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NFC West

The 2020 Seahawks Draft Analysis

Century Link Field, Seattle. Photo by Luis Antonio Rodriguez Ochoa. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The 2020 NFL Draft for the Seahawks was, in many ways, a rebirth. Not in the way of making unexpected picks or drafting players many picks (or rounds) ahead of where draft “experts” mocked them. Nor in the way of making fans flip out on the internet and question Pete’s sanity as he appears to construct an ideal roster for a 1940s football team. Sure, there were many decisions this draft that seemed questionable. But any longtime Seahawks fan knows that the Seahawks almost never take the player the fanbase expects. If the 2020 Draft showed us anything, it’s that the Seahawks do not care what Mel Kiper Jr. or other self-proclaimed draft experts think. John and his team consistently drafted the highest player on their board regardless of position on the big board. By the end of the three-day event, the Seahawks had a haul of eight players: three on defense and five on offense, who made up a formidable blend of raw speed, size, athleticism, and most notably, character.

The Seahawks always prioritize grit and toughness in rookies, but in this draft, for reasons not yet clear, Schneider and his team were laser-focused on finding the most dauntless, mettlesome players in the draft: talent and NFL upside over college production, swagger and grit over national big board rankings, Jordyn Brooks over LJ Collier, street dogs over show ponies. Yes, this draft is already raking in C and D grades from national media, but I think the Seahawks might be on to something. Aggressiveness, speed, and violence are returning to Seattle in a big way, and, in my humble opinion, the 2020 Draft may end up being one of Seattle’s best in a long time. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the newest Seattle Seahawks.

Pick 27: Jordyn Brooks, ILB, Texas Tech

The Brooks pick was a perfect representation of the Seahawks’ draft: nobody expected it, but it grew on people quickly. Considering the Seahawks just made Bobby Wagner the highest-paid MLB in NFL history, many initially assumed the Seahawks had just used a first-round pick on a perennial backup. Quickly, it became clear the Seahawks have bigger plans for the 22-year-old Red Raider. Brooks is an aggressive, intelligent linebacker who possesses blazing straight-line speed and NFL-ready run defense skills. Pete said Brooks blew them away at the Combine; he was confident, clear, looked the Seahawks in the eye and “kicked ass.”

The initial knock on Brooks was his apparent lack of experience and natural ability in pass coverage. However, film review from his 2018 season shows plenty of promise in that area. As of now, he seems like the favorite to take over the SAM linebacker position and replace Mychal Kendricks. The Seahawks have not picked at their original first-round pick since 2011 – they see something special in Brooks. If he improves in pass coverage, which many expect him to, the future of the Seahawks LB corps could lie in the tantalizing trio of Wagner, Barton, and Brooks.

Pick 48: Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee

Nobody loves collecting linebackers quite like Pete Carroll, but in round two it was time to get back to work and address the glaring hole in the defense: the pass rush. The Seahawks traded up (sacrificing a third-round pick) to acquire Darrell Taylor out of Tennessee. Taylor is a powerful, bendy rusher with the tools to become a fearsome defender in the NFL. He will need to develop skills in run defense and improve his block shedding in order to become a three-down defender, but fans can expect Taylor to come in year one and join Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa in rushing the passer as a quarterback-consuming committee of rotational rushers. While giving up a third after not trading back in the first hurt a bit in the moment, Taylor is an exciting addition to the team and Seahawks fans should be excited about having him on the roster.

Pick 69: Damien Lewis, G, LSU

Guards are never a sexy pick to make, but this may be the most exciting pick of the draft for those who value Russell Wilson’s general safety and wellbeing. Lewis is an absolute mauler in the run game: his size and strength come together to concoct some highly-entertaining game film of him tossing SEC defenders into the air as if they are ragdolling in a video game. His pass protection is underrated: he only allowed five sacks in his entire career at LSU protecting number one overall pick Joe Burrow from the best rushers in college football. Lewis is a perfect prospect for Seahawks OL coach Mike Solari: a massive, skillful run blocker with upside in pass pro. I can’t finish this profile without mentioning Lewis’ character: he’s bright, energetic, and he was discussing plans for a Super Bowl Ring with Russell Wilson over Facetime minutes after being drafted. I expect Lewis to come in and immediately challenge DJ Fluker for his job at RG, and I expect him to be driving opponents off the line in blue and action green for years to come.

Pick 133: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford

Like linebacker, tight end was not a position I expected Seattle to put much capital into in the draft after acquiring Greg Olsen. Nevertheless, Parkinson was the first of two tight ends selected on Day 3. Parkinson is the definition of a red zone threat: 6’ 7” with an outstanding catch radius and zero drops on catchable balls in 2019. Parkinson’s skillset makes me think we may see the return of a 2017 Jimmy Graham-style red zone target in 2020, which Russ has been sorely missing (although Metcalf scored plenty of TDs in 2019, contested catches were not his forte last season). Parkinson will have to grow as a blocker and become more comfortable as an in-line tight end, but Seattle’s offense values pass-catchers over blockers at the tight end position anyway. If you need help getting excited about the Parkinson pick, just imagine Seattle at the San Francisco five-yard line in 13 personnel with Parkinson, Dissly, Olsen, Lockett, Metcalf, and Carson. I’d like to see Dre Greenlaw try and drape himself over Parkinson as he did Hollister in Week 17.

Pick 144: DeeJay Dallas, RB, Miami

Dallas backed up the Seahawks’ new RB3 Travis Homer in Miami during the 2018 season and became the feature back at the U in 2019. Watching his tape, Dallas has a very similar build and playing style to Rashaad Penny; his contact balance and feather-light feet are possibly the best in this RB class. His 6.0 YPC and ability to contribute immediately on special teams show that Dallas has a fairly high floor; he will be considered immediately for a return specialist role. In all, however, this pick stood out to me as uninspiring. A 4th-round pick on a running back many had further down the board could be a sign that the Seahawks are less optimistic about Penny’s recovery from an ACL tear than previously thought. The only way this pick pays off in 2020 is if Dallas becomes a star returner for the Seahawks in 2020 – or if the RB room runs thin as it did late last season.

Pick 148: Alton Robinson, DE, Syracuse

Robinson is a high-upside project. He is gifted athletically, but needs development at all levels of his game, including developing his pass rush toolbox and his technique in run defense. Robinson has potential to be a three down defensive end for the Seahawks eventually with proper development. What interests me most about Robinson as a prospect, however, is above the shoulders. In his post-draft press conference, Robinson proved to be a fantastic interview. He spoke about his Seattle ties (he spent time training with Cliff Avril in Bellevue before the draft), and showed remorse and maturity as he owned up to a past legal incident. When deciding to take the chance on developing a fifth-round prospect, it’s important to know what kind of person they are off the field. I believe that Robinson has the character to make it happen in Seattle and become a productive DE over the next few years.

Pick 214: Freddie Swain, WR, Florida

Look, I know it’s crazy to say this about a sixth-round slot receiver, but NFL: watch out for Freddie Swain. Stop me if this reminds you of someone: small, quick slot receiver completely overlooked in the draft who oozes swagger and confidence. A slot and return specialist at Florida, Swain carries himself with a demeanor that’s been sorely missing from the Seahawks since the retirement of, yes, Doug Baldwin. On tape, most of Swain’s ability flashes on special teams, as he displays NFL speed and instincts finding running lanes. Swain will enter training camp as an immediate favorite to win the return specialist job, and, despite Seattle’s receiver depth and my undying optimism for John Ursua, I believe Swain could earn a roster spot and develop into a solid WR3-4 for the Seahawks over the next year.

Pick 251: Stephen Sullivan, TE, LSU

Sullivan was a prospect I had wondered about before the draft, as multiple Seattle draft analysts claimed Sullivan was a fantastic late-round prospect. Indeed he is: Sullivan has clear NFL size, length, and athleticism at 6’5”, 248 lbs, 35 ⅜” arms, and a 4.66 40-yard dash. Sullivan would have been drafted much higher if he’d had more production at LSU (only two starts in 2019 and 12 receptions). His lack of snaps says less about Sullivan, however, and more about the sheer talent of the historically great 2019 LSU roster. Besides his physical traits, Sullivan has overcome tremendous circumstances in his life. John Schneider noted that Sullivan’s honesty and humility about his struggle with homelessness growing up impressed the Seahawks staff and showed that Sullivan will, at the very least, bring to the Seahawks a grit and perseverance very few possess. Sullivan is a classic developmental prospect: he has the traits to become a dominant tight end in the NFL, but will need to overcome yet another obstacle in his life as he works to earn a roster spot in a now-crowded TE room and become the player he is capable of being.

In all, the thing that excites me most about the Seahawks’ 2020 Draft is the character these young men bring to the locker room. The Seahawks clearly sought to bring tenacity, grit, and maturity to a team that lacked the aggressive underdog mentality that brought them a championship in 2013. As we enter an offseason full of uncertainty, doubt, and even fear, I find it hard not to believe in and root for these hungry prospects as they prepare to light a spark in Seattle and herald a renaissance of tenacious Seahawks football.

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