The Seahawks left the 2023 NFL Draft armed with five offensive players and five defensive players in their draft class.
I expected the Seahawks to start their draft class with someone to bolster their front seven considering they were near-last in several rush defense categories last season. If that was their plan, I suspect the Texans trading up to snag outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. threw a wrench in it. I could have also seen them taking defensive end Tyree Wilson who went seventh overall to Las Vegas, but they had something else in mind.
Round 1, Pick 5: Devon Witherspoon
For their first pick, the Seahawks took Devon Witherspoon out of Illinois, who was the highest-graded cornerback in the Power Five last season. On 63 targets, he allowed 22 catches for 206 yards. He added three interceptions and 14 pass breakups. According to PFF, in the 2022 season, an opposing QB’s passer rating who spikes the ball was higher (39.6) than an opposing QB’s passer rating when targeting Witherspoon (25.3).
He’s got an aggressive edge to him that should complement Tariq Woolen and the secondary very well. This could be a shutdown secondary, and one of the league’s youngest, but it does not solve their run defense problem.
Devon Witherspoon. Cornerback. Seattle Seahawks. pic.twitter.com/gNRsdIMdfU
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) May 3, 2023
Round 1, Pick 20: Jaxon Smith-Njigba
The Hawks needed to add a third piece to their receiving corp and despite my qualms about foregoing a front seven defender again, Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State can do a lot for this offense. He adds depth to the receiving room that already has DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and will put more weapons around Geno Smith. He will likely contribute the most as a slot receiver, where Seattle had the eighth-fewest yards in the league last season.
Smith-Njigba missed most of the 2022 season with a hamstring injury, but in his last full season with the Buckeyes in 2021, he tallied over 1,600 receiving yards, setting a Big Ten single-season record. He outperformed both Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson that season and was considered the top receiver in this draft.
Round 2, Pick 6: Derick Hall
After taking the two best players available in the first round, their second-round pick Derick Hall fills a need for them. The outside linebacker from Auburn will likely play opposite Uchenna Nwosu, whom he should complement well. Jordyn Brooks is still recovering from a torn ACL so Hall could be a playmaker as soon as this season. His pass-rushing ability produced 19.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss over his time at Auburn.
Also, Hall ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, which ranks in the top 10% of edge rushers since 2003, according to Next Gen Stats.
Round 2, Pick 21: Zach Charbonnet
This pick was surprising, but one of my favorites of the draft. Seahawks’ Rashaad Penny departed for the Eagles, leaving Kenneth Walker with no elite backup.
One of the best parts about Charbonnet’s profile is his pass-catching ability, tallying 61 receptions for 518 yards over his two seasons at UCLA. Over that same period he added about 2,500 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns. Adding a dual-threat running back like Charbonnet and a receiver like Smith-Njigba will give Geno Smith a lot of room to be creative.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 29, 2023
Round 4, Pick 6: Anthony Bradford
There was a need for the Seahawks to add to their offensive line with this draft. Damien Lewis and Phil Haynes are the starters now, but Lewis is on the last year of his rookie deal and Haynes only signed a one-year deal.
Bradford is big – coming in at 6’4 and 332 pounds – and has the strength to move defenders away from the ball.
Round 4, Pick 21: Cameron Young
In my opinion, it’s very late in the draft to be addressing their biggest need, but here we are. Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, and Myles Adams are the only other game-ready interior defensive linemen right now with L.J. Collier, Al Woods, Shelby Harris, and Quinton Jefferson gone. This should give Cameron Young significant exposure on the Hawks’ defensive line rotation given how thin they are here.
Round 5, Pick 17: Mike Morris
Mike Morris is another much-needed addition to the Seattle defensive line. Both Young and Morris may find themselves playing considerable snaps together this season. It remains to be seen how Pete Carroll and Clint Hurtt will work them into this new defensive line, but my guess is that they will definitely be a part of it.
Round 5, Pick 20: Olusegan Oluwatimi
Getting Olusegan Oluwatimi at this late in the draft is great value for the Seahawks, especially when it fills a need that they have. Evan Brown just signed a one-year contract however Oluwatimi gives them long-term depth.
Oluwatimi has a high football IQ which will be helpful for developing him as he enters the NFL. He allowed two pressures and no sacks last year at Michigan, and has put up PFF grades of 80 or more in his last two seasons.
Round 6, Pick 21: Jerrick Reed II
Jerrick Reed was consistent in the New Mexico secondary last season, notching 94 tackles and two fumbles. However, he may come most in handy on special teams, where he has played over 600 snaps across his career. The top three safety spots are occupied with Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, and Julian Love meaning he and Joey Blount will battle for the fourth spot. Pending Adams’ injury status, he could see some time at safety.
Round 7, Pick 20: Kenny McIntosh
Kenny McIntosh is both a need for the Hawks to fill out their running back depth chart, and they got him at good value considering he’s a seventh-rounder. He, like Charbonnet, is a frequent pass-catcher, so there should be a good balance between those two, Kenneth Walker and DeeJay Dallas.
All things considered, I think the Seahawks did very well in this draft. Their secondary and their receiving corps are complete, their running back room is now full of young talent, and they were able to add some depth to their offensive and defensive lines. I would have liked to see them address the run defense problem a bit more, but they beefed up the majority of the field otherwise.