Have the Seahawks improved on their biggest need of the offseason? – ESPN – Seattle Seahawks Blog
RENTON, Washington– Jalen Carter And Tyree Wilson were both available when the Seahawks picked the #5 pick in this year’s NFL draft to fill the glaring need for hitters along the Seattle defensive line.
But adding to concerns about Wilson’s foot and Carter’s composition, the Seahawks hadn’t rated either player anywhere near as highly Devon Witherspoon. With Will Anderson Jr. Since he was already out and didn’t really feel like getting a quarterback that high, the Illinois cornerback was the easy pick.
Returning to 20th place, the Seahawks were given a choice of one of the five front seven defensemen who would disappear from the field in the final six first-round picks. But they were pleasantly surprised Jaxon Smith-Njigba was still there, feeling the Ohio State wide receiver was too good to pass up.
Those decisions were the dominant theme of draft weekend for general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, particularly in the first three rounds. Instead of drafting with their biggest squad shortage in mind – a tempting strategy that can lead to costly upsets LJ Collier In 2019, they stuck to their plan and brought better players to positions with less need.
This solid approach earned the Seahawks high marks in their 10-man draft class, even if they didn’t use defensive linemen and linebackers as early or as often as many had predicted.
“We really felt like we got the best corner and receiver in the draft,” Schneider told Sports Radio 93.3 KJR-FM. “Obviously we felt really good about it.”
With Witherspoon and a veteran, the Seahawks have their busiest secondary since the days of the Legion of Boom Julian Love to a group that already had Pro Bowlers Quadre Diggs, Jamal Adams And Tariq Woolen. With Smith-Njigba Tyler Lockett And DK Metcalf, they have possibly the best wide receiver trio in the NFL. And there’s little doubt that they’ve narrowed the huge gap between them and one San Francisco 49ers Team that surpassed them by 46 points overall in three games last year.
The biggest difference between the two divisional contenders, however, was in the front sevens of each defense, and after the Seahawks traded six of the ten defensive linemen and linebackers who played at least 375 snaps last season, it’s worth taking a look at , where this revision took place left them in these positions.
line of defense
Departures: Al Woods (cut), Shelby Harris (cut), Quinton Jefferson (cut), Poona Ford (not re-signed), LJ Collier (not re-signed).
Additions: Dre’Mont Jones (UA), Jarran Reed (UFA), Cameron Young (fourth-round pick), Mike Morris (Fifth-round pick), Robert Cooper (UDFA), Jordan Ferguson (UDFA), Jonah Tavai (UDFA), Ifeanyi Maijeh (UDFA)
returnees: Myles Adams, Bryan Mone
This was the epicenter of the change at the top, and for good reason — the Seahawks boasted one of the worst running defenses in the NFL last season and lacked a legitimate pass-rushing threat from the middle.
They made Jones the biggest free agent star of the Schneider/Carroll era with the expectation that he would be that type of player. Reed isn’t an obvious improvement over Harris and he’s only a year younger, but the Seahawks got him back for about half the price.
With only four defensive linemen on the draft path on their roster — and one of them, Mone, has come through an injury that is expected to keep him out well past the start of the season — it wasn’t intentional that the Seahawks got up waited for the third day to deal with this situation. This crashed the board and players who thought they had a chance to be drafted left earlier than expected.
That led them to Young (No. 123 overall) and Morris (No. 151).
Young, considered Seattle’s starting player, is an early-down run stuffer whose play reminds the team of former Seahawk Ahtyba Rubin. At 6’1″ and weighing 300 pounds, Young isn’t as heavy as Woods, but Carroll called him a player as strong as he was in college football last season.
“When he puts his hands on people, they don’t move,” said Schneider.
Morris will be part of the defensive end rotation. After playing all over Michigan’s defensive line and then struggling with a high ankle sprain late last season, he scaled back to perform well in the combine. But then he regained his strength and looked forward to playing in the NFL as a D-line player. The 5’1″ Morris sent the Seahawks video on day three of the draft showing him weighing 295 pounds, 20 pounds heavier than he weighed at the combine.
“He’s a big guy,” Schneider said. “He’s long and he plays hard.”
The Seahawks had seven defensive linemen who played at least 149 snaps last season. Without UDFAs, they only have five that will be ready in week 1. So you could use at least one more veteran. However, given the cash and cap restrictions, don’t expect more than a surcharge on the minimum salary. Woods and Ford signed elsewhere last week so they’re out of the game to return.
Departures: Bruce Irvin (unsigned), Darryl Johnson (unsigned)
Additions: Derrick Hall (second round selection), MJ Anderson (UDFA)
returnees: Uchenna Nwosu, Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, Tyreke Smith, Alton Robinson, Joshua Onujiogu
The Seahawks had good depth here but needed another starter against Nwosu. Hall, selected with the first of Seattle’s two second-round picks (No. 37), will compete with Taylor and Mafe for the job.
Hall was one of the most athletic rim defenders in this year’s class with a 4.55-yard dash and a 10-foot-7-inch long jump. He was also team captain and, as Schneider put it, Auburn’s “alpha dog”. According to the Seahawks’ website, the team gave him a first-round grade.
“He’s stocky, he’s a penetrator, he really packs a punch and he’s really fast,” said Carroll. “…Speed and power are really his strengths and he’s really good at following the ball.”
Irvin, 35, is looking to continue his career after slipping more than capable into the starting XI on his return to Seattle last season, but he’s a contingency option, unlike someone the Seahawks want to bring back.
Departures: Cody Barton (not re-signed), Tanner Muse (not re-signed), Cullen Gillaspia (unsigned)
Additions: Bobby Wagner, Devin BushPatrick O’Connell (UDFA), camera bright (UDFA), Michael Ayers (UDFA), Lamont Bishop (UDFA)
returnees: Jordyn Brooks, Nick Bellore, Jon Rhattigan, Vi Jones, Chris Garrett
The Seahawks are better than inside linebackers with 32-year-old Wagner — albeit significantly older back in the fold to essentially replace Barton.
The team have indicated Brooks will remain the heart of their defense once he is healthy, meaning Wagner will no longer be an all-down player. However, it’s not clear when Brooks will return after tearing his cruciate ligament in January. So for now, Wagner and Bush will be the two starters, with Jamal Adams moving up from strong safety to linebacker in certain packages.
With the Seahawks declining Brooks’ five-year option for 2024 and Wagner and Bush each on one-year contracts, the plan is for their top three inside linebackers to become free agents after this season. Notably, no long-term replacement options have been designed.