Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider of the Seattle Seahawks again expressed at the NFL combine their desire to re-sign quarterback Geno Smith. But Carroll and Schneider also didn’t rule out the possibility of selecting a signal caller in the 2023 NFL draft.
That’s exactly what ESPN’s Mel Kiper predicted will happen in his latest mock draft.
Kiper projected the Seahawks to trade down from No. 5 to 9 with the Carolina Panthers. After maneuvering outside of the top 5, Kiper predicted the Seahawks will land Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson at No. 9.
“Here’s a team that could afford to take a developmental quarterback with elite upside,” Kiper wrote. “Seattle has said it wants to bring back veteran Geno Smith, but what if the organization uses the franchise tag on Smith, plays him for a season and adds Richardson to take over in 2024?
“That’d be the ideal scenario for Richardson, a raw passer who completed just 53.8% of his throws last season but has incredible ability as a runner.”
Kiper’s proposal is a win-win situation for the Seahawks. While the trade back would allow Seattle to gain more draft capital, the organization would also still land a potential franchise quarterback.
How Anthony Richardson Fits With the Seahawks
The Florida signal caller is widely regarded as the No. 3 or 4 quarterback available in the 2023 draft class. The draft rankings from ESPN and Pro Football Focus have Richardson slotted as the No. 4 signal caller behind Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis.
But similar to Kiper, PFF holds Richardson in high regard because of his upside.
“High-end play wins Super Bowls, and no one has a higher end in this class than Richardson. Now, what are the chances he reaches that or even comes close?”
Kiper argued the Seahawks are as well positioned as any team with a Top 10 choice to draft a boom-or-bust type quarterback.
“At 6-4, Richardson has the type of arm strength that makes NFL coaches drool,” wrote Kiper. “If he gets into the right situation — and isn’t forced to play early — he could be a star.
“The Seahawks make the most sense for Richardson because they have the picks to take a chance on a high-ceiling prospect, including what they’re getting in the projected trade with the Panthers.”
The Seahawks currently possess four selections in the top 53 picks and six in the top 124. They will make their second first-round pick at No. 20 overall.
Seattle would have even more selections to use to build around Richardson if they trade down at the beginning of the draft.
Will the Seahawks Franchise Tag Geno Smith?
Franchise tagging Smith isn’t a requirement for the Seahawks to draft Richardson. But the need for Seattle to draft a quarterback will be greater if Smith receives the franchise tag rather than a multi-year contract.
In the event the Seahawks place the franchise tag on Smith, Richardson could develop behind the veteran quarterback for a season and then have the opportunity to become the team’s starter in 2024.
Richardson possesses some incredible raw skills including arm strength and mobility. He averaged 7.9 yards per pass attempt during his three seasons at Florida.
In addition to 17 passing touchdowns last season, Richardson also had 9 rushing scores. Overall, he accumulated 3,203 total yards of offense in 2022; 654 of those yards came on the ground.
But as Kiper argued, mock draft experts consider the best situation for Richardson to be a place where he can sit and learn. The Seahawks can provide that for the Florida quarterback if Smith returns.
The remaining question is whether, assuming he does come back, Smith will return on the franchise tag.