So what’s behind the Seahawks blaring they are at C.J. Stroud’s, Bryce Young’s Pro Days?
From Columbus to Tuscaloosa, to Lexington and beyond, the Seahawks are all over visiting the top quarterbacks in next month’s draft.
They want everyone to know it, too.
Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider conspicuously stood a few feet behind C.J. Stroud as the coveted QB threw passes at Ohio State’s Pro Day in Columbus Wednesday.
There were many former Buckeyes as top prospects at multiple positions working out for the 118 NFL personnel inside OSU’s indoor facility. That included wide receiver Jaxson Smith-Njigba. Some believe Seattle could draft him with its 20th pick of the first round of the 2023 NFL draft.
But the Seahawks, who also own the fifth-overall pick next month, wanted all to know that eight of their football decision-makers were there primarily to see Stroud.
The team posted on its Twitter account Wednesday night a selfie picture Stroud took of himself in front of Carroll, Schneider, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, new quarterbacks coach Greg Olson and other Seahawks staffers in front of a dry-erase board at the Ohio State football facility.
Meeting of the minds. pic.twitter.com/odlysE3Shf
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) March 23, 2023
The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, posted online a video of Stroud talking with Carroll and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Carroll’s former coordinator in Seattle, during the OSU Pro Day.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud speaks with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll at the Buckeyes' Pro Day. pic.twitter.com/wCWPAKP6cc
— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) March 22, 2023
On Thursday, Carroll, Schneider and Seahawks contingent were in Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s Pro Day, per multiple reports. The featured attraction there: former Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young. Young and Stroud are expected to be the first two quarterbacks taken in this draft, almost assuredly before Seattle’s picking spot at five.
NFL Network reported Young was meeting with the Seahawks’ contingent in Tuscaloosa Thursday.
Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll in attendance for Alabama’s Pro Day. @TDAlabamaMag pic.twitter.com/jhMWzhoOYZ
— Justin Smith (@Jdsmith31Smith) March 23, 2023
The Seahawks did the same thing with Carroll, Schneider, Waldron, Olson and Young at Alabama on the team’s Twitter account that they did with Stroud at Ohio State.
The Young and the restless pic.twitter.com/mBJo8ZDPtR
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) March 23, 2023
But Young is not the only attraction at Alabama. That college powerhouse also produced Will Anderson, the top edge rusher in this draft. The Seahawks need about three of those. They will continue their massive overhaul of the defensive front seven in this draft.
If the teams desperate for a quarterback trade up and take all quarterbacks with the top four picks — a possibility Seattle wouldn’t mind happening — the Seahawks at five would have every defensive player in this draft available to them.
Seattle owns four of the first 52 picks, five of the first 83, and 10 total selections.
Friday, the Seahawks’ leaders were at Kentucky’s Pro Day in Lexington. That’s where Will Levis, another top quarterback prospect in this draft, was throwing for NFL scouts.
Unique draft for Seattle
This isn’t new, the Seahawks scouting top QBs in person before a draft.
In the spring of 2018, Schneider memorably angered the agent for then-Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson by attending the Pro Day of Josh Allen at Wyoming. That was even though Seattle wasn’t picking until 27th in that draft. And it was 12 months before Schneider and the Seahawks finished negotiations with agent Mark Rodgers on Wilson’s $140 million contract extension with Seattle.
Schneider called that then, and calls it now, due diligence. The GM wants to know the QBs coming up at the sport’s most important position, and how the league views them.
But right now there are particular reasons and intent behind the Seahawks’ so publicly declaring interest in this year’s QBs.
Their tour of top college Pro Days this week is about keeping up appearances, as much as anything else. At a minimum, no matter whom they end up selecting first, Seattle wants the other 31 NFL teams to know it is considering taking a quarterback with the fifth pick in the draft. The Seahawks also wouldn’t mind the league thinking they may be considering trading up from five to get Stroud or Young — though that would be counter to what Schneider and Carroll have done in their first 13 drafts running the franchise.
Schneider and Carroll are seeking to maximize the number of trade offers the Seahawks may get. That’s especially so from QB-needy teams scheduled to pick below them in the first round April 27. Those teams include Atlanta, Tennessee and Washington.
At last month’s scouting combine that list of potential trade-up teams with Seattle included Carolina, which has former Schneider Seahawks assistant Scott Fitterer as its GM. Then Fitterer this month traded with Chicago to get the quarterback-desperate Panthers up from ninth to the top pick in the draft. So now Carolina assuredly will draft Stroud or Young number one.
The Panthers’ owners plus coaches and GM have been at Ohio State’s and Alabama’s Pro Days this week, too. Carolina owner Nicole Tepper was pictured hugging Young at Alabama Thursday.
Even after re-signing Pro Bowl quarterback Geno Smith to a three-year contract with a base value of $75 million this month, the Seahawks want the league to know they are considering drafting another QB for the future in the top five.
What’s unusual about all this from Seattle is that the Seahawks are usually in this spot. This fifth-overall pick — thanks to their trade of Wilson to the Denver Broncos 12 months ago — is the Seahawks’ highest since 2009. This is only the second time in 26 years Seattle has had a pick in the top five of any draft.
So they want to max out the opportunities here — be it in drafting a quarterback, a top defensive linemen or edge rusher such as Anderson, or in draft trades Schneider is well-known for around the league.
Nothing brings bigger return in draft trades than the perception you may be about to take a quarterback.
“It’s the position that we are in. We are totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out,” Carroll announced at the combine in Indianapolis this month. “This is a really huge opportunity for us. It’s a rare opportunity for us.
“We’ve been drafting in the low 20s for such a long time, you just don’t get the chance for these guys. So we’re deeply involved with all of them.”