To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.
Not to dismiss the names below as irrelevant to Seattle’s success, but now we’re starting to get into the heavy hitters, so to speak. The top 13 or so will be CRITICAL, starting with the guy who scored our first points in the 2012 pre-season: Brandon Browner.
Brandon Browner is 28 years old this month. That puts him in prime NFL veteran real estate. One would figure, if you’re going to choose the age of an average player’s “NFL Prime” – or, the best he is ever going to be, before he hits his inevitable decline – it’s probably age 28. You figure, at 28, a player has probably been in the league for a good 5 years or so, he’s gotten over his youthful deficiencies, he’s gotten the hang of whatever system he was drafted into, he’s learned some tricks of the trade to be an even better pro, and now he’s there. He has reached his maximum potential and now it’s up to him to hold on for as long as he can at that peak level.
Except, Brandon Browner isn’t most 28 year old NFL veterans. Last year, at age 27, Browner played in his first full NFL season. Prior to that, he played for Oregon State for 2 years. He went undrafted, but was picked up by the Broncos in 2005. However, he fractured his forearm and went on IR. He was waived the following pre-season. He went on to star as a corner in the CFL (an All Star his final three seasons) which precipitated his getting a chance with these Seahawks before last season.
Most of his current success can be attributed to his considerable size – 6’4, 221 pounds – not to mention his quickness and his toughness. Pete Carroll is literally in love with all of those things. But, you can’t deny he got a little lucky. Last year, the Seahawks (as usual) suffered a number of injuries to their secondary. As such, Browner was thrust into a starting role from the get-go. To his credit, he made the most of it, catching 6 INTs, breaking up 23 other passes, and even scoring two touchdowns (including a franchise record 94-yard return against the Giants in our shocking upset). That put him on the national radar, which in turn earned him a Pro Bowl slot as an injury replacement.
Not bad for a 28 year old in the prime of his life. He may not have had the most usual path, but he’s there now, and he’s a big reason why there are such high hopes for this defense in 2012.
Granted, he’s not the world’s greatest, most coordinated cornerback. He’s rough around the edges. He will get penalized enough for people to question him as a liability. But, his physical, hands-on, bump-and-run style of play is exactly what will define this defense as a great one. Considering there are still enough question marks along the defensive line to wonder whether or not we’re EVER going to get the consistent pass-rush we so desperately desire, having our cornerbacks absolutely dismantle the other team’s wide receivers on the line of scrimmage will be critical. We’ve got to disrupt the other team’s timing somehow. If we can’t get it from the D-Line, then be glad we’re getting it at all. If that means taking on a few extra yards of pass interference penalty yardage, so be it. In the end, we will be a better defense for it.
Can you ever remember being a Seahawks fan and NOT feeling this longing for cornerbacks taller than 5’10? Keep that in mind as you watch this year’s team. We’ve got two guys WELL over six feet tall who are not just good, but Pro Bowl good. 2012 is going to be fun.