Seahawks, Steelers knocked draft 'out of the park'
Connor Rogers explains why he loved what the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers did in the 2023 NFL Draft.
CONNOR ROGERS: 2023 NFL draft is in the books. Let's take a look at a team from each conference that knocked it out of the park. Stock up, winners, whatever you want to call it, these teams came into Kansas City on a mission. And you got to start with the Seattle Seahawks for me in the NFC.
Yes, they had two first-round picks. That increases your odds of having a big-time draft. But they hit on value, and they hit on solving needs as well when you look at Devon Witherspoon to now pair him up with Tariq Woolen. I thought Witherspoon at the cornerback position has a chance to be the best defensive player to come out of this draft.
And on the other side of the ball, going to pick 20, they take the first wide receiver off the board in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. When you look at DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, two guys that can play on the outside, this allows Jaxon Smith-Njigba to get there and play in the slot right away. Geno Smith has to be smiling ear to ear right now with the options that he has at wide receiver in an offense that can be wide open in the passing game.
Well, let's also talk about what they were able to do in the run game by drafting Zach Charbonnet. I get it, we all love Kenneth Walker in fantasy football. But for the Seahawks, it's about maintaining that run game, even if your guys get banged up. We know Walker came into the season last year with a little bit of an injury and dealt with some stuff at the end as well.
Charbonnet can fill that void. Or you could just have a one-two punch that is difficult to tackle. And with Charbonnet, he adds a pass-catching element and a pass-protecting element that really rounds out this backfield.
And I thought even some of the picks they got to shore up the interior of their offensive line were phenomenal. Anthony Bradford was one of the best run-blocking guards in this entire draft. And when you look at Olu Oluwatimi, the center from Michigan, a battle-tested tested player that can grow into a long term starter. So Seattle, they found starters, they found depth, and they found value across the entire board.
And going back to Olu, I had him as the 88th overall player in this draft. They got him at 154. This was an A-plus draft for the Seattle Seahawks.
You look over at the AFC side of things, how about the Pittsburgh Steelers? And they kind of followed that Seattle mold of hitting on value, hitting on needs but also, in a very Mike Tomlin fashion, becoming a tougher team. They attacked the trenches early. They got Broderick Jones to shore up their offensive line, something that was a big-time need for them coming into this draft. They were aggressive to trade up and make sure they got him in front of the New York Jets.
And you look at the defensive line, how about Keeanu Benton, somebody that's played nose tackle for over 200 snaps last year but has no problem kicking over to three tech as well. Yes, he's a big, beefy defensive line that can take on double teams and stop the run, but don't sleep on his pass-rush ability either. Joey Porter in the second round, a long, physical press corner.
And then even Darnell Washington, for as late as they got Darnell Washington, that might be the steal of the draft when all is said and done. I ranked him in my top 20. They got him at 93. Some rumors of some medical concerns, but I think Washington's going to be fine. He is a physical freak. He is a sixth man on the line of scrimmage in terms of being that extra blocker.
But don't sleep on his untapped potential as a big-time pass catcher. Him and Pat Freiermuth in two-tight-end sets going to really help out Kenny Pickett. So the Seahawks and the Steelers, A-plus drafts for me. They crushed it in 2023.