With the calendar flipping to March, the NFL will soon kick off an offseason that may feature more player movement than any year before. Expect the unexpected.
Due to a league-wide salary cap crunch as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous teams are scrambling to create last-minute cap space to be able to spend in free agency. Several high profile veterans, including tight end Kyle Rudolph and guard Gabe Jackson, have been released as cap casualties in the past 48 hours and the carnage will continue over the next few weeks.
From the Seahawks' perspective, this looming offseason will present the greatest challenge of general manager John Schneider's career. The franchise currently has less than $3 million in effective cap space and only four draft picks in April, leaving him with limited resources to improve the roster.
Like most of the other teams in the league, Seattle will have to make some moves to create financial flexibility before free agency opens on March 17. While extensions and contract restructures remain the ideal options to achieve this goal, given the team's lack of draft capital, it's not out of the question Schneider could make a bold move and deal a superstar to open up cap room and acquire another pick or two. And no, I'm not talking about Russell Wilson.
Though I personally wouldn't make such a move unless I received an offer I simply could not refuse, Bobby Wagner remains one of the few assets the Seahawks have that could net a much-needed day two pick in return. Set to turn 31 this summer, his trade value may never be higher than it is right now and dealing him would open up $9.6 million in instant cap space.
Interestingly, there's one team in the AFC West that could absolutely use Wagner and recently hired a former Seahawks defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley to the same position. Desperate for defensive help anywhere they can find it, the Raiders could be coaxed into dealing that pick as part of a package for the six-time All-Pro linebacker, who would instantly become the new face of Bradley's defense in Sin City.
If offered that selection from Las Vegas, given the team's cap and draft limitations, Schneider would have no choice but to strongly consider the possibility. Jordyn Brooks was drafted in the first round last year and after a stellar rookie season, he could be ready to jump into Wagner's starting role, while K.J. Wright could be re-signed with some of the cap space created and Cody Barton remains on the roster as a possible starting option.
Keeping that in mind, as one of three draft weekend trades in my latest seven-round mock draft, I kicked off the festivities with a bang by trading Wagner to the Raiders for pick No. 48, giving Schneider and the Seahawks a pair of second-round picks to work with. I eventually turned Seattle's other second rounder into an additional fourth rounder and landed another day three pick (No. 185) in a trade down with the Panthers to bring my pick total to eight.
Without further ado, sparked by the unexpected trade, here's my latest crack at a Seahawks mock draft courtesy of the Pro Football Network simulator.
Round 2, Pick 48 – Rondale Moore, WR Purdue*
*Acquired from Raiders in exchange for Bobby Wagner
Receiver may not be Seattle's biggest need, but Tyler Lockett has only one year remaining on his current contract and with DK Metcalf nearing contract negotiation time as well, the team may not be able to afford paying both. Looking towards the future, it would make sense to add another dynamic weapon to the fold and Moore would provide a third home run threat to Seattle's passing attack in 2021. Bursting onto the scene as a freshman, the 5-foot-9, 180 pound stick of dynamite exploded for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 213 rushing yards and a pair of scores for the Boilermakers. He also produced 662 yards as a kick returner that season. Injuries and the pandemic limited him to just seven games over the past two seasons, so there are durability red flags here. But when healthy, he's the type of do-it-all playmaker who can put six on the scoreboard anytime he gets his hands on the football and he could ultimately replace Lockett down the road.
Round 2, Pick 63 – Dillon Radunz, OT North Dakota State**
**Acquired from Chiefs in exchange for pick No. 62
In the short term, Seattle has Duane Brown and Brandon Shell under contract in 2021. But with Brown soon to turn 36 years old and Shell entering the final year of his contract, tackle remains a significant long-term need and snagging Radunz late in the second round could be a potential steal. After playing in only one game in 2020, he performed well against top-tier talent at the Senior Bowl, bolstering his draft stock. At 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, he offers above average athletic traits, including excellent lateral quickness, which should translate well to a zone-oriented run game and blocking against speed rushers in pass protection. He also has consistently played with a mean streak on film, overpowering opposing defenders and showing he may also be able to hold his own in a power scheme as well. With room to add muscle to his frame, he could open his career at left guard before sliding outside to replace Brown or Shell in 2022.
Round 4, Pick 129 – Drake Jackson, C Kentucky
It remains unclear how the Seahawks will address the center position this offseason, but if they don't make a splash at the position in free agency, Jackson offers a draft alternative who should fit Shane Waldron's scheme quite well. While undersized at 290 pounds, he plays much bigger on tape and consistently handled both one-on-one blocks against larger nose tackles and combo blocks where he worked his way to the second level. His lateral quickness and agility stand out compared to most of this year's crop of centers, allowing him to reach blocks that other prospects may not be able to. The biggest question mark may be how he holds up in pass protection at the next level, as his lack of length could be an issue in that regard. Even if Seattle signs a veteran center in free agency, Jackson could remain an option on day three.
Round 4, Pick 144 – Kylin Hill, RB Mississippi State**
With Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde potentially exiting in free agency, the Seahawks could be in the market for another talented running back to compete against Rashaad Penny, Alex Collins, and DeeJay Dallas. Though Hill only started one full season during his four years with the Bulldogs, he rushed for 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019 and earned Second-Team All-SEC honors that year. Built with a compact 5-foot-10, 214 pound frame, he runs with impressive power and quickness, allowing him to be equally adept at plowing through arm tackles as he is at making defenders miss in space. He's also a reliable receiver who caught 67 passes in his college career and has enough versatility and route running savvy to motion out into the slot. While he may not be a starter right away, Hill has the upside to develop into an every down back at the next level and would fit Waldron's system well.
Round 5, Pick 152 – Paulson Adebo, CB Stanford***
***Acquired from Panthers for pick No. 135
Though the Seahawks would like to re-sign Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar, there's a possibility both could leave in free agency, making cornerback a pivotal position to address in the draft. From a traits standpoint, Adebo checks off all of the boxes Seattle looks for at the position. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he possesses great length and plays a physical brand of football, excelling in press coverage against bigger receivers and regularly making tackles in the run game. He also has excellent ball skills coupled with route diagnosing savvy, which is illustrated by his eight interceptions and 27 passes defensed during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He opted out of the 2020 season, but he's a fluid athlete with plenty of room to develop fundamentally and Adebo would have a shot at playing early for the 'Hawks.
Round 5, Pick 165 – Tre McKitty, TE Georgia
Seattle has been investigating numerous tight end possibilities this offseason, including Zach Ertz and Jonnu Smith. Clearly a position that the team wants to upgrade, the 6-foot-4, 247-pound McKitty is a true "move" tight end with quality athletic traits and serviceable blocking skills. Before transferring to Georgia, he played three seasons at Florida State, catching 50 passes for 520 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While those numbers aren't anything spectacular, he did lead all ACC tight ends in yards per reception on third and four downs in 2019 and has proven himself capable of being a factor in the passing game when given the opportunity. In Waldron's offense, he would provide the versatility the team wants by being able to line up as an inline blocker as well as in the slot.
Round 6, Pick 185 – Israel Mukuamu, DB South Carolina***
With the possibility two starting corners could depart in free agency, the Seahawks would be wise to double-down at the position and Mukuamu presents another lengthy, versatile prospect with upside late on day three. At 6-foot-3, he's one of the tallest cornerbacks in this year's draft class and used that size to his advantage in a variety of roles for the Gamecocks, including playing "big" slot against tight ends. He's not as fluid of an athlete as Adebo and may have a bit more trouble sticking with athletic receivers on the outside, creating questions about his positional fit at the next level. But at the very least, he would give the Seahawks another big nickel alternative with good ball skills and could develop into a starting outside cornerback in time.
Round 6, Pick 209 – Chris Rumph II, EDGE/LB Duke
Unlike the past two years, the Seahawks may not be as inclined to use an early pick to address their pass rush after drafting Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson last year. But the team could need a new strongside linebacker and the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Rumph could evolve into a Bruce Irvin-style player who can drop back in coverage and pin his ears rushing off the edge. Technically refined and possessing an elite first step off the snap, he gradually improved his pass rushing production in three seasons with the Blue Devils and set a new career-high in 2020 with 8.5 sacks. Due to his slight frame, he's not going to be a fit for every defense, but Seattle has had success with undersized "tweeners" and Rumph's high football IQ and positional versatility would make him well worth a late round flier.