One of the most recognized names in the industry, Rob Rang is an NFL Draft analyst for FOX Sports. Rob 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. He also works as a scout with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. Rang's opinions and evaluations are his own and do not reflect those of the Seahawks. Follow him on Twitter @RobRang.
With the Seahawks and Pro Bowl quarterback Geno Smith agreeing to a three-year extension on March 9th, it certainly seems unlikely the club will be selecting a player at the same position with the No. 5 overall pick in next month's NFL draft.
The odds appear even longer with Drew Lock also agreeing to return.
But if you haven't learned by now Seahawks fans, Carroll and general manager John Schneider rarely operate as expected on draft day.
And there are a handful of unique factors this year that could convince Seattle's decision-makers that now is the right time for making a long-term investment at the position.
During the press conference announcing Smith's extension Schneider explained pretty succinctly the most obvious reason why the Seahawks - and every other NFL club - must consider talented quarterbacks however and whenever they can.
"Because they don't grow on trees," Schneider said.
During the Carroll-Schneider era, the Seahawks have never held a pick as early as this year's No. 5 overall and this quarterback class is loaded with talent. Four or even five quarterbacks could get drafted in the first round this year after just one (Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett) was selected in the opening frame last spring. To further illustrate the quality (and quantity) of this year's class, if Pickett had been available this spring rather than last year's, he might slip to the second round, ranking somewhere between fourth and sixth in the pecking order.
So, let's be clear, the list below isn't my Top 10 Quarterback prospects for the 2023 NFL draft. That, conveniently, can be found here. This is a list tailored to the Seahawks. But it is first important to set realistic expectations.
With Carolina boldly trading up from No. 9 overall to the top spot, it seems like a foregone conclusion that former Seahawks' top scout (and current Panthers GM) Scott Fitterer has his eyes on a quarterback. Expect the debate to rage until the card is turned in, but really, whether the Panthers select Alabama's Bryce Young or Ohio State's CJ Stroud probably matters very little from a Seattle perspective, as the Houston Texans at No. 2 overall are expected to select the other.
The Arizona Cardinals at three have committed to Kyler Murray but could, of course, trade out of the pick to another team looking for an upgrade at quarterback or just stick and select a defender. The Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 overall are thought very likely to be taking a quarterback, as well, potentially leaving one of the so-called "Big Four" of Young, Stroud, Florida's Anthony Richardson and Kentucky's Will Levis still available to the Seahawks.
It is hard to imagine a scenario in which either Young or Stroud is available to the Seahawks, so the bulk of this article will focus on the "other," likelier candidates. But to be clear, if either were available, I think the Seahawks must strongly consider them over any defensive player in this draft. Or at least I would.
Anthony Richardson, Florida
Along with the aforementioned Young and Stroud, Richardson is the one quarterback on this list I believe is in play at No. 5 overall.
I do not believe that Richardson will be graded this highly by every club. With just 13 college starts under his belt, Richardson is sushi raw. Any team that started him as a rookie would be catering their offense to his unique strengths.
But the talent is obvious and seemingly limitless. I think he might be the second coming of Cam Newton and by that I mean a future MVP.
Richardson would make sense in Seattle because with an established starter and veteran backup already in place, the expectations for this season would be minimal, allowing the still 21-year-old time to truly grasp Shane Waldron's offense, with the expectation that he'd be ready to compete for the lead role in Year Two.
There is a very real argument, however, that anyone selected as high as No. 5 overall should offer immediate impact. Richardson potentially offers that as a runner, if the Seahawks wanted to rotate him in as a Wildcat quarterback option. The idea isn't as crazy as it might sound. At the Combine Carroll was asked about the rugby scrum plays used so effectively by Philadelphia's star quarterback Jalen Hurts and said that the Seahawks would be "deeply involved" with the play, if the league agrees to allow it to be run, as currently ruled. Last year alone the powerfully-built Hurts rushed for 67 first downs and 13 scores. Hurts is 6-foot-1, 223 pounds. Richardson is 6-foot-4 and 244 pounds and runs a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash.
Like every other man on this list, Richardson would be drafted with the hope that he'd be the long-term at quarterback. But given that he also has immediate impact potential, in a very real way Richardson makes more sense for the Seahawks than any other quarterback in this class, bar none.
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Given that he is currently recovering from a torn ACL suffered last November, Hooker is the clear opposite of Richardson in that he will almost surely not be able to provide an immediate impact. However, if there is one thing every Seahawk fan knows about Carroll and quarterbacks it is that the coach hates turnovers and no one has protected the ball better over the past four years than Hooker, which is the principle reason why Hooker checks in as my second favorite fit for the Seahawks at quarterback in this draft class. Dating back to his days as the starter at Virginia Tech, Hooker compiled a staggering 80-12 career touchdown to interception ratio. That's even better than the 98-21 ratio that Geno Smith had over his four seasons as a starter in college at West Virginia.
When healthy, Hooker is a pretty dynamic dual-threat quarterback, himself. His calling cards, though, are his accuracy and poise. Hooker was asked to make a lot of the same deep vertical throws at Tennessee and Virginia Tech that the Seahawks employ and he played well against top competition, including stunning Alabama this past season with a career-high five touchdowns.
In part due to his health, advanced age (25) and questions about how well the offense he played in at Tennessee translates to the NFL, Hooker might still be available on Day Two. If the Seahawks are serious about him, however, Seattle's second pick of the first round - No. 20 overall - could be in play.
Will Levis, Kentucky
Had Smith and Lock elected to play elsewhere next season, Levis would have ranked higher on this list as he is the most prepared to start as a rookie for the Seahawks. Sure, the rocket arm and fact that he emerged as a star in the mighty SEC support this claim, but the real reason Levis would be such a hand-in-glove fit in Seattle is that his offensive coordinators at Kentucky the past two seasons - Rich Scangerello and Liam Cohen – worked with Waldron and Seahawks offensive line coach Andy Dickerson with the Los Angeles Rams. The offense Levis ran at Kentucky has a lot of similarities to Seattle's and, unlike most of the other quarterbacks on this list, he was not surrounded by a virtual all-star team. Had Levis been throwing to receivers like the ones at Alabama, Ohio State or the Seahawks' stars DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, the comparisons some have made to Buffalo Bills' star Josh Allen might seem all the more accurate.
However, with Seattle obviously content to go into next season with Smith as the starter, adding a relatively pro-ready Levis with a first round pick might be seen by some as too much of a luxury selection given that the rookie would almost certainly ride third string behind Lock, as well. Still, Levis has the kind of eye-popping traits that Carroll and Schneider could fall in love with, more than justifying a first round investment.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
As exciting as the idea of an early round investment at quarterback might sound, the history of the Seahawks at this position under Carroll and Schneider is quite clear – they don't like doing it. Seattle has selected just two quarterbacks in the 11 drafts Carroll and Schneider have worked together: Russell Wilson 75th overall back in 2012 and Alex McGough with the 220th pick in 2018. If Seattle is to take the middle/later round approach at quarterback again, Thompson-Robinson has proven to be quite a dynamic dual-threat for the UCLA Bruins, probably much to the chagrin of Carroll, the proud USC Trojan.
At a relatively slim 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds, "DTR" has a much slighter frame than the other quarterbacks on this list, which is some of the reason why he'll be available later. Weighing in at 203 pounds at the Combine was a victory for Thompson-Robinson, who some scouts traveling through UCLA this fall estimated at closer to 190 pounds.
While slim, DTR is also speedy and he's almost snake-like with his ability to slither through traffic. He isn't the overwhelming running threat that Richardson is, however, and would not be as likely to make an immediate impact in this way. If Seattle was looking for a specialist as a running QB from this draft to play a Hurts-like role, TCU's Max Duggan might make more sense at a similar point in the draft.
Thompson-Robinson's greater arm talent and consistency give him the edge, overall, however. Too many draft pundits seem to be writing off Thompson-Robinson's stellar career production as simply a by-product of Chip Kelly's offense but he possesses natural playmaking ability and could surprise as a developmental quarterback if surrounded by a supporting cast like the one the Seahawks boast.
Stetson Bennett, Georgia
Speaking of supporting casts, the perception among some is that Bennett should get an Academy Award nomination for Best Game Manager for a National Powerhouse, but a closer look at the tape shows a savvy and calculated risk taker with more than enough arm and athleticism to be the later undersized quarterback to "surprise" in the NFL. While not in the same caliber of athlete as some of the top prospects on this list, in terms of accuracy and anticipation – still the two most important qualities to evaluate a quarterback – Bennett ranks favorably with three rookies who outplayed their draft standing a year ago in Bailey Zappe (New England Patriots), Sam Howell (Washington Commanders) and even Brock Purdy (San Francisco 49ers).
Bennett comes with plenty of questions, not the least of which is his diminutive size. At 5-foot-11 and 192 pounds, Bennett is significantly lighter than any quarterback on the Seahawks roster since Carroll and Schneider joined the team. Prior to re-signing Smith, Carroll talked about the possibility of finding a "point guard" at quarterback. Bennett is a point guard capable of dishing passes to every level, with a couple of championship rings spinning the ball beautifully.
NFL Draft expert Rob Rang identifies quarterback prospects the Seahawks could target in the 2023 NFL Draft. Read more here.