RENTON, Wash. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks filled a need at left tackle by selecting Mississippi State’s Charles Cross with the No. 9 pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.
For just the second time in the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks had a top 10 selection. And just like they did in 2010, the Seahawks used that top 10 pick on a left tackle.
Cross was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection last season, starting 12 games for the Bulldogs, and he plays a position that’s crucial to the Seahawks. Seattle entered the draft with veteran Duane Brown a free agent after spending the past 4 ½ seasons with the team, and the Seahawks seem hesitant to commit to a lengthy deal with him. Brown will turn 37 before the start of next season.
Cross said he had an interview with the Seahawks during the combine and a couple of phone conversations afterward. After seeing fellow left tackles Ikem Ekwonu and Evan Neal selected earlier in the draft, Cross had a feeling he could be headed to Seattle.
“I kind of expected it to be honest,” Cross said.
Seattle was initially without a first-round pick due to the trade for Jamal Adams before the start of the 2020 season. But the trade of Russell Wilson to Denver landed the Seahawks back in the first round and with a top 10 selection for the first time since 2010, which was the first draft with Carroll and general manager John Schneider in charge.
They used that pick on left tackle Russell Okung, who went on to start all 72 regular-season games he played for the Seahawks over six seasons, including Seattle’s Super Bowl season.
Seattle is now hoping Cross can match what Okung accomplished.
With good size and length at 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Cross is considered by some scouts to be the best pass blocker in this draft, especially after playing in the pass-happy offensive scheme of Mississippi State coach Mike Leach the past two seasons. The Seahawks like to emphasize the run and probably will need Cross to be a quick learner as a run blocker.
“They’re a physical organization. They preach physicality, toughness, nastiness. Really everything you need to do to be successful,” Cross said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity (and) ready to get to work.”
Quarterback will remain a focal point going forward for the Seahawks. Seattle seems set on giving Drew Lock, Geno Smith and Jacob Eason a chance at earning the starting job, though the team may select a QB later in the draft.
Pass rusher and cornerback are two other priority areas the Seahawks are expected to address. Seattle has the No. 40 and No. 41 picks in the second round on Friday.