Fanspeak Mock Draft 4.5: Why Skoronski makes more sense for Seattle than Carter or Wilson
Remember when Seattle had a Super Bowl-winning quarterback despite paying very little attention to improving its offensive line?
Now that Russell Wilson is gone, Seattle has curiously reversed course. The Seahawks drafted, then started, a pair of rookie OTs last year, including Charles Cross in the first round. Abraham Lucas was their pick in the third round.
Cross had a solid first-season, finishing with a PFF grade of 63.7. Lucas, meanwhile, was a bargain for the Seahawks, as he finished his rookie season with an ever higher PFF grade of 68.5, which was the fifth-highest among rookie tackles.
Could Seattle keep adding rookies to its offensive line with high picks?
Most mock drafts have the Seahawks taking either Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech or Jalen Carter of Georgia with this pick. And, on the surface, both players make a ton of sense.
The 6-foot-6, 271-pound Wilson has a monster wingspan, a non-stop motor and is equally adept at rushing the passer and stopping the run. The 6-foot-3, 323-pound Carter, meanwhile, was widely considered the best or second-best defensive player in this draft – and many still do, despite recent incidents that have knocked him down draft boards.
So, say the team takes either player. Where do the Seahawks play them?
First, let’s be logical: Seattle needs players who can get to the quarterback and wrack havoc on opposing team’s offensive line. So, logic then says adding one of the best pass rushers makes sense.
But let’s examine that further.
Wilson may be too big to play outside linebacker in Seattle’s 3-4 defense, so he’d probably have to move to 5-tech. However, Seattle also just signed Dre’Mont Jones to a three-year, $51 million contract to take over one of the outside defensive tackle positions. The other outside tackle is Jarran Reed, whom the team just signed to a two-year, $12.8 million contract.
Therefore, if you add Wilson or Carter to the mix, then you’d almost have to move Reed to nose tackle, currently manned by Bryan Mone. Mone didn’t exactly tear it up last season, but he’s a big body at 6-foot-3, 345 pounds while Reed is 6-foot-3, 307.
Therefore, 1-tech is arguably the bigger need than adding another 5-tech – especially with promising young DL Myles Adams in the mix, too.
Plus, if it’s fair to wonder whether Wilson has the athleticism to play outside linebacker, it’s also reasonable to wonder if his pass rushing talents would be wasted as a 5-tech. Remember, Jones and Reed were defensive tackles in college. Furthermore, the team has heavily invested at outside linebacker in recent seasons, so drafting Wilson and moving him to outside linebacker would limit the playing time of another young player on the upward trajectory.
None of this suggests either Wilson or Carter will disappoint at the next level.
However, neither player is a “clean fit” for Seattle, so it’s possible they wouldn’t be as effective as they would in a different situation on a different team.
Skoronski, though, is a clean fit.
He’s listed as a tackle in the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board and is currently the No. 7 overall prospect. But the one knock on Skoronski is his arm-length, which is short for a tackle at 32-1/4 inches. Generally speaking, you want tackles to have an arm length of 34 inches or longer.
So that makes the Northwestern junior a perfect candidate to move inside to guard at 6-foot-4, 313 pounds. While Skoronski has never played the position – he was all-state in high school as a center and played all three years protecting the QB’s blind side at Northwestern – most draft analysts see him as a potential Pro Bowl prospect at guard.
Here’s what an NFC executive told NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: “He’s a Pro Bowler at guard but just an average tackle if a team keeps him there.”
For what it’s worth, Skoronski’s measurements were almost identical to Zack Martin when he entered the draft as a long-time tackle. Martin’s arm length was slightly better at 32-7/8 inches, although the six-time All Pro First-Team guard came in 5 pounds lighter at the 2014 Combine.
But why stop there?
Seattle double-dipped at tackle last year – why not double-dip along the interior of the line?
Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz (No. 36) and Wisconsin’s Joe Tippman (No. 47) are generally seen as the top two centers in this draft. After those two, there’s a significant dropoff with Arkansas’ Rickh Stromberg (No. 116) and Ohio State’s Josh Wypler (No. 120) the next-highest rated.
But hoping one of them is still available in Rounds 3 or 4 is risky – and there’s no guarantee either will be as successful as Abraham was as a rookie drafted in the third round.
And you can say the same for Schmitz and Tippman. While Seattle has two picks in the second round, there’s a chance both centers are gone by the time the team is back on the clock for its first second-round pick, No. 37 overall. Blame it on the scarcity of sure-fire starters at the position in this year’s draft.
So why not take Schmitz or Tippman with Seattle’s second first-round pick at No. 20 overall?
To be fair: both players are reaches at No. 20.
Then again, center is an underrated position. Tackles get all the attention, but if you can’t control the middle of the field, then your entire offense is going to struggle.
Put it another way: If centers were regarded as highly as offensive tackles, then both Schmitz and Tippman might be ranked much higher.
So make it a IOL combo. And supersize it.
One last note on why Seattle may take a guard and a center in the first round: By adding Skoronski and Schmitz or Tippman – combined with second-year tackles Cross and Abraham and 2020 left guard Damien Lewis – the Seahawks would be set at offensive line for the foreseeable future.
And they could go back to ignoring the O-line.
1. Carolina Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Fine. We’ll stop picking Anthony Richardson here, at least for this week. Stroud is generally seen as the cleaner prospect, and he’s the odds-on favorite to go No. 1. Stroud is predicted to go No. 1 overall with a 77.78 percent implied probability (minus-350), according to Sharp Football Analysis.
2. Houston Texans: QB Bryce Young, Alabama
This pick still feels wrong – Young is obviously the top remaining QB, and Houston badly needs a franchise signal-caller. But it’s hard to get over Young’s size and how little (no pun intended) success others before him have fared who were around his size. And remember, Young is shorter than all of the recent “small” quarterbacks, as he would be the smallest starting QB in the league. If you want to go by odds, then ask yourself this: What are the chances Young becomes a Pro Bowl QB and has playoff success – which is what you want out of a top-5 QB – despite his size at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds? Doug Flutie (5-foot-10), Russell Wilson (5-foot-11) and Kyler Murray (5-foot-10) are the only QBs the past 30-plus years who have made a Pro Bowl. And of those three, only one, Murray, went in the first round – and his tenue right now in Arizona is shaky at best.
3. Indianapolis Colts: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
(Trade with Arizona)
ESPN’s Todd McShay beat us to the punch with his latest mock-draft. Fact is, we love this swap. Indy gets the guy they want out of Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis, while Cardinals still get arguably the best defensive player in this draft at a position of need – plus some Day 2 compensation.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Edge Will Anderson, Alabama
(Trade with Indianapolis)
So why would Indianapolis give up a third-round pick this year and a second- or third-round pick next year just to move up one spot? That’s because Detroit, Las Vegas, Tennessee and even Washington could all make a better offer to Arizona and move up to take the QB Indianapolis wanted.
5. Seattle Seahawks: G Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
The bottom line? Skoronski is a cleaner fit – as a guard – than either Tyree Wilson or Jalen Carter would be for the Seahawks’ defense.
6. Tennessee Titans: QB Will Levis, Kentucky
(Trade with Detroit)
I still don’t agree with this trade – don’t forget, promising second-year QB Malik Willis was considered by many analysts as a first-round pick this time last year. But there have been whispers from various media outlets that say Tennessee is looking to make a move, presumably for a quarterback.
7. Las Vegas Raiders: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
Also in agreement with McShay on this pick. Witherspoon is this year’s Ahmad Gardner: a player who just kept creeping up and up and up draft boards until he wound up as the No. 4 overall pick, then won Defensive Rookie of the Year. Witherspoon isn’t the same type of cornerback, but watch him play and you’ll immediately see why he’s now the top CB on many draft boards.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Edge Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
Atlanta in recent years has drafted freak athletes with its first-round pick. Wilson fits the mold.
9. Chicago Bears: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
Braxton Jones might have been the steal of the draft last year, as the fifth-rounder gives the Bears a better, relatively young OL group that’s better than they’re given credit for. So, tackle might be out despite mock drafts that suggest otherwise. So why not pair the best running QB with this draft’s top running back? To be clear, though, tackle remains a concern, as 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins is probably better-suited at guard, while 2021 fifth-rounder Larry Borrom has looked good-but-not great at right tackle. And Chicago’s protection was abysmal at times last season, giving up a sack on a league-high 11.5 percent of dropbacks, according to ESPN. So the question comes down to this: Would you rather pair the best offensive player in this draft – and arguably the best player, regardless of position – with, say, Ohio State right tackle Dawand Jones in the second round? Or would you rather go with a Paris Johnson-Zach Evans combo first-and-second-round combination? Remember, if Chicago doesn’t take a tackle in the first, they still have two second round picks. The Bears would have had a third second-round pick had it not been for last year’s trade for receiver Chase Claypool, which gives Pittsburgh the first pick of the second round this year. But Chicago can still move up with its other two second-round picks if it wants to snag a tackle like Jones.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: DL Jalen Carter, Georgia
Listening to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah explain why Carter reportedly isn’t taking meetings with teams outside of the top-10 just made all Giants, Cowboys and Commanders fans drop a few four-letter words. And it’s not because they hoped Carter would fall to them. It’s because no one – no one – in the NFC East wants to see Carter fall to Philadelphia, then watch him turn into an All-Pro.
"The Eagles would be my educated guess on why Jalen Carter isn't taking meetings outside of the top ten" ~ @MoveTheSticks#PMSLive pic.twitter.com/mfjCnairvy
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 4, 2023
11. Detroit Lions: DL Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
(Trade with Tennessee)
Don’t assume the Myles Murphy would be the pick here. Yes, Charles Harris is penciled in as the starter at defensive end opposite of last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Aidan Hutchinson. But don’t sleep on former Kentucky pass rusher Josh Paschal, who was the team’s second-round pick last year. Plus, the team has brothers Julian and Romeo Okwara and 2019 fourth-rounder John Cominsky, whose 4.0 sacks ranked third on the team. And then there’s the biggest wildcard, James Houston, a sixth-round rookie last year out of Jackson State. All Houston did was rack up 8 sacks the final seven games after not playing a single down the first 10 games. Instead, a 3-tech to pair opposite of running stuffing 1-tech Alim McNeill is the bigger need. Clemson’s Bryan Bresee is a consideration here, too, as would be the case for a cornerback or tight end.
12. Houston Texans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
Losing Brandin Cooks hurts, but pairing JSN with Young at QB will be fun to watch for the next decade – provided both can stay healthy at the next level. And therein lies the dilemma with both of these picks for Houston: This could come down to an all-time great, or injuries could turn this duo into an all-time bad first-round for the Texans.
13. New York Jets: OT Paris Johnson, Ohio State
Here’s the reason you keep seeing a tackle go to New York: if the Aaron Rodgers-to-the-Jets trade ever comes to fruition, then this might be the last first-round pick the team has in at least one, maybe two drafts. Regardless of who the signal-caller is, the team needs to keep him protected.
14. Baltimore Ravens: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
(Trade with New England):
Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson’s tenure with the Ravens is all-but-shut after he announced last month that he has asked for a trade after contract negotiations stalled. So now the Ravens get two first-rounders and a new QB in Mac Jones, whom New England reportedly is quietly shopping before the draft. Receiver, of course, is a need, but landing that second first-rounder allows the team to take a best-player-available approach. Cornerback is one of Baltimore’s biggest needs in this draft, so this pick makes sense.
15. Green Bay Packers: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
This pick just makes too much sense to pass up. Green Bay needs a TE, and Mayer is an excellent safety valve for new starting QB Jordan Love.
16. Washington Commanders: QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
There’s every reason why Hooker should not be the pick here. He’s an older prospect after turning 25 in January. And he’s still recovering from an ACL tear suffered in November, although reports say he could be ready to play by the season-opener. And then you have Sam Howell, who looked amazing in his one, late-season appearance against the Cowboys after being taken in the fifth round. But Hooker has seen his draft stock rise in recent weeks after reportedly shining during team interviews. That said, is this too early for Hooker? Probably, but there’s a good chance he won’t be around long in the second round, so it’s either take Hooker or be at peace with Howell as your QB in 2023.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Wright is moving up draft boards and may have surpassed Broderick Jones as the No. 3 tackle (or second-best if you count Skoronski as a guard). The only question would be where the Steelers play him. Wright is generally seen as a better RT prospect, although he started at left tackle in 2021. Would the team move Chukwuma Okorafor to the left side? If you recall, there were reports this time last year that a move to the left side was imminent for the 2018 third-rounder, as he was allegedly seen as a better fit on the blind-side. That would make Dan Moore Jr. the team’s swing tackle, a position he’s probably better suited for after being forced into the starting lineup as a rookie fourth-rounder in 2021.
18. Detroit Lions: WR Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Passing up on CB Joey Porter Jr. here was really tough; after all, he could be the player Detroit takes with its first first-round pick. However, it’s hard to imagine Porter having the same impact as a rookie as the speedy Hyatt would have when paired with last year’s lightning-fast receiver Jameson Williams. That kind of speed would be almost impossible to match; add in a solid O-Line, and the Lions could be looking at a playoff berth.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
Tampa Bay needs help along its offensive line – regardless of who’s quarterbacking the team. The Buccaneers would be very happy if Jones is still on the board.
20. Seattle Seahawks: C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
It makes you wonder what Wilson could have done had the team paid this much attention to the offensive line while he was still on the team.
21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Zay Flowers, Boston College
Do you know who the third-highest-ranked receiver is according to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein? It’s the diminutive 5-foot-9, 182-pound Flowers, who has been flying up draft boards in recent weeks.
22. Baltimore Ravens: DL Bryan Bresee, Clemson
This is what playing with house money looks like, as the Ravens can now shift their focus to receiver in the second round. Bresee is an immediate upgrade over Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington at the 5-tech position.
23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Jordan Addison, USC
The Quentin Johnston fall begins. Johnston has amazing athleticism, speed and elite size, but there are too many questions about his hands and limited route tree. That’s why Addison is the cleaner prospect at this point.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
The Jaguars have been tied to Georgia CB Kelee Ringo for a while now, but that’s partly because Porter is rarely still available this late in the draft. If it comes down to Porter versus Ringo, expect Porter to be the winner.
25. New York Giants: WR Josh Downs, North Carolina
The rankings scream TCU’s Johnston, but he’s a candidate to fall out of the first round. Downs, though, is a rising prospect listed as Zierlein’s No. 2 receiver. Either way, New York needs to come out of this draft with a receiver capable of starting as a rookie –and they might not get a crack at a receiver who’s ready to step in right away if they wait until Day 2.
26. Dallas Cowboys: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
With three under-the-radar offseason moves, you could arguably say Dallas covered all of its draft needs with the signings of Chuma Edoga Johnathan Hankins and Ronald Jones. Edoga is seen as a potential starter at left guard, Hankins should start at 1-tech and Jones should see a heavier workload early in the season until new No. 1 starter Tony Pollard is fully recovered from the broken fibula he suffered against San Francisco in the NFC divisional round. However, all three, plus Pollard, will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. In fact, as many as 12 full- or part-time starters will be UFAs at the end of the season. The secondary could be hit particularly hard, as new trade acquisition Stephon Gilmore, safety Jayron Kearse, slot corner Jourdan Lewis, safety Malik Hooker and All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs will all become unrestricted free agents. Expect Dallas to re-sign Diggs. As for the rest? It’s hard to see the team signing any of them unless they come back on team-friendly deals, as the Cowboys also have contracts for CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons on the horizon, too. Drafting Alabama safety Brian Branch would make sense here, as he’s the highest rated safety in this draft, but it’s hard to see him carving out a big role as a rookie as safety might be the team’s deepest position. He could also be used as the slot corner, moving last year’s fifth-round surprise Daron Bland to the outside. Branch would likely start over Lewis, who is coming off an injury that forced Bland into the starting lineup, where he shined. But that’s a lot of maneuvering to get a player as talented as Branch is onto the field. On the other hand, Banks could easily carve out playing time as a rookie behind Gilmore, then step in as the starter next season if the team lets Gilmore walk in free agency. Also of note: Dallas has met with Branch, but there have been no reports of the team meeting with Banks. However, the team sent several special teams coaches to watch kicker Chad Ryland’s workouts, so Dallas at least had coaches on site who could gather intel on Banks.
27. Buffalo Bills: G O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
It would be incredibly hard to pass up on Branch, Johnston or even Myles Murphy at this point, but Branch would be more of a luxury than a need, Johnston comes with question marks about his hands, Murphy is an incredibly toolsy project that probably needs a few years to develop. Torrence, though, would start right now at right guard and would provide its franchise signal caller an extra layer of protection.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: S Brian Branch, Alabama
The team lost its two starting safeties to free agency but drafted Dax Hill out of Michigan with the second-to-last pick of the first-round last year. Expect Hill to start. Branch would give the team even more versatility in the secondary, as both players are similar in that coaches can move them all over the field.
29. New Orleans Saints: Edge Myles Murphy, Clemson
The Murphy fall finally ends. This could be a huge steal for the Saints – and a great consolation prize, as some draft analysts think Hooker could be in play here if still available.
30. Philadelphia Eagles: Edge Nolan Smith, Georgia
OK, now it just seems like this mock draft was written by an Eagles fan: Carter and Smith? That would mean the team with the best defense last season would have added the two most significant leaders from the past two championship teams (2022 rookie linebacker Nakobe Dean and Smith), and the two best defensive tackles (2022 rookie tackle Jordan Davis plus Carter) from that historically good Georgia defense. Not fair.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State
Again, it’s super tempting to take TCU’s Johnston here. But, as of writing this, Lucas Niang is penciled in as the starting right tackle – and that’s not a great position to be in. So the team could pull the trigger on a RT here, even if the higher-rated Johnston is still on the board.
Los Angeles Rams, second round: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
Miami Dolphins, second round: TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Denver Broncos, third round: OT Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
Cleveland Browns, third round: Edge Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
San Francisco 49ers, third round: WR Kayson Boutte, LSU
Jake Rigdon (@jrigdon73) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak.com. His big board is updated at least once per week during the season and leading up to the draft. Message him on Twitter to receive $3 off your new Ultimate GM subscription.