Seahawks' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets Amid DK Metcalf Contract, Trade Buzz

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIApril 25, 2022

Seahawks' Top 2022 NFL Draft Targets Amid DK Metcalf Contract, Trade Buzz

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    This offseason has been the start of a new era for the Seattle Seahawks, one that doesn't include Russell Wilson. In March, they traded their longtime quarterback to the Denver Broncos, and it's unclear whom they are going to build around for the future.

    There's also been a bunch of buzz surrounding wide receiver DK Metcalf, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Will he sign an extension with the team, or could he end up getting traded too? Seattle head coach Pete Carroll recently said that "serious discussions haven't started" on a new deal, according to's Kevin Patra.

    So there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Seahawks heading into the 2022 NFL draft, which is set to get underway Thursday. They own the No. 9 overall pick (which came from the Broncos in the Wilson deal), and there are several options for what they could do with that selection.

    Here's a look at several players who should be among Seattle's top targets in the first round.

Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Evan Neal is one of the top players in the 2022 draft class, and the Seahawks have a big hole on the left side of their offensive line, with Duane Brown still a free agent. It may not be the flashiest pick, but it could end up being the one that makes the most sense for Seattle.

    Brown is turning 37 in August, so it's possible the Seahawks would rather get younger up front rather than bring back their former starting left tackle. And if Neal is still on the board when Seattle is on the clock, it could be hard to pass up drafting him.

    There's a lot of uncertainty regarding how the top 10 picks in this year's draft will unfold. Neal could be gone within the first few selections or he may be there for the taking at No. 9. Either way, the Alabama tackle appears ready to immediately take over a starting role in the NFL and projects to be a great player for a franchise to build around.

    A three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, Neal compiled some impressive tape while playing against tough SEC competition throughout his college career. And if he ends up in Seattle, he could become the long-term anchor of the Seahawks offensive line.

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

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    Kendall Warner/Associated Press

    At this point, Drew Lock would be Seattle's starting quarterback after coming over from Denver in the Wilson trade. However, Lock has struggled when he's been given opportunities throughout his first three NFL seasons, and he isn't likely to be the Seahawks' long-term signal-caller.

    It's possible Lock won't even start in 2022 if Seattle acquires a new franchise quarterback in this year's draft. The Seahawks could come away with Liberty's Malik Willis, who may have the most upside and potential of any QB in the class.

    Willis might be a top target for several other teams drafting in the top 10, such as the Carolina Panthers (No. 6) and Atlanta Falcons (No. 8). But it's not a guarantee that either of those teams will take a quarterback. That means Willis could be on the board for Seattle at No. 9.

    Is Willis ready to start in the NFL immediately? That may or may not be the case. But the Seahawks could always draft Willis and start Lock until Willis is prepared to take over the job.

    Either way, if Willis is available, Seattle may have a hard time passing over him as a quarterback they could build around for years to come.

Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    There's the potential for Neal and Willis to have both been drafted by the time the Seahawks are on the clock. But they have plenty of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, so they can always just address a different position if that ends up being the case.

    Seattle needs to improve its pass rush, and Jermaine Johnson II could be among the best available in its range. After the Seahawks released Carlos Dunlap earlier this offseason, Johnson could provide a huge boost to that unit. And according to Adam Jude of the Seattle Times, there's a reason why a pick like this could happen.

    "Pete Carroll's stated goal is to build his team around an elite defense, once again, and he'll need a stout pass rush to accomplish that," Jude wrote.

    Johnson spent two years at Georgia before transferring to Florida State, where he had a breakout 2021 season that earned him ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He had 70 tackles (17.5 for a loss) and 11.5 sacks in 12 games in his lone year with the Seminoles.

    It's possible Johnson will only continue to get better at the next level. So if Seattle selects him, it could end up with a dominant pass-rusher on its defensive front for the long-term future.