The Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions are both keeping options open at QB in terms of the draft, which may surprise some based on the play of both Geno Smith and Jared Goff last year.
This could, of course, be each team simply doing its due diligence, or a smoke screen to drum up interest in teams trading up for their picks. But what if it's more than that?
They have the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2023 thanks to trading their franchise QBs (Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford) in recent years and could really shake up the draft.
It sets up an interesting debate. Should these teams select a QB at the top of the draft? The parallels for both extend to how they will potentially tackle that decision.
For more draft content, check out our latest prospect rankings and mock drafts, as well as our new weekly podcast, "With the First Pick," featuring former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
CASE FOR DRAFTING A QB
Geno Smith and Jared Goff are ideal bridge QBs
Entering 2022, it was largely assumed that the Seahawks and Lions would be among the QB-needy teams in 2023. Geno Smith hadn't been a starter since 2014, and Jared Goff was coming off a subpar first season in Detroit.
What a difference a year makes, as both QBs at least earned a starting QB job in 2023. While Smith is scheduled to be a free agent, he's had positive contract talks with Seattle, and it's assumed he will be back as their QB1 in 2023.
Still, with their spotty career track records, you could argue they fit the profile of a bridge QB. Even with productive 2022 seasons, there are cracks in the foundation. Smith ranked third in the NFL in passer rating through Week 9 last year but was more turnover-prone as Seattle struggled down the stretch.
|Geno Smith Last Season||Weeks 1-9||Weeks 10-18|
Passer rating rank
And don't forget the Lions started 1-6 last year, and Goff wasn't exactly lighting it up during that time.
|Jared Goff Last Season||Weeks 1-9||Weeks 10-18|
Passer rating rank
Both could sit QBs
Both teams have the draft capital to move up the board, but at five and six, quarterback prospects Will Levis and Anthony Richardson are more likely to be available than Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud.
Levis and Richardson are both polarizing prospects who are immensely talented but have some concerns, making them ideal candidates to sit behind veteran QBs like Smith and Goff.
Some scouts point to Richardson's inexperience and accuracy problems. His 24 career touchdown passes in college would be the fewest by a first-round pick QB since Michael Vick in 2001. He would have the lowest completion rate by a first-round pick QB since Jake Locker in 2011. Locker did not start a game as a rookie.
Levis was turnover-prone in the SEC. His 46 career touchdown passes and 25 interceptions in college don't inspire a ton of confidence. He would be the fifth first-round QB since 2000 with fewer than 50 touchdown passes and 25-plus picks in his college career (Vince Young, Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel)
Both have draft capital
Another reason both should consider drafting a QB: they both have significant draft capital. They are the only two teams with multiple first- AND second-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
They can use that capital to move up the board to get their guy. You could also argue that even though each team has plenty of needs (more on that later), they have the assets to both take a quarterback and fill those needs.
2023 draft picks (overall):
- Seahawks: 5, 20, 37, 52, 83, 123, 153, 156, 198
- Lions: 6, 18, 48, 55, 81, 154, 183, 194
As Pete Carroll mentioned, it's a rare opportunity to be at the top of the board, especially with four top QB prospects. The Seahawks haven't had a top-five pick since 2009, and they haven't drafted a QB in the first round since Rick Mirer in 1993, the third-longest active drought in the NFL (only Saints and Cowboys have longer droughts)
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CASE AGAINST DRAFTING A QB
Of course, the more likely scenario is both teams build off the resurgent seasons from their veteran QBs in 2023 and beyond. Here's why each wouldn't draft a QB:
Smith and Goff earned opportunities beyond 2023
You can certainly make a case that both Smith and Goff earned QB1 opportunities in 2023 and beyond. Both were among the league leaders at their position last year. Smith set franchise records for completion rate and passing yards in a season. Goff set a franchise record with 324 straight passes without an interception.
Both also ended the season on a high note. Smith helped Seattle make the postseason and Goff played well in Detroit's season finale win at Lambeau Field to spoil the rival-Packers' playoff hopes.
|2023 NFL Ranks||Smith||Goff|
Both could rack up more draft capital
If both teams maximize their draft capital and build around both QBs, who's to say they couldn't go from playoff contenders to Super Bowl hopefuls? Not to mention both clubs could add even more draft capital to build up their rosters.
The fifth and sixth picks should be hot spots for teams trying to trade up for a QB. Teams like the Raiders (seventh pick), Falcons (eighth pick), Panthers (ninth pick), Commanders (16th pick) and others could be jockeying to move up the board for a franchise quarterback.
And those draft slots are quite valuable. The last time a team moved up for either the fifth or sixth pick was in 2021 when it cost the Dolphins the 12th pick and a future first to move up to six for Jaylen Waddle.
More pressing needs
And, of course, the Lions and Seahawks have pressing needs outside of QB. You could argue even with a QB with more upside, their growth could be stunted by deficiencies in other areas. Each team's championship hopes could also be thwarted by bad defenses.
The Seahawks had the 25th-ranked scoring defense in 2022, their worst finish since 2010 -- Carroll's first season. They ranked 30th in rush defense last year. They also still have holes to fill along the offensive line.
The Lions had the 28th-ranked scoring defense last season, even with the emergence of rookie pass rushers Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston. They finished 30th in pass defense in 2022.
What happens next?
I'd guess neither team is likely to draft a QB with their top pick, but a lot can change at the combine this week if either team falls in love with a quarterback.
If I had to pick which team is more likely to select a QB, I would vote Detroit simply because Smith flashed more arm talent than Goff last year. Smith led the NFL in completion percentage above expected in 2022, while Goff was in the bottom third of the league. Smith's 2022 looked like no fluke. He ranked top-two in the NFL in completion rate on a variety of difficult throws — when pressured, passing outside the numbers and throwing 15-plus yards downfield.
Goff ranked 24th in the league in average throw distance last season. It's certainly not the end-all-be-all, but arm strength has never been one of his best traits, something QB prospects like Levis and Richardson have no shortage of.
The implications of either team drafting a QB would loom large with the number of QB-needy teams picking after them in the draft. This makes both Seattle and Detroit two wild cards to watch.