2023 NFL Draft: Seattle Seahawks 7-Round Mock

By Ben Matthews

The Seattle Seahawks couldn’t have drafted much better than they did in 2022. Their class included two starting offensive tackles, a promising running back and a quality cornerback.

That’s only after one year in the league – their remaining picks still have the opportunity to flourish. If GM John Schneider can produce another strong haul then the Seahawks will have an enviable roster.

In this piece, guest writer Ben Matthews highlights the players he feels would best enhance the ‘Hawks in this year’s draft.

Round 1, Pick 5 - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

Some may deride this selection. Those people are not paying attention.

The Seahawks simply must take a quarterback here. Yes, the team recently wrapped up a season that yielded results beyond the wildest dreams of many. Yes, the franchise has holes across its D-line, as well as within the second level and back-end of its defence. Yes, Geno Smith just won the Comeback Player of the Year award and the belief around the franchise steadily grew throughout the year; but this is a belief unencumbered by the weight of expectation. 

This is a belief unencumbered by the weight of genuine championship aspirations and intoxicated by a feel good story that hides legitimate pitfalls looming on the horizon.

Signing Geno to a multi-year contract at the $30-40m level some have mooted is reckless. It is not just monetary malpractice, it is financially prohibitive. On the face of it the Hawks have the eighth most cap space in the NFL (~$24.4m), but its effective money to spend sits closer to the $14m mark. 

With multiple players still needing to be resigned and an incoming draft class headlined by two first round picks, things start to become a little tight.

Geno’s 2022 season could be a flash in the pan. The 2013 second round pick had a first half of the season for the ages, but the second stanza showcased a quarterback plagued by questionable decision making as his play was littered with turnover worthy plays.

John Schneider should absolutely look to retain Smith, but this must be on a type of contract that allows him to create an Alex Smith — Patrick Mahomes type of succession plan in the Pacific Northwest.

Will Levis or Anthony Richardson would be perfect here in an ideal world where Smith serves as a bridge for a year or two, and both match the athletic profile that Schneider loves in his QBs. 

Rumours of his affinity for both Patrick Mahomes in 2017 and Josh Allen in 2018, and desire to move on from Russell Wilson in those respective years, have since been confirmed. The Seahawks GM could finally get his breed of QB in 2023.

Levis should be gone within the top three picks — no matter what box score scouts force you to think — and so the uber-athletic Floridian, Anthony Richardson, should be selected as the heir apparent in Seattle.

Richardson profiles as a bona-fide superstar and possesses the highest ceiling of all the signal-callers in this year’s draft. He may not hit these lofty projections until year two or three, but he is more polished than the casual NFL Draft fan may realise.

He plays in a system that requires him to make pre-snap adjustments, protection calls and is closer to a pro-style offence than the schemes within which some of his draft peers have been developed. Richardson most certainly is not the finished article, but displays the sheer physical brilliance that will appeal to John Schneider. It is quite possible that Schneider will be enamoured by Richardson’s potential and pounces on the former Gator, knowing that he may not have the opportunity to select a QB with such premium pick again in his tenure.

Naysayers may point to the possible availability of a Jalen Carter or Tyree Wilson type defensive contributor, but this is a chance to shoot for the moon. Geno Smith has been a phenomenally pleasant surprise, but Anthony Richardson must become a Seahawk. Growing pains be damned.

Round 1, Pick 20 - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

Another high upside swing. Conditioning and commitment concerns scare me off Jalen Carter if available at number five, but such characteristics do not appear apparent with Kancey; the undersized, but incredibly exciting Pittsburgh product. Instead of the obvious D-line pick at five, the Seahawks choose to address the interior of their defensive line with their second pick in round one.

Inevitable comparisons will be made with Panthers alumni, Aaron Donald. Both Kancey and the multiple NFL All-Pro share similarities in terms of what they bring to a defense, as well as their physical profile and collegiate history, but such weighty expectations are unfair on Kancey.

Pete Carroll has been looking for a disruptor up the middle of his D-line for what feels like forever. Kancey can provide just this, having accumulated 14.5 sacks by predominantly crashing the B-gap in 2021 and 2022. 

He may not become the three-down player who can absorb double teams on a consistent basis due to his smaller frame and shorter arms, but his traits jump off the scream as an exciting pass-rush presence at the next level.

Kancey is worth a first round pick and should blossom into a penetrative three-tech who will wreak havoc with his quick twitch and fast hands. This will finally give Carroll that interior terror he has craved who will at least mimic some of what Donald does best.

Round 2, Pick 37 - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

This draft is rich in slot wideouts and Flowers could be the best of the bunch. Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jalin Hyatt are all off the board here, but the Seahawks wait for their preferred target and are richly rewarded with a player who offers the best change-of-direction ability at the position.

Flowers is a little undersized, but has electrifying movement skills and can cut on a dime. His timing through the catch is exceptional, always snagging the ball in stride, and is very creative with the ball in his hands. Watching him slash between defenders is an undeniable pleasure.

Comparisons between Flowers and Tyler Lockett are not quite accurate, but the Seahawks need to start considering who is the long-term successor for old-reliable. The Boston College product shares a similar early-career profile with the former Wildcat as he will start out as an excellent tertiary option and possible return man. 

He will offer variety to the Hawks’ passing game and will immediately challenge D’Wayne Eskridge’s spot on the roster. The bigger question is whether can he follow a same path as Lockett over the long-term and eventually serve as the perfect running mate opposite DK Metcalf.

Round 2, Pick 52 - Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas

This could be a prime spot to try and manufacture a trade down in order to pick up an additional pick between 83 and 120, as that could be a prime range to pick up a few real gems. For this mock though, the Seahawks opt to not take this route and will stick to the current framework of selections.

In this mock on the PFN simulator, the top linebacker in the draft is still available and John Schneider sprints to the podium in his surprise, full of glee. Drew Sanders is an explosive and agile ‘backer who has the production to match. 

9.5 sacks in 2022 for Arkansas only tells part of the story of a versatile player who spent the majority of his time positioned as a MIKE for the Razorbacks. He is a three-down, hard-hitting, dynamic defender who is just at home in coverage as he is sifting through traffic against the run. He offers the opportunity for Seattle to get creative at the second level.

Sanders will ballast the linebacking corps for Seattle as a replacement for the unrestricted free agent Cody Barton, as well as providing an excellent compliment for Jordyn Brooks upon his return from a torn ACL at some point in 2023. 

Brooks and Sanders will be an exciting duo as the Seahawks move into the second year running their realigned 3-4 defence.

Round 3, Pick 83 - Steve Avila, iOL, Texas Christian

One of the most impressive interior prospects at the Senior Bowl this year, Avila can play multiple slots across Seattle’s offensive line. 

Most social media onlookers were praising the overrated O’Cyrus Torrence and the ever-so-slightly underwhelming John Michael Schmitz in Mobile, but patience again pays off for the Seahawks as they take the powerful Horned Frog. 

Overwhelming strength, a rock solid anchor and no discernible difference of ability in the pass or run game offer excellent value for round three. Avila was a team captain in 2022 and has an aggressive mentality that will serve as an tone-setter along a developing O-line.

Avila played left guard in 2022, but had perhaps his best season for TCU as a center in 2021, which is where he will find a home for the Seahawks. He does have a few limitations moving laterally, but the tighter alignment in the middle of the pack suits his game well. 

Drafting him to play center also gives the team the flexibility to allow Austin Blythe to fall into free agency, saving $4-5m against the cap.

Round 4, Pick 124 - Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

The Seahawks may let Rashaad Penny walk this offseason. Despite boasting the best all-time yards per carry average (5.7) among running backs with over 300 carries, Penny just cannot stay healthy. 

Kenneth Walker burst onto the scene last year and received the most first-place votes in the Rookie of the Year race, and will remain as the Hawks’ top back moving into 2023. Letting Penny amble into free agency could save a few more million in cap space.

The team needs someone to spell the Michigan State-alum during games, as well as a true pass-catching threat out of the backfield. With both Kenny McIntosh and Tyjae Spears still on the board, the Seahawks have their pick of two excellent players who can do just that at this juncture.

McIntosh offers a size profile closer to what the Seahawks tend to look for and his receiving ability is not to be sniffed at, but Spears is not small (5’10’’/190lbs) and offers deceptive power. He is also better in pass protection and offers more dynamism with the ball in his hands.

Spears turned heads at the Senior Bowl and is working his way up draft boards. He could experience a Tony Pollard-esque career arch.

Round 5, Pick 154 - YaYa Diaby, DE/OLB, Louisville

Diaby and Central Michigan’s Thomas Incoom were both still on the board, but Diaby’s measurables are just too tantalising for John Schneider to pass up. 34 inch arms and with a wingspan of over 81 inches, the former Cardinal has the frame that will exceed Seahawk thresholds.

Finishing 2022 with nine sacks and 14 TFL playing at 264 pounds, Diaby projects as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 for the Hawks. He does need to add additional moves to his pass rushing repertoire and play with a plan, but he should make an immediate impact as a rookie.

Adding another piece to a rotation that includes Darrell Taylor, Uchenna Nwosu (the only duo in the league to record at least nine sacks each and three forced fumbles) and Boye Mafe will keep the unit fresh and complete a fearsome foursome that drips with upside.

Diaby’s size and experience at defensive end will also allow him to play along the D-line, giving Pete Carroll even more dynamism up front as they develop the multiplicity within the scheme heading into year two.

Round 5, Pick 157 - Karl Brooks, DL, Bowling Green

Cameron Young of Mississippi State was a consideration for Seattle here, but he is not currently listed on PFN’s simulator. Moro Ojomo of Texas was also appealing, but might be viewed as a tweener within the Seahawks current defence.

Karl Brooks of Bowling Green, while a similar size to Ojomo, offers an excellent combination of pass rush and run stuffing ability. 

He was a standout at the Senior Bowl and is being overlooked at present. He has not been invited to the Combine so may continue to go unnoticed, but a college leading PFF run defence grade of 90.3 highlights his potential as an intriguing five-technique candidate. 

If he can maintain some of his pass rush productivity — 92.0 PFF pass rush grade and 17.5 sacks across the past two seasons — in the face of the vertiginous step-up in quality from the Mid-American Conference to the NFL level, then Brooks will be a bargain in round five.

Round 6, Pick 199 - Darrell Luter Jr, CB, South Alabama

Depth for the secondary. Luter will go much higher than this if he impresses at the Combine. He is an intriguing prospect, who looks to have excellent length and plays with a physicality that will appeal to the Seahawks.

He is an above average athlete and reasonably fluid in coverage despite being a touch stiff through the hips. Showed at the Senior Bowl that he can be faked out at the line of scrimmage and so may struggle initially at the next level against shifty and explosive receivers. 

Testing will be key for his stock to see if he has the speed to go along with the length; a combination that will whet Pete Carroll’s appetite. Luter will need to master Carroll’s famed ‘step-kick’ technique when he arrives in Seattle. If he can do this, then along with his natural patience in coverage, physical prowess and feisty nature, the Hawks will be able to indoctrinate Luter into their system. 

Could challenge to start opposite Tariq Woolen in year two.

Ben Matthews

NFL Draft contributor

Ben is a writer, podcast host and founder of GridironXtra.com. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAmatthews for more sporting opinion, content and debate.