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Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: Predicting who Seahawks will take with their 7 NFL draft picks

Laiatu Latu of UCLA during Pro Day at Spaulding Field on the campus of UCLA in Westwood on March 15.  (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – What will the 2024 draft look like for the Seahawks in the first year of the post-Pete Carroll era?

We’ll begin to find out when the first round gets under way Thursday night.

Until it does, it’s time to take one last guess at what the Seahawks could do – not just in the first round with the 16th overall pick, but with each of their seven selections.

What follows is my choice at each pick and reasoning.

First round, pick 16: Defensive end/edge rusher Laiatu Latu, UCLA.

The reason: For starters, I am not going to include any trades, though I realize the Seahawks’ history – and the volatility of this draft in which only the first pick seems certain 48 hours ahead of time – makes it a given they will explore all options.

In a draft that many think there are just 16-18 players who have consensus first-round grades, the Seahawks may want to try to keep their first pick to assure getting an elite talent.

And yes, they need interior offensive line help and if UW’s Troy Fautanu is there the Seahawks could well take him as a potential long-term fixture at guard.

And yes, the Seahawks could be tempted if a quarterback they weren’t expecting falls to them, especially if it’s Michael Penix Jr.

If the Seahawks keep this pick, they will lean toward defense and go with Latu, who won the Morris Trophy as the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 last year as voted by offensive linemen, finishing with 13 sacks.

Latu would make for a heartwarming story, returning to the city where he began his college career.

More important, most regard him as the best pure pass rusher in the draft. The Seahawks have Uchenna Nwosu and Boye Mafe at the edge spots. But you can never have enough pass rushers these days – especially someone who might have the potential to become one of the best in the league (and Nwosu’s contract contains no guaranteed money beyond this season).

Latu’s neck injury history comes with some risk. reported Tuesday that because of his past “it’s really hard to pin down where Laiatu Latu is going to be picked. Teams generally agree he’s the best pass rusher in this year’s draft, but he has a serious medical history that will give some teams pause.”

If Texas defensive tackle Bryon Murphy II falls here, I’d expect the Seahawks to leap to get him. But I’m not expecting Murphy to fall here.

Third round, pick 81: Inside linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson.

The reason: The son of the former 12-year NFL veteran, Trotter is considered among the best inside linebackers in a year when there aren’t a lot of good ones. Some question his size – 6-foot, 230 pounds – and whether he can hold up consistently inside, one reason he could be available at this spot. This line from his Pro Football Focus scouting report may speak more loudly to teams: “Trotter is an incredibly smart linebacker who consistently puts himself in the right positions.” He also just turned 21, coming out as a third-year junior, so there’s room to grow in every area.

The Seahawks have an uncertain future at their inside linebacking spots, signing free agents Jerome Baker and Tyrel Dodson each to just one-year contracts and nobody has played much behind them on the depth chart.

Fourth round, pick 102: Guard Christian Mahogany, Boston College.

The reason: While the Seahawks’ long-range needs on the interior offensive line are obvious, they can wait until this pick to address them because this is regarded as a good year for guards and centers. Mahogany, who measured 6-3, 314 at the combine, played almost solely at right guard in college but switching sides is common in the NFL.

Most scouting reports on Mahogany call him one of the best – if not the best – run-blocking guard in the draft. That’s something the Seahawks would love to have.

Fourth round, pick 118: Safety Sione Vaki, Utah.

The reason: The Seahawks are valuing versatility more than ever now that Mike Macdonald has taken over as coach. It’s hard to find anyone in this draft more versatile than Vaki, who was a true two-way player last year at Utah, playing safety and running back.

He rushed for 317 yards on 42 carries and had 11 receptions for 203 yards on offense, along with playing 677 snaps on defense. Even those defensive snaps were about as versatile as could be. Via Pro Football Focus, he had 318 snaps at free safety, 175 at strong safety, 131 in the slot, 16 playing wide corner and 37 lined up on the defensive line.

Two of the Seahawks’ top three safeties – Julian Love and K’Von Wallace – are under contract for just one more year.

Sixth round, pick 179: Defensive tackle Khristian Boyd, Northern Iowa.

The reason: The Seahawks have obvious interest in Boyd, bringing him in for a predraft visit. His size – he measured 6-2, 329 at his pro day – seems to fit the way Macdonald wants to build his defense with a strong foundation up the middle. Boyd impressed at the East-West Shrine Bowl, especially with his stoutness against the run. While the Seahawks signed 12-year vet Johnathan Hankins to pair with Jarran Reed as the prospective starting tackles, both are 31 or older and neither under contract beyond 2024.

Sixth round, pick 192: Quarterback Jordan Travis, Florida State.

The reason: The trade for Sam Howell means the Seahawks don’t have to take a QB for depth. Their current QB setup means they could be tempted to take one at some point. If they pass on a QB at 16, they could wait and get a project with potential such as Travis, who poses an ideal run-pass threat and led FSU to a 21-3 record his last two years, including 17 wins in a row to end his career, turning in a 44-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Concerns over his age (almost 24) and ability to adjust to a pro-style offense figure to leave him available late in the draft and an ideal QB to develop.

Seventh round, pick 235: Tight end Tanner McLachlan, Arizona.

The reason: The Seahawks re-signed Noah Fant and signed veteran free agent Pharaoh Brown to a one-year deal to help replace the departed Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson. The only other tight ends on the roster are Brady Russell and Tyler Mabry, whose limited experience is mostly on special teams. McLachlan measured 6-5, 244 at the combine where he also ran the fourth-fastest 40 of any tight end at 4.61.

McLachlan played amply in the slot at Arizona, where he caught 45 passes on 55 targets – the most for any Wildcats tight end since Rob Gronkowski in 2008 – for 530 yards last season, playing for new UW coach Jedd Fisch and offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll, Pete’s son.