The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

The theme of this offseason – which I alluded to last Friday, but don’t think I properly answered – is: How Quick Can The Seahawks Get Back To Contending For Championships? Turning things around can be a little nebulous; if by “turning around” you mean getting back to the playoffs, as I’ve said before, we can pretty much run the same team back and hope variance takes care of everything else (on top of a second year with the same coordinator, and a little better injury luck). But, I don’t think very many of us are satisfied with “just making the playoffs”. We’ve been “just making the playoffs” pretty much the entire time Russell Wilson has been in the league! After getting a taste of back-to-back Super Bowls, I think the more hardcore fans are now rabid animals, desperate to get back no matter the cost.

The 2021 Seahawks were a collosal disappointment, no doubt about it. We started the season 3-8, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. We lost to a lot of teams we had no business losing to (the Titans, the Vikings, the Steelers, the Saints, the Football Team, the Bears). Flip half of those games and we’re at 10 wins and in the playoffs. It’s not like we were TERRIBLE though. We finished 7-10 – a record we absolutely deserved – but we’re not in such bad shape that the roster MUST be completely turned over.

I have a list of 20 Seahawks from the 2021 team. I’ve split them into three categories: young rising stars, good guys who would find regular work on other teams, and the cream of the crop established superstars. So, let’s go in that order.

Young, Rising Stars

  • Jake Curhan (RT)
  • Tre Brown (CB)

Most every year, you stumble upon at least a guy or two who comes out of nowhere to really make an impact. Tre Brown was the first one this past season. As a 4th round draft pick, I didn’t expect a whole lot – if anything – from Tre Brown, as a rookie, or really throughout his career. The odds are stacked so far against you as a Day 3 draft pick. You could argue the Seahawks have had a lot of success drafting DBs late, but you could also argue we haven’t done so since 2012 (unless you’re a big Ugo Amadi fan; he’s okay, I guess, but I wouldn’t call him a rousing success). Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Michael Tyson, Tye Smith, etc. are all the Day 3 busts we’ve accumulated since the L.O.B. heyday; I think we’ve proven that we’re not capable of just throwing any ol’ draft pick out there and turning them into studs.

So, yes, Tre Brown was a breath of fresh air! He was aggressive, without being reckless. He fit into the system without giving up huge cushions of yardage pre-snap. And, most importantly, he supplanted Tre Flowers once and for all, allowing us to cut him when he finally ran out of chances to make it in this defense. Which made his injury in November that much more demoralizing, because Brown looked like he’d be a 4-year starter with this team right away. Now, he’s gotta recover from knee surgery, and who knows how long it’ll be until he returns to form, if ever? I’m still holding out hope, though not for a 2022 return.

Jake Curhan, on the other hand, looks like he’s here to stay. He was an undrafted rookie in 2021 who slipped in the draft due to medicals. Those medicals don’t project to be as serious as once thought, and it appears he’ll be able to have a long and fruitful NFL career. He was able to slide into the right tackle spot when Brandon Shell went down with injury, and he really impressed! His pass protection isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not as dire from a tackle as it is with a guard; Russ was able to work with it and get away from a lot of the pressure coming from that side. Curhan’s run blocking proved to be top notch though, so at least he does SOMETHING well! That’s more than we could say for the revolving door that’s been the right tackle spot since Breno Giacomini manned the position. Making it through his rookie season injury-free gives me even more hope as we head into 2022, when he’ll project to take a step forward in his development.

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

  • Gerald Everett (TE) *
  • Damien Lewis (G)
  • Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Al Woods (DT) *
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Sidney Jones (CB) *
  • D.J. Reed (CB) *
  • Rasheem Green (DE) *

I didn’t put these in any particular order, but if I’m being honest, D.J. Reed was the one I was most on the fence about; he might be an elite player, I’d just like to see more than 2 interceptions a year out of an elite corner.

These are all guys who aren’t quite studs, but if we cut them (or they’re free agents, which is what the * represents), I would expect all of these guys to find jobs on other teams. Anyone I didn’t list here, or in the upcoming elite category, are guys who may or may not find work elsewhere, but don’t have a ton of value to an NFL team outside of depth.

These guys, however, are productive enough, but I could probably take ’em or leave ’em. They all have flaws. Everett is a weird headcase who cost us too many yards in stupid fucking penalties (not to mention all the drops). Lewis has run into a string of injuries and doesn’t feel quite as irreplaceable as he was as a promising rookie. Robinson just didn’t take that next step in his second year, finishing with a disappointing number of sacks. Poona and Woods are run-stuffing tackles, there’s a ceiling for what those guys are (and it’s in this category). Dunlap has only showed up for half-a-season in each of his two years here. Wagner’s just flat out lost a step and doesn’t make the same number of impact plays as he did as a young buck. Jones and Reed need to generate more turnovers. And Green is taking his sweet-ass time to really bust out as a force in this league.

Elite Seahawks Studs

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB) *
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Darrell Taylor (LB/DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Quandre Diggs (S) *

Again, no particular order, but Brooks is the one I was most on the fence about. He might just be another guy. But, he led the team in tackles in his second season (his first as a starter), and all the smart football wonks have been praising his play since he started getting in there. There haven’t been a ton of impact plays, but he’s making all the regular ones, and he’s another guy who should continue to improve over the next year or two.

Diggs and Penny both feel like guys who need to be re-signed. It’s tantalizing to envision a scenario where Penny can stay healthy and dominate the league (I’ll be FASCINATED to see where he goes on fantasy football draft boards heading into next year).

Seeing the offensive players on this list, it’s all the more frustrating that we weren’t able to move the football and score as much as we’d like. So many NFL teams would KILL for the type of talent we have at the skill positions. Let’s hope – if things do carry over into 2022 – that it was just an adjustment period to the new offensive coordinator, and we’re now over the hump.

As for the defense, those were some nice players for us (particularly encouraging to see Taylor here, considering this was his first full year, after being injured his entire rookie season), but in order for Taylor to remain on this list, he’s going to have to really turn it up in 2022, and be a kind of Von Miller-like talent off the edge. The Seahawks have been in dire need of that kind of pass rushing monster for years now; if they don’t get it this offseason, then I’d expect more of the same middling finishes for years to come.

We’re not bereft of talent, but obviously you’d like to see more than 8 players in that elite category. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, but that feels like a tall ask to do in one offseason.

Seahawks Death Week: How Close Are We To A Turnaround?

Yesterday, we talked about all the pending cuts and free agents who might walk. Now, let’s see what needs to be done to right the ship.

It would be the peak of unsatisfying insanity if the Seahawks chalked up 2021 to an injured Russell Wilson fluke and tried to run back the exact same roster (more or less; it’ll never be 100% retention), in hopes of returning to our 2020 level of success. As we saw – in 2020 – that level of success was still underwhelming, in spite of the division title. Knowing how much money the Seahawks have in salary cap room heading into 2022, it’s conceivable that we could keep all the guys under contract now, while using that money to bring back Quandre Diggs, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Sidney Jones, Rasheem Green, Al Woods, Gerald Everett, Rashaad Penny, Ethan Pocic, and Will Dissly. But, what’s that going to get us? The ceiling is 2020, the floor is 2021 (or worse, if Wilson leaves and we’re stuck with a replacement-level quarterback).

But that is, technically, one option. Run it back for a third year in a row, and see if we can luck our way in one-score games into another divisional title. That option has the possibility of a turnaround from 2021, though that seems unlikely to me. Both that it happens at all, and that it leads to improvement. Stagnancy begets stagnancy.

As you’ll recall, the Seahawks punted the 2021 NFL Draft, making only three selections, by far the fewest in the Pete Carroll/John Schnedier Era, and easily the fewest in franchise history. This had everything to do with trading away so many of those draft picks for veteran players. We’re in a similar boat in 2022 – most aggravatingly missing our 10th overall pick in the first round – but we do have six picks on the books so far. Our first pick is the 10th overall in the second round, which SHOULD net us a player who can contribute right away, but we’ll see (regardless, he probably won’t be a high impact player as a rookie, if ever).

The point is, in spite of our poor 2021 performance, I wouldn’t expect a ton of help to come from the 2022 draft. Figure it’ll be more depth pieces to throw onto the pile we already have.

I suppose trades are a possibility, but if we’re not talking about trading Russell Wilson, I don’t see where we have anything anyone else would want. So help me if we continue trading future first round picks, banking on being good again next season.

There simply has to be a hugely impactful free agent or two that comes in, if we want to turn this thing around.

Priority #1 – Left Tackle

I won’t take Duane Brown or Stone Forsythe for an answer. We squeezed all we could out of Brown this late into his career, but it would be damn near criminal to keep bringing him back on one-year contracts without a viable backup plan in place. But, we also can’t count on the 2021 rookie to step in there, when he looked pretty bad in the limited duty he got this past season (and was already a pretty low-rated draft pick). There has to be someone on the free agent market that we can bring in on a long-term deal. I don’t know who it is, but I know he’s out there. Find him.

Priority #2 – Draft A Middle Linebacker

Get the top guy available at Pick 42, bingo bango bongo. Ideally, he’s someone fast and smart that you can pair with Jordyn Brooks and let them both go off for the next however many years (similarly to how K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were once the two young studs in the middle). If the rookie needs some time, then by all means, go with Cody Barton for a few games until the rookie gets his feet wet. But, this needs to be the move 100%, with Bobby Wagner’s salary going elsewhere.

Priority #3 – Pass Rush

Either sign one guy at near top of the market prices, or sign two guys for mid-level money, but either way we need to stop dumpster diving this critical part of the team. Then, we can base our cuts around the guys we bring in (Benson Mayowa can probably go, hopefully we can find someone younger and better to also replace Carlos Dunlap, since he’s incapable of giving us a full season’s worth of production).

Priority #4 – Secondary

IF the Seahawks cut Wagner and bring in a rookie middle linebacker to take over, then I think I’m comfortable using that money to extend Quandre Diggs. There might also be some semblance of a discount at play given his leg injury, though I kind of doubt it. The more you read about Diggs, the more it seems like he’s truly indispensable to this team with his play and leadership. I would also throw money at both D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones; let’s run the entire secondary back! I liked Tre Brown as much as the next guy, but we don’t know how he’s going to recover from his injury. 2022 might be a lost year for him. It would be nice to have Reed on a long-term deal and Jones on a shorter-term deal to carry us over.

Priority #5 – Draft A Running Back

I would make this the third round pick (ideally) or one of the fourth rounders. There will still be quality running backs at that level. This will be our Chris Carson replacement. I’m going into this year assuming we’ll find a way to bring Rashaad Penny back (because his final five games of 2021 were too enticing to just let walk for nothing), but it would be idiotic to expect him to all of a sudden be an every-down, every-game running back. I want a rookie with a higher ceiling than either Homer or Dallas. He doesn’t necessarily have to be the best blocker in college, nor does he have to be a return man of some sort. He just needs to have incredible running back skills, vision, ability to hit the hole and make cuts, break tackles, all of it. Let him develop into a pass catcher or a blocker when he gets into the NFL. Ideally, Penny will continue to be amazing and we won’t need the rookie. But, if and when Penny gets injured, throw the rookie in there, because hopefully by that point he’s had a chance to learn and grow from the bench.

Priority #6 – Draft A Tight End

Make this one of the fourth rounders. I’m assuming the Seahawks make a play on bringing back Will Dissly for a few more years, and making Colby Parkinson more of an offensive priority. He was starting to see more action towards the end of the season, especially down around the red zone; I think his role will only continue to grow given his size. With Dissly back, we can afford to go grab another offensive weapon in the fourth round, to make this room entirely young and homegrown.

Priority #7 – Extend D.K. Metcalf

The Seahawks are at a crossroads here. If Wilson forces his way out, then I think the Seahawks would be dumb to not trade Metcalf when his value is at its highest (he still has one year left on his rookie deal; after that, he’ll be too costly to be valuable). But, if Wilson stays, then I think we have to extend Metcalf now, both to keep him happy and to keep his next contract relatively cost-contained. We don’t want to play the Franchise Tag game with him.

Priority #8 – Bring In A Rookie Kicker

I’m not saying draft one, but definitely bring in a college guy – maybe one of those studs from the Alabama/Georgia game – as an undrafted rookie to compete with Jason Myers. Myers is on the final year of his deal in 2022. I don’t know if cutting him is the answer; he was so good in 2020, I’m more inclined to think his struggles in 2021 were just random kicker variance. But, you also shouldn’t take any chances that I’m correct on this issue. Bring in someone to compete; we’ll get to see how Myers handles that kind of adversity. Either the rookie struggles and we keep Myers anyway (the likeliest scenario, unless we’re really up against it with the salary cap and need to save $4 million), or the rookie is good but Myers is better (and we find a way to keep the rookie on the practice squad until a time comes when we can no longer trust Myers), or the rookie out-performs Myers and it’s win-win when we cut Myers before the regular season starts.

Priority #9 – Center

I don’t know if this is done through the draft or free agency, or by converting one of the guards we’ve got on our roster now, but I think this needs to happen. Maybe, if it’s a rookie, we sign Pocic to a one-year deal and let the rookie learn. Or, maybe we go with a veteran and stop fucking around for once. But, I’d like some real beef at center, to help us keep our quarterback upright.

Priority #10 – Bring Back Al Woods

I’ll be honest, I loved everything the defensive tackle room did this year, but especially Al Woods being a huge presence in the middle. That dude deserves some stability; give him a 2-year deal and let’s fucking go!

Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

Around this time of year, I like to peruse Spotrac to see what the salary cap looks like for the next season. Take the accuracy with a grain of salt, of course; football wonks tend to prefer other sources for their salary cap info. Kill me, I like Spotrac.

Heading into 2022, they say we have around $53 million to play around with, minus money to be held onto for additional dead cap, practice squad, IR replacements, etc. I don’t want to get in the weeds here; $53 million sounds pretty good to me for a team that could also save over $16 million by cutting Bobby Wagner, and another $11 million if Russell Wilson forces a trade.

Those are, obviously, the two biggest questions heading into this offseason. Much has been made of Wilson and his will he/won’t he demand a trade; sadly, we’re going to be talking about this all damn year. And, if he happens to stay, then we’re going to be talking about him all damn year NEXT year when it comes to another contract extension. Ye gods. But, Bobby is much more interesting to me. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s lost a step compared to his peak. He makes fewer real impact plays, but he’s as smart and steady as they come, and the unquestioned leader on this defense (if not the entire team). It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he’s drastically overpaid. You could find a replacement in the draft, or on the scrap heap, and get at least 80% of his production for pennies on the Wagner Dollar. That’s almost certainly money that could be better used elsewhere on the defense.

For the life of me, I can’t see this organization cutting him cold turkey, not with Pete and John in the spots they’re in. Assuming they stay, I think Bobby stays. Now, it’s more likely the team comes to him and works out another extension at a lower overall value – knowing that he’s not going to get anything NEAR what he’s making now on the open market – in hopes that he’ll retire a Seahawk, but that puts the ball in his court: will he take a reasonable cut in salary (and still probably be overpaid to some degree) or will he walk and try to find more money elsewhere?

I’ll be very VERY disappointed if he’s still a $20+ million cap hit in 2022, let’s put it that way.

Moving on, there are some big Seahawks names who were on the final year of their deals in 2021! The biggest being Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs. I’m pretty happy to see us get out from under Duane Brown at this point. I suppose it’s possible he re-signs after testing the market and finding it lacking, but at some point we have to think about his replacement. Maybe there’s a better free agent ready to hit the market we could bring in on a long-term deal! Considering we have no first round draft pick, that seems to be our best hope for 2022 and beyond. As for Diggs, I’ve talked about him a lot this year: he’s one of the best free safeties in football and he’s going to want to be paid as such (even with his current injury; he should make a full recovery no problem). Considering we have Adams at one of the highest numbers for a safety as well, to bring him back would mean pouring a crazy amount of money into the safety position. Seems like bad team-building.

More offensive players who could be moving on include Ethan Pocic, Gerald Everett, Brandon Shell, and Rashaad Penny. All of them are fine, but I don’t think any of them would be missed. There should be better center options available, who won’t be injured all the time like Pocic. Everett was good this year, but is he worth $6+ million? I dunno. I think we’ve already found our replacement for Shell in Jake Curhan, so no big loss there. And, as mentioned before, I’d be okay with Penny returning on an incentive-laden deal, but we also need to bring in running backs who will stay reasonably healthy!

On the defensive side, D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones were both quality cornerbacks for us. Certainly leaps and bounds better than Tre Flowers, even if they’re not bona fide superstars. Without them, the only cornerbacks of note on the roster in 2022 are Ugo Amadi (a nickel guy) and Tre Brown (who suffered a serious, season-ending injury as a rookie this year). Reed is the priority over Jones, but I wouldn’t mind having both of them return (that, again, becomes more difficult if you’re paying Diggs and Adams top-of-the-market safety money).

Along the D-Line, we’re looking at losing Rasheem Green and Al Woods. There’s also the question of keeping guys like Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, and L.J. Collier (who will all be free agents after the 2022 season, but could all be cut for salary cap relief beforehand). You even have to worry about Poona Ford (also a free agent after 2022), since his cap hit is so high; remember the team tried to re-work Jarran Reed’s deal before cutting him when he refused. The only linemen who feel even remotely safe for 2022 are Darrell Taylor (technically a linebacker/defensive end hybrid), Alton Robinson, and Bryan Mone (a restricted free agent who almost certainly will be retained). I can’t envision a scenario where the Seahawks totally and completely clean house, so I have to believe some of the guys on the final years of their deal in 2022 will stick around, at least to compete in Training Camp. I also believe they’d love to bring back Woods on another 1-2 year deal, since he was such a force in 2021. Green is a big question mark, but he’s still pretty young and you’d like to believe he could be had at a reasonable cost. It might be nice to give him another year or two and see if he can put it all together; at the very least, it should be a low-risk gamble.

Some miscellaneous pending free agents include Will Dissly, Alex Collins, Jamarco Jones, and Geno Smith. I don’t know if any of them will be missed, though I have to believe Dissly will be something of a priority, considering he does so much blocking for us (and therefore, between that and his injury history, should be a relatively cheap re-sign).

The only other significant player I see still under contract for 2022 that could possibly be cut is Chris Carson. Given the fact that he needed season-ending neck surgery this year, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever play meaningful football again. I know they talked about it possibly not being career-ending, but let’s be real: he’s one bad hit away from it all being over. I don’t see any responsible way we can bring him back, especially if we opt to re-sign Penny as well. One of those two guys has to go, and in their place, we need to draft a running back of the future. Someone who’s tougher than DeeJay Dallas, but faster and more explosive than Travis Homer (neither of whom – without significant physique changes – are considered to be every-down backs). At this point, even though we don’t save a ton of money cutting Carson, I’d still choose Penny over him (although, the smartest move might be to let both of them go and just hand the keys over to an up-and-coming rookie).

What we’re looking at, of course, is a lot of holes on this roster to fill, with potentially even more on the horizon than we anticipated (not counting the possible loss of Carroll or Schneider). So, tomorrow, let’s look at those holes, and how close we are to a potential turnaround.

The Seahawks Lost A Potential Back-Breaker To The Steelers In Overtime

Admittedly, I didn’t have a ton of interest in this Sunday night game. Geno Smith? I dunno. I more or less expected the first half that we got, only for the entire game. I didn’t have access to the television for this one, so I sort of checked in every so often on my phone to get scoring updates, and it looked grim!

The defense did what it was supposed to – keep the game close early – but continuous terrible offense by the Seahawks wasn’t going to make that possible for long. The Seahawks punted on 5 out of 6 possessions in the first half, with the sixth concluding at the end of half after a kneel down. At that point, it was 14-0 Steelers, and I stopped checking for scoring updates after that.

I got home around 8:30pm or so, expecting the game to be over. Or, if not, then wildly out of hand with the Seahawks still losing by double-digits. I was shocked to find the game was tied with two minutes to go in the game!

It turns out the Seahawks were finally able to get the running game going. Why they weren’t able to do this in the first half – or that it wasn’t more of a priority in the first half – I have no idea. But, Alex Collins was a beast until he got hurt! The Seahawks turned their first two second-half drives into touchdowns; they sandwiched a Steelers field goal drive to make it 17-14 heading into the fourth quarter.

Things slowed down considerably from there, but the Seahawks tied it at 17 before possession exchanged hands a few times.

The play of the game – which I made it home in time to see – was an egregious dropped interception that hit Jamal Adams right in the face. Is he EVER going to catch an interception with the Seahawks? It sure as shit doesn’t seem like it! Considering we ended up giving up the go-ahead field goal on that drive – and considering we would go on to hit the game-tying field goal as regulation expired – it feels like that Adams missed pick really could’ve handed us the game if he made the play.

The Seahawks won the toss in overtime – thanks to a brilliant “tails” call by Russell Wilson – and we ended up moving the ball to their side of the 50 yard line before giving up a massive third down sack to T.J. Watt. But, to our defense’s credit, we held them to a 3 & Out, thanks to a brilliant piece of open-field tackling by rookie corner Tre Brown. That gave us the ball back at our own 15 yard line.

Geno Smith took the snap out of shotgun, made a move that he was going to throw a deep ball, then pulled it back down and started to run forward. We had T.J. Watt quadruple-teamed, but as Geno slid forward in the pocket, Watt ran back to him and easily punched the ball out of his hands. First play of our final drive: Geno Smith turnover; where have I seen that before? (Well, actually, it was our next to last drive …)

The Steelers were already in field goal range, so they centered the ball and easily nailed the game-winning field goal to make it 23-20.

That’s a collosal bummer. I guess good on the Seahawks for making it a game in the second half, but I don’t know if we can expect much more than this out of Geno Smith. Then again, I don’t know if we could’ve expected much more from Russell Wilson either. I only witnessed a few game minutes, but T.J. Watt surely would’ve had little trouble pounding Wilson into mincemeat just as he did Geno. It’s likely Wilson could’ve taken better advantage of a weak Steelers secondary, but it’s also possible he would’ve thrown the ball into heavy coverage, because he believes so hard that he’s going to do magical things all the time.

This felt like a bad matchup for the Seahawks from the moment their defense revealed themselves to be soft as fluff. We managed to sack the Ben Roethlisberger statue one time for three yards. In a game where he made 40 attempts, what the fuck are we even doing? THIS is the response our defense makes when it’s determined we need them to go out and win us a ballgame?!

And, what’s worse, Darrell Taylor had to be carted off the field and taken to a hospital with a neck/cervical spine injury. He was able to move his extremities and fly home with the team, but this has the feel of a Cliff Avril/Kam Chancellor thing where if it’s not career-ending, then it’s probably season-ending (with a high likelihood that it’s career-shortening). Our lone defensive bright spot, and one of the few guys period on this team who’s shown a knack for getting to the quarterback, and he’s probably gone forever. Great.

Tre Brown is a nice story, but one competent game from one maybe-competent cornerback isn’t going to salvage this season or this defense. Not with the albatross that is the Jamal Adams contract destroying everything in its path. How did this get SO fucked up?! How is he not a slam-dunk sure thing?! How do we keep getting these moves SO FUCKING WRONG?!

It’s not just a season-killer, but a franchise-killer. This is going to have repercussions we’re not going to recover from for years to come. Fucking up all these first rounds in the draft has come home to roost, and it’s going to be lean times for quite a while.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Cornerbacks

This feels like a timely position group to talk about, considering the recent moves.

Let’s start with the trade for Sidney Jones. We sent Jacksonville a sixth round pick for him, so you’d expect he’ll have every opportunity to start. Jones, of course, was a standout with the University of Washington, and might’ve even been a first round pick if it weren’t for an injury that led him to slide to the second round. That felt like a steal for the Eagles at the time, but unfortunately the injury bug has followed him into the NFL. All these injuries seem to have stunted his NFL development to the point where he’s really just been a fringe starter at best. The Eagles waived him after the 2019 season and he played last year in Jacksonville before coming here.

I’d like to say that all he needs to do is stay healthy and he’ll be an effective player for us, but I can’t make that guarantee. Even if he’s 100%, I don’t know if he’s necessarily any better than anyone else we’ve got on the roster. Besides, who knows if he’s a fit for our scheme and the way we like our cornerbacks to play defense? It’s a nice low-risk gamble on a guy with a good amount of talent, but I’m not getting my hopes up that it’ll pay off like gangbusters.

Which is a shame, because the Seahawks really needed the front office to make a splash at this spot. It feels like we’re an elite cornerback away from being a Top 5 defense. Unfortunately, the difference is quite significant, as I can see this as – at best – a Top 15 unit. I’m expecting lots of soft coverage, lots of first downs by opponents, more deep completions than we’re used to seeing given up, and a complete and utter lack of turnovers generated. Hopefully our run defense can step it up and be an impact-maker, and hopefully we get enough timely sacks to help us win a lot more than we lose. But, without that lockdown corner, I just don’t see us being able to make the stops necessary in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.

There’s lots of nice second- and third-tier cornerbacks on this roster, though. Starting with D.J. Reed, who isn’t a lockdown corner, but is the next tier down. He’s been injured all pre-season, of course, so that’s a concern. Next man down the ladder is probably Sidney Jones, who I’ve talked about. Then, there’s Ugo Amadi, who is a nice nickel/slot corner. Between him and Marquise Blair (both listed as safeties), we’ve got a couple of nice specialist coverage men who can get the little guys and big guys, respectively.

It gets dicey from there. Ahkello Witherspoon was a moderate free agent signing this past offseason from the 49ers. He disappointed in San Francisco throughout his career, until the back-half of this past season, and now we’re supposed to believe he’s fixed all of his problems? By many accounts, he’s looked like nothing special in training camp and pre-season. He’s been competing with Tre Flowers, who still isn’t guaranteed a spot on this team – even though he made the initial 53-man roster – because he has zero guaranteed dollars in the final year of his deal. Many fans and beat writers alike were surprised to see him even make the 53-man! We all know what Tre Flowers is, and based on what we’ve seen in the pre-season, we know that nothing has changed. He’s serviceable; which means he’s far from great.

The last one left is Tre Brown, who is one of our three rookie draft picks this year. I’ve heard both good and bad things about him in practice, which puts him in line with most every rookie ever.

I don’t think the plan was to intentionally skimp on the cornerback spot, but clearly more resources were poured into the safety, linebacker, and defensive line spots. The default thinking from there is: if we can harass the opposing quarterback enough, then the cornerbacks won’t have to work as hard (especially if we can do enough of that harassing with our base four linemen). The problem with that is, even when we blitz, there are going to be times where the protection holds up. And, I fear those’ll be the times when opposing offenses hit us for big plays in our swiss cheese secondary.

I think this unit tops out at a B-, and bottoms out at a D+. The Glass Half Full thinker might believe D.J. Reed IS a shutdown corner, and Jones or Witherspoon continue to take steps in the right direction. Cornerback will always be a liability, but maybe it can be a limited one.

The Glass Half Empty thinker might worry that the top-end depth in this unit gets injured, and bemoan the fact that we didn’t go after Stephon Gilmore in a trade. That’s the type of Go For It attitude this team needs to really put it over the top. The Rams did something similar with Jalen Ramsey, and they’re all the better for it.

UPDATE 9/3/2021: My how the tables have turned! Tre Flowers went from looking like he might get cut to being the starter opposite D.J. Reed. Meanwhile, Witherspoon was traded to the Steelers for a 2023 5th round pick (they’re likelier to be worse in 2022 than they’ll be in 2021, so I like that we pushed it a year), and it sounds like the Seahawks still aren’t done making moves. I’m disappointed that I did the Cornerbacks post so early, with so much yet to come in the next few days.

The Seahawks Drafted Three Guys

So, this should be an easy one to write:

  • D’Wayne Eskridge (WR) – 2nd Round
  • Tre Brown (CB) – 4th Round
  • Stone Forsythe (OT) – 6th Round

The usual line of thinking is: you like having more options to choose from in any given NFL Draft, because the bust rate is so high. So, out of 10 picks, if you can find three quality starters and a couple of role players, you’re doing pretty good. But, when you pick just three times, the odds of you finding contributors goes way down.

Then, compound it by the fact that a lot of quality college players decided to return to school – in an unprecedented trend thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the NCAA allowing everyone to have an extra year of eligibility – and we’re talking about real chaos for teams like the Seahawks. You need to be smarter than normal – and smarter than other teams – and probably play things a bit safer. Go after guys who are more proven college athletes – and fewer guys who are projects at the next level – while leaning on the Senior Bowl to gauge prospect readiness.

The Seahawks are a pretty veteran team at their top positions. They need guys who will step in immediately to compete for spots. We’re looking to get back to the Super Bowl; we’re not utilizing this draft to fill the team in seasons 2022 and beyond necessarily.

D’Wayne Eskridge is a guy who can step in immediately and be this team’s #3 wide receiver behind Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. It’s interesting to see what the Seahawks opted to do at this position thus far this offseason. With David Moore and Phillip Dorsett moving on, and with Josh Gordon taking his talents to an inferior football league due to ongoing suspensions, there was an obvious need to fill the #3 spot. On our roster, the best of the bunch was Freddie Swain, a late-round draft pick from a year ago; while he was fine as a rookie, he wasn’t inspiring a ton of confidence to fill that role.

Eskridge is a short (5’8 and 3/4), speedy, tough receiver. Combining him with the likes of Lockett and Metcalf will make our WR room among the fastest in the league! I love this pick by the Seahawks! I love it even more knowing Lockett is locked in for his extension, and knowing that Metcalf will be a priority contract extension as soon as he’s eligible.

If Eskridge is as good as advertised, the Seahawks will be stacked once again on offense. He is particularly exciting knowing that we’re going to be watching some sort of modified version of the offense that the Rams have been running to great success in recent years. Eskridge figures to be the recipient of a lot of screens and end-arounds as well as his fair share of deep shots. He’s great getting off the snap with quick separation from defenders, his top-line speed is upper echelon, and his toughness should hopefully ensure he’s not constantly battling injuries that many undersized receivers have to deal with.

The knock is that he might not be great at top-pointing a ball in traffic, but with his speed and body control – as well as Wilson’s propensity to drop those moon shots on a dime – I don’t think this will be a big issue. I think this is a HUGE addition to our offense, and a marked upgrade over David Moore at that receiver spot. Everyone will say he’s a natural to go in the slot, but he’s just as capable playing one of the outside receiver positions as well, making him essentially interchangable with Lockett. That gives the Seahawks a ton of flexibility in what they can do in 3-receiver sets.

For as excited as I am about Eskridge, I might be even more intrigued by what Tre Brown has to offer. Again, this is a pick we could see coming, as Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar both left in free agency. The Seahawks made some low-level additions to try to fill the void, but no one who really has any firm grasp on any of the open jobs on this team. With holdovers Tre Flowers and Ugo Amadi being … fine, it was clear that the Seahawks would look to the draft to further bolster our secondary depth.

Tre Brown is another undersized guy (5’9 and 3/4) that many are projecting to be a slot cornerback for this team. He has the mentality to be a fierce competitor – just the type of Seahawks mentality that has thrived in Seattle for years – but not the usual length numbers (height, wingspan) that we usually covet around these parts. D.J. Reed is another one of these types of cornerbacks – a little on the shorter side – that has thrown a wrench into our usual mode of team-building, as he has proven to be quite effective in his time here. If Tre Brown is another D.J. Reed-type, then this is a home run of a pick.

He’s quick, he has great recovery, and he has attitude. If his ball-skills are on point, there’s no stopping him. Plus, he doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be a slot corner, in spite of his size. If the Seahawks truly go with their best three cornerbacks, we might be looking at Reed and Brown on the outside, with Amadi in the slot and Flowers or whoever else as the #4. So, I’ll be rooting for Brown quite a bit to win the job out of camp, because that could change the outlook of this defense entirely!

If there is a “project” in this draft class, it’s probably Stone Forsythe. He’s either 6’8 or 6’9 and around 307 pounds. He was a left tackle at Florida, much better at pass protection than run blocking (thank Christ), and could be a swing tackle in the NFL. Obviously, Duane Brown is the entrenched starter on the left side, with a couple of veterans vying for the starting spot on the right side. But, the Seahawks have been in desperate need of drafting a legitimate heir apparent to the left tackle position for YEARS now. If Forsythe already has the skills to be a competent pass protector on that side, I’m beyond fine with him, because I think you can teach him run blocking to be good-enough at this level. So often, we get the great run blockers in here who are suspect at pass protection, and as a result Russell Wilson has been the most-sacked quarterback in football since 2012. So … you know … trying a different tactic might be just the thing to create a different set of results!

As expected, the Seahawks also hit the undrafted free agent class pretty hard. I don’t know who those people are, but what tidbits I’ve gleaned from Twitter tell me that we did pretty good here. Obviously, we won’t know more until we see them in practice/games, but reports are promising at this early stage, and that makes me happy.

Overall, as always, we won’t know how this draft class looks for a while. So, cross your fingers and hope for the best, Seahawks fans! I think we have great reason to like 1/3 of this class, with a good chance to like 2/3 of it. If we make it 3/3 in a few years, won’t that be something?