The 2021 NFL Draft is officially less than two weeks away and while the Seahawks currently have only three selections, they will still have a chance to address a number of needs on the roster.
Looking at Seattle's areas of concern position-wise, cornerback remains one of the team's biggest question marks in the short and long-term. The team lost former starters Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar in free agency, leaving D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers, and Ahkello Witherspoon to battle for two starting spots on the outside. None of those three players are under contract beyond 2021.
Since John Schneider and Pete Carroll arrived in 2010, the organization has looked for specific body types and athletic profiles at the position, including prioritizing length by never drafting a corner with under 32-inch arms. They also have emphasized quickness, only drafting one corner (Flowers) who exceeded 7.00 seconds on the 3-cone drill, along with explosiveness, never picking a corner with under a 33-inch vertical jump.
Here's a look at all of the size/athletic thresholds Seattle has abided by at the cornerback spot with Schneider and Carroll at the helm.
Luckily, the 2021 draft class looks to be deep compared to recent years at cornerback, including offering plenty of tall, lengthy prospects with adequate athletic traits that fit Seattle's typical prototype for playing on the outside.
Based on past precedent, which corners from this year's class could be potential targets for the Seahawks based on athletic testing and size thresholds? While only a handful of players meet the 32-inch arm threshold, several players check off all of the athletic requirements, which could make for some interesting discussions between Schneider, Carroll, and the scouting staff on draft weekend.
Combing through this year's class, 12 corners meet Seattle's prior arm length requirement. In total, only two prospects have 32-inch or longer arms and pass the thresholds for all six athletic tests: Syracuse's Ifeatu Melifonwu and Pittsburgh's Jason Pinnock. Based on this data, those two players naturally should be linked to the Seahawks as ideal targets and not surprisingly, they have been common targets in mock drafts this spring.
Of course, athletic testing and measurables are only part of the equation, especially with pro days replacing the NFL combine this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Evaluating character off the field along with football skills will be key aspects of whether or not the player fits what the organization wants.
After seeing the 5-foot-9 Reed thrive on the outside last year, prior thresholds may not be as important as they used to be for the Seahawks, which should make draft weekend as intriguing as ever. Several intriguing prospects such as Syracuse's Trill Williams and Oklahoma State's Rodarius Williams fall just short of the threshold and check off all of the athletic boxes, which could create a scenario where the front office bucks prior trends if one of those players remains available early on day three.
To read more on several Seahawk-y cornerback prospects, check out my "Finding Seahawks" primer evaluating several players who could receive a call from Schneider during the draft.