The Seahawks’ Projected Plan at QB For 2022

Seattle Seahawks QB Drew Lock
USA Today Sports

Throughout the first five rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, observers watched closely to see if the Seattle Seahawks would take a potential successor to Russell Wilson at quarterback. But as every round passed, it became apparent that Seattle was not going to select a quarterback. Afterwards, Pete Carroll made it clear that he and the Seahawks were comfortable with who the team already had on the roster at QB. 

A trade for Baker Mayfield has not materialized, and Carroll indicated that Geno Smith, who backed up Wilson for the past three seasons, has the early edge in the competition for the starting job because of his familiarity with the Seahawks offense. Drew Lock, acquired in the Wilson trade, is still widely perceived to be the favorite to win the QB competition. Whomever Pete Carroll chooses in the end will have a direct effect on the betting odds.

Why Did the Seahawks Avoid the QB Position in the NFL Draft?

Whether it’s Smith or Lock emerging as the starter, most onlookers believe the Seattle quarterback situation is one of the most uncertain in the league ahead of the new season. So why did the Seahawks pass on a quarterback when some of the top-rated ones were available even into the fifth round? And what is the plan going forward? 

The consensus among draft experts is that the 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class was weaker than in many previous seasons. Most teams who passed on the top quarterbacks for the first two rounds seemed to hold the same belief. By not selecting a quarterback when many fans and analysts believed they should, Seattle sent a message that Carroll and John Schneider were willing to go with whoever they had internally. 

This is not the first time that Carroll and Schneider have chosen to take their chances with less decorated passers while building key pieces of the team around the quarterback position. After the 2010 season, they made an unpopular move to move on from Matt Hasselbeck and went with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst for the 2011 campaign. Meanwhile, the team was in a process of constructing a strong defensive foundation while Marshawn Lynch had arrived as an offensive focal point.

In 2012, Wilson was drafted and became a final and essential piece to a championship puzzle after the Seahawks went 7-9 in 2011. 

Now, as the post-Wilson era begins in Seattle, the Seahawks have focused on strengthening the rest of the roster outside of the quarterback position. They have given any quarterback who starts, though, a supporting cast that can help pave a path to success. There is improved pass protection, a very potent running game, and two established standout wide receivers in place along with a tight end with considerable potential. 

In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Seahawks drafted offensive tackles with two of their first three picks. First-round selection Charles Cross was regarded by many draftniks as the best pure pass blocker available. Seattle also drafted RB Kenneth Walker in the second round, and he could prove to be the best pure runner in the incoming class. A healthy Rashaad Penny and Walker might be the most potent RB duo in the NFL, and that is not an overstatement.

Penny played at an All-Pro level down the stretch last year. Walker has a lot of upside as a runner with good patience, vision, elusiveness, tackle-breaking abilities, and he also can bust loose for long gainers. 

Smith or Lock will have the support of an improved offensive line, a possibly outstanding running game, plus D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Noah Fant as primary targets. The Carroll vision is to employ a balanced offense with a pounding ground attack, while also asking the quarterback to limit turnovers and connect on timely downfield strikes. 

The defense was also fortified in the draft with two edge rushers and two cornerbacks, further rounding out the Carroll/Schneider approach. Much like in the pre-Wilson season, the pieces are in place to hopefully contend soon, and the groundwork has been laid for possible future success. 

The Seahawks Chose to Strengthen the Supporting Cast for Their QBs

The Seahawks have also followed a model of teams such as the Dolphins, Jets, and Steelers. Those teams don’t have an established franchise quarterback, yet they have surrounded the position with significant playmaking options and an environment in which the QB has a lot of quality support. That sort of roster construction on offense takes pressure off the QB to carry the offense and asks him to best utilize what is provided.

It’s the exact opposite of what Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes are being asked to do. If a team does not have a star quarterback, or even an ideal starter in place, then it makes sense to get the most out of all the complementary players and lean more on the skill position guys to spike the offense. The Seahawks could still seek an upgrade at quarterback, but if not, whoever starts can benefit from a potent group of offensive players around the QB. Any passer who does not succeed in such a scenario won’t be destined to succeed at all. 

The Seahawks brass, though, has been intrigued by the potential of Lock ever since he was taken in the second round of the 2019 draft by Denver. He has the capability to throw a good deep ball and take advantage of working with significant downfield threats in Metcalf and Lockett. Plus, he has obvious familiarity with former Broncos’ teammate Fant. Penny and Walker can challenge defenses consistently and ease pressure on the quarterback. 

Everything seems to be set up for Lock — or possibly Smith — to respectably guide, but not be a pure centerpiece of the offense. Lock and Smith will be free agents in 2023, so they have one season to show they can be quality options. Lock still has some promise in terms of exceeding expectations. 

If it all does not work at QB for the Seahawks in 2022, they can look ahead to a much more appealing class of rookie passers in 2023. For now, though, Lock has a chance to start over in Seattle, and he could start back on a better career track with a strong preseason. 

The Seahawks may indeed take their chances on Lock or Smith this upcoming season. They will see if the experiment yields at least respectable results, or if the team will need to reset at the position after the 2022 campaign. 

Scott Engel is a guest contributor at ATB Network from our friends at The Game Day. Head over to their website to see more of Scott’s work, and be sure to follow The Game Day and Scott on Twitter

Are the Cincinnati Bengals already being doubted heading into 2022?

Can last year’s AFC conference champion capitalize on the momentum and win next year’s Super Bowl?

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

A little over a month ago, the Cincinnati Bengals were the darlings of the NFL, from media and fan perspectives. Their long-awaited postseason win drought was not only over after 31 years, the team was also the biggest underdog story in sports prior to St. Peter’s becoming the darlings of March Madness

Cincinnati failed in its third attempt to win a Super Bowl, but it appeared they gained a ton of respect along the way. The Bengals looked like a team that could challenge for the AFC Championship again next season. But have the good vibes and enthusiasm surrounding the Bengals evaporated already?

The Cincinnati Bengals are being overlooked by NFL Oddsmakers.
A lower place than among the Super Bowl 57 favorites.

Eight teams in NFL history, and one in the last 28 years, have returned to the Super Bowl the following season after losing. Vegas seems to be well aware of the trend of futility. The bookmakers apparently aren’t convinced the beloved Bengals of January 2022 are a prime contender to win Super Bowl 57.  The latest futures odds from Caesars Sportsbook don’t have the Bengals top 10 to win Super Bowl 57.

They are tied with the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens at +2500. The Bengals are tied with the Ravens for the sixth-best odds to win the AFC at +1200. 

The Bengals haven’t gotten worse since their Super Bowl loss. Their biggest weakness to address was the offensive line, and they did so in stellar fashion, with three significant free-agent additions, including the latest addition of tackle La’El Collins. The team did not have any major losses in free agency, either. 

It seems like these Bengals have a good chance to get back to the AFC Championship Game again and possibly the Super Bowl, considering that the explosive offense will remain mostly intact and the blocking has already improved. There are some tweaks needed on the defense, but overall, the roster is certainly good enough to ensure that Cincinnati remains a contender if many of the key performers stay healthy. 

Where the Cincinnati Bengals are found in the AFC odds

The Bills (+400) and the Chiefs (+450) are the favorites to win the AFC. That is no surprise, especially with Buffalo adding Von Miller and the Chiefs acquiring JuJu Smith-Schuster. The AFC road to the Super Bowl goes through Kansas City, anyhow. The Broncos are third at +850 after acquiring Russell Wilson.

The former Seahawks QB has not advanced his team to a conference championship game in the past seven seasons. Plus, you could give Cincinnati the full advantage over Denver at running back and wide receiver. Denver may be better defensively, but these teams don’t seem too far apart in terms of conference winning championship potential. 

The Chargers are also at +850, and their defense looks fearsome, but their starting QB has no playoff experience. The Browns are at +900 after acquiring Deshaun Watson. 

He will certainly have a better shot to win playoff games than he did in Houston, but the fact is, he still has to prove it. Watson has one career playoff win. Baltimore is even with Cincinnati at +1200 to win the AFC, but Lamar Jackson has certainly not shown he is capable of leading a team on a deep playoff run yet. The Bengals are at the exact same odds after winning the AFC Championship last season.

We certainly are not judging these other AFC teams purely by the quarterback position only, and any of the other AFC contenders positioned ahead of Cincinnati could make a good run to a conference title. 

What about the Bengals compared to the NFC?

But haven’t the Bengals earned more respect in terms of being a favorite? 

You could make a good case their odds should at least match those of Denver and Los Angeles. Plus, the Bengals are tied with the Titans in the odds to win Super Bowl 57. Yes, the Titans acquired Robert Woods, but there is no way I would give any team led by Ryan Tannehill the same projected chances as the defending AFC champions.

Among the NFC teams ahead of Cincinnati in current odds to win Super Bowl 57 is San Francisco at +1400. The 49ers should not be so far ahead of the Bengals considering they’ll be starting an inexperienced quarterback next season. Of all the teams in the top 10 odds, the Niners have the shakiest outlook at the most important position. 

The most head-scratching team to actually be ahead of the Bengals is the Dallas Cowboys at +1800. Dallas may have actually gotten worse this offseason with some of their key personnel losses in free agency. The Cowboys have won one playoff game in the last seven years and lost in the Wild Card last season. 

Place a bet on the Bengals right now

You could indeed make very good cases that the odds for many of the teams ahead of the Bengals deserve those projected outlooks to win the AFC or Super Bowl 57. But I would certainly take Cincinnati over Baltimore, Tennessee, or Dallas. 

That said, the Bengals are a good value in NFL futures right now to win the AFC/Super Bowl next season. We recommend strongly considering such wagers right now, especially on the odds to win the AFC Championship again. 

It is a knee-jerk reaction when many NFL observers make predictions on the next season based on a past one. The current state of the Cincinnati roster, however, showcases the Bengals are certainly capable of contending for the conference. 

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