Geno Smith was the biggest winner of the Seahawks' 2023 draft

Watch the plays that make Jaxon Smith-Njigba the latest Seattle Seahawk (1:23)

Check out some of the plays from WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba's special time at Ohio State. (1:23)

RENTON, Wash. -- It wasn’t just the analysts who predicted the Seattle Seahawks could take a quarterback early in this year’s NFL draft.

The Seahawks themselves said it could happen, with general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll telling Geno Smith and Drew Lock after the season the same thing they told reporters at the scouting combine: That the rare opportunity they had to pick fifth overall made it something the team would have to consider.

Not only did the Seahawks pass on taking a quarterback who could’ve posed an eventual threat to Smith’s starting job, they got him some help by taking the first receiver off the board in Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 20 overall.

Time will tell if the Seahawks nailed their 2023 draft as well as analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and others believe they did. But one thing is clear in the immediate aftermath: No one on the team emerged from draft weekend as a bigger winner than Smith, who went from potentially having to fend off some highly drafted competition to having arguably the NFL’s best trio of receivers now that Smith-Njigba will join Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.

What’s more, the Seahawks didn’t take a quarterback with any of their 10 picks, which leaves the number of QBs they’ve drafted in 14 years under Schneider and Carroll at two.

“You can’t just push it because of a narrative,” Schneider said about again declining to take a quarterback, this time despite having four picks over the first two rounds. “It has to feel right for everybody. It has to feel right for the whole team, the locker room, the coaches.”

And it has to make sense value-wise, which is why the Seahawks likely would have passed on Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, even if he had lasted one more pick and fallen to them at No. 5.

But for all Smith knew at the start of Round 1, a quarterback was in play for the Seahawks at that spot until they took Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon after Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson Jr. and Richardson went off the board with the first four picks.

Schneider said Thursday after the first round that while the Seahawks listened to trade offers for the fifth pick, they had already decided that they weren’t going to move back from that spot if Witherspoon and/or one other player were available.

The unnamed player was Anderson. The Alabama outside linebacker briefly looked as though he might fall into Seattle’s lap when the Houston Texans took Stroud second overall, creating some fleeting hope in the Seahawks’ draft room that quickly vanished when Houston traded back up to 3 to take Anderson.

From a pure evaluation standpoint, the Seahawks thought enough of Richardson’s talent and potential to take him with the fifth pick. But in the bigger picture, for a team that’s trying to win now and in a financial pinch, it would have been tough to justify using a pick so high -- and the money that comes with it -- on an undeveloped quarterback who’d be a backup for at least one season.

The decision at No. 20 was much more straightforward, even with some in the organization intrigued by the 4.42 speed of Boston College’s Zay Flowers. The prevailing opinion was that Smith-Njigba, despite his less-impressive 40 time, was the better receiver -- and the better complement to Lockett and Metcalf. With two home run threats on the outside, what Smith and the Seahawks’ passing game needed more was a skilled slot receiver who excels at moving the chains. Seattle ranked 20th in third-down conversions last season, even with Smith playing at a Pro Bowl level for most of the way.

Before a hamstring injury sidelined him for most of his final year at Ohio State, Smith-Njigba finished second in the country in receiving first downs (61) and third in receiving yards (1,606) during a dominant 2021 season.

Schneider called him the perfect fit for Seattle’s receiving corps.

“We see Jaxon fitting in as that third guy with those guys and will complement them and make them better,” Carroll said. “He can play right now. He’ll be able to do everything that we want him to do. He had a marvelous workout at the school when we were there. He showed us the kind of physical stuff that we needed to see ... because he has a unique way that he plays the game. He has great catching range, is a great catcher, has a terrific feel, is an excellent competitor, can make all kinds of clutch plays, and is a come-through guy that I know Geno is going to fall in love with.”

The Seahawks’ other picks on offense were running backs Zach Charbonnet (second round) and Kenny McIntosh (seventh), guard Anthony Bradford (fourth) and center Olusegun Oluwatimi. Bradford and Oluwatimi will compete with Phil Haynes and Evan Brown, respectively, for starting spots.

The Seahawks needed to strengthen their backfield depth, especially after their run game -- and not coincidentally, Smith’s play -- fell off late last season after Kenneth Walker III hurt his right ankle in December. Charbonnet and McIntosh are excellent receivers who should factor into the passing game.

As for their quarterback depth, BYU’s Jaren Hall was one option the Seahawks were interested in on Day 3, but with Lock in place as Smith’s backup and bigger needs elsewhere, they beefed up their offensive and defensive lines instead.

The Seahawks agreed to a UDFA deal with East Carolina’s Holton Ahlers, who will be a long shot to make the team. They’ll monitor other teams’ rosters for more viable options to fill the QB3 role.

“We do like our guys,” Carroll said of the decision to not draft a quarterback. “We do like where we are, and we need to add another one, for sure, and that will likely happen. But we're fired up about Geno coming back for us and we're fired up about Drew being back. I think the opportunity for Drew is a really good one, again, to grow with our program and become part of it. We think that's a real strength of ours, and so we need to prove that, but we think we're going to be in good shape there.”