Huard: Play of rookies is the most pleasant surprise of Seahawks’ season

Dec 31, 2020, 1:58 PM
Seahawks LB Jordyn Brooks...
Seahawks LB Jordyn Brooks has become a key part of Seattle's defense as a rookie. (Getty)

At the time, the Seahawks’ 2020 draft class was not held in the highest regard by many, including 710 ESPN Seattle’s own Brock Huard.

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Huard, a former NFL quarterback, said shortly after the draft that he was simply not a fan of the Seahawks’ draft class as far as immediate success an contributions.

“None of them. I don’t think any of them … I think the only ones with maybe a shot are Damien Lewis and Jordyn Brooks,” Huard said when asked which rookies have the best chance to start right away in 2020. “These guys are going to be up against it.”

At the time, Huard called the 2020 draft class “projection over production,” and thought that we wouldn’t see much of these rookies this season. Now, entering Week 17, Huard says the rookies have proven him wrong and have played key roles in the Seahawks being NFC West champs and 11-4 entering Week 17.

“I was pretty ‘Negative Nelly’ around the draft and some of the offseason and those moves … The draft class in particular for me was kind of a tough one,” he said Thursday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant when asked what’s been a surprising strength for the Seahawks in 2020.

Seattle selected eight players, starting with linebacker Jordyn Brooks in the first round. After that, the Seahawks selected defensive end Darrell Taylor in the second round, guard Damien Lewis in the third round, tight end Colby Parkinson and running back DeeJay Dallas in the fourth round, defensive end Alton Robinson in the fifth round, receiver Freddie Swain in the sixth round and tight end Stephen Sullivan in the seventh round.

Huard said he thought, at the time, two other teams who made the playoffs in 2019 had better draft hauls than the Seahawks.

“I thought that the Baltimore Ravens who picked next to them time and time and time again if I could have just swapped those (picks), I would have much rather had the personnel that the Ravens ended up with and even the Minnesota Vikings,” he said. “… I thought the Vikings had a tremendous class and you know what, it turns out that for those other two that they did. And it turned out for the Seahawks that they did as well.”

After an offseason like no other and a season like no other, Huard thinks the Seahawks’ rookies have risen to the occasion in a way he didn’t expect, starting with their first-round pick.

“Jordyn Brooks is … outplaying and outhitting Bobby Wagner right now. I’m not sure if it’s outplaying because (Wager) has to do more, but as far as outhitting, Jordyn Brooks is outhitting your middle linebacker, which I would have never imagined in a million years,” he said.

Taylor hasn’t played this year as he recovers from a leg injury, but other picks have played exceptionally well this year, especially at the line of scrimmage.

“Damien Lewis has started every game and even played center for you,” Huard said. “Some of your role players at the bottom (of the draft), Alton Robinson has four sacks, which would have been right there with Rasheem Green as the team leader in 2019.”

Due to COVID-19, the NFL had far fewer practices and team activities than usual, and rookies were expected to be further behind due to a largely virtual offseason. That makes the play of the rookies all the more impressive, Huard said.

“The contributions you’re getting from that rookie class, it was concerning to me back in April and with the offseason chaos and the lack of development in the offseason, especially in (head coach Pete Carroll’s) kind of program and how important it is, that was a real concern for me,” Huard said. “And to see the contributions you’re getting, don’t think they’d be here, don’t think they’d win the NFC West without the contributions of that rookie class.”

Listen to the second hour of Thursday’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.

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Huard: Play of rookies is the most pleasant surprise of Seahawks’ season