Rost: 3 Seahawks rookies who can make or break Seattle’s 2022 season

Jun 18, 2022, 9:10 AM

Seahawks draft Coby Bryant...

Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant celebrates an interception against Houston on Dec. 4, 2021. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Perhaps no player matters more on any team than the person taking snaps from under center. And while the quarterback battle will continue to be the biggest question for the Seahawks heading into training camp, there are other positions in Seattle that could make or break the 2022 season.

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Here’s a look at three rookies who could have an outsized impact on a winning season:

RB Ken Walker III

This one’s easy. The Seahawks won’t have Russell Wilson and might not have Chris Carson. Rashaad Penny is the presumed starter, but he has dealt with a number of injuries throughout his career. Pete Carroll wants a balanced approach on offense, but that necessitates an effective run game. No longtime quarterback, health concerns at running back, and an offense that calls for a solid run game?

Enter: a second-round running back in Ken Walker III. A player many analysts felt was drafted a bit too high – a positional critique, rather than a character slight – could be one of the biggest keys to a successful Seahawks offense in 2022.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Walker will play a more vital role than receivers DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett, or even fellow halfback Penny. But few positions matter more in Carroll’s offense, and perhaps no other position has been as hard hit by injury.

Walker’s at least off to the right start. Offensive line coach Andy Dickerson told reporters last week that he’s been impressed with the rookie.

“Probably the coolest thing I’ve seen, just his willingness and his eyes, the way he moves, and just his ability to understand everything,” Dickerson said. “Then his ability. You see him, again, trying to understand and get a fit in the tempo and the timing of how we want to press this hole and make those cuts and make those decisions. I’ve been impressed with him.”

LT Charles Cross

Is part of this purely about optics? Sure.

It would certainly feel good for the Seahawks’ ninth overall pick – a selection they received as part of their trade haul for Russell Wilson – to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season and start every game. But this is also about scheme and depth.

Whoever the Seahawks’ starting quarterback is Week 1, chances are he’s got less starting experience than Wilson (in the case of Drew Lock or Geno Smith) or has played behind a better offensive line (in the case of Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo, should a trade or signing ever come to fruition). Seattle’s best shot at success with their new passer is a strong run game and excellent receivers, but it’s also going to lean on the success of the offensive line, and no position will be more closely watched than left tackle.

Speaking of, one of the risks in moving on from veteran Duane Brown was the drop off in talent at that spot. This was before the team drafted Cross, a highly-touted prospect. Should Cross be injured or struggle mightily, you’re once again looking at a position that lacks starting-caliber depth.

CB Coby Bryant

Another premium position to round out this list, this time with a fourth-round pick as opposed to a top-10 selection.

Hear me out, though: a solid season from this former Cincinnati Bearcat bodes just as well for first-year defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt’s revamped defense given the concerns lingering at this position in particular.

Seattle has promising young talent on the defensive line in Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, and free agent signing Uchenna Nwosu. They have returning vets in linebackers Cody Barton and Jordyn Brooks, and Pro Bowl safeties in Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. Meanwhile, the cornerback group has started jotted in pencil instead of pen.

Will second-year pro Tre Brown be healthy in time for the start of the season? Can the re-signed Sidney Jones beat out newcomer (and former Steelers first-round pick) Artie Burns? Add to this list a potential starter in Bryant, who had four years of experience with Cincinnati and quite a few more reps than fellow rookie Tariq Woolen. Woolen brings plenty of athleticism and promise, but if Bryant can be serviceable and – importantly – available, it might just be enough for the defense to shore up its biggest question mark.

Stacy Rost’s new Seattle Sports 710 AM co-host is former NFL receiver and longtime Seattle Sports contributor Michael Bumpus. Bump and Stacy will hit the 710 airwaves for the first time Monday, June 20 at 10 a.m.

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