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.
Today we kick things off with quarterback, and tomorrow we'll turn our attention to the other side of the ball with a look at safeties.
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.
Quarterback Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider:
Russell Wilson (No. 75 overall, 2012), Alex McGough (No. 220, 2018).
Where The Seahawks Stand
For the first time in a decade, there is real uncertainty about the starting quarterback job heading into the draft. In 2012, the Seahawks had signed Matt Flynn and were returning 2011 starter Tarvaris Jackson, then they selected Wilson in the third round, leading to a three-man competition Wilson would eventually win on his way to becoming the best quarterback in franchise history.
And while drafting another franchise icon is far from a guarantee no matter how early in the draft they select a quarterback, their current situation at that position does suggest they'll add to the group. As Carroll has noted this offseason, he likes the idea of another open competition in camp, much like what transpired in 2012.
"I'm going to look at this thing very much like we did years ago and structure it so everybody gets a great shot at it as best we can," Carroll said. "That's what competition is all about. I've got to give them the opportunity by presenting it."
The Seahawks currently have on their roster Drew Lock, a former second-round pick who was part of the Wilson trade, as well as Jacob Eason, who Seattle claimed off waivers last season. Carroll has said on multiple occasions that the hope is to re-sign Geno Smith, who spent the past three seasons as Wilson's backup, starting three games last year, but even if that happens, the plan is to keep adding to that group, very possibly in this year's draft.
"We are totally in that mentality that the fourth guy may be important to us," Carroll said. "We're definitely still in the quarterback business."
But even if one is assuming that the Seahawks draft a quarterback, there is still the rather big question of when. Will there be a quarterback available at No. 9 who the Seahawks see as being worthy of such a big investment? What about early in the second round when the Seahawks have back-to-back picks at 40 and 41? Or is there a late-round diamond in the rough the Seahawks think could develop into a future starter?
The presence of Lock, who started 21 games for the Broncos, and potentially the return of Smith means the Seahawks won't feel like they absolutely have to come out of the early rounds of the draft with a quarterback, but this year more than ever, addressing that position in the first few rounds could make sense.
Rob Rang's Top 5 Quarterbacks
For the first time in NFL history, five quarterbacks were selected among the top 15 last year, leaving the cupboard a bit barer than in most years – at least at first glance. A closer look reveals that this year's class is very talented but comes with as many questions as answers. Some of the most gifted prospects in this class lack starting experience and might need a year to adjust to the speed of the NFL before being expected to take over. Of course, many had similar concerns about Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) and Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) prior to them becoming NFL superstars. With Drew Lock and Jacob Eason the only two quarterbacks currently on the roster, Seattle is expected to either add a veteran or invest just the third draft pick on the position of the Carroll-Schneider era. Seattle hasn't used a first-round pick on a quarterback since selecting Rick Mirer second overall back in 1993.
1. Malik Willis, Liberty, 6-1, 219, 4.45/40 yard dash (est.), First Round
Willis is easily the most physically gifted of this year's quarterback class, possessing both the draft's strongest arm and the natural running ability that would have NFL teams lining up to feature him at running back, if he wasn't so gifted as a passer. He also throws with great touch, literally banging the bucket from 30+ yards out at the Senior Bowl practices, and showing exciting accuracy on deep and intermediate passes, overall. The offense and competition he played with at Liberty make it such a massive jump to the NFL, however, that some feel Willis may need a "redshirt" year to acclimate before realistically competing for a starting job.
2. Matt Corral, Mississippi, 6-2, 212, 4.60 (est.), First Round
Generating 31 touchdowns (20 passing) against just five interceptions while facing the mighty SEC, Corral might be the best combination of upside and readiness that this draft has to offer at the quarterback position, though like Willis, Corral starred in a QB-friendly scheme. Corral's game is characterized by his quickness – from his snappy release as a passer to his surprising agility and acceleration as a runner and even to the quick slants and verticals that he excelled throwing for the Rebels, notably the same school DK Metcalf starred for. Corral has a slight frame that suggests the ankle injury suffered in the bowl game which kept him competing at the Combine could be a sign of durability issues to come. While generally a precise passer who takes care of the ball, Corral struggled with fumbles, losing 14 over his career, including a career-worst six in 13 games in 2021.
3. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh, 6-3, 217, 4.73, First Round
The most polished of the passers, Pickett sees the whole field and delivers consistently catchable passes, demonstrating anticipation, accuracy and touch with enough arm strength. Tasked with making pro-style reads and throws under longtime NFL and college coach Mark Whipple, Pickett should be much closer to competing for a starting spot as a rookie than his slightly more gifted peers. Pickett was a good player early on at Pitt, but took his game to another level as a senior, earning comparisons from some to the late-blooming Joe Burrow. Pickett has very small hands, which has contributed to his struggling with fumbles throughout his college career (38 times, including six in 2021).
4. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati, 6-3, 211, 4.52, Second Round
The catalyst behind the Bearcats' rise this year to become the first non-Power Five team invited to the College Football playoff, Ridder is a four-year starter with an intriguing blend of mobility, arm talent and intangibles. Even in a losing effort, Ridder flashed in bowl game losses to Georgia and Alabama the past two years. He has since turned critics into believers with a strong showing at both the Senior Bowl and Combine, tightening up his throwing motion and improving his accuracy to all levels of the field.
5. Sam Howell, North Carolina, 6-1, 218, 4.65 (est.), Second Round
Howell epitomizes this year's quarterback class, as he was hyped as a possible Heisman winner entering the year but then saw his numbers drop, earning him all sorts of negative commentary. What some failed to acknowledge is the fact that his Tar Heels sent the two best running backs and receivers from that squad to the NFL a year ago, leaving Howell to carry the load, resulting in less eye-popping statistics. A gym rat who plays with a chip on his shoulder, Howell has the arm, mobility and leadership to succeed in the NFL. He developed some bad habits while carrying the UNC offense a year ago, however, and his touchdowns thrown per season dropped all three years, sounding off alarms for scouts.
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 quarterback prospects the Seahawks could target in the 2022 NFL Draft. Read more: https://shwks.com/txfyz5