The NFL Scouting Combine is officially underway in Indianapolis as scores of prospects from across the country descend on Lucas Oil Stadium in hopes of increasing their respective draft stocks. Scouts, coaches and other distinguished members of the league’s 32 teams will be in attendance, watching closely as draft plans continue to be refined and major boards are reshuffled.
The Seahawks currently have six picks when this year’s draft kicks off in late April, but they’ll have to wait until the second round to submit their first pick of the event. Therefore, head coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider and company will focus primarily on who should land in the second and third days of the draft.
After a disappointing 7-10 finish last season, the front office is tasked with its biggest challenge yet: reclaiming a roster loaded with star power and Super Bowl aspirations, but sorely lacking in the complementary pieces needed to raise it. From pass rush to offensive tackle, cornerback and more, needs abound in Seattle’s ranks, and only some will be replenished through free agency later this month.
So which NFL prospects might the organization consider heading to Indy, and which ones might catch its eye over the next week? Let’s quickly run through 10 combined entrants that offer the tools, fit and everything in between to blast their way onto the Seahawks’ radar.
TE Cade Otton, Washington
Otton is slowly but surely rising through the ranks of a good tight draft class, boasting above-average pass-catching ability and decent skills as a run blocker. He needs to add more strength so he can win his matchups more consistently, but there’s a lot to like here and grow. He does great things as a road runner and with the ball in his hands, displaying a good sense of open space and a willingness to make contact without hesitation. Seattle’s top two tight ends, Gerald Everett and Will Dissly, arrive in free agency in two weeks and the franchise has little money to spend, so Otton – or someone like him – could be a way to fill one of those holes on the cheap.
T Rasheed Walker, Penn State
Whether or not 14-year-old veteran Duane Brown returns this offseason, the Seahawks need to start thinking about a left tackle succession plan. 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 host of rushing attacks. While there are technical aspects of his game that need to be cleaned up, teams will certainly appreciate the advantage, especially if he drops in the third round as currently expected.
IOL Zach Tom, Wake Forest
Center is another position Seattle will be looking at long and hard 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 in the 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 best served playing on the inside offensive line. He has a tendency to lean too much, although his quickness and ability to move well has often helped him recover in awkward situations. The NFL, however, will be far less forgiving if it doesn’t address these issues at the next level. Nonetheless, his athleticism makes him an ideal candidate for a program 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 shaky technique and bodily discipline, his ability to clear blocks lacks consistency and he struggles powerfully as a passing thrower. That said, he has some eye-catching tools that will keep teams interested, like his impressive start and handiwork. Its 35-inch arms will also grab attention, making it an attractive mid-range option.
DL Josh Paschal, Kentucky
Paschal is a little older, ending his stay in Kentucky in fifth grade. This will decrease his draft stock a bit, even though he was a very productive player who offers a ton of versatility along the defensive line. The 6-foot-2, 278-pound can play on the standing edge or with one hand in the dirt, or shrink inside and go to work from there. In 2021, he wrapped up his college 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 legit big-end depth for a very low cost.
EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Pennsylvania State
Frankly, Ebiketie could end up at the end of the first round / beginning of the second round at the end of this process. But he’s definitely on the short list of passers the Seahawks could potentially target with their top pick at No. 41. The Penn State product has an impressive frame and an athletic goodie bag comprised of strong clearance, fantastic use of hands, strikingly quick direction changing skills and more. His quick passing 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 Amaré Barno, Virginia Tech
Spending the last two seasons as a starter for the Hokies, Barno’s strengths are highlighted by his length and speed. He’s still pretty raw in his approach – especially with his hands – and needs to add more weight to be competitive against the NFL’s rushing attacks, but teams will love his physical advantage. His lateral quickness and closing speed into space are impressive, and he boasts of bursting above average from the line of scrimmage, making him a solid candidate to play outside linebacker in a scheme. 3-4. Chances are he will crush the combine and increase his stock significantly this week.
LB Brandon Smith, Penn State
As long as Bobby Wagner is under contract, an off-ball linebacker won’t be of great importance to the Seahawks. But Smith is a talent that fits well with what the team has long coveted in this position, offering an impressive mix of speed and physicality. His high drive can get the better of him at times and will need to be held back a bit at the next level, but he attacks running backs with an intensity familiar to those who watched Seattle’s defense in Carroll’s days. He should have a good week in Indy.
BC Josh Thompson, Texas
Like Paschal, Thompson played five seasons in college, so it’s going to hurt him a bit. But he’s a physically gifted corner who can win away from home, although his skills could be better suited to the slot machine. Standing 5ft 10in and 199lbs with 311/8-thumb arm, he’s not afraid to challenge receivers at the line and has good instincts for playing in the zone. Perhaps his best trait, however, is his efficiency and will as a tackler. That “down and dirty” style of cornerback play is right up the alley for the Seahawks, and they might be looking for another option at the nickel spot to compete with Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair. The adjustment is there.
CB Tariq Laine, UTSA
Given his elite athleticism, it would be shocking if Woolen didn’t top this combination. If the hype built around him rings true, then his speed will be a big talking point over the next week. Some have speculated that he could record a 40-yard rush time somewhere in the 4.2 or 4.3 second range, the former of which could very well get its name on the draft boards at the league scale. But there is also the worry of his early school experience and the brutality of his technique. He also had a disappointing showing in the Senior Bowl, which made his draft hard to pin down. That said, the Seahawks will likely be one of the teams to watch closely this week. He boasts a prototypical height at 6-foot-3 with 33-inch arms and would be a fun project for Carroll and his team.