Starting Monday, the Seahawks’ 2022 draft class will get their first taste of real life in the NFL when the team kicks off the final phase of its offseason program with organized team activities.
Unlike the rookie minicamp earlier this month, Seattle’s incoming rookies will now face competition from returning veterans — some more than others. The next few weeks will be critical learning games, making the most of the limited reps on the training ground and adapting to a fast-paced, highly competitive environment.
With their first training camp nearly two months away, what are the best-case scenarios for each of the Seahawks’ nine draft picks entering their rookie season? And what would be the worst case scenario?
Best case scenario: Taking the same path as Walter Jones in 1997, Cross jumps straight into the starting lineup protecting the blindside without a hitch and quickly adapts to playing in a pro-style scheme with his hand in the dirt. Allowing just four sacks and improving as a run blocker as the season progressed, he earned PFWA All-Rookie Team honors while starting all 17 games and emerging as one of the best young NFL tackles.
worst case scenario: Struggling to acclimate to a new pattern after excelling in an air raid offense in Mississippi State, Cross is bullied in the running game and technical issues hamper him in protection assists against the likes of Nick Bosa and Rams edge rusher Leonard Floyd. While he starts from day one, he endures a tough rookie campaign and doesn’t improve much over the year, creating questions about his future.
Best case scenario: Building on a strong end to his final collegiate season, including a dominating performance in the Senior Bowl, Mafe embarks on an early-season quarterback hunt as a situational reserve behind Darrell Taylor and Uchenna Nwosu. Unable to keep their most productive rusher off the field, he enters the full-time starting lineup in Week 8 and continues to wreak havoc, eventually breaking Steve Neihaus’ unofficial team record with 10.5 sacks. as a rookie.
worst case scenario: Coming into the league with less than 15 Big Ten starts to his name, Mafe starts slow in training camp to deal with NFL tackles and trails Alton Robinson in the rotation behind Taylor and Nwosu. Seeing the field primarily on special teams, he played sparingly on defense in the first half of the season before eventually carving out a bigger role for himself in the final eight or nine games, capping a disappointing rookie year with 2.5 sacks and a forced escape.
Ken Walker III
Best case scenario: When the injury bug inevitably suffocates Penny again during training camp, Walker jumps into the starting lineup and never looks back, exploding for a 100-yard performance in his NFL debut. Becoming an immediate starter, the dynamic rusher stays healthy for all 17 games and joins Curt Warner as the second fullback in franchise history to eclipse 1,000 yards and score double-digit touchdowns as a rookie, putting him squarely in the running for Rookie of the Year honors.
worst case scenario: Picking up where he left off at the end of last season, Penny racks up multiple games with 150+ yards to open the season and a healthy Chris Carson comes running back with a vengeance as the outfield’s complementary weapon back. With both talented runners managing to stay healthy for most of the season and only so many snaps to go, Walker records just 45 carries for 225 yards and a touchdown as a third wheel in limited action.
Best case scenario: Entering the NFL more pro-ready than expected after starting out for four seasons at Washington State, Lucas outplays Jake Curhan in training camp to earn a Week 1 starting nod at right tackle. As he battles growing pains early on, including a tough Week 2 outing at Santa Clara, he holds onto his starting spot over the season and gradually improves in all facets of his game, creating optimism in the trenches that Seattle hasn’t seen since the days of Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson.
worst case scenario: Overwhelmed by NFL speed on the edge and unable to consistently create a push run locking down a three-point position, Lucas struggles mightily early in training camp and Curhan beats him for the starting right tackle job. Stuck on the sidelines of special teams, he endures a ‘red blouse’ year as Curhan plays at a high level, raising questions about his place in the team’s long-term plans.
Best case scenario: Showing the skills that made him the Jim Thorpe Award winner as college football’s best defensive back last season, Bryant steals the show in preseason with a pair of picks, helping him beat Tre Brown and Artie Burns for a starting nod in Week 1. Thriving in the defense of coordinator Clint Hurtt working opposite Sidney Jones, he leads all rookie cornerbacks with four interceptions and adds 10 pass breakups to his stat line , earning All-Rookie Team honors and an alternate Pro Bowl selection.
worst case scenario: Outmatched by the speed and quickness of NFL receivers, Bryant’s instinct and ball-hawking ability can’t make up for his average athleticism as he gets fried during training camp and preseason . While he retains a spot on the roster as a special teams contributor, he sees no action on defense as a rookie while Brown or Burns shine in the starting lineup and his athletic limitations indicate a low ceiling in the league.
Best case scenario: Following the same path as Tre Flowers in 2018, Woolen quickly takes coaching from Pete Carroll and unable to resist his bizarre athleticism and rare height, the Seahawks shockingly naming him starting Week 1. he allows four touchdowns in coverage and leaves a few tackles in the field, his speed helps eliminate the deep ball and he lands two interceptions in the last five games, putting the rest of the league on notice as one of the young rising stars of the NFL at the position.
worst case scenario: Far from ready to see the field defensively on Sunday, Woolen seems out of his element in training camp and pre-season and struggles to grasp the techniques taught by Carroll and his staff. He also fails to stand out on special teams, putting Seattle in a tough spot heading into the final roster cuts. Due to the fear of losing him on waivers, he is part of the team at the last turn but remains a long-term project.
Best case scenario: Transitioning easily to 3-4 outside linebacker, Smith avoids the nagging injuries that hampered him at Ohio State and flashes as a passer in August. Surpassing Alton Robinson on the depth chart, he and Mafe both see significant snaps in a rotational ability during their rookie seasons and the former Buckeyes starter finishes with a trio of sacks and nine quarterback hits. -back, signaling a bright future in Hurtt’s defence.
worst case scenario: Lacking the sparkle to be an impact rusher in the NFL, Smith fails to shine in training camp and also gets bullied into the running game during exhibition games. With Mafe and Robinson far outnumbering him, Seattle waives him in the final cuts in hopes of getting him on the practice squad and claims a pass rusher on another team’s waivers before the opening of the season.
Best case scenario: In a stunning turn of events, Melton explodes in the preseason by catching passes from Drew Lock and Geno Smith, outplaying former second-round pick Dee Eskridge. Surfacing like the Swiss army knife Seattle thought Eskridge would be, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron slots him into the roster as a gimmick weapon early in the year and he finishes with 17 receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns. . Additionally, he takes over as the Seahawks’ new kick returner, adding value to special teams.
worst case scenario: As Eskridge rebounds from a concussion-scarred rookie season and Freddie Swain takes another step forward, Melton receives few opportunities to shine on offense and falls plague him in the preseason. Unable to stand out on special teams either, he drops a spot on the roster to a crowded position and ends up on a practice squad in Seattle or with another team.
Best case scenario: Unfazed by the move from Division II to NFL competition, Young becomes the latest preseason star to emerge as the Seahawks’ receiver and thanks to some long kicking returns in August, he secures the spot final behind DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Eskridge, and Swain. Although he plays sparingly on offense as a rookie, his height comes in handy in red-zone situations, and he finishes his rookie season with 12 catches for 118 yards and a pair of scores. On special teams, he sees the action as a running back and gunner on punt coverage.
Scroll to continue
worst case scenario: Quickly realizing he’s no longer at Lenoir Rhyne, Young struggles to adjust to the competitive level and fails to create separation against NFL cornerbacks, leading to a camp training and a very calm pre-season. Remaining an intriguing development prospect due to his height and athletic gifts, Seattle waives him in hopes of bringing him back to the practice squad.