NFL Draft: Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay Agree Seattle Seahawks Must Target ‘Red Hot’ Rising Prospect Jermaine Johnson II

The Seattle Seahawks seem like they’re starting from scratch in 2022 after trading away quarterback Russell Wilson. The trade got them the No. 9 pick in this year’s NFL draft, and the team will use that pick to kickstart the post-Wilson Era.

ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay recently did a consensus top 10 mock draft and decided the best pick for Seattle would be a quickly rising pass-rusher who has a fascinating path to the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks’ have limited offensive options at No. 9

Florida State Seminoles defensive end Jermaine Johnson II during the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Florida State Seminoles. Johnson could be a Seattle Seahawks target in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Jermaine Johnson II | David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll would love to pick an offensive stalwart at No. 9 in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. The problem is, the players they’d most covet will either be gone, not worthy of a top 10 draft pick, or at a position that the Seahawks just don’t need.

A franchise offensive tackle would be ideal for the Seahawks at No. 9. The team’s offensive line ranked 25th in the NFL in 2021, according to PFF. LT Duane Brown was the team’s best lineman, but he’ll be 37 at the start of next season and is a free agent, as is 30-year-old RT Brandon Shell.

Despite this need, the top three tackles, NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, Alabama’s Evan Neal, and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross, could all be off the board. Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning is the next-best available, but he’d be a reach at No. 9.

The other position of need at quarterback after the team traded Russell Wilson to the Broncos.

Liberty QB Malik Willis is a Wilson-like signal-caller who could be available at No. 10 if he gets past the Detroit Lions at No. 2 and the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8. While Willis is the best QB available in 2022, most draft experts agree he’s not worth a top 10 pick.

Finally, the other elite offensive prospects who could be available to the Seahawks are wide receivers Drake London from USC and Garrett Wilson from Ohio State. With Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and last year’s second-round pick D’Wayne Eskridge on the roster, spending a high first-rounder on WR doesn’t make sense.

All that leaves defense as the best place for the Seahawks to find an elite player at No. 9, and ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay believe that Seattle should take a chance on a prospect who’s been “red hot” in the pre-draft process.

Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have the Seahawks taking Jermaine Johnson II at No. 9

On this week’s ESPN First Draft podcast, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay did their consensus top 10 mock draft. When the Seattle Seahawks came up at No. 9, the draftnik duo agreed that as much as the organization would like to go offense, the available players just didn’t make sense.

That’s when Kiper suggested Florida State pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson II. The long-time draft analyst explained the reasoning behind the pick:

They always like pass-rushers, Schneider and Pete Carroll. Jermaine Johnson II is red hot, Todd. Those are your options. With Thibodeaux gone, Jermaine Johnson II, he had 70 tackles. He was second on the team in tackles. He had the 12 sacks and the 18 tackles for a loss. But the way he bends the corner and then strip-sacks and getting in. It’s hard not to look at Jermain Johnson II for Seattle.

Mel Kiper Jr. on the Seattle Seahawks taking Jermaine Johnson II in the NFL draft

McShay agreed with his counterpart that Johnson would be a good pick for Seattle.

Last season, the team finished 22nd in the NFL in scoring defense and gave up the fifth-most yards to opposing teams. The Seahawks’ defense was even worse against the pass. Opponents passed for 4,513 yards against Seattle, second-most behind only the Baltimore Ravens.

The Seahawks D’s 34 sacks ranked them T-22 in the NFL last season, and no team member posted double-digits in that category. Carlos Dunlop, 32, led the team with 8.5, and Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor were next-best with 6.5 apiece.

Johnson could dramatically upgrade the Seahawks pass-rush and the defense as a whole if he continues the development he showed last season with the Seminoles.  

Who is Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson II? 

Jermaine Johnson II is a 6-foot-5, 254-pound defensive end from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. After high school, the 23-year-old enrolled at Independence Community College (starring in Netflix’s Last Chance U) and then transferred to Georgia for two seasons.

Johnson played in 16 games for the Bulldogs, recording 20 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He transferred again, this time to FSU, for his senior season and had a breakout campaign.

In 2021, Johnson nearly doubled his two-year sack numbers by recording 12.0, per Seminoles.com. And, as Mel Kiper Jr. mentioned, his 70 tackles were second-best on the team. Those numbers earned Johnson ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

At the NFL Combine, Johnson tested well for a player of his size. He ran a 4.57 40-yard dash and posted a 32-inch vertical and 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump. Johnson’s 34-inch arms also give him an impressive wingspan that pro football scouts look for in a pass rusher.

Johnson’s demonstration of size and athleticism throughout the draft process, combined with his production, has led to a massive leap up draft boards for the DE. Kiper had the edge-rusher outside the first round in his mock draft in January.

Now, it seems that Johnson will go in the top 10, and the Seattle Seahawks would make a lot of sense if the talented prospect makes it that far.

RELATED: NFL Draft: Dan Orlovsky Is High on Malik Willis’ ‘Josh Allen Type of Vibes’