JAKE AND STACY

Heaps: 3 young defenders the Seahawks are banking on panning out in 2021

Jul 10, 2021, 10:25 AM
Seahawks LB Jordyn Brooks...
Seahawks LB Jordyn Brooks figures to be a key part of Seattle's defense in 2021. (Getty)
(Getty)

While most of the focus has been on the offense this offseason for the Seahawks, the defense still has some pretty big question marks as we near the 2021 season.

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While Seattle’s offense started the 2020 season red hot before cooling off down the stretch, the defense did the opposite, starting the year as arguably the worst defense in the league before playing like one of the NFL’s best in the second half.

Obviously, the Seahawks would love to replicate what they saw over the last eight games of the regular season when they suit up in 2021. If that’s going to be the case, what needs to happen?

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps believes that Seattle is relying on a few young players in 2021. He shared who he thinks they are during Friday’s edition of 4-Down Territory on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy.

“I think it’s very, very clear that there are three young guys that the Seahawks are banking on panning out for this defense in order for this defense to take it to the next level and to make it truly improved,” Heaps said. “That is Darrell Taylor, Jordyn Brooks and D.J. Reed.”

Brooks and Taylor were the Seahawks’ top two picks in the 2020 draft while Reed joined Seattle last offseason after he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers due to a pectoral injury.

Brooks, Seattle’s 2020 first-round pick, will be the Seahawks’ starter at weakside (WILL) linebacker after a strong finish to his rookie campaign last season. With K.J. Wright unsigned, Brooks and perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner will lead the charge in the middle of the Seahawks’ defense.

Wright being unsigned also opens the door for Taylor, who was Seattle’s second-round pick in 2020. Originally drafted as a defensive end, Taylor is the favorite to win the starting strongside (SAM) linebacker spot, which Wright played last season. Taylor missed all of his rookie season with a leg injury, but he drew rave reviews during rookie minicamp and OTAs.

And after missing the first six games of 2020 due to the aforementioned pectoral injury, Reed was a big part of the Seahawks’ defense turning things around as he emerged as a solid starter on the perimeter as an outside cornerback. The Seahawks lost both Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar in free agency, so Reed is expected to be one of the two starters at cornerback for Seattle come Week 1.

Those three players aren’t just young guys who are expected to play a lot in 2021, but they bring certain traits to the Seahawks’ defense that Heaps believes are very important in this group being better and more consistent.

“Those three guys, if they can play well and they can be impactful players for this defense, this defense will be a much-improved group and unit from a year ago,” he said. “When you talk about this group wanting to establish who they are, wanting to establish attitude, physical toughness, speed, violence and all those things that they displayed their ability to do the second half of the season, I want to see them do that against good, quality offenses all season long … If these three guys, if they can (step up and play with attitude, toughness, speed and violence), I think that’s going to be something really, really special to watch this defense and see them actually build upon something where they can continue to build a championship roster over the next couple years.”

Listen to the second hour of Friday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

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Heaps: 3 young defenders the Seahawks are banking on panning out in 2021