A day after adding left tackle Charles Cross with the No. 9 overall picks, the Seahawks added three more players on Friday in Rounds 2 and 3 of the 2022 NFL draft, selecting Minnesota linebacker Boye Mafe with pick No. 40, Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III with pick No. 41, and WSU tackle Abraham Lucas with Pick No. 72.
"Obviously we're really excited," general manager John Schneider said. "It seemed like a long day today. Just really excited about the three guys we added with Boye, Kenny Walker and Abe. Some really pivotal parts of what we have moving forward here."
New Draft Class, New Signatures, And A New Destination!
Help welcome the 2022 Seahawks Draft Class to Seattle and be entered to win an exclusive fly away trip to Los Angeles and an autographed Draft cap by our entire 2022 Class.
After making their three picks at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll met with the media to discuss the players they added, as well as a handful of other topics. Here are seven takeaways from Schneider and Carroll's Day 2 press conference:
1. Three of the first four picks made a statement about the Seahawks' plans on offense.
Seattle's late-season offensive surge, fueled in no small part by a breakout performance from running back Rashaad Penny, provided a good reminder of what Carroll has always preached, which is that Seattle's offense is at its best when it is balanced. And while drafting two tackles who were high-end pass-blockers in college will benefit whoever wins the quarterback competition, using two of their first four picks on physical lineman and another on an explosive running back made a statement about what the Seahawks want to get done on offense, Carroll said.
"Three of the four picks really make a statement about the emphasis of what we'd like to get done," Carroll said. "We wanted to shore things up on the edge, and Kenneth coming in, Kenneth is an explosive and exciting running back to add to what we've got. It rings true—we want to run the football, we want to be good at it and complement our whole football team with the way we approach it. This was an opportunity to do that, and it just fell right. These guys will come in blazing, and I think it sets the tone for the (rookie minicamp) coming up.
"We took two offensive linemen and a runner. I think it's pretty clear that we wanted to make sure that we have all of the elements together so that we can be effective running the football to complement the rest of our game. That's not a change in our philosophy and approach, it's just the emphasis that we were able to hit on today."
None of that is to say the Seahawks plan to just run the ball every down next season. Carroll's idea of balance is less about a specific amount of run plays and pass plays per game, and more about having an offense capable of doing whatever it takes to win the game, and he sees an explosive passing game as a big part of that formula. That being said, Carroll also frequently mentions the importance of making things easy for quarterbacks given the complexities of that job, and adding some top-end talent at running back and tackle is certainly a good way to help out a quarterback.
2. Carroll & Schneider's thoughts on Mafe.
Schneider: "Boye has upside as a pass rusher, no question, and had an incredible Senior Bowl."
Carroll: "He's a very versatile football player, he's a fantastic athlete with the speed and size that he brings, he can work on the edge as a pass rusher, which is the first thing we would like to see him excel at, but he's been a guy that has been in coverage and dropped too. He has versatility in that regard. I like him, particularly, coming forward and getting after the quarterback, which we would like to emphasize as we get started, but he'll be an outside backer in the system and an outside rusher in the 4-3 stuff, so he will get a really good chance to see where he fits in with that. I think it gives us a logical opportunity to create a rotation that we would like to create, and we want a lot of guys playing at those spots, so they can play with really high intensity. Boye gives us that shot, so I really like the versatility."
Asked how the Senior Bowl helped Boye, Schneider said showing he could play different techniques was important, and added, "Just his effort every practice, you could see him take to the coaching and the teaching, and he's a really smart individual, highly intelligent, and a great worker. The Senior Bowl was really impressive for him. He's another guy that is very similar to (Charles) Cross where you could see him improving the whole season and then the Senior Bowl kind of made him, I think you guys refer to it as 'fly up people's boards' or whatever."
3. Carroll & Schneider's thoughts on Walker.
Schneider: "One of the most exciting players in college football last season."
Carroll: "Kenneth is an explosive, exciting running back to add to what we have. It rings true, we want to run the football, we want to be good at it, and we want it to complement the football with the way we approach it. This was an opportunity to do it and it just felt right, so these guys will come in blazing, and I think that it sets the tone for camp coming up."
Carroll noted it also helped to see Walker play in a pro-style offense at Michigan State: "It helps to see him run all of the variety of the plays. There is a lot of shotgun runs that is happening in college football, it's pretty zone oriented and straight forward. They had an NFL style running game and they did a little bit of everything, so you are able to see him run zone schemes, run gap scheme principles, and he's really effective in the counter game. It was a really good illustration of a guy being able to blossom with a variety of the run game, so it makes sense to us how he really could fit in."
4. Carroll & Schneider's thoughts on Lucas.
Schneider: "Abe is a finisher too. He's a real strong man of faith, but he doesn't look like it when he's playing football. The guy is a big finisher in the run game."
Schneider: "Abe started 42 of 42 games at right tackle, right tackle that can come in and compete there. He's from right down the street, a local guy, he went to Archbishop High School which has a phenomenal football program."
Like Cross, Seattle's first-round pick, Lucas is coming from a pass-happy college offense, but his athleticism should allow him to be a strong run blocker, Carroll said: "Both these guysrun under 5 flat (40-yard dash times). They're 4.9 guys at 320-something or 318 (pounds) or whatever it is. These guys can move their feet. They don't call (Cross) 'Sweet Feet' for nothing. Both guys are very athletic. We've never been this athletic with two guys with a shot to start. So it's exciting to see how that translates. Meanwhile, what that does, it sends a message to our guys about how competitive this camp is going to be and guys are going to battle for their spots. Stone (Forsythe), Jake (Curhan) and all of our guys. So it's going to be interesting to see how it goes."
5. Depth is important at running back, particularly given the uncertainty about Chris Carson.
After arriving in Seattle in a 2010 trade, Marshawn Lynch wasn't just one of the NFL's best running backs, he was also one of the most durable, missing just one game from his 2010 arrival through the 2014 season.
That type of durability from a running back is as rare as it is impressive, and in the years since Lynch retired for the first time, the Seahawks have dealt with numerous injuries at one of the game's most physically positions, including in 2019 when the Seahawks went from feeling like running back was one of their best positions to being so decimated by injury that they decided to bring Lynch out of retirement late in the season.
All of that is a long way of saying that the Walker pick fills a need more that it might appear to on the surface. First and foremost, the Seahawks took Walker because he's an incredibly talented back who, as Carroll put it, "was up there for us" on the draft board when he was selected. But they also are adding a player at a position where injuries have been an issue in the past, and where Chris Carson is coming off of neck surgery that has created some uncertainty about his future.
"We picked him because on the board he was up for us at a spot that just couldn't pass him up," Carroll said. "But we don't have updates on Chris and we won't know for some time here, and we can't predict it yet, so there is a little bit of uncertainty that we are waiting on. With the commitment that we have to the run game, we want that group of guys really raring up to get this thing going. It felt like a good move, it's going to make it very competitive, and like I said, it's going to be the theme throughout camp."
On the need for running back depth in general, Carroll said, "It's a volatile spot, guys get banged up, and with the way we ask our guys to run, we need rotations. We like playing multiple guys and we don't have any problem with that at all. I've said it to you a million times, I'm fine about going with who is hot, but also, we have to find a way to keep our guys healthy. That's why the rotation is so important, so we don't overwork them, particularly early in the year, so we can keep the good momentum building."
Added Schneider, "Two seasons ago, we felt that was the strongest part of our team, then we went from four to zero, and we talked to Beast Mode."
6. What's next at quarterback after not taking one in the first three round?
One of the bigger storylines of the 2022 draft from a league-wide standpoint was the lack of quarterbacks taken early, with Kenny Pickett going to Pittsburgh at pick No. 20, then no other quarterbacks going until the third round when Desmond Ridder went 74th overall, Malik Willis went 86th and Matt Corral went 94th. That meant the Seahawks—and every other team—had a chance at those quarterbacks, but as Schneider said when asked about potentially drafting a quarterback, "Things have to time up right, and they just didn't time up."
So where do things stand for the Seahawks at quarterback? For now the Seahawks have Drew Lock, a former second-round pick who was part of the Russell Wilson trade, Geno Smith, who started three games last season in place of an injured Wilson, and Jacob Eason, who was claimed off waivers last season. The Seahawks could still draft a quarterback Saturday, or add one later via free agency or a trade, but regardless of what moves may still come, the plan is still to have an open competition.
"The competition is underway," Carroll said. "Geno has come in and is obviously ahead going in because he's had all the background with us. He's been with us for a number of years, so he leads the charge right now. He's in command of our system as much as a guy could be. Jake had a year with us so he's doing his part. Meanwhile we're watching how Drew comes along, and he's going. He's busting his tail to catch up and be right with it. All of our guys we know are strong-armed throwers. We will not lack in the potential of our throwing game, the style and the things that we can do. We've been able to see Drew in great depth. We've seen everything. We went all the way back to all his college days and everything else—every throw he's ever thrown to show us what he's capable of doing.
"So we're fitting it together. It's going to be a really strong, competitive group and we're going to be smart. Geno knows what he's doing. He knows the game. He's a seasoned veteran. When he got his chance to get going last year, he showed some terrific stuff. We know the system can fit and work. We're really off to a very good start just a couple of weeks into the offseason. We'll get on the field for the first time for Phase 2 this week. The coaches will finally get a chance to see the guys live and right up front. I'm really excited to see how that's going and where they're fitting. I know that in the meeting room, our guys are sharp and they're precise and they know it's on. Nobody is just going through the motions here. It's a crucial (competition) and they're taking to it and it's serious. It's great to see."
7. Going three rounds without a trade was weird for Schneider.
If there's been one constant in drafts under Carroll and Schneider, it has been Seattle's willingness to make trades during the draft. Often that has involved moving back to add more picks, but the Seahawks have also been known to move up to get a particular player, something they've done to acquire Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and Michael Dickson, to name a few. But so far this week the Seahawks have picked four players with the four picks they had coming into the draft. That doesn't mean there haven't been talks about trades, both to move up and move back, but so far nothing has worked out.
"It's been weird, yeah," Schneider said of not making any trades. "Our guys were talking to people all the way through, and it seemed like some guys were willing to do things and then some people weren't. Nothing really came to fruition and then there were times where we just didn't want to go back too far. There were times where it was too big of a gap to jump up. The timing has to work out and you have to come into an agreement with another team. There is a big process to that, so we want to be really, really careful with these picks and very selective. You don't want to be willy nilly—we have some specific areas that we want to address. We addressed three of them today."
Fans attended a sold-out Seahawks Draft Party, powered by Lumen, at the Hyatt Regency on Lake Washington for day one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 29, 2022.