February 2, 2023

It’s officially mock draft season, and one of the biggest names in the business gives the Seahawks a somewhat surprising pick with their fifth pick in April’s NFL draft.

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The Seahawks have often been associated with star defensemen with their top picks, but in Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock draft of the offseason for ESPN, he has Seattle pick Kentucky quarterback Will Levis.

Levis began his college career at Penn State before moving to Kentucky in 2021. In two years as the Wildcats’ starting quarterback, Levis completed 65.7% of his passes for 5,232 yards and 43 touchdowns for 23 interceptions in 24 games.

For added context, Kiper pits the Chicago Bears against Jalen Carter as Georgia’s first defensive line-up. The Houston Texans then pick Ohio State QB CJ Stroud for 2nd, while Arizona edge rusher Will Anderson leads Alabama for 3rd. On pick four, the Indianapolis Colts select Alabama QB Bryce Young. For the mock draft, visit this link (subscription required to see the full ESPN article).

The Seahawks don’t currently have a quarterback on the list because Pro Bowler Geno Smith is a free agent, as is his backup, Drew Lock, who the team is reportedly ranking very high on.

On Wednesday, Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk addressed whether Kiper has plans for Levis that would work for the Seahawks.

(Note: Kiper will join Brock and Salk next week to discuss the Seahawks and the NFL Draft.)

“Will Levis is 6-foot-3, 222 (lbs),” said Brock Huard, who is a former NFL quarterback and current FOX college football broadcaster. “Why are we talking about Will Levis at 8 a.m. in Seattle in January? Because Mel Kiper’s first 1.0 mock (draft) comes out and the familiar names go from one to four, and it’s sitting there at five, it’s not a D-Lineman.”

It’s worth pointing out that Kiper doesn’t trade his mock drafts, so “he’s just looking for pure talent,” Huard said. Kiper also acknowledges each year that there will be several trades in the first round that shake things up.

“He talks to GMs, he talks to Boy Scouts … and that’s a tick in the box (pick),” he said. “Levis is … built like a brick house and can throw a ball 75 yards like (Star Bill’s quarterback) Josh Allen.”

While Levis certainly ticks all the boxes when it comes to physical tools, Huard isn’t a huge fan.

“I’m looking at 46 touchdowns and 25 picks (in his college career). That’s exactly what I see,” he said. “… Even in his dynamic year (2021) where he had an NFL (offensive coordinator in Liam Cohen), Sean McVay’s guy… (Levis) worked in an NFL system and still threw 13 picks. I see a lot of Ryan Tannehill. I see a lot of Blaine Gabbert. I see Jake Locker a lot. I often see “OK, you check the boxes”. But every time I sat and watched … I was like, ‘Ah.’”

Levis “didn’t have much help” in Kentucky, Huard said, which actually makes some Boy Scouts like him more, Huard said.

“I mean, it’s a tough exercise. And some of the scouts love that and have seen him play battered and hammered and hurt this year and he’s been beaten up all season,” he said. “And when Mel joins us next week, he’ll be making all those arguments for him.”

Salk isn’t exactly aboard Levis either, being suited for the Seahawks.

“From a Seattle perspective, you know there are four guys (Anderson, Stroud, Carter, Young) who are considered the crème de la crème. And you have a choice after these four guys are expected to leave,” he said. “In this version of the world, Mel looks at it and says they’re going quarterback. By then they might have signed Geno Smith, they might not. I mean there’s going to be a million things that are going to affect it. I gotta tell you, out of all the possible names out there, I’m not too keen on Will Levis right now.”

That being said, Salk said there’s a “huge asterisk” when it comes to the Seahawks and drafting a quarterback.

“Of all the things I believe in in the world, one of them is John Schneider’s ability to gauge and identify a quarterback,” he said.

Not only did Schneider identify and draft Russell Wilson in 2012 and then join Smith in 2022, but he’s also attended pro days for some of the game’s best passers before they got drafted, like Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Typically, when Schneider personally visits a quarterback, he becomes a top NFL quarterback.

“But now, if you ask me whether the Seahawks should call up Will Levis, my answer is a resounding no,” Salk said.

Huard added, “Mine is a tough pass.”

If Anderson, Carter, Stroud and Young aren’t on the board when the Seahawks are fifth overall, Huard wants them to trade down. If they can’t, here’s what he thinks they should do:

“Then I’ll be Freakshow D-Lineman. I’m going with the guy with the craziest attributes that can run and hit… Yeah, I think I’ll take today (Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson),” he said.

You can read more of Huard’s thoughts on Wilson at this link.

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full conversation on Wednesday in the player below.

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