The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off later this month, and for the Seahawks, this year's draft represents a big opportunity to improve upon a team that reached the playoffs last season. After hitting a home run in the 2022 draft, the Seahawks have even more draft capital this year, including extra first and second-round picks (No. 5 and 37 overall) that were part of the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver last year.
The fifth overall pick is the highest the Seahawks have had since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010, and this is just the second time in the Carroll-Schneider era that Seattle has had a pair of first-rounders in one draft, having selected Russell Okung and Earl Thomas in 2010.
"This is really an exciting opportunity for us," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL Scouting combine. "We have not been in this situation, we have not felt like this ever. So all of the build up to it has been exciting, and we're hoping to obviously max out everything we can with it… We know that the opportunity is something special, so we're looking forward to it and we'll see how it goes."
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 13 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 the defensive line and outside linebacker.
Seattle's 2023 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 5 overall (from Denver); Round 1, No. 20 overall; Round 2, No. 37 overall (from Denver); Round 2, No. 52 overall; Round 3, No. 83 overall; Round 4, No. 123 overall; Round 5, No. 151 overall (from Pittsburgh); Round 5, No. 154 overall; Round 6, No. 198 overall; Round 7, No. 237 overall.
Quarterback Draft History Under John Schneider and Pete Carroll: Russell Wilson (No. 75 overall, 2012), Alex McGough (No. 220, 2018).
Where the Seahawks Stand
At this time last year, quarterback seemed like a huge question mark for the Seahawks following the Wilson trade. Would Geno Smith, a backup for most of his career, win the starting job, or would Drew Lock, who came to Seattle in that trade, be the starter? Or perhaps the Seahawks would draft a rookie who could compete with those two.
The Seahawks didn't end up selecting a quarterback in a 2022 draft that saw just one go in the first round, and Smith not only ended up winning the job, he went on to earn Pro-Bowl honors and win the AP Comeback Player of the Year award while helping lead the Seahawks to the playoffs. Smith then signed a three-year contract extension in March, and Lock also re-signed, meaning the Seahawks feel very good about that position heading into this year's draft.
All of that being said, it's still entirely possible the Seahawks draft a quarterback early, perhaps even with the No. 5 overall pick. Why take a quarterback after signing Smith and Lock? As Schneider put it at the combine, the simple answer is because good quarterbacks don't grow on trees, and the Seahawks have no intention of picking this high again any time soon.
The Seahawks have been up front with Smith and Lock as they've scouted top quarterbacks, explaining that, because of this unique opportunity in terms of draft capital, they could pick one even with a Pro-Bowler already on the team.
"We talked to both of those guys about it when we were hitting free agency," Schneider said. "In our exit interview, Pete and I both had frank conversations with them and said, 'We haven't been in this spot in a long, long time, so we can't guarantee you that we won't take a quarterback.' You just put all the information on the table so everyone knows what they're getting into, there's no second guessing."
The presence of Smith and Lock means the Seahawks head into the draft not feeling like they have to pick a quarterback, but with so many high picks and with a strong class of quarterbacks in this draft, Seattle very well could add to that position group while still having plenty of picks to address more pressing needs.
Rob Rang's Top 5 Quarterbacks
Overview: Though they certainly flashed intriguing raw talent, a troubling lack of consistency pushed the quarterbacks in last year's draft down the board further than at any point in modern league history, with the first one, Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers), not getting drafted until 20th overall (latest since 1997) and the second one, Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons) waiting until the 74th pick (latest since 1988). Don't expect a repeat of that in 2023, however, with all of the quarterbacks listed below as potential first round selections and the top two, at least, expected to be off the board by the time Seattle is on the clock. With veterans Geno Smith and Drew Lock the only two quarterbacks currently on the roster, Seattle is expected to invest just the third draft pick on the position of the Carroll-Schneider era. In nearly 50 years as an NFL franchise, the Seahawks have drafted quarterbacks in the first round just twice – Rick Mirer (1993) and Dan McGwire (1991) – but this year's "extraordinary opportunity" had Seattle sending a large contingent of scouts and coaches to many of the top QB Pro Day workouts. Want more of my thoughts on the Seahawks’ best fits among the quarterbacks? You can find that here.
1. Bryce Young, Alabama, 5-10, 204, Top 5
The most instinctive quarterback in this class, Young checks every box imaginable except size, demonstrating the anticipation, poise and accuracy to project as a future NFL star. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner leaves Alabama as a two-year starter with a career 80-12 touchdown to interception ratio.
2. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State, 6-3, 214, Top 5
Previous Buckeyes quarterbacks have struggled to duplicate their college success in the NFL but none of them boasted Stroud's accuracy. With all due respect to the aforementioned Young, Stroud is the most accurate passer in this class, showing off All-Pro caliber-precision. He started the past two seasons at Ohio State, leaving with 85 touchdowns thrown against 12 touchdowns with a sterling 69.3 percent completion rate.
3. Anthony Richardson, Florida, 6-5, 244, First Round
With just 13 games as a college starter, it goes without saying that Richardson is a project, but there may not be a player in this class at any position with a higher upside. As his 4.44 time in the 40-yard dash suggests, he is an athletic phenom in the mold of former NFL MVP Cam Newton, offering a potentially dominating combination of running and throwing ability. He is more accurate than his statistics suggest (24 touchdowns vs 15 interceptions with a 54.3% completion rate), with his receivers at Florida not helping him the way Young and Stroud's did… Even if groomed slowly as a passer, Richardson offers immediate impact potential as a runner in sub-packages on short yardage scrums, similar to how the Philadelphia Eagles used Jalen Hurts a year ago.
4. Will Levis, Kentucky, 6-4, 229, First Round
Strong-armed, athletic and with two years of starting experience in a pro-style offense very similar to Shane Waldron's, Levis' combination of upside and readiness could be too much for Seattle to overlook. Like the aforementioned Richardson, Levis' teammates at Kentucky didn't do him many favors in 2022. He played better in 2021, when his supporting cast included NFL draft picks at receiver and along the offensive line. Levis began his career at Penn State prior to transferring to Kentucky. He completed 64.9% of his passes with a 46-25 touchdown to interception ratio.
5. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee, 6-3, 217, First-Second Round
With Carroll, it is all about protecting the ball and no one did that better than Hooker over the past four seasons, owning an 80-12 touchdown to interception ratio. Like Levis, Hooker earned a starting role early in his college career only to transfer elsewhere, starting 15 games at Virginia Tech prior to transferring to Tennessee, where he became a Heisman Trophy candidate and sparked the Vols' reemergence this season as a national title contender. Hooker's recovery from a torn ACL suffered last November pushes his availability back, but the Seahawks wouldn't be looking for a rookie to start immediately anyway, so it may not impact their evaluation of the dual-threat as much as for other clubs.
NFL Draft expert Rob Rang identifies the top quarterback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.