Seahawks’ phones ring about trade back in NFL draft round 1. Plus, the TNT’s mock draft

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Pete Carroll has been coaching football since Nixon was president.

He’s 70 years old. He is one of only three head coaches to win both a Super Bowl and college football’s national championship.

For the last dozen years since he arrived from USC, he has been in charge of the longest run of sustained success in Seahawks history. He is the only Seattle coach to win the NFL title for the Pacific Northwest.

So it’s been peculiar, and remarkable, to hear Carroll this offseason defending himself and the way the Seahawks operate.

“We’ve been successful for a long time,” Carroll said in March.

“We know what we’re doing.”

Carroll said that one week after he and Seahawks general manager John Schneider decided to trade Russell Wilson and cut Bobby Wagner — on the same Tuesday.

You send away your $140-million, Super Bowl-winning quarterback and your mega-popular, All-Pro linebacker, gone at once as franchise cornerstones, and you are going to be defending and yourself and trying to reassure your fans.

“We’re doing whatever we can, every single day, to have a consistent championship-caliber football team,” Schneider said last week. “And there has to be a reassurance of that.

“What we can say is that it really doesn’t stop. It’s a 24-7 process.”

More draft trades?

That’s talk. The real action to reassure begins Thursday just after 5 p.m.

That’s when the 2022 NFL draft begins. The Seahawks own the ninth-overall choice, part of the haul they got from Denver for trading Wilson to the Broncos. It’s the highest choice Seattle’s owned since 2010, in the first months Carroll and Schneider was taking

The Seahawks have traded nine of their last 10 first-round picks. Their habit under Carroll and Schneider have been to trade down and acquire more depth, more choices, in drafts.

But that’s when they’ve been picking in the high-20s of the first rounds the last decade. That’s when they’ve been a winning team, not one coming off a 7-10 season and out of the playoffs for only the second time in 10 years.

Yet the phone has already been ringing from other teams calling the Seahawks.

There are eight teams that have multiple first-round picks in this draft. Seven of those eight clubs have choices after Seattle’s ninth pick. One of those is quarterback- and receiver-needy New Orleans. The Saints own the 16th and 19th picks in round one.

The Seahawks have been fielding calls from teams about that ninth selection, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday.

Schneider knows his phone will continue to ring through the Seahawks’ turn to pick Thursday before or around 6:30 p.m. (The draft begins just after 5 p.m.; each team gets a maximum of 10 minutes to pick in round one).

“People know that we’re very open to moving around,” Schneider said. “We’re pliable.”

If ever there is a draft to use their first pick, the holes-all-over Seahawks at their rare, lofty spot of nine Thursday is it.

Yet if Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon or Travon Walker from Georgia are somehow available when Seattle is picking, the Seahawks likely would draft one of those elite edge rushers.

Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) playing against the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium in Seattle during the 2021 college football season.
Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) playing against the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium in Seattle during the 2021 college football season.

Carroll has said pass rush is the team’s top priority this year; Seattle’s 18 takeaways on defense while lacking pressure on quarterbacks last season were the fewest turnovers produced in a season in team history.

But this draft is deep is pass rushers. The Seahawks could trade down out of nine and still get a ready-to-play sack man later in round one.

That is what The News Tribune’s Seahawks mock draft projects they are going to do.

TNT Seahawks mock draft

Round 1, ninth overall: Trade down (again), with New Orleans.

If Thibodeaux is still available, Seattle will draft him. His athleticism and speed is what Carroll covets.

But he won’t be. So Seattle gets the Saints’ 16th-overall pick, plus #49 in round two and #161 in round four.

The Saints, even more needy than the Seahawks for a quarterback, get Seattle’s ninth-overall pick plus #109 in round four.

The trade gives the Seahawks nine picks in the draft, three in the second round, four in the first 49 selections.

Round 1, 16th overall: Boye Mafe, edge rusher, Minnesota

The Seahawks’ biggest need is to pressure QBs into more mistakes. Seattle’s 18 takeaways last season were the fewest in team history. Carroll has said improving the pass rush is Job One this offseason. To do that, he’s changed defensive coordinators (Clint Hurtt replacing Ken Norton Jr.) and systems (to more of a speedy, varied 3-4 from his old 4-3).

The 6-foot-3 Mafe has speed, length and strength. He’s one of the raw wild cards in a draft loaded with top pass rushers seemingly ready to play in the NFL immediately.

Boye Mafe from the University of Minnesota, here at this winter’s Senior Bowl showcase for NFL scouts, is among the intriguing edge rushers in a draft full of coveted pass-rush specialists.
Boye Mafe from the University of Minnesota, here at this winter’s Senior Bowl showcase for NFL scouts, is among the intriguing edge rushers in a draft full of coveted pass-rush specialists.

Round 2, 40th overall:. Desmond Ridder, quarterback, Cincinnati

The pre-draft visit to Seattle pays off for Ridder. And for the Seahawks.

Carroll likes Lock. He really likes Smith. But both have failed as full-time starters for other teams. Again, neither is signed beyond 2022. Tall, athletic as a runner yet a pocket passer, Ridder can learn and grow this year, for Seattle’s 2023.

It’s time they draft a quarterback in the early rounds. They made it this way.

Round 2, 41st overall: David Ojabo, edge rusher, Michigan

Six-five with speed, the native of Nigeria who grew up in Scotland before going to high school in New Jersey had 11 sacks with a school-record five forced fumbles last season. That was while he played opposite Wolverines’ sack sensation Aidan Hutchinson, who might be a top-three pick in this draft.

Ojabo likely would be a first-round pick, but he tore his Achilles tendon at Michigan’s Pro Day March 18. The Seahawks are so needy in pass rushers they go one-two on them in this draft, and are willing to wait for Ojabo’s recovery. Some hopeful estimates say he could return by November, though Achilles tears are no sure things to get past.

Michigan pass-rush linebacker David Ojabo had 11 sacks in his final college season of 2021. He tore his Achilles tendon at his pro day in March 2022.
Michigan pass-rush linebacker David Ojabo had 11 sacks in his final college season of 2021. He tore his Achilles tendon at his pro day in March 2022.

Round 2, 49th overall: Abraham Lucas, offensive tackle, Washington State

A pick to thrill many Seahawks fans. The 6-7, four-year starter from Everett showed elite pass protection for the Cougars’ offense. Wilson will tell you — has told you — elite pass protection is what’s what Seattle’s lacked in its offense for years.

Some criticize Lucas’ run blocking. New Seahawks offensive line coach Andy Dickerson would likely take less of a road grader, and more of stopper of edge rushers steaming at quarterbacks.

Lucas’ athleticism includes having been a basketball player at Archbishop Murphy High School.

The question on Lucas: Can he play left tackle in the NFL?

Abraham Lucas, a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle from Everett and Washington State University, is regarded as likely second-day pick in round two or three of the 2022 NFL draft.
Abraham Lucas, a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle from Everett and Washington State University, is regarded as likely second-day pick in round two or three of the 2022 NFL draft.

Round 3, 72nd overall: Jalen Tolbert, wide receiver, South Alabama

At 6-1, 195 pounds, scouts like how Tolbert was bullish getting through press coverage, and excelled against the best competition such as Southeastern Conference foes. He set South Alabama records in career receptions and receiving yards, plus season records of 82 catches and eight touchdowns in 2021.

Carroll has said Seattle is planning to re-sign DK Metcalf for top-of-the-market money this summer. The team has Tyler Lockett with him.

After that at wide receiver for the Seahawks it’s 2021 draft choice Dee Eskridge, who was hurt for much of his rookie season, and a lot of questions.

Record-setting wide receiver Jalen Tolbert was at his best at South Alabama facing the best competition, particularly against Southeastern Conference opponents such as Tennessee.
Record-setting wide receiver Jalen Tolbert was at his best at South Alabama facing the best competition, particularly against Southeastern Conference opponents such as Tennessee.

Round 5, 152nd overall: Rasheed Walker, offensive tackle, Penn State

The strong, 6-6, three-year starter at left tackle in the Big Ten could perhaps replace free-agent Brandon Shell as Seattle’s right tackle. He perhaps could replace still unsigned Duane Brown, the Seahawks’ best offensive linemen for years, at left tackle. (Did we mention this team has needs?) The Seahawks reportedly met with Walker before this draft.

Walker had problems against Ohio State’s edge rushers in an uneven 2021 season. That and what some see as a lack of athleticism could be why he’s still available here at another position of premium need in the league. He could be an NFL guard. That isn’t now one of the more pressing needs on Seattle’s line.

Penn State offensive tackle Rasheed Walker, here playing at Maryland during the 2021 season, reportedly had a visit with the Seahawks before the 2021 NFL draft.
Penn State offensive tackle Rasheed Walker, here playing at Maryland during the 2021 season, reportedly had a visit with the Seahawks before the 2021 NFL draft.

Round 5, 153rd overall: Thomas Booker, defensive tackle, Stanford

A three-year starter and Stanford captain. Some around the NFL see the 6-4, 309-pound Booker as a better fit for defenses using varied and multiple fronts.

That’s what Carroll and Hurtt are employing in Seattle in 2022.

Round 5, 161st overall: Joshua Williams, cornerback, Fayetteville State

A typically unconventional Seattle pick, compared to what the NFL may think. Williams is 6-3, with 32.9-inch arms. He’s a throwback to the long, Richard Sherman-like prototype Carroll drafted at cornerback for a decade for Seattle, until sub-6-foot D.J. Reed and 2021 rookie pick Tre Brown changed Carroll’s mind recently.

The Seahawks have had far better success drafting and developing their own cornerbacks in Carroll’s step-kick technique than signing free agents from other systems who have to learn Carroll’s ways. Williams, who got a Senior Bowl invite from Division-II Fayetteville State in North Carolina, would get the chance to develop Carroll’s technique.

Round 7, 230th overall: Tyler Allgeier, running back, Brigham Young

He’s 5-11, 220. He runs and looks the part, with four games of at least 190 yards rushing in 2021. He needs to improve his pass protection and receiving to be more than a special-teams contributor early in his NFL career.

But the Seahawks don’t know when or whether lead back Chris Carson will return from neck surgery. And they only re-signed late 2021 breakout rushing star Rashaad Penny for one season.