The 2021 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 29. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2021 NFL Draft hub.
Seattle Seahawks 2021 DRAFT PICKS OVERVIEW
Round 2 (56)
Round 4 (129)
Round 7 (250)
Seattle Seahawks Offense
By Rich Hribar
Despite a schism early in the offseason between brass and Russell Wilson, cooler heads have prevailed since to signal Wilson remaining in Seattle. Moving on at this stage would have been a major mistake that could reset the organization altogether. Wilson is the only quarterback to throw 30 or more passing touchdowns in each of the past four seasons. As an added bonus, Wilson’s 32.1 rushing yards per game were his most since 2017.
Wilson still is under contract through the 2023 season, but both Danny Etling and Alex McGough behind him are only under contract through this season while neither has played a regular season snap. Seattle could use a veteran backup and with only three draft picks at the moment, it is hard to see them using a late-round pick on a flyer, even if Wilson and the team are not completely kosher.
Seattle retained Chris Carson on a two-year deal this offseason, but if they wanted a more immediate out, Carson would only be $3M in dead cap in 2022. Carson is coming off averaging a career-high 5.4 yards per touch and 3.1 receptions per game. He has scored at least nine touchdowns in each of the past three seasons, but also has yet to play a full NFL season.
Behind Carson, Rashaad Penny enters the final season of his rookie contract coming off a season nearly entirely lost recovering from a late-season 2019 ACL injury. Seattle will have the option to pick up Penny’s fifth-year option, but that would be a long shot at this point after being thoroughly outplayed by Carson over the entirety of his rookie contract.
Seattle still has depth in DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer locked up with multiple seasons on their rookie contracts. Although neither flashed when given opportunities as lead backs over the past two seasons, both at least proved to be baseline contributors in a pinch. Seattle does not have the resources to use one of their few picks on backup backfield depth.
Seattle is still anchored with two top wideouts in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett with both locked up over multiple seasons. Metcalf is obviously still under his rookie contract and built off a strong close to his rookie season by breaking out fully in 2020. Metcalf improved across the board (83-1,303-10) and finished fifth in receiving yards per team pass attempt (2.31 yards).
Seattle then rewarded Lockett with a huge four-year, $69M extension this offseason in which Lockett will carry dead cap hits of $39.2M, $31.2M, $21.1M, and $14.1M over the next four seasons before dropping down to $7M in 2025. Lockett will turn 29 years old in September coming off setting career-highs with 132 targets and 100 receptions while matching a career-best 10 touchdowns.
While Metcalf and Lockett are locked in stars, Seattle still needs a third wheel in the passing game, from wide receiver or tight end. Those two wideouts accounted for 48.6% of the team targets, 47.2% of the receptions, 55.5% of the yardage, and 50% of the receiving scores. Behind Metcalf’s 129 targets, the next closest target on the team was David Moore way down at 47 targets, who left this offseason via free agency.
The other reserve Seattle wideouts have a combined 15 career receptions while Freddie Swain (13-159-2 in 2020) is only the reserve wideout that is under contract beyond 2021. They do have ERFA rights on all of Hart, Kidsy, Ursua, Fuller, and Thompson should any surprise this season.
There is still a need here at the position, but the theme for Seattle entering this draft is they do not have any luxury picks and other needs will likely prioritize another reserve wideout.
While Seattle may not have an actual WR3, the addition of Gerald Everett this offseason may be an inexpensive alternative. Through four years in the NFL, Everett has had his targets, receptions, and yardage climb in every season, but has capped out with a season-high of just 62 targets sharing time in Los Angeles. New Seattle offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was the Rams’ tight ends coach in 2017 when Everett was drafted and the passing game coordinator over the 2018-2020 seasons. Seattle is also no stranger to Everett’s upside as the best game of his career (7-136-0 on 11 targets) came in Seattle Week 5 of the 2019 season.
Everett only signed a one-year contract while both Dissly and Mabry are also only under contract for this upcoming season, leaving 2020 fourth-rounder Colby Parkinson as the only Seattle tight end signed beyond this season.
LT: Duane Brown/Jamarco Jones
LG: Damien Lewis/Jordan Simmons
C: Ethan Pocic/Kyle Fuller/Brad Lundblade
RG: Gabe Jackson*/Phil Haynes
RT: Brandon Shell/Cedric Ogbuehi/Tommy Champion
Reportedly the crux of the Wilson/front office relationship is that Wilson is pushing for stronger offensive line play. Seattle was actually ninth in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate metric in 2020 at 62%, but 30th in collective pass-blocking grade per Pro Football Focus.
Veteran left tackle Duane Brown will enter the season at 36 years old in the final year of his contract while right tackle Brandon Shell is also in the final season of his contract.
Last year’s third-round pick Damien Lewis was an overall success in his first season, starting all 16 games and grading out as the ninth-best run-blocking guard per Pro Football Focus. Lewis did have struggles in pass protection allowing 28 pressures and three sacks.
The team also added veteran right guard Gabe Jackson on a three-year contract. Jackson will be 30 this July coming off his first full season played since 2016 to fill in for the role vacated by Mike Iupati. The team also retained center Ethan Pocic on a low-leverage, one-year deal. Lewis, Jackson, and backup guard Phil Haynes are the only lineman under contract for Seattle past this season with tackle and center depth immediate areas of need.
Seattle Seahawks Defense
By Dan Pizzuta
Interior Defensive Line
Poona Ford has continued to develop into one of the better young interior defenders after his third season. Ford had eight tackles for loss, which tied for sixth-most among defensive tackles in 2020. He was also 19th in quarterback hits. Rasheem Green, a 2018 third-round pick, has also developed into a productive rotational pass rusher. Al Woods also just returned to Seattle after he signed with Jacksonville prior to the 2020 season before he opted out. Woods just turned 34 but he’s the type of run-stopping nose tackle the Seahawks tried to have in a short-lived midseason match with Damon Harrison.
Perhaps the best use of a Seattle 2021 draft pick comes from the seventh-rounder sent to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carlos Dunlap. The Seahawks ranked 27th in pressure rate before the Dunlap trade last season and improved to 14th over the second half of the season, according to Sports Info Solutions. Dunlap was re-signed to a two-year deal, but that only comes with $8.5 million guaranteed.
Kerry Hyder is an underrated rusher who ranked 20th among edge rusher in pressure rate last season as he was pushed into a more full-time role with the San Francisco 49ers last year. Hyder will turn 30 years old in May, so neither he nor Dunlap are long-term options but that gives the Seahawks a much better starting duo than they had last season.
The depth here isn’t terrible but highlights where the Seahawks have come to where they are in terms of draft capital. LJ Collier was a first-round pick in 2019, but hasn’t played nearly up to that level. He was 114th among 124 qualified edge rushers in pressure rate. Alton Robinson, a 2020 fifth-round pick, ranked 82nd on nearly 30% of Seattle’s defensive snaps. Darrell Taylor, a 2020 second-round pick, missed his entire rookie season recovering from surgery on his leg. Taylor was also a trade-up which sent a 2020 third-round pick along with the second-round pick swap.
Bobby Wagner is still Bobby Wagner, even entering Year 10. Jordyn Brooks was last year’s first-round pick and played above expectations with better coverage as he played 31.9% of the defensive snaps. Ben Burr-Kirven was a rangy linebacker in college but played only 10 defensive snaps last season.
There will need to be either an addition or a major step up from the non-Wagner options since the Seahawks used the second-highest rate of base defense in the league last season (38%), Even the nickel lineup would need a bigger contributor. K.J. Wright remains a free agent.
With Shaquil Griffin now in Jacksonville, the Seahawks lost their top corner. In free agency, Seattle signed Ahkello Witherspoon away from the San Francisco 49ers. Witherspoon has been inconsistent with San Francisco but ranked 42nd among corners in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap in 2020. That’s much better than Tre Flowers, who ranked 106th and allowed a 74.5% completion rate in a down year.
D.J. Reed was another San Francisco signing and was the highlight of the cornerback room as he played outside and in the slot for the Seahawks after playing more safety with the 49ers. Reed ranked 27th in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap.
After the top-3, there are a lot of questions. Safety Marquise Blair started as the team’s slot corner and Ugo Amadi slid into that role once Blair was lost of the season in Week 2.
Seattle’s first-round pick this season is Jamal Adams. Adams dealt with injury issues in 2020, but was impactful when he was on the field. He was the team’s best pass rusher (which says about as much as Adams’s skill as it does the edge talent described earlier) but the team also allowed 0.09 EPA per play without Adams on the field compared to -0.01 EPA per play with him on it, per SIS.
Quandre Diggs remains the team’s deep safety while Adams plays more in the box. Ryan Neal flashed with two picks and five passes defensed when he found his way onto the field. Blair and Amadi, both 2019 draft picks, are listed as safeties but are likely to play more slot corner.