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Wyman: 5 Seahawks players we aren’t talking about enough

Aug 7, 2021, 1:18 AM
Seahawks Alton Robinson...
Alton Robinson, a 2020 fifth-round pick, had four sacks in 14 games as a rookie. (Getty)
(Getty)

Seahawks training camp is in full swing, and we’re just a week away from the first preseason game of the year.

Most Important Seahawks: Two players key to the defense turning around

Former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman, co-host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob, will be on the call for that Aug. 14 preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders, serving in his regular role as color commentator on the Seahawks Radio Network broadcast alongside play-by-play announcer Steve Raible.

Below, Wyman breaks down five players he’s got his eye on going into this season that he thinks people aren’t talking enough about.

Quandre Diggs, FS

In one of maybe the best trades general manager John Schneider has ever made, the Seahawks received nickel corner/safety Quandre Diggs and a 2021 seventh-round draft choice from the Detroit Lions during the 2019 season for the bargain-basement price of a 2020 fifth-round pick. Diggs went on to make a team-leading five interceptions in 2020, and once the Seahawks’ defense fixed itself midseason, he kept the lid on. He also made his first Pro Bowl team.

In his six-year career, Diggs has 14 interceptions, including two pick-sixes. In an interview with him last year, he told us on Wyman and Bob that he’s had a fumble recovery for a TD and an interception for a TD that were both called back because of penalty, as well. He also told us that he likes the gloomy weather in Seattle because it matches his personality. I can relate, Quandre, and I appreciate “gloomy” defensive players.

Damien Lewis, LG

When the Seahawks drafted Damien Lewis out of LSU in the third round last year, I thought he would be the rookie with the most playing time. I’m not sure if I fully believed that at the time, but once they handed him the starting right guard job the first day of camp, Lewis made me a believer. He grabbed the job by the throat, made it his own and never looked back. Offensive line play is difficult to evaluate and typically you only notice linemen when they make mistakes, so it’s a good thing there wasn’t a lot of noticing Lewis last year.

In Week 11, Lewis was pressed into service to play center after injuries to Ethan Pocic and Kyle Fuller. Not only that, but it was in a short week because of a Thursday night game vs. Arizona, and he had never played center going all the way back to high school. On the first play of the game, he gave up a sack of Russell Wilson. Later in the first quarter he was penalized for holding, which negated a long completion to DK Metcalf. To make things worse, it was a ridiculous call that could have rattled a rookie playing out of position. Instead, Lewis focused in and helped the Seahawks beat the Cardinals 28-21.

With the addition of Gabe Jackson this season, Lewis has moved to left guard to allow Jackson to take over Seattle’s right guard spot.

Marquise Blair, DB

I thought it was strange that the Seahawks did not play Marquise Blair more in 2019, his rookie year. The Seahawks played a lot of base defense (three linebackers) that year because they didn’t have faith in their nickel cornerbacks. Blair played 100% of the snaps against Tampa Bay and Baltimore and 86% of the snaps vs. Atlanta, totaling 22 tackles and breaking up a pass in those three games. I thought he was on his way to more playing time but the Seahawks thought differently.

Either way, they were all-in on Blair as their nickel corner in 2020 training camp, and for good reason. He was all over the field and had, in my estimation, the best training camp on defense outside of Jamal Adams. That’s saying a lot because Adams made his presence known from the very beginning.

Blair was off to a great start in Week 1 in Atlanta with seven tackles, a forced fumble and a couple of big hits. But the next week against the Patriots at Lumen Field, he had just seven snaps before he blew his ACL out and was done for the year.

Blair is back now, and he looks just as good as he did last year in camp.

During a recent interview on Wyman and Bob, he told us he’d rather have a big hit than an interception. He also told us that he was ejected from three games while at Utah because of the hits he put on receivers in the Pac-12. He said that he is aware of the rules and that they’re trying to make the game safer, but he has not changed his approach because of it. I liked hearing that, and in my opinion if he gets ejected from a game for being too physical, I would chalk that up to “the cost of doing business.”

Freddie Swain, WR

You’ll notice that three of the five players in this list were rookies last season. In my mind, any time you can get just a little bit out of a player during his rookie year it’s a bonus – especially from a sixth-rounder like Freddie Swain.

The jump from college to pro in football is more difficult than any other sport. The learning curve is steep, especially at wide receiver. You have to run precise routes, learn the landmarks on the field and face wildly athletic defensive backs.

Swain passed that test, and although he had just 13 catches for 159 yards, he played in every game, caught two touchdown passes and recovered the aforementioned fumble that Blair caused in Week 1 vs. Atlanta. Also, he’s got the endorsement of a pretty good receiver here in Seattle. In a press conference this week, DK Metcalf told people to “watch out for Freddie Swain.” That’s pretty high praise coming from a player like Metcalf.

Alton Robinson, DE

Continuing with the 2020 rookie trend, fifth-round pick Alton Robinson was sort of pushed to the back page of the papers by first- and second-round defenders Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor. Robinson then didn’t get on the field until Week 3 vs. Dallas, but on that game’s first drive, Robinson tackled Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for a 3-yard loss. He also recorded his first NFL sack in the last drive of that game at a crucial time.

With 22 seconds left in the game and the Cowboys on the Seahawks’ 22-yard line with a chance to score a game-tying touchdown, Robinson got Dallas QB Dak Prescott for a 4-yard sack that set up the game-clinching interception from Seahawks safety Ryan Neal.

Robinson finished the season with 22 tackles and four sacks – not eye-popping statistics, but as mentioned he was a rookie, and I look for even more production from him in year 2.

Speaking of high praise, former Seahawks great Cliff Avril, who is a regular guest on Wyman and Bob and knows a thing or two about rushing the passer, has great things to say about Robinson’s talent, work ethic and curiosity. Avril has worked with Robinson in his program “Sack 360,” which is simply put an academy for training pass rushers. He describes Robinson as someone who is always asking questions and soaking up knowledge like a sponge.

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Wyman: 5 Seahawks players we aren’t talking about enough