Bumpus: Why Seahawks’ L.J. Collier is impressing this offseason

Jun 28, 2022, 1:26 PM | Updated: 3:20 pm
Seahawks L.J. Collier...
Seahawks DE L.J. Collier looks on during the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The start of L.J. Collier’s Seahawks career hasn’t gone as hoped for someone taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but the big defensive lineman may be trending in the right direction heading into his fourth season.

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Why? Collier was listed as the Seahawks’ surprise offseason standout from OTAs and minicamp in a recent ESPN article.

“You usually don’t think of former first-round picks as surprise standouts, but Collier qualifies given the underwhelming start he has had to his career,” ESPN Seahawks insider Brady Henderson wrote for ESPN.com. “Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt said during OTAs that Collier, the 29th overall pick in 2019, was having one of the best springs of any Seattle defender. Collier will be fighting for playing time in a defensive-line rotation that’s a little crowded after the offseason acquisitions of Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson.”

So what could Collier have done during these recent practices to catch Hurtt’s eye? Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus, who was there for many of Seattle’s practices, explained Tuesday during Bump and Stacy on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

“This was surprising to me because when you’re in these spring trainings, these minicamps, these OTAs, there are no pads,” Bumpus said of Collier being spotlighted. “The guys who suffer the most are on the offensive line and defensive line because they can’t really get after it the way that they want to. So what does L.J. have to do to show Clint Hurtt like, ‘Look, I’m ready to go’? It’s all about technique. It’s all about understanding your hands, your leverage and where you’re supposed to be, and then understanding what you do, how your job affects everybody else.”

That Collier was such a standout for the Seahawks was “really encouraging to hear,” Bumpus said.

“We know he’s had a tough road. He’s been banged up a bit, he was a first-round pick who hasn’t really lived up to expectations,” he said. “So if Clint Hurtt and ESPN are saying he had one of the best springs out of everybody on defense, that’s going to be great for this team. It’s going to get some depth on this defensive line. I’m hoping L.J. has a breakout year.”

Collier was drafted as a bigger defensive end, but it appears he’ll be focusing more on playing on the interior of the defensive line based on what Bumpus saw at practice and what the Seahawks’ new defense with a 3-4 front looks like.

“They’re trying to figure him out. They’re like, ‘Is he an outside rush guy or is he an interior defensive lineman?’ And I think he’s interior defensive lineman, especially now with the new scheme with the linebackers walking down and them really being the rush guys,” Bumpus said. “They need big bodies to occupy space, and I think that’s what L.J. is going to do. And he just looks quick, he looks healthy. That’s something we haven’t seen out of him in a while.  … This year, he seems more comfortable and he understands exactly what his role is.”

Listen to the full discussion in the Four-Down Territory segment of Bump and Stacy in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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