JAKE AND STACY

Heaps: Why Seahawks get a ‘great fit’ at CB with Ahkello Witherspoon

Mar 17, 2021, 1:07 PM | Updated: 1:10 pm

The Seahawks may be losing 2019 Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin to the Jaguars in free agency, but they reportedly already have his replacement tabbed.

Seahawks 2021 tracker: Free agents, coaching changes and more

A few hours after reports surfaced that Griffin was leaving Seattle for Jacksonville, multiple reports had the Seahawks signing San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to a one-year deal worth $4 million. Both Griffin and Witherspoon were selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, with Witherspoon going 66th overall while Griffin was the 90th pick.

Witherspoon has had an up and down career for the 49ers, as he has been inconsistent in coverage at times and was even benched at a point. He has also yet to play a full 16-game season, as his career-high in games played is 14 back in 2018. In 2020, he played 11 games (four starts) with one interception and four passes broken up. Overall, Witherspoon has four career interceptions in 47 games (33 starts).

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy has talked about Witherspoon potentially joining the Seahawks throughout the offseason, and he thinks the reported move is a great signing for Seattle.

“I think it’s a great fit because as you move forward, you want guys that have played in your system,” Heaps said Wednesday afternoon, alluding to the similarities between Seattle’s defense and San Francisco’s. “You want as close to a sure thing as possible. Now, Ahkello Witherspoon’s career history is not a sure thing, but the fact that he played as well as he did in 2020 and you’re projecting that he’s going to keep playing at that level – he’s still very young, he’s healthy – you believe he can bring that level of play to you because he has played in this system his entire career.”

The Seahawks and 49ers have run very similar defensive systems because Robert Saleh, who was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator until his recent hiring as the head coach of the New York Jets, was an assistant on Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s staff from 2011 to 2013. Recent history shows that former 49ers cornerbacks have been successful coming to the Seahawks, as well.

“That’s why it’s a very smooth transition for Ahkello Witherspoon, and it was a very smooth transition for D.J. Reed a year ago,” Heaps said.

In addition to playing in a system similar to what the Seahawks run, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Witherspoon fits the mold of a prototypical Seattle cornerback.

“The other thing that Ahkello Witherspoon brings to the table, as I’ve said before, he is a willing tackler in the run game, which the Seattle Seahawks love about their corners,” Heaps said. “And he has length. He is long, has the ability to (play press coverage), has ability to cover deep downfield. He is not a perfect player, and if he was a perfect player he would be getting a larger contract than he’s had. He’s been benched, he’s gone through a lot in his his career, but 2020 was a breakthrough for him and the Seahawks are banking on that level of production.”

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

Clayton: Wilson offseason drama should be over now for Hawks

Jake and Stacy

Seahawks Gerald Everett...
Jake Heaps

Heaps: How Seahawks can — and why they need to — get TEs more involved

In his latest Chalk Talk video breakdown, Jake Heaps looks at the encouraging use of tight ends by the Seahawks against the Steelers.
3 days ago
Seahawks RB Alex Collins...
Brandon Gustafson

Heaps: Seahawks ‘don’t really have a choice’ but to be a run-first team

Whether the Seahawks want to be a run-first offense or not, Jake Heaps explains why they don't really have any choice but to try right now.
4 days ago
Seahawks Tre Brown...
Brandon Gustafson

Heaps: Have the Seahawks found the answer at CB in rookie Tre Brown?

How encouraging was the play of rookie cornerback Tre Brown for the Seahawks in his first ever NFL game? Jake Heaps breaks it down.
5 days ago
Seahawks Alex Collins...
Stacy Rost

Rost: The good, the bad and the ugly for 2-4 Seahawks

Stacy Rost puts the Seahawks' loss and 2-4 record into perspective, looking at Tre Brown's strong debut, the offense's slow start and more.
6 days ago
Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett...
Brandon Gustafson

Tyler Lockett on playing with Seahawks under Geno Smith, where offense must grow

Star Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett joined The Huddle on 710 ESPN Seattle to break down what QB Geno Smith brings to the table.
8 days ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger...
Brent Stecker

Heaps: Mitch Haniger’s Mariners article is worth getting fired up about

Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle's Jake and Stacy shares why Mitch Haniger's message from his column in The Players' Tribune makes him excited about the Mariners.
10 days ago
Heaps: Why Seahawks get a ‘great fit’ at CB with Ahkello Witherspoon