Grading Seahawks 2022 Draft Class Midway Through Training Camp, Preseason – Sports Illustrated

With two preseason games and 12 training camp practices officially in the books, the Seahawks have gotten their first extended look at their incoming nine-player draft class.
While a few rookies have dealt with minor injuries along the way, most of Seattle's latest class has participated in the majority of camp practices as well as both exhibition contests against Pittsburgh and Chicago. This has given coach Pete Carroll and his staff ample time to evaluate the new crop of players and several of them already have vaulted into contention for starting spots, including left tackle Charles Cross and cornerback Tariq Woolen.
How have the nine players performed thus far? Here's a quick progress report with the regular season opener now less than three weeks away:
Grade: B
Penalties have been a major problem for Cross in his first training camp and two preseason games, as the ex-Mississippi State standout received five flags in Thursday's loss to the Bears, including four false start infractions. But when he hasn't been drawing yellow from officials, the rookie has looked the part of a viable starter at left tackle, excelling in pass protection and performing better than anticipated in the run game to begin his NFL career. Against the Bears, his most impressive play came on the opening drive when he washed star pass rusher Robert Quinn down the line after he tried looping back inside on a stunt, providing a clean pocket for Geno Smith to deliver a perfect strike to receiver Freddie Swain, who unfortunately dropped the pass.
Grade: C+
Seeing extensive snaps on defense and special teams in his first two preseason games, when Mafe has flashed, he has tantalized with his immense physical tools and top flight athleticism. In the exhibition opener, he followed up an excellent effort bringing down a punt returner on special teams with a strip sack on the very next play, showcasing his upside. Later in the game, he chased down Kenny Pickett for a second sack. But the problem has been, as expected based on prior comments by Carroll, that Mafe has been bullied frequently defending the run and setting the edge. He has also left a few tackles on the field as well, further illustrating he may not be ready for more than a situational pass rushing role at this point.
Grade: B+
After undergoing a recent procedure for a hernia, Walker's status for the regular season opener against Denver remains in question. What isn't questionable, however, is the reigning Doak Walker Award winner's speed, burst, and suddenness, which he has put on display throughout his first training camp. The former Michigan State star has been one of Seattle's best offensive performers since day one, ripping off several long runs while flashing underrated catching ability with four receiving touchdowns during team drills. Assuming he makes a swift recovery, he and Rashaad Penny should serve as 1A and 1B out of the backfield and both receive extensive carries in the run game.
Grade: A-
Like Cross, Lucas came into the league with relentless questions about his run blocking and pro readiness after starring in Air Raid and Run N' Shoot offenses at Washington State. But the Everett native has silenced critics in his first two preseason games, busting out the butter and syrup while cooking up four pancakes driving defenders into the turf. Most notably, on just his second snap on Thursday, he bullied a helpless defensive end seven yards of the ball before finishing him to the ground. He's also been steady in pass protection, positioning himself to beat out Jake Curhan and win an immediate starting job at right tackle.
Grade: B
While Bryant has received a master class at practice trying to cover star receiver Tyler Lockett and surrendered a touchdown in coverage against the Steelers, he's otherwise enjoyed a terrific first training camp with the Seahawks. Consistently getting his hands on the football, he's registered numerous pass breakups in the red zone, including denying a touchdown in the second half of Thursday's exhibition contest. He's also shown off plenty of versatility, playing exclusively in the slot in that game after lining up at left cornerback in Pittsburgh. At this point, he looks primed to play significant snaps in the nickel role and may be the starter over Justin Coleman right off the bat while having the upside to start on the outside down the road.
Grade: A-
Entering the league viewed as a high-ceiling, yet raw developmental prospect, Woolen has vastly exceeded expectations. Boasting a rare blend of size (6-foot-4, 33 1/2-inch arms) and speed (4.26 40-yard dash), he looks like he was engineered in a lab and his one-on-one battles against DK Metcalf have been must see TV during training camp, with the rookie winning several of those matchups against the All-Pro. Responding well to his first adversity after a blown coverage and several missed tackles in his debut, he didn't allow a single reception on three targets against the Bears and didn't miss any tackles on Thursday. With each passing day, he looks more and more likely to start for the Seahawks in Week 1, which few could have foreseen happening when he was drafted out of UTSA.
Grade: D+
When Smith has been on the practice field, he has made some good things happen, generating a trio of pressures in two padded sessions. Unfortunately, he's been out for the rest of camp with hip injuries and has yet to suit up for a preseason game. By simply not being available, he's put himself on the roster bubble at a position with quality talent and depth. Getting back on the field for the exhibition finale in Dallas may be critical for his chances of sticking on the 53-man roster.
Grade: C-
Boasting sub-4.35 speed, Melton hasn't had any issues creating separation or getting open against NFL cornerbacks. However, since the first day of camp, drops have been a persistent problem that have plagued him. The former Rutgers star has improved his chances of making the team in the past two weeks, especially after a strong debut in Pittsburgh, but he will need to do more with his opportunities to secure a spot at one of the deepest position groups on the roster.
Grade: B
A bit of a mystery jumping to the NFL from a Division II school, Young has been one of the biggest surprises for Seattle's incoming draft class. Right off the bat, he developed a strong rapport with Drew Lock, catching four passes from him in his second camp practice. The two hooked up in Pittsburgh for a touchdown and though he didn't record a catch against Chicago, he's been a consistent playmaker on the outside and given his enticing athletic traits, he's put himself into an excellent spot to avoid the waiver wire and make Seattle's roster out of the gate.


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