The Seattle Seahawks were one of the biggest stories of the 2022 NFL season.
There is a window where they can be perhaps the biggest story of the 2023 offseason as well.
Despite many wondering this summer how long the rebuild would take in Seattle, ignoring what Seahawks players and coaches were saying about their roster, the team shattered expectations, making the playoffs before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card round. A massive part of their success? Veteran quarterback Geno Smith. Smith not only earned the starting job, but seized it, earning Pro Bowl honors, Comeback Player of the Year honors, and a brand-new contract this week.
With Smith back for a few more years, thanks to his new deal, the Seahawks have their quarterback of the present in place.
It was a deal that Smith earned through his tremendous play last year. As you can see from this graph, Smith was among the NFL’s best in Expected Points Added per Dropback, and he led the league in Completion Percentage over Expectation:
Those numbers also put Smith near the top of the league in the CPOE+EPA Composite, created by Ben Baldwin of RBSDM.com.
However, thanks to Smith’s play, as well as their trade with the Denver Broncos from last season, the Seahawks have something else at their disposal.
Thanks to the Wilson trade, the Seahawks have five picks on the first two nights of the 2023 NFL Draft. They hold Denver’s first-round selection, which is the fifth-overall pick in the draft, as well as Denver’s second-round pick, which is the 38th-overall selection. That gives Seattle a pair of picks in the first round — Denver’s pick at five plus their own at 20 — and a pair of picks in the second round.
The talk in Indianapolis last week during the Combine was that the strength of this draft comes in the late-first-round to third-round range. Seattle currently has four picks in that portion of the draft, starting with theirs at 20 and ending with their third-round pick, which is the 84th pick overall.
That gives the Seahawks a chance to add a lot of talent in the draft, drawing from what many consider to be the strongest part of the board.
However, the Seahawks also hold that fifth-overall pick. They could go in any number of directions. Seattle could add an impact player on the defensive side of the ball, potentially the best defensive player overall, depending on how the board shakes out ahead of them. They could also trade down, acquiring future draft capital to act as a hedge against Smith should the veteran QB take a step back in 2023. That would give them the chance to add a quarterback from next year’s class.
Or, if they like the quarterback that is on the board when that fifth-overall pick comes around, they could draft their QB of the future, even after bringing Smith back with a brand-new contract.
That is an option that both head coach Pete Carroll, and general manager John Schneider, opened the door to last week in Indianapolis.
“It’s the position we are in. We are totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out,” said Carroll when asked about drafting a quarterback at five overall, even if Smith were back. “This is a really huge opportunity for us. It’s a rare opportunity. We’ve been drafting in the low 20s for such a long time you just don’t get the chance at these guys. We are deeply involved with all that.”
Schneider, during his meeting with the media, also emphasized how infrequently Seattle has added at the quarterback position. When asked about evaluating quarterbacks, and the current trend toward emphasizing athleticism at the position, he had this to say:
“No, it’s really stayed the same. Everybody’s had that strong, strong desire to acquire a quarterback, and then you try figuring out the strengths that you can accentuate, and what kind of buy-in are you going to have from the player and what kind of buy-in are you going to have from the quarterback room and the offensive staff? But yeah, like I said earlier, unfortunately we’ve only drafted two. That’s just the way it’s gone, really. We’ve gotten into some areas in the draft where they’ve just come off in front of us.”
The GM added this in response to a question about the incoming rookie quarterback class:
“How much are we looking at it? A lot. Honestly, we really look at it a lot. Like I said earlier, we haven’t picked fifth overall since we’ve been here... so, yeah. I get to see a lot of quarterbacks here. But honestly, every year we’ve tried to do that. We’ve tried to add quarterbacks. My mentor is a guy names Ron Wolf, and he did a great job of adding quarterbacks through every year. Brett Favre was healthy all the time, so we ended up moving on from Mark Brunell, Doug Pederson, and I wasn’t there with Matt Hasselbeck.”
Now, this might all be a smoke screen. After all, Seattle does have options, and with Smith in place they do not need to force a quarterback pick this year, even at the fifth-overall spot. Frankly, Seattle might love to see three quarterbacks in the top-three or top-four selections, which could drive up the price for a trade down. Or it could give Seattle the chance to add the top player on their board.
The Seahawks could go in any number of directions this spring.
Including adding a quarterback. Because, as they reminded us last week, they are not usually picking this high in the draft. If the Seahawks like one of the top passers — say Florida’s Anthony Richardson — and he is staring them in the face, they could add the rookie QB and give him time to develop behind Smith.
Carroll even talked in Indianapolis about young quarterbacks struggling, and how teams need to have more patience:
“One of the big issues is expectations — that we can’t even see the guy measuring up to the expectation, and so we kind of cut loose from it. Because let’s move on, let’s go to the next thing. You know, I think we have to be tough about that. We have to hang through that and listen to your gut and listen to your heart and all that, and try not to be influenced by the fact that the guy hasn’t made it yet. And he should have and everybody expects and all the following the media and things follow that kind of that narrative. It’s a challenge. It ain’t easy. I know.”
Adding a quarterback, and giving him time behind Smith, seems to fit with the approach highlighted by Carroll here.
Also, there is another reason why the Seahawks at least seem open to the idea of adding a quarterback this draft cycle.
Because franchise quarterbacks are, in their own words, hard to find.
“Because they don’t grow on trees,” Schneider said when asked about drafting a QB at five even after bringing back Smith. “It’s probably the hardest position to acquire talent that everyone feels very confident in.”
Seattle might get that chance in a few weeks.