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.