It’s the most hopeful time of the year for NFL fans of all 32 franchises (well, maybe 31 franchises as Bill O’ Brien continues to sink the Houston Texans) with the 2020 NFL Draft coming up soon. Often referred to as an inexact science, a crapshoot, and various other phrases that conjure up NFL General Managers lining up to spin a slot machine that could give them a JaMarcus Russell or a Tom Brady, the NFL Draft is truly a spectacle. As NFL Combine (or “Underwear Olympics” as some scouts call it) results have taken on more importance in the absence of pro days and in-person workouts & interviews for draft prospects, this draft is truly one of a kind. It will also be fascinating to see what role technology plays in this draft, as it will be conducted exclusively online in lieu of public health and safety at this time of the coronavirus.
This mock draft was done using First Pick which allows you to propose and receive trades involving draft picks (as you’ll see below). All height, weight, statistics, and combine measurements courtesy of NFL.com. with analysis/comparisons attributed to the source.
Round One, Pick #32 (from Kansas City) – Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
*TRADE ALERT* Seahawks trade the #27 pick in the first round to Kansas City for the #32 pick in the first round and pick #32 in the second round
In this draft scenario, the Chiefs offered a move down of just five spots in exchange for a late second-round pick in order to move up and draft cornerback Noah Igbinoghene. I feel confident in saying that a team will trade back up into the end of the first round to draft a quarterback – either Jordan Love if he falls to the back end of the first, or potentially a team being aggressive in grabbing a raw prospect such as Jacob Eason. The ideal situation for Seattle would be to trade down and still grab an edge rusher – ideally, one of A.J. Epenesa or Yetur Gross-Matos. In this draft, both players were gone by pick #27, as was Zack Baun who I would have also considered.
However, Blacklock is certainly a great consolation prize. While last year’s first-round selection of L.J. Collier, another TCU defensive lineman, may have left a bad taste in the mouths of 12s everywhere it shouldn’t be held against Blacklock. An explosive and athletic lineman with a gifted ability to use his hands to get off of blocks and penetrate the backfield, Blacklock’s production in 2019 was questionable (only 3.5 sacks, though he did have 9.0 tackles for a loss). At 6’3” and 290 lbs., Blacklock has the size to play inside in the NFL and the athleticism to move outside on certain downs. Players of his explosiveness and athletic talent at defensive tackle are rare, and if he reaches his potential (and adds strength), he has the ability to be a true disruptor in the middle of Seattle’s defense.
Round Two, Pick #27 – Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
Rejoice, Seattle fans, for the sun is now shining, the bluebirds are singing, the roses are blooming, and Russell Wilson has at least some modicum of pass protection. Though Wilson isn’t one of the premier tackles in the draft, after the top four (Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, & Andrew Thomas [Wilson’s college teammate]), he has all the necessary traits to be a long-term starter. A massive human at 6’6” and 350 lbs. with 35 ½” inch arms, Wilson projects as a dominant right tackle in the NFL. Though the Seahawks need to plan for life after Duane Brown (he’ll be 35 when the season starts), Brandon Shell isn’t going to cut it when it comes to protecting Russell Wilson. Wilson may have a learning curve at first, especially as he refines his balance and footwork, but should be at least an average right tackle by the end of his rookie season and continue to improve after that.
Round Two, Pick #31 (from Kansas City) – Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
I believe that even in a wide receiver class as talented and deep as this one, Michael Pittman Jr. is the most underrated of them all. At 6’4” and 223 lbs., Pittman has the size to be the true possession receiver that Pete Carroll has been searching for since the days of Mike Williams and Sidney Rice. A Biletnikoff Award finalist with 101 catches for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns, Pittman’s production was fantastic at USC. Though he lacks the requisite speed to be a true WR1 in the NFL (he ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash), he demonstrated an ability to use his size and vertical explosiveness to win contested catches. Analyst Lance Zierlein compares him to Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos, and I certainly agree. Pittman would allow Tyler Lockett to move into the slot and DK Metcalf to continue playing outside, forcing teams to decide how they want to defend Seattle’s combination of size and speed on offense.
Running back may not seem like a big enough need to warrant a second-round selection, but as long as it’s not a first-round selection Seattle fans will rejoice. All jokes aside (regardless of how much the Rashaad Penny selection still stings), Akers is the type of back that can play on all three downs as a between the tackle runner and a pass-catcher/pass-blocker on third downs. He also has experience running behind a below-average offensive line (his lineman at Florida State did him no favors) and demonstrated an ability to get his own yards as he finished through contact. With a 4.47 40-yard dash, he might not be a burner, but he is an effective runner with good open-field skills once he gets up to the second level. A three-pronged backfield of Penny, Chris Carson, and Akers would be a great balance to a lethal passing game.
Round Three, Pick #37 (Compensatory Selection) – Jeremy Chinn, FS, Southern Illinois
Two things are true: Jeremy Chinn likely won’t make it to the end of the third round, and Seattle’s safety position is in pretty solid shape thanks to Bradley McDougald, Quandre Diggs, Marquise Blair, and the merciful end of the Tedric Thompson experiment. If Chinn had a better (and healthier) high school career, he would’ve ended up at a much more prestigious university, where he likely would’ve maintained his impressive production and ended up in the Day one conversation. NFL.com’s comparison for Chinn is Harrison Smith, which is extremely high praise. Though I don’t see that high of a ceiling for Chinn, he will be an excellent player for a long time in the NFL. At 6’3” and 221 lbs. (with a 4.45 40-yard dash and a fantastic 41-inch vertical jump to boot), he’s big enough to play in the box and athletic enough to play a big nickel role. In Seattle, he could be a combination of Bradley McDougald and Akeem King in 2018 vs. Kansas City (this is a reference for astute fans; for more see this Field Gulls article. The selection of Chinn will allow Seattle to abandon their archaic 4-3 defense that they ran last year in favor of a more productive and sensible 4-2-5 that will put their 11 best defenders on the field at the same time.
Round Four, Pick #27 – Lynn Bowden Jr., WR, Kentucky
Seattle’s track record of drafting wide receivers in the fourth round over the past few years is remarkably bad. Chris Harper, Kevin Norwood, Gary Jennings Jr., and Zach Gilford – the first three names are Seattle’s last three receiver selections in the fourth round, while the last name is the actor who played Matt Saracen on Friday Night Lights (though all four of them had the same contribution to Seattle’s success over the past few years). Despite this, I have Seattle taking two wide receivers with back-to-back picks in the fourth round, though they couldn’t be much more different. Truly a unique player, Bowden started the year as a wide receiver for Kentucky, ended the year by starting the last eight games at quarterback, and returned punts and kickoffs in between. My biggest apprehension about Seattle drafting Bowden isn’t that he doesn’t seamlessly fit a traditional position – it’s that Brian Schottenheimer isn’t creative enough to utilize him out of the backfield and on gadget plays – pigeonholing Bowden into a strict slot receiver role won’t be the right way to maximize his production. A gritty player who did whatever his coaches asked of him, Bowden would be a valuable addition (and would be able to take over as the starting kick and punt returner from day one).
Round Four, Pick #28 – Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State
At 6’4” and 210 lbs., Hodgins certainly has the size that Pete Carroll loves to have as part of his wide receiver core and put his length to use at Oregon State. With a 4.61 second 40-yard dash at the combine, Hodgins won’t be able to use his speed to win at the NFL level; however, he demonstrated his ability to attack the ball in the air at Oregon State. As a junior, he caught 86 passes for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns, showcasing his ability to use his frame to box-out defensive backs and rarely dropping a ball. He became a true red-zone threat, as he expertly high-points the ball and shows fantastic body control around the sideline. In a shallower draft, Hodgins would likely go in the late second or middle of the third round. Here, Seattle gets a receiver with great size and potential for Russell Wilson to utilize.
Round Six, Pick #35 (Compensatory Selection) – Benito Jones, DT, Ole Miss
One player that the Seahawks should have resigned this offseason but didn’t was defensive tackle Al Woods. Though he ended up being suspended for four games last season, while active, he was a fantastic run defender. The Seahawks can replace that interior presence with Jones. Standing at 6’1” and weighing 316 lbs., Jones may lack the ideal length for an interior defensive lineman but that shouldn’t discourage the Seahawks from drafting him. Analyst Lance Zierlein views Jones as an “even-front shade nose who can step into an early rotational role” with the “potential to become a future starter with adequate rush potential”. Even if he never becomes an interior pass-rusher and remains a two-down run-stuffer, that role certainly carries value – especially at a sixth-round price tag.
Overall, this draft worked out well for Seattle. The selection of four different offensive skill players may seem like a misallocation of resources, with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Chris Carson, and Rashaad Penny all showing various degrees of excellence last season. However, taking advantage of such a deep wide receiver class will allow Seattle to implement three-wide receiver sets even more, while Akers is talented insurance against Carson’s broken hip and Penny’s torn ACL (especially for the first six weeks of the season, as Penny is likely to start on the PUP list). Blacklock and Wilson will be able to play in limited roles their rookie years, and should both soon be truly impactful players, while Jones should see the field soon as a run-stuffer. Chinn is certainly a luxury pick, and it’s unlikely he makes it to the end of round three in the real draft. However, if he does, Seattle should pounce – a player of his skillset and variety of talents will always improve a team’s defense.
Top Photo: Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports