Carroll evaluates Seahawks’ rookies: They ‘came through in a big fashion’

Jan 12, 2021, 1:22 PM
Seahawks RG Damien Lewis...
Seahawks rookie RG Damien Lewis started every game for Seattle in 2020. (Getty)

A 2020 NFL season like no other kicked off after a strange offseason, starting with a very different looking free agency period and an NFL Draft that was conducted virtually. During that draft, the Seahawks selected eight players, their fewest since 2015.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the NFL offseason was conducted virtually, and as such, rookies were given less time than ever to get ready for the first NFL season. It was thought that rookies may have a harder time than ever making an immediate impact as a result. For the Seahawks, as well as with other rookies across the league, that wasn’t the case.

Seattle tallied 26 starts from rookies in 2020, with most of those coming from third-round guard Damien Lewis. And while first-round linebacker Jordyn Brooks technically only started six games, he was the Seahawks’ third linebacker and on the field a lot when Seattle played its base defense.

During his Monday morning radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll shared his assessment of the 2020 rookie class, and it’s safe to say he came away impressed with that group.

“I think the guys turned out, came through for us,” Carroll said. “They played early in the season, as the season wore on they were more of a factor.”

One guy who Carroll has spoke highly of all year long is Brooks, who tallied 57 tackles and two tackles for loss in 14 games while playing 32% of Seattle’s defensive snaps.

“He played really, really well,” Carroll said.

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With veteran linebacker K.J. Wright’s future uncertain (the 31 year old is set to be a free agent), Brooks could have a larger role next year. When the Seahawks played nickel defense with five defensive backs and two linebackers, Brooks would be on the sidelines while Wright and Bobby Wagner stayed on the field.

Even though Brooks was the Seahawks’ first-round pick, the rookie who played the most snaps for Seattle by a wide margin was Lewis, who the Seahawks drafted 69th overall.

“Damien had a terrific season to play almost every snap of the year,” Carroll said. “He played some center during the season. He’s going to be a fantastic football player. And he’s a championship kid, too. Tough as (heck) and really smart. You can truly count on the guy.”

Lewis started every game for the Seahawks on the offensive line, with 15 coming at his typical right guard spot, and he also played an entire game at center when injuries depleted that position despite having never played the position in a game in his entire life.

The Seahawks’ pass rush was a huge question mark after tallying just 28 sacks in all of 2019. To help boost that group, Seattle drafted two edge rushers in Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson.

Robinson, a fifth-round pick, played 14 games as a situational pass rusher and had four sacks, five tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and forced a fumble.

“Alton (did) a terrific job,” Carroll said.

Taylor was the higher pick, with Seattle trading up in the second round to acquire him, but he didn’t play a single snap due to a shin injury that required surgery last offseason. He did return to practice during the last week of the regular season, though, and Carroll was thrilled with what he saw.

“We finally got a chance to see Darrell Taylor on the field. He’s going to be a big factor, there’s no doubt,” Carroll said. “Physically and speed-wise and athletically, he’s going to be a big factor. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get him healthy earlier in the year … He might have played this next week, too. Unfortunately we don’t get to see that, but that’s how well he looked in practice.”

Carroll’s biggest takeaway from the Seahawks’ rookie class, though, was the young players’ mindsets.

“The mentality of these guys, it was not too big for them, they could contribute early. They’re going to be big factors, they’re going to grow a ton,” he said. “I think we hit it really well. We need to hit it with a handful of guys next year and keep moving forward.”

Listen to The Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.

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