The Seattle Seahawks surprisingly drafted two running backs in the 2023 NFL Draft. General manager John Schneider selected former UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet with the No. 52 overall pick and then doubled down with former Georgia ball-carrier Kenny McIntosh in the seventh round. With last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Ken Walker III already in the fold, the selection of Charbonnet especially qualifies as a luxury pick.
The No. 41 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Walker burst onto the scene for the Seahawks as an effective first-year ball-carrier that accounted for nine rushing touchdowns. Walker led all rookie running backs with 1,050 rushing yards, a mark that finished 12th in the league among all backs. A dual-threat option, Walker added 27 receptions and 165 receiving yards to his offensive totals. Walker was named to the 2022 PFWA All-Rookie Team for his efforts.
Walker’s standout performances made it especially surprising to witness Schneider utilize another second-round pick on a league-wide devalued position like running back. It’s worth acknowledging that Schneider was equipped with four top-100 selections, the last of which was used on Charbonnet. Schneider likely felt he had enough draft capital to use a premium pick on a running back.
Before selecting Charbonnet, the Seahawks drafted Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon and Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round. Both Witherspoon and Smith-Njigba are expected to serve as immediate starters for the postseason-contending Seahawks. Schneider won the first round.
The Seahawks then addressed a need at EDGE by drafting Auburn’s Derick Hall with the No. 37 pick. Hall is a big-and-powerful outside linebacker that joins Boye Mafe and Darrell Taylor in Seattle. Possessing the ability to fill holes at receiver, cornerback, and EDGE previously to drafting Charbonnet likely empowered Schneider to feel comfortable with adding another back.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll recently discussed his newly-formed backfield tandem.
“He’s [Charbonnet] so versatile,” Carroll recently said when discussing the selection. “He will fit in and be a great addition. And really, we’re gonna find out how far he can take it in terms of the receiving part of it. We know he’s really good at [catching the ball]. But so is Kenneth [Walker], so those guys will be battling. And we also went all the way down to get Kenny McIntosh because of his versatility. There’s so many positives about these guys,” Carroll concluded.
Carroll has always preferred a running-back-by-committee approach. The Seahawks lost key depth this offseason when Rashaad Penny signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Travis Homer and Tony Jones Jr. also signed elsewhere, making it three running backs that departed Seattle in the offseason.
Going back to 2021, prior to Walker’s addition, the Seahawks had two running backs that essentially accounted for 500-plus yards of offense (Penny had 797, and Alex Collins finished with 498). Chris Carson suffered a season-ending injury four games into the season. He was averaging nearly 70 yards per contest before going down. So although Charbonnet still qualifies as a luxury selection given the capital invested, Carroll has always flashed a willingness to utilize multiple running backs.
McIntosh can’t be considered a luxury pick due to the excellent value at No. 237 overall. McIntosh exploded for 1,334 total yards of offense in 2022 for the back-to-back National Championship-winning Georgia Bulldogs. Lackluster athletic testing led to a draft-weekend slide for McIntosh, who ran a 26th-percentile 4.62 in the 40-yard dash, per MockDraftable. McIntosh is a playmaker despite what the testing indicates. The Seahawks wisely pounced on his availability.
Seattle’s backfield got significantly more crowded over the weekend. Charbonnet was a luxury selection and it’ll be interesting to monitor how he eats into Walker’s workload. McIntosh shouldn’t be written off either. Carroll could revert to his preference for attacking defenses with multiple backs.
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