Heaps: Seahawks’ D-line, tight ends will take biggest steps forward
The Seahawks pretty quietly put together a solid offseason, adding key players through free agency and trades to help boost a win-now roster.
Seattle, which won 12 games to take the NFC West title but fell to the Los Angeles Rams in the wild card round, spent the offseason retaining some of its top players, adding talent to both sides of the ball and also hiring a new offensive coordinator who is expected to implement a new scheme in 2021.
As you may expect given the Seahawks’ success in 2020, they had a very talented roster, but they’re arguably more talented now. The hosts of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy each shared this week which position groups they feel will be more improved for the 2021 season. You can find Stacy Rost’s picks in the link below.
Her co-host, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, made his two selections on Tuesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy.
The first group that Heaps pointed to was on defense.
“The defensive line,” he said. “Yes, they came off of a tremendous performance last year finishing the season with one of the highest sack totals in the NFL … but I think this group has improved their overall depth, their talent on the edges, and I think they’ve been able to acquire enough talent where they’re going to give a lot of people some issues when it comes to pass-rushing situations.”
The Seahawks finished seventh in the NFL in sacks last year with 46. The team re-signed defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, who combined for 11 sacks with Seattle last year. The Seahawks also went out and added Kerry Hyder Jr., who had 8.5 sacks for the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, as well as Aldon Smith, who had five sacks for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago. The Seahawks also have many young players on the edge and interior, such as Alton Robinson, Poona Ford, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor.
“I believe they got more depth guys that can play the run and the pass, so overall I think the defensive line as a whole is going to be much improved and much more consistent in 2021, which is the key,” Heaps said.
On the other side of the ball, Heaps thinks the Seahawks will get more production from their tight ends in 2021 than they did in 2020.
“I believe that this tight end group, you’re going to get a lot out of this group,” he said.
Entering 2020, Seattle’s tight end group was seen as an area of strength for the team, but the four-player unit combined for just 75 catches, 715 yards and six touchdowns. Now, one of those four is retired in Greg Olsen and another is in Buffalo with Jacob Hollister joining the Bills in free agency.
The Seahawks did go out and add a new tight end themselves, however, and that player is one who Heaps is very high on.
“Gerald Everett comes first and foremost to mind coming from the Rams with (new offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron, so they know exactly how to use him,” Heaps said.
Waldron was the passing game coordinator for the Rams from 2018 to 2020, and in 2017 – Everett’s rookie year – he was Los Angeles’ tight ends coach. Everett has 127 career catches for 1,389 yards and eight touchdowns in four NFL seasons, and in 2020 he had career-highs in catches (41) and yards (417). He also scored a rushing touchdown.
“He is a nice chess piece,” Heaps said of Everett.
As for the two returning Seahawks tight ends, Heaps believes that Will Dissly and 2020 rookie Colby Parkinson can give Seattle “really nice production” in 2021.
Dissly shined in brief action in his rookie campaign in 2018 as well as in a few games in 2019, looking like he could be a top-10 tight end in the NFL, but he suffered season-ending injuries in both of his first two NFL seasons and played just 10 games between those two years. He did play in all 16 games last year but wasn’t quite as impactful with 24 catches for 251 yards and two touchdowns.
Heaps thinks Dissly could have a good year in 2021.
“Will Dissly, I saw him (work out) down here in San Diego and he looks great, looks healthy and it’s the best he’s looked in quite some time since his rookie year, to be honest,” Heaps said.
Parkinson, meanwhile, missed the start of his rookie year with a foot injury and barely played at all. He caught just two passes for 16 yards, and both those catches came in a blowout win over the New York Jets.
Heaps thinks Parkinson has a ton of potential due to his physical traits.
“Colby Parkinson, I mean gosh, he is so physically impressive at 6 foot 7, 250 pounds and he can run, has (good) hands,” he said. “I am very excited for this tight end group and I think they’re going to be much improved in terms of production and impact on the field.”
Listen to Heaps’ full conversation with Rost in the second hour of Tuesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.