are confident in the talent they've added this offseason, and also believe the addition of Desai and defensive passing game coordinator Karl Scott will improve their secondary play.
"I'm really excited about the way that we're coaching them," Carroll said. "The guys that are bringing in their stuff, and the way that they'll teach them our football. It's going to be exciting to see that develop."
Rob Rang's Top 5 Cornerbacks
While there is certainly some boom or bust factor with this year's cornerback class, its raw speed and athleticism was put on display at the Combine a few weeks ago, when 10 players at this one position were electronically timed in the 4.2s and 4.3s in the 40-yard dash – and those did not even include two of the most accomplished corners in this class, like top-ranked Derek Stingley, Jr. Given last year's well-documented struggles in coverage, one might assume the Seahawks would invest heavily in this group. And while that may still be the case, it is worth noting that the earliest the Seahawks have used a pick on a cornerback during the Carroll/Schneider era was the 90th overall selection it used on future Pro Bowler Shaquill Griffin back in 2017. Just like Griffin a year earlier, D.J. Reed was awarded a big contract in free agency and Seattle must replace his tenacity and buttery smooth coverage. Seahawks targeted cornerbacks in free agency, adding Sean Desai's protégé Artie Burns from Chicago, as well as bringing back both Sidney Jones IV and Justin Coleman, who had previously starred at nickel for the club in 2017-2018.
1. Derek Stingley, Jr., LSU, 6-0, 190, 4.40 (est.), First Round
Stingley was right there with fellow future first rounders Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the primary stars during LSU's national title run three years ago but he's seen little playing time the past two years, raising all sorts of red flags. Assuming he receives a clean bill of health at the Combine, teams should ignore that he essentially preserved his body for the NFL and instead focus on the fact that Micah Parsons, Ja'Marr Chase and Penei Sewell all dominated as rookies after taking off the 2020 season, themselves. Fluid, physical and possessing the kind of ball skills that could realistically have him earning snaps on offense, Stingley is a true blue chip talent.
2. Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, Cincinnati, 6-3, 190, 4.41 (est.), First Round
It is easy to venture into hyperbole with Gardner, who did not allow a single touchdown reception in three seasons as a starter for the Bearcats – a team that went undefeated in the regular season last year and became the first Non-Power Five school to be represented in the College Football playoff. It remains to be seen if Carroll and Co. will revert back to the height and arm length thresholds this club adhered to for years, but if they do, Gardner and his 33 ½" arms will certainly be tough to pass up.
3. Trent McDuffie, Washington, 5-11, 193, 4.44, First Round
What McDuffie lacks in arm length (29 ¾") he more than makes up with agility, acceleration, instincts and toughness. McDuffie, in fact, may be the cleanest all-around cornerback in this class, showing terrific fluidity for coverage, as well as reliable open-field tackling skills to support the run. He even played all four special teams units with the Huskies. Joining a long list of former Husky defensive backs already starting at a high level in the NFL (like Seattle's own Sidney Jones), McDuffie is pro-ready.
4. Andrew Booth, Jr., Clemson, 6-0, 194, 4.40 (est.), First/Second Round
A thumper who seems to enjoy opportunities to come up and tackle as much as he does cover receivers down the field, Booth is a lot like McDuffie in that he's been overshadowed by some of the twitchier athletes in this class but is quietly a better all-around player. What Booth lacks to this point, however, is experience, having only started 15 of the 31 games in which he played for the supremely-talented Tigers. The flashes are bright as Clemson orange, though.
5. Tariq Woolen, UT-San Antonio, 6-4, 205, 4.26, Second Round
When talking upside, one must be sure to include the Roadrunners' Woolen, who lived up to his prominent placement in Bruce Feldman's annual "Freaks" article by torching the Combine, posting not only a 4.26 second time in the 40-yard dash but leading all participants with a 42" vertical jump. Woolen was starting at receiver for the UTSA just three years ago, so he remains understandably raw. He'll need to improve his awareness and physicality against the run, for example. But the traits are worthy of a gamble in the top 50.
One of the most recognized names in the industry, Rob Rang has been covering the NFL Draft for more than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports Illustrated, CBSSports.com, USA Today, Yahoo, NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com, among others. Rang's opinions and evaluations are his own and do not reflect those of the Seahawks.
NFL Draft expert Rob Rang identifies cornerback prospects the Seahawks could target in the 2022 NFL Draft.