“Wars are won by men. Not magic tricks.”
Bronn’s point applies to modern football as well as the Game of Thrones. Specifically, the men who determine who wins and who loses are the very large ones in the trenches who often get overlooked despite their size. Even the cleverest offensive playcallers and most talented quarterbacks find it difficult to overcome a ragged offensive line. On defense, no amount of manufactured pressure can best having multiple pass rush threats and stopping the run can be pretty close to impossible without the right pieces.
The Seahawks can attest to all of that, coming off a season where they exceeded expectations but hit a hard and painful ceiling whenever they faced opponents with superior offensive and defensive line units. Back-to-back losses against the Super Bowl contender Chiefs and 49ers illustrated that much, as did the season-ending loss to San Francisco.
In order to catch up with the Niners – who are making their third NFC Championship appearance in four years this weekend – Seattle has to get bigger, meaner and better on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
With that in mind, we went into our latest 2023 seven-round mock draft with a simple idea: all linemen, every pick. Observe.
Pick No. 5: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
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If Georgia’s Jalen Carter is off the board at this point – as was the case in our mock draft – then Anderson is the best consolation prize that Seattle can hope for. Anderson (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) is the top-ranked edge defender in a deep class of them and is as disruptive as they come. In 41 career games at Alabama, Anderson put up some video game numbers, including 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for a loss.
Pick No. 20: Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith
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One could argue that going back to the edge here immediately qualifies as overkill. However, teams like the Eagles got to where they are because they weren’t afraid to overdraft at positions that were already considered a strength. We don’t just want a good defensive line, here – we want a ridiculous one. Smith (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) can help the Seahawks get there. He’s ranked fifth at his position and in 38 games at Georgia he posted 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss.
Pick No. 38: Michigan DL Mazi Smith
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While Al Woods, Shelby Harris and Poona Ford are all accomplished interior linemen the results were extremely disappointing this season. Adding more firepower inside can’t hurt and Michigan has churned out some truly-great DL over the years. Smith (6-foot-3, 326 pounds) is ranked No. 5 among defensive tackles in his class. He projects as a stout nose tackle type who can finally put a plug in the team’s run stopping problems.
Pick No. 53: Minnesota C John Michael Schmitz
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After three defensive line picks, it was time to switch over to offense. Abe Lucas and Charles Cross have the tackle spots locked down, but the interior OL rotation needs some serious work, beginning with finding a new centerpiece. Some consider Schmitz to be the top center in this draft class. He comes equipped with six years of experience, well above-average size (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) and a high football IQ.
Pick No. 84: Notre Dame EDGE Isaiah Foskey
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While the edge rotation looks a lot better than it did heading into the draft, it still doesn’t look quite ridiculous enough for our taste. So, we go back to the well with this pick for Notre Dame’s Foskey (6-foot-4, 257 pounds). He’s been on fire the last two seasons, totaling 20.5 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss during that time.
Pick No. 123: UCLA G Atonio Mafi
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As for the guards, Damien Lewis looks good but the 31-year old Gabe Jackson has clearly lost a step and is a prime candidate to get cut this offseason. So, adding more depth at this spot should also be on Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s list. A converted defensive lineman, Mafi (6-foot-3, 339 pounds) can at least help fill in the blanks if Jackson does end up getting cut for salary cap savings, which would be $6.5 million.
Pick No. 152: NC State G Chandler Zavala
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Assuming Jackson is let go, the most logical candidate to take over at right guard full time would be Phil Haynes. However, he’s about to become an unrestricted free agent. If he signs with another team, Seattle will need at least one more body, here. At 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, Zavala is a big and spicy meatball for a guard.
Pick No. 155: Oklahoma DL Jalen Redmond
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While it’s not fun to think about, there’s a decent chance one of either Poona Ford, Al Woods or Shelby Harris will also get cut. That would leave another question mark for the interior defensive line rotation. Redmond (6-foot-2, 279 pounds) could be part of the answer. He posted 14 sacks and 31.5 tackles for a loss during his time with the Sooners.
Pick No. 198: Alabama OT Tyler Steen
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In an ideal world, Lucas and Cross will be starting for the Seahawks the next 10 years. Nothing is guaranteed, though and finding a decent backup for Cross should be on the agenda. Steen (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) has a lot of experience at left tackle and has gotten high praise for his pass protection and run blocking from draft scouts.
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