The NFL Scouting Combine is officially underway in Indianapolis as droves of prospects from across the nation descend on Lucas Oil Stadium with hopes of boosting their respective draft stocks. Scouts, coaches and other distinguished members of the league’s 32 teams will be in attendance, watching ever-so-closely as draft plans continue to be tweaked and big boards get reshuffled.
The Seahawks are currently scheduled to make six picks when this year’s draft kicks off in late April, though they’ll have to wait until the second round to submit their first selection of the event. Therefore, head coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider and company will primarily focus on those expected to land in the draft’s second and third days.
After a disappointing 7-10 finish this past season, the front office is being tasked with its greatest challenge yet: salvaging a roster loaded with star power and Super Bowl aspirations, but severely lacking the complementary pieces necessary to elevate it. From pass rush to offensive tackle, cornerback and more, needs are aplenty throughout Seattle’s ranks, and only some will be replenished via free agency later this month.
So which NFL hopefuls could the organization have its eye on heading into Indy, and which could catch its attention over the next week? Let’s quickly go over 10 combine attendees that offer the tools, the fit and everything in between to make their way on the Seahawks’ radar.
TE Cade Otton, Washington
Otton is slowly but surely rising through the ranks of a good tight end draft class, offering above-average pass catching ability and some decent skills as a run blocker. He needs to add more strength so he can win his matchups on a more consistent basis, but there’s a lot to like here and build upon. He does some nice things as a route runner and with the ball in his hands, displaying a good sense for open space and willingness to take on contact with no hesitation. Seattle’s two top tight ends, Gerald Everett and Will Dissly, are hitting free agency in two weeks and the franchise only has so much money to spend, so Otton—or someone of the sort—could be a way to fill one of those holes on the cheap.
T Rasheed Walker, Penn State
Whether 14-year veteran Duane Brown returns or not this offseason, the Seahawks need to start thinking about a succession plan at left tackle. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Walker was a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions, allowing 58 pressures in 2,129 snaps played. He’s a surprisingly well-rounded athlete for someone of his stature, exhibiting fluid movement and good hand-eye coordination to fight off a slew of pass rushing attacks. While there are technical aspects of his game that need cleaning up, teams are sure to like the upside—especially if he falls into the third round as currently projected.
IOL Zach Tom, Wake Forest
Center is another position Seattle is going to take a long, hard look at this offseason. Tom is an intriguing prospect who, given some of his technical and physical concerns, should be there on day three. The last time he played center was in 2019 before Wake Forest moved him to left tackle for his final two seasons. But with his 33-inch arms and sub 300-pound build, he’ll be better served playing on the interior offensive line. He’s prone to leaning too much, though his quickness and ability to move well often helped him recover in uncomfortable situations. The NFL, however, is going to be far less forgiving if he doesn’t clean these issues up at the next level. Nevertheless, his athleticism makes him a strong fit for a scheme like Seattle’s.
DL Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA
Despite his 6-foot-3, 326-pound build, Ogbonnia struggles to generate much power from his lower half and relies too heavily on winning his matchups with pure upper-body strength. As a result, thanks to some shaky technique and bodily discipline, his ability to shed blocks lacks consistency and he struggles mightily as a pass rusher. That said, he has some eye-catching tools that will keep teams interested, such as his impressive get-off and handwork. His 35-inch arms are also going to garner attention, making him an interesting mid-round option.
DL Josh Paschal, Kentucky
Paschal is a bit on the older side, finishing his time at Kentucky as a fifth-year senior. That’s going to diminish his draft stock some, though he was a highly productive player who offers a ton of versatility along the defensive line. The 6-foot-2, 278-pounder can play out on the edge standing up or with a hand in the dirt, or shrink down inside and go to work from there. In 2021, he wrapped up his collegiate career with a whopping 15.0 tackles for loss and a personal-best 5.0 sacks. He may be available as late as the fourth or fifth round, giving the Seahawks a chance to add legitimate big end depth for a very low cost.
EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
Frankly, Ebiketie may find himself in the late first round/early second round range by the end of this process. But he’s certainly on the short list of pass rushers the Seahawks could potentially target with their first pick at No. 41. The Penn State product boasts an impressive frame and an athletic goodie bag consisting of a strong get-off, fantastic hand usage, strikingly quick change-of-direction skills and more. His pass rushing plan could use some refinement and his play-to-play aggression can be inconsistent at times, but it’s hard not to fall in love with his tools.
EDGE Amare Barno, Virginia Tech
Spending the last two seasons as a starter for the Hokies, Barno’s strengths are headlined by his length and speed. He’s still pretty raw in his approach—particularly with his hands—and needs to add more weight to be competitive against NFL rushing attacks, but teams are going to love his physical upside. His lateral quickness and closing speed out in space is impressive, and he boasts above-average burst off the line of scrimmage, making him a solid fit to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. There’s a decent chance he crushes the combine and significantly raises his stock this week.
LB Brandon Smith, Penn State
As long as Bobby Wagner is under contract, an off-ball linebacker isn’t going to be of great importance to the Seahawks. But Smith is a talent that aligns well with what the team has long coveted at the position, offering an impressive blend of speed and physicality. His high motor can sometimes get the best of him and will need to be reined in a bit at the next level, but he attacks ball carriers with an intensity familiar to those who’ve watched Seattle’s defense in the Carroll era. He should have a good week in Indy.
CB Josh Thompson, Texas
Like Paschal, Thompson played five seasons in college, so that’s going to hurt him a little bit. But he’s a physically-gifted corner who can win on the outside, though his skillset might be better tailored to the slot. Measuring in at 5-foot-10 and 199 pounds with 311/8-inch arms, he’s not afraid to challenge receivers at the line and has good instincts to play zone. Perhaps his best trait, however, is his effectiveness and willingness as a tackler. This “down and dirty” style of cornerback play is right up the Seahawks’ alley, and they may be in the market for another option at the nickel spot to compete with Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair. The fit is there.
CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA
Given his elite athleticism, it would be shocking if Woolen doesn’t dominate this combine. If the hype built around him rings true, then his speed will be a big topic of discussion over the next week. Some have speculated he could register a 40-yard dash time somewhere in the range of 4.2 or 4.3 seconds—the former of which may very well shoot his name up draft boards league-wide. But there’s also the concern of his small-school experience and the rawness of his technique. He also had an underwhelming showing at the Senior Bowl, making his draft stock hard to pin down. That said, the Seahawks will likely be one of the teams watching intently this week. He offers prototypical size at 6-foot-3 with 33-inch arms and would be a fun project for Carroll and his staff.