As the Seahawks brain trust began a tour of pro days Wednesday featuring quarterbacks expected to go in the top of the first round, the work also continued to reshape their defensive line.
Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were among eight Seahawks coaches/scouts in attendance at Ohio State’s pro day Wednesday, according to SI.com, where the featured attraction was quarterback C.J. Stroud, the third-place finisher in the Heisman Trophy voting the past two years.
At the same time, Seattle was also listed by the league as getting a visit from veteran free agent defensive lineman Mario Edwards, a 2015 second-round pick of the Raiders who had three sacks in 455 snaps with Tennessee last season.
The 6-3, 280-pound Edwards, who turned 29 in January, could help Seattle continue its overhaul of its defensive end position, with the Seahawks having earlier cut two of the primary players at that position in 2022 — Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson — and having already signed Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed as replacements.
Edwards was graded especially well against the run last year by Pro Football Focus, something that was a problem for the Seahawks, with PFF writing before the season that “he’s a solid rotational defensive lineman with positional flexibility from the interior.”
As for Stroud, he might well be gone when the Seahawks pick at No. 5 — assuming Seattle stays there.
But he might still be available, and Seattle is thought to be exploring all possible options with its first pick, including quarterbacks, despite re-signing last year’s top two signal-callers, Geno Smith and Drew Lock.
A video posted on Twitter from The Lantern, an independent daily newspaper produced by Ohio State students, showed Stroud talking during the event to Carroll and Dan Quinn, Seattle’s former defensive coordinator who now holds the same position with the Dallas Cowboys.
Not that Stroud is the only player the Seahawks would be interested in at Ohio State.
Among others who took part were receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who has been commonly mocked to Seattle at No. 20 with its second pick in the first round; defensive end Zach Harrison, who some view as possible to sneak into the second round and would help Seattle fill its defensive line needs; and center Luke Wypler, who might also give Seattle a possible long-term solution at a revolving door of a position in recent years.
In fact, noted ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. became the latest to project Seattle to take Smith-Njigba at 20 in his updated mock draft released this week, writing: “He could be a plug-and-play starter for a team that already features Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. He could alternate reps outside and in the slot.”
Also taking part Wednesday were offensive tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones — Johnson regarded as a likely first-round pick and Jones a second-day pick.
Neither might seem a real need for the Seahawks because Seattle has returning young starters at each tackle spot in Charles Cross on the left side and Abraham Lucas on the right, each taken in last year’s draft.
But according to The Draft Network, Jones is scheduled to have a top-30 private official visit with the Seahawks. Teams are allowed to bring in 30 prospects for visits before the draft, from March 7-April 19 during which physicals can be held but not workouts.
That indicates at least some interest in the mammoth Jones, who is listed at 6-8, 374 and played every snap of his college career at right tackle, according to Pro Football Focus. The Seahawks could view him as a tempting project to add depth and maybe some flexibility and options for moving people around down the road.
Seattle’s contingent of eight coaches/scouts at Ohio State was listed as tied for the third-most of any team, according to SI.com, behind the 14 of the Carolina Panthers — who hold the first pick — and the nine of the New York Giants, who pick 25th (the Giants were reported to have had dinner with Smith-Njigba on Tuesday night).
Most of those coaches and scout at Ohio State on Wednesday, including Schneider and Carroll, are now expected to head to pro days Thursday at Alabama and Friday at Kentucky, where they will see two other quarterbacks projected to go at the top of the first round — Alabama’s Bryce Young and Kentucky’s Will Levis.
Alabama’s pro day will also feature a number of other potential high draft picks, including edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. — also often mocked to Seattle at 5, assuming he’s still available there — safety Brian Branch, safety Jordan Battle, cornerback Eli Ricks and linebacker Henry To’oto’o. All have been projected to go in the first two rounds by some draftniks, with Branch also often projected to go in the first round.
Also scheduled to participate in Alabama’s pro day is former Seahawk offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, who hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2020 with Baltimore but is attempting to revive his career at age 32. Fluker is a former Alabama player.
Also expected to participate in Kentucky’s pro day are running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., considered one of the best power backs available in the draft and projected by some to go on the second day, and guard Tashawn Manning, generally considered a potential late-round draftee.
The highlight there will be Levis, a player who might be available for Seattle at 5, but whom the Seahawks undoubtedly want to get as close of a look at as they can, hoping this may be their last chance in a long time to pick as high as No. 5.
“It’s a rare opportunity,” Carroll said last month at the NFL scouting combine.
This week’s trips show the Seahawks appear to be leaving nothing to chance as they figure out what to do with that pick once it arrives April 27.
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