It’s a bit strange but not surprising that the Seahawks’ easygoing decision-makers are posting selfies with the top quarterback prospects during pro day visits. Remember, Pete Carroll took shirtless photos with DK Metcalf after drafting the wide receiver in 2019.
It's also a brilliant smokescreen tactic for possibly convincing other teams that Seattle is seriously considering taking a quarterback with the No. 5 pick next month in Kansas City. The Geno Smith–led Seahawks would benefit from the first four draft picks being quarterbacks, as it would give them the option of drafting edge rushers Will Anderson Jr. or Tyree Wilson, or any other top nonquarterback prospect.
But an even better scenario would be Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson being available at No. 5. And if Seattle is indeed bluffing about taking a quarterback, then that scenario would also apply to the Lions, the owners of the sixth pick.
As for a more intriguing “if” that might develop in the coming weeks: the Seahawks and Lions, and their quarterback-friendly environments, competing to land Richardson. Just imagine Richardson launching downfield throws to Tyler Lockett and Metcalf in Seattle, or Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson designing plays for Richardson’s vast skill set. The Seahawks and Lions are probably thinking about it, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of those teams trades up in the draft.
Smith and Detroit’s Jared Goff are good QBs for right now, but Richardson could be the final piece to complete the quick rebuilds the Seahawks and Lions started after trading Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford, respectively.
Richardson took his Seattle selfie during Florida’s pro day Thursday, and, with his massive wingspan, he probably could have waved over even more scouts into the picture frame without cropping anyone’s head. Taking selfies—along with arm strength, size, and athleticism—is one of a few advantages Richardson has over Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis.
All of Richardson’s elite physical gifts were on display during his pro day workout, just like they were last month, when his performance at the combine in Indianapolis made many wonder whether he might become the No. 1 pick in the draft. But Richardson still likely won’t go first, because he doesn’t have a safe floor and needs time (which is not an option for the Panthers, Texans or Colts, the three quarterback-needy teams slated to pick ahead of the Seahawks and Lions) to work on his fundamentals.
Richardson is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect in the NFL, and so were Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert a few years back.
Allen was knocked for his accuracy and was the third quarterback taken in 2018 (seventh) behind Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. Mahomes was too raw and wasn’t selected until the 10th pick in ’17, eight spots after Mitchell Trubisky. Herbert struggled with reading defenses and was seen as too quiet, so he was selected at No. 6, behind Joe Burrow—that one worked out for Cincinnati—and Tua Tagovailoa, who has had mixed results in Miami.
And yes, there have been many quarterback prospects with impressive physical gifts who have failed in the NFL, such as Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Jake Locker and Blake Bortles, to name a few.
But the opportunity to draft the next Mahomes, Allen or Herbert should be worth the risk for the Seahawks and Lions, two teams with two first-round picks this year and a quality starting quarterback already on the roster. They’re both playing with house money after the high returns they received in the Wilson and Stafford trades.
So, who will be bold enough to bet on Richardson’s high upside? The Panthers are likely set on Young or Stroud, and the Texans will probably draft whichever of those two is not taken by Carolina. The Colts are currently picking fourth, and it won’t be a surprise if they trade one spot up with the Cardinals, who are content—for now—with quarterback Kyler Murray.
Indianapolis is another ideal landing spot for Richardson; Colts coach Shane Steichen was instrumental in the development of Jalen Hurts and Herbert with the Eagles and Chargers, respectively. Colts owner Jim Irsay, however, is a wild card, and he isn’t known for patience. Levis has his flaws, but he’s a little more polished than Richardson, and that might work in his favor.
Richardson could be there for the Seahawks or Lions to take on opening night of the draft. And both teams should probably consider giving Arizona a call for the No. 3 pick, in case the Colts (or even the Raiders at No. 7 and Falcons at No. 8) are eyeing the 6'4", 244-pound Richardson, who clocked a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash during the combine.
With the Seahawks and Lions fielding talented rosters, they may not be picking in the top 10 again any time soon—but they also might get stuck in the cycle of above-average teams with quick playoff exits if Smith and Goff are the long-term answers under center. (Kirk Cousins and the Vikings come to mind. Even Dak Prescott and the Cowboys do, too.)
Again, Smith and Goff are good for right now, but they don’t have the potential of developing into Mahomes, Allen or Herbert. And that could explain why the Seahawks made the pro day road trips in search of their long-term answer at quarterback.
Seattle re-signed Smith earlier this month to a three-year, $75 million extension, but the team can get out of the contract after one season. Also, Smith knows the business after years of being the No. 2 quarterback, so his feelings probably aren’t hurt about the Seahawks taking selfies with QB prospects.
The Lions have a little more delicate situation with Goff, the No. 1 pick by the Rams in 2016, who reignited his career after a standout ’22 season in Detroit. But Lions coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes are probably doing their due diligence on the quarterbacks nonetheless. They can cut ties with Goff next year for a cap savings of $26.975 million, according to OvertheCap.com.
Seattle and Detroit can both offer Richardson time to develop behind Smith and Goff, respectively. On the other hand, some might argue that Richardson needs to play now because he had only one full season as the starter at Florida. If that’s the case, the Seahawks and Lions have ideal rosters and coaching staffs to withstand mistakes on the field and remain competitive.
Lamar Jackson took over for Joe Flacco midway through his rookie season and orchestrated a run-heavy offense to guide Baltimore to the postseason. Jackson was forced to throw in the wild-card game against the Chargers, and his struggles on the field had Ravens fans chanting, “We want Flacco.” But Jackson clearly learned from those mistakes, emerging as league MVP the following season.
Of course, there are many instances in which a quarterback was thrown into the fire too soon (Zach Wilson and the Jets, for example). But not many teams can offer ideal situations like the Seahawks and Lions.
With Richardson’s high upside, Carroll and Campbell might be fighting to take selfies with the Florida product for the long haul.