Review of 2020 Seahawks Draft Class

GM John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll brought in a fresh batch of talent last week during the 2020 NFL Draft.

It’s been a while. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in quarantine than to write about our football team that may or may not play this year.

With no live sports for the past couple months, the 2020 NFL Draft was a welcome break from the everyday monotony of full lockdown. The three-day fully virtual event went much smoother than I thought it would, and in some ways it was more entertaining for us viewers at home this year.

The Seahawks ended up drafting eight players overall, and I thought I would give a brief take on each selection – now that I’ve had a week to reflected on the picks.

Round 1: 27 Overall — LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech

As is typical with general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll‘s first-round selections, they made a pick that left most of us scratching our heads. Personally, the first words out of my mouth when I heard Brooks’ name was, “WHO?!” and “WHY A MIDDLE LINEBACKER?!” However, if you start to peel back the layers and look at the tape on the linebacker out of Texas Tech, the pick makes more and more sense.

The biggest thing that jumps out is his speed and range from sideline to sideline, especially in run defense. One of the areas of concerns with Seattle’s defense last season was their ability to stop the run consistently, and that doesn’t fly with a Pete Carroll coached team. Brooks primarily played MLB in his last year at Texas Tech, but was an OLB in seasons before that, so his versatility is also of value.

It also recently came to light that veteran OLB KJ Wright had shoulder surgery this offseason and that he may be moving to SAM linebacker, which would mean that Brooks could be expected to step on the field relatively quickly. Add the fact that both Wright and MLB Bobby Wagner aren’t getting any younger, and it’s suddenly pretty evident that LB was going to be a position that needed to be addressed in the draft. He looks a lot like Wagner on tape. The selection of Brooks fulfills that need, even if it was considered a bit of a reach.

Grade: B-

Round 2: 48 Overall — DE Darrell Taylor, Tennessee

While the 2019 run defense wasn’t up to par with a typical Seahawks defense, the biggest weakness of last year was their ability to rush the passer. And with star defense end Jadaveon Clowney still unsigned (and looking more and more likely that he’ll be suiting up in another uniform next season), this has continued to be one of the biggest question marks of this offseason.

Taylor brings an NFL-ready body type and athletic ability to a group that showed little pop last season (besides Clowney before his injury). This is a bit of an upside pick, as the edge rusher out of Tennessee is still considered a bit raw and unrefined in some of his pass rush moves and his snap timing. But there’s no doubt that the potential is there, and it is largely thought that an injury may have hampered some of Taylor’s 2019 play.

If that’s the case and Taylor takes to coaching well, this could be a great value pick in the middle of the second round.

Grade: B

Round 3: 69 Overall — G Damien Lewis, LSU

I was a bit surprised that they decided to pick an interior lineman after a number of free agent signings before the draft. But with the release of guard DJ Fluker and center Justin Britt, this pick makes some sense. Out of all the rookies, Lewis might have the best chance to start and make an impact right away, likely at right guard to replace Fluker.

One of the strengths of Lewis’ game is his pass protection. In his two years at LSU, he only allowed 5 sacks in 1,089 pass blocking snaps. This is important, and a notable change in the philosophy of a Seattle offensive line that has always been a run-first group under Carroll and Co.

While I don’t expect them to completely abandon being a run-first team, I do think this is a sign that the offense could cater to highlight star QB Russell Wilson (as many fans have been clamoring about for years). This will be something to watch as we near the season.

Grade: A-

Round 4: 133 Overall — TE Colby Parkinson, Stanford

At 6’7, Parkinson adds considerable size to a somewhat crowded tight end room. I would have thought they would go with a wide receiver here, but Parkinson’s strengths are as a pass-catcher. In fact, he didn’t drop a pass last season.

His frame and hands will make him a valuable redzone target, something that the Seahawks haven’t had since Jimmy Graham left town. On the other hand, his ability as a blocker is sub-par, but there’s no doubt he has a solid group of veterans around him to teach the youngster out of Stanford.

It’ll be interesting to see how they utilize Parkinson, as many think he could be an option as a slot receiver in some formations. It also brings to light the fact that veterans Greg Olsen and Will Dissly are question-marks as injury-prone players.

Grade: B

Round 4: 144 Overall — RB Deejay Dallas, Miami

Speaking of injuries, starting running back Chris Carson and backup Rashaad Penny are both coming back from season-ending injuries. The selection of Dallas fills a depth need for a position needed it.

The former Miami running back will likely play a large role in special teams in his first year, possibly as the starting punt returner. While he doesn’t have elite speed, Dallas is a balanced back and has a good feel for setting up his running lanes. He also possesses that physical trait that the Seahawks like in their running backs, and brings versatility as a football player with his background as both a QB and WR.

Grade: B-

Round 5: 148 Overall — DE Alton Robinson, Syracuse

It’s not a big shock that Seattle doubled up on addressing their concerns revolving around the pass rush.

Robinson is also a speed rusher with above-average athleticism. He’s labeled as a disruptor more than anything, which is something that is always welcome on the defensive line. The one knock on the Syracuse-product is his inconsistency at times, so hopefully with some coaching on his technique he can blossom into a well-rounded edge rusher.

In a draft that was considered to be weak at defensive end, the fact that the Seahawks were able to come away with two NFL-ready upside bodies is pretty solid.

Grade: B

Round 6: 214 Overall — WR Freddie Swain, Florida

This was probably the pick that left me the most disappointed. The Seahawks haven’t had much luck with drafting receivers in later rounds, and Swain doesn’t seem to be any different to me.

His size fits him into the slot role, where he’ll likely battle with John Ursua for the final receiver spot. The one thing that both Schneider and Carroll pointed to was his ability as a returner. With the selection of Swain as well as Dallas, this makes me think they are trying to relieve Tyler Lockett of his return duties to limit his risk of injury.

I think it’s probably 50/50 whether Swain makes the final roster.

Grade: C-

Round 7: 251 Overall — WR Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Just when you thought the Seahawks were done picking, Schneider traded a 2021 sixth round pick to acquire a seventh round selection in Sullivan. This is purely an upside pick, but I think there is some potential here and it’s obvious that Seattle was worried that someone would draft him late.. A TE at LSU, Sullivan is listed as WR for the Seahawks.

Pete Carroll has been trying to find a big bodied receiver since former receiver Mike Williams flamed out in 2011.  DK Metcalf certainly gave the position group some much-needed size, but it’s no secret that a bigger receiver opposite of Metcalf, allowing Lockett to slide into the slot, would maximize the potential of this offense.

I don’t expect Sullivan to contribute right away, but he could be an intriguing project and worth taking a flyer on.

Grade: B

In summation, I think this is a pretty strong draft class. Of course, it’s really a guessing game at this point and we won’t truly know how the 2020 draft class will pan out for another couple years.

The Seahawks addressed some of their concerns, but mostly focused in on players that have a chip on their shoulder and have overcome some kind of adversity in their life. Much of the thinking behind this is directly related to the fact that most of the offseason training programs that rookies rely upon will either be cancelled or fully virtual. Seattle took the approach of honing in on prospects that were going to have a proper mindset to overcome this obstacle that the entire draft class faces. Time will tell whether that was the right approach.

Stay safe, and cheers to the hopes of an NFL season giving us some shred of normalcy this fall.

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