Now two weeks into the 2021 NFL league year, free agency has slowed down to a lull with the vast majority of big name veterans signing with new teams. Those who remain unsigned continue to struggle to find deals approaching market value due to a lowered salary cap resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
With free agency slowing to a crawl, teams have shifted the vast majority of their attention to wrapping up preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft. Unlike a normal offseason where most of the hay would already be in the barn, teams are scrambling to wrap up prospect evaluations with individual pro days replacing a canceled NFL combine and supplementing limited scouting from an unprecedented college football season.
After acquiring veteran guard Gabe Jackson from the Raiders earlier this month, the Seahawks currently have only three draft picks, including only a second-round selection in the first three rounds. But given general manager John Schneider's track record, it's guaranteed he will recoup at least a couple picks to ensure he walks away with more than three new players.
With that said, the lack of capital in the first three rounds creates a conundrum for Schneider and Seattle's scouting department. Not having a first-round pick dramatically decreases returns for trading down and while pick No. 56 should still have some trade down value to add a day three selection or two, doing so may take the team out of the running for a blue chip talent who can contribute right away. This is especially true if Schneider tries to trade down more than once.
Keeping that in mind, for my latest seven-round mock draft, I attempted to take a balanced approach with the goal of adding a few picks to the draft arsenal without compromising the opportunity to add a potential day one starter with the Seahawks lone pick in the first three rounds. As a result, I only traded down once, but I was able to pry a fourth and a seventh-round pick away from the Buccaneers while still staying in the second round.
Without further ado, here's my latest crack at a Seahawks mock draft courtesy of the Draft Network simulator.
Round 2, Pick 64 - Quinn Meinerz, C/G Wisconsin-Whitewater*
*Acquired from Buccaneers
The Seahawks may have re-signed Ethan Pocic to a one-year contract, but that won't stop the franchise from pursuing a long-term starter at center such as Meinerz, who impressed against top competition at the Senior Bowl. Much to the delight of scouts, his physicality and dominance at the line of scrimmage carried over from Division III opponents to Mobile, as he dished out several pancakes against Power 5 conference standouts in the run game and held his own in pass protection drills. He didn't play any center for the Warhawks in college, but looked like a natural at the position, opening the door for him to be an early contributor. He also put on a show at his pro day, running a 4.99-second 40-yard dash and a 32-inch vertical jump at 320 pounds. If he's still available at this stage of the draft, Seattle has a chance to add an instant starter with a nasty attitude and a high ceiling to cap off the second round.
Round 4, Pick 129 - Shi Smith, WR South Carolina
Unlike center, Seattle has yet to do anything to address the receiver position in free agency, leaving a dearth of experience and talent behind stars DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Luckily, this year's draft class is once again loaded at the position and Smith presents quality value early on day three. Built similarly to Lockett, the shifty 5-foot-10, 186-pound Smith dealt with poor quarterback play for much of his collegiate career but still posted over 2,200 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Possessing 4.43 40-yard dash speed and elite quickness, he's an underrated route runner who creates havoc after the catch once the ball is in his hands and has shown a propensity for highlight-reel grabs. His lack of size and struggles working off press coverage could limit him position-wise to playing almost exclusively out of the slot, but he has a chance to develop into a formidable third weapon in Seattle's passing arsenal.
Round 4, Pick 137 - Darius Stills, DT West Virginia*
*Acquired from Buccaneers
After releasing Jarran Reed in a cost-cutting move last week, the Seahawks could use reinforcements in the defensive interior. Though undersized at 6-foot-1, 280 pounds, like current starter Poona Ford, his lack of height actually proves beneficial winning the leverage battle, he's a twitchy athlete who exhibits a consistent burst off the line of scrimmage, and he excels at splitting gaps with a quick first step. At West Virginia's pro day, he posted a sub-5.00-second 40-yard dash time and 7.21-second 3-cone drill, both respectable times for a defensive tackle. He's a serviceable run defender who will need to harness his run fits and sometimes his aggressive nature gets the best of him maintaining gap responsibilities, but his pass rushing upside coupled with a relentless motor would make this a very intriguing day three selection landing a potential future starter in the 3-tech role.
Round 7, Pick 250 - Josh Ball, T Marshall
At some point, the Seahawks will have to find an heir apparent for Duane Brown at left tackle and while a seventh-round pick might not seem like the answer, a size/traits prospect such as Ball could develop into an eventual starter. Once a top recruit for Florida State, off-field issues led to his dismissal from the program and he wound up at Marshall, where he started at left tackle the past two years. At 6-foot-7, 308 pounds, he exhibits light feet and has rare movement skills for a player of his size, but he will need to be coached up fundamentals-wise, particularly in his pass sets. He also needs to improve his strength before he will be ready to take on NFL defensive ends as a run blocker, but there's plenty of untapped potential here to take a late-round flier in a deep tackle class.
Round 7, Pick 251 - Camryn Bynum, CB California*
*Acquired from Buccaneers
Losing Shaquill Griffin in free agency, the Seahawks still have long-term needs at the cornerback position with D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers, and Ahkello Witherspoon all scheduled to be free agents next March. While Bynum has only 30-inch arms, his athletic testing exceeded expectations, as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, posted a 6.98-second 3-cone drill, and leaped 129 inches in the broad jump at Cal's pro day. He doesn't always play to those times on film, but he's physical player who will eagerly come up and make plays against the run and also exhibited plus-ball skills and route recognition skills at the college level, intercepting six passes and registering 28 passes defensed. In a zone-heavy Seattle scheme catered to his strengths, Bynum would have a chance to play meaningful snaps right away on special teams and could work into the lineup in quick order on the outside.