The NFL Draft always buzzes with anticipation, speculation, and hopes for teams looking to fortify their rosters for the future. As the 2024 draft approaches, the Seattle Seahawks are poised to make strategic choices that could shape their trajectory in the seasons to come.
Among the top considerations is the selection of a quarterback, a linchpin position that can redefine a franchise. Enter Michael Penix Jr., a dynamic prospect whose journey through collegiate football has been nothing short of remarkable. His resilience, field intelligence, and precise passing make him an exciting potential pick for the Seahawks, despite concerns about his injury history.
But the draft isn't just about securing a star quarterback; it's about assembling a cohesive unit that strengthens every facet of the team. From defensive linemen with a penchant for disruption to offensive linemen with a track record of versatility, each pick holds the promise of contributing to Seattle's success.
Let's delve into the potential selections and envision the puzzle pieces that could propel the Seahawks toward their future goals in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Round 1, Pick 21: Michael Penix Jr, QB, Washington
Michael Penix Jr., a southpaw quarterback from Tampa, Florida, has forged an impressive trajectory in his collegiate career. Starting at Indiana out of Tampa Bay Technical High School, Penix saw significant playing time in his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons. Over those two seasons in which he only played 12 games due to injury, he finished with a 10-2 record, throwing for 3,039 yards 24 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions (62% completion percentage, 8.0 YPA). He then transferred to Washington in 2022 where he exploded on the scene to the tune of 4,641 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions (65.3%, 8.4 YPA) finishing with an 11-2 record. In 2023, he somehow got even better throwing for 4,218 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions (65.9%, 9.1 YPA), taking home the Maxwell Award and leading his team to a 13-0 record heading into the playoff.
All in all, Penix's transition to the University of Washington revitalized his career, revealing a player with elite field generalship, precise passing, and a high football IQ. Despite concerns about his injury history, including multiple ACL tears and past shoulder injuries, Penix's arm talent, resilience, and ability to overcome adversity position him as a top quarterback prospect. He embodies a modern NFL quarterback, combining athleticism and a knack for dissecting defenses pre-snap while excelling in delivering accurate deep and intermediate passes.
Penix's football game embodies a multifaceted skill set and strategic acumen. As a quarterback, his forte lies in commanding the game from the pocket, showcasing elite field command by dissecting defenses pre-snap and executing high-percentage throws. Notably, his precision in passing, particularly on deep and intermediate routes, highlights his knack for threading the needle in tight coverage. Penix's rapid progression through reads allows him to exploit mismatches, instilling confidence in his receiving corps for yards-after-catch opportunities.
Despite these strengths, consistency in pocket timing and finesse throws remains an area for growth, alongside occasional accuracy lapses potentially tied to his unorthodox throwing motion. His extensive injury history raises durability concerns, but should the Seahawks and the rest of the league be comfortable with his medicals, his impressive physical abilities and pro-ready play style are an ideal match for the NFL and especially Seattle's offense. Penix's resilience, intelligence, and on-field leadership make him an intriguing prospect for the Seahawks in the 2024 NFL Draft, and one to watch closely in the pre-draft process.
Round 3, Pick 75: Ruke Orhorhoro, DL, Clemson
Ruke Orhorhoro, the Clemson defensive tackle standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 295 pounds, embodies a forceful presence in the trenches and an elite talent that leaps off the screen. He thrives on violent collisions, showcasing dominance in disrupting pockets and generating significant pressure, evident from his 11.5 sacks and 24 tackles for loss over the last three seasons.
Orhorhoro's stout frame, long arms, and heavy hands deliver a powerful initial jolt, defining him as a pocket pusher of considerable importance. His brute power and relentless pursuit of quarterbacks, coupled with versatility across various alignments, display his athletic prowess and disruptive nature.
Despite areas for improvement in quickness and adapting against contact, Orhorhoro's schematic flexibility positions him as a potential impact player, offering steady contributions and immense potential for growth at the professional level.
Round 3, Pick 85: Cooper Beebe, IOL, Kansas State
Cooper Beebe, the 6-foot-4, 335-pound offensive lineman from Kansas State, boasts an impressive collegiate career marked by versatility and experience across multiple positions, earning accolades as a two-time Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. With over 40 career starts and a diverse skill set covering left tackle, left guard, right guard, and right tackle, Beebe stands as a linchpin within the Wildcats' offensive line.
His hyper-dense, physically dominant presence, and exceptional knock-back power showcase elite mass and unwavering physicality, complemented by a strong grasp of angles, high football IQ, and effective second-level blocking in the run game.
However, challenges arise in maintaining balance against agile opponents, refining consistency in his kick slide, and adapting to pass protection techniques. Despite these, Beebe's reliability, positional flexibility, controlled hand usage, and football intelligence project him as a dependable Day 2 prospect, offering teams a steady presence with the potential to anchor the offensive line and contribute across various positions at the professional level.
Round 4, Pick 121: Gabriel Murphy, EDGE, UCLA
Gabriel Murphy, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end from UCLA, showcases a compelling journey through collegiate football. With three years at North Texas and a standout senior season at UCLA, Murphy's blend of tenacity and physical prowess defines his game. In 2023, Murphy totaled 38 tackles including 8 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and 2 pass deflections.
A relentless competitor, he brings functional strength, pass-rushing finesse, and a robust tackling range to the field. However, his aggressive style occasionally leads to balance issues and inconsistencies, impacting his overall effectiveness.
Despite this, with refinement and a balanced approach, Murphy holds the potential to transition successfully to the professional level, where his skill set, suited for a one-gap defense, could shine with increased discipline and adaptability.
Round 5, Pick 158: Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
North Carolina State's Payton Wilson enters the 2024 NFL Draft with a fascinating yet intricate profile. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Wilson's college football journey intertwines standout performances with persistent injuries. His background as a versatile athlete, excelling in lacrosse and wrestling alongside football, showcases his multi-faceted abilities.
Throughout his collegiate career, Wilson faced recurring knee and shoulder injuries, tempering an otherwise impactful trajectory. On the field, Wilson emerged as an intense and instinct-driven player, demonstrating remarkable pursuit skills, cerebral play, and strong contributions in coverage. Despite his tape highlighting first/second-round potential, concerns regarding his age and extensive medical history raise doubts about his durability and longevity.
Despite all that, the North Carolina native is one of the most productive linebackers in the country when healthy. Over his 4 seasons in which he played more than 10 games, he combined to have 397 tackles including 14 sacks, 46.5 tackles for loss, 7 interceptions, and 13 pass deflections. Predictions position him as a mid-range selection in the early-to-mid Day 3, reflecting the intriguing blend of potential and uncertainty surrounding Wilson's NFL prospects.
Round 6, Pick 199: Malachi Moore, S, Alabama
Malachi Moore, a versatile prospect entering the 2024 NFL Draft from Alabama, embodies a unique blend of physical prowess and adaptability. Standing at 6 feet tall and weighing 198 pounds, Moore's journey from Hewitt-Trussville High School to Alabama highlighted his recruitment as a highly-rated prospect.
Throughout his collegiate career, he showcased flashes of brilliance, transitioning adeptly between safety and nickel cornerback roles. Notable strengths include his long-limbed, tall frame, impressive coverage skills, and astute ball tracking. Moore's instincts in zone coverage and his aggressive, high-energy tackling style distinguish him, complemented by his agility, change-of-direction ability, and lateral burst, which enhance his coverage and recovery potential.
However, he faces challenges in route recognition, occasional overreliance on strip attempts in run support while tackling, and lapses in fundamentals. Whether the Seahawks are in a rebuild, or still trying to be contenders with a rookie quarterback or Geno, I'd like to see them get younger and cheaper in certain positions, with safety being one of them.
Round 7, Pick 242: Dallin Holker, TE, Colorado State
Dallin Holker, a versatile prospect from Colorado State via BYU, navigates an unconventional collegiate path, playing intermittent seasons due to mission work. Despite his compact frame lacking traditional tight end measurements, Holker compensates with commendable length and hand size, displaying versatility as both an in-line blocker and slot receiver.
His adeptness in exploiting size advantages against smaller defenders is evident, coupled with solid technique in catching away from his body and freezing defenders with head fakes and stutter steps. However, limitations arise in his physicality for in-line blocking against larger opponents, relegating him primarily to a slot receiver role.
Holker's occasional hesitancy in assignments and slower reaction time at the snap need refinement, while a lack of an explosive second gear curtails his yards-after-catch potential. Fine-tuning footwork, reaction speed, and defining his role within an offense will be pivotal for Holker to maximize his impact at the professional level.
This past season at Colorado State, Holker caught 64 passes for 767 yards and six touchdowns. He's not a big-time blocker, but at 6'5" and 225 lbs, he's the type of TE that could stretch the middle of the field and be a valuable role player in Seattle's offense.