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Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks haven’t taken a cornerback early in the draft in over a decade. Could that change this year?

Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner covers Oct. 30 during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tulane in New Orleans.  (Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

Any avid Seahawks draft follower knows the stat: Since coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider arrived in 2010, the team has not drafted a cornerback earlier than the third round.

And one reason for that is the success the team had drafting the likes of Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Shaquill Griffin in the middle rounds.

But with the defense in the midst of a makeover under new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt and new defensive passing-game coordinator Karl Scott, could that mean a change in approach at the cornerback position and a temptation to take one in the first two rounds?

It darn well could as Seattle has the need and the draft appears to have the players who could fill it.

As the draft approaches with the first round Thursday, let’s look further at Seattle’s cornerback position.

Players under contract for 2022: Tre Brown, Sidney Jones IV, Artie Burns, Justin Coleman, Michael Jackson, John Reid.

Key offseason losses: D.J. Reed (signed as free agent with Jets). Bless Austin remains an unsigned free agent and Nigel Warrior is an unrestricted free agent after the team withdrew its offer as an exclusive-rights free agent.


The Seahawks re-signed Jones and then added Burns and Coleman, a Seahawk in 2017-18, to fill out the cornerback spots.

But all are on one-year deals that aren’t overly expensive – the only cornerback on the roster under contract beyond 2022 is Brown, who is entering the second season of his four-year rookie deal and Seattle has just $15.08 million committed in cap space to its cornerbacks this year, 24th in the NFL, according to

With the roster as currently constructed, Brown would appear set as the starter at one side – likely the left, which is where he started three games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury – with Jones and Burns competing on the right side (where Reed played most of his Seattle career).

Coleman, meanwhile, appears slated to be the nickel corner. Reid can also play nickel while Jackson, a fifth-round pick of Dallas in 2019 signed by Seattle last September, will also compete for a roster spot after playing well when thrust into action late in the year against Detroit.

The Seahawks declined to get into a bidding war with the Jets for Reed, who signed a three-year deal worth up to $33 million.

And likely factoring into that decision is the strength and depth of the cornerbacks available in the draft this year as well as their faith in Brown and Jones.

Recent draft history

Seattle has drafted just nine cornerbacks during the Carroll/Schneider era. But one reason for that – and similar to the safety spot – is the early draft hauls that helped give the Seahawks the best secondary in the NFL for the first half of their tenure.

The Seahawks drafted four corners in the first three drafts who all played key roles in the team’s Super Bowl win, led obviously by Sherman (fifth, 2011), the others being Thurmond (fourth, 2010), Maxwell (sixth, 2011) and Lane (sixth, 2012). Those four played every cornerback snap of the Super Bowl victory over Denver (with Brandon Browner, also obviously a key part of that team, out with injury). It’s also worth noting DeShawn Shead, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and ended up finishing his Seattle career as a corner.

The Seahawks have drafted five cornerbacks since then – Tharold Simon (fifth, 2013), Tye Smith (fifth, 2015), Griffin (third, 2017), Tre Flowers (fifth, 2018) and Brown (fourth, 2021), also buffeting the position since Sherman left following the 2017 season with players claimed off waivers (Reed), and veteran and free-agent signings.

And while Seattle was always going to struggle to match the drafting success at cornerback of the early years, it’s worth noting all nine corners Seattle has drafted since 2010 played at least three seasons in the NFL despite none being picked higher than Griffin at 90th overall.

Draft need (on scale of 1-10): 8.

Draft outlook

If the Seahawks intend to go early with a corner this is a good year to do it.

Lindy’s gives the cornerback group an A, stating: “The cornerback class of 2022 could be one for the scrolls with blue-chip talent at the top and depth for days.’’

And six of the top 31 players on Pro Football Focus’ Big Board are cornerbacks, led by Derek Stingley Jr. of LSU second, Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce’’ Gardner fourth and UW’s Trent McDuffie at 11.

The Seahawks are reported to have had top-30 private visits with Gardner, Nebraska’s Cam Taylor-Britt, who is 65th on PFF’s Big Board, and Baylor’s Kalon Barnes, who is 139th on PFF’s Big Board (Barnes has been clocked at 4.23 seconds in the 40 and regarded as the fastest player in the draft, though also regarded as likely being a third-day pick).

Several of the top prospects are viewed as able to play both corner and safety, which could increase their value, including Michigan’s Daxton Hill (37th on PFF’s Big Board).

And with the first round of the draft considered as being as unpredictable as any in years, you never know if one of Stingley or Gardner will be available for the Seahawks.

Some view Stingley as being among the best talents available in the entire draft, though there have been some questions about his production since a standout freshman year in 2019.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Gardner, who also has an arm length of 33½ inches, has drawn lots of comparisons to Sherman.

Wrote PFF of Gardner: “Gardner never allowed a touchdown in his career despite starting since he was a true freshman. In 2021, he took his game to another level, surrendering only 131 yards in 14 games.”

That could well entice the Seahawks to break their cornerback drafting trend.