BROCK AND SALK

Huard: The 6 most important Seahawks players for 2022 season

Jul 21, 2022, 3:28 PM
Seahawks Darrell Taylor...
Seahawks pass rusger Darrell Taylor tackles Rams running back Darrell Henderson .on Tuesday. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The 2022 season will be a very interesting one for the Seahawks after they parted ways with franchise icons Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner earlier this offseason.

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Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard is keeping a close eye on six Seahawks players this season, as he believes those six are the most important – not necessarily the most valuable – players on the roster.

He shared his list on the latest Brock and Salk Podcast for Seattle Sports 710 AM.

No. 6: RB Ken Walker III

The Seahawks with the second of their two second-round draft picks in April took explosive Michigan State running back Ken Walker III 41st overall.

Huard, who calls college football games for FOX Sports, was an outspoken fan of Walker’s in the pre-draft process and noted that Walker was drafted in a similar spot to two of the game’s top running backs – Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor (41st overall in 2020) and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (45th overall in 2016). Both Taylor and Henry were pretty immediate contributors as rookies before becoming superstars.

“It’s pretty high real estate for a running back, especially when you have Rashaad Penny, especially as we sit here today and there’s Chris Carson on the roster. I don’t know if that’s going to be the same 10 days from now,” Huard said. “But No. 6, if you’re right on Ken Walker and you’ve got an absolute stud, a 1,000-yard rusher, in this program, it builds the foundation and it changes the trajectory to have that kind of stud at that position.”

Mike Salk said that Walker being an instant impact player would allow head coach Pete Carroll to do what he wants to do from a roster and play-calling standpoint, which Huard agreed with.

“It allows you to be physical, it allows you to be explosive, it allows you to take the burden off your QB a little bit, it allows you to grow your team, it allows you to eat the clock and minimize possessions, and allows you to play – exactly – to the style that philosophically Pete still believes in and will as long as he coaches the sport,” Huard said.

No. 5: LB Jordyn Brooks

Next on Huard’s list is 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, who set a franchise record for tackles last season and will have a much larger role in 2022 as he moves to middle linebacker with Wagner being released earlier this offseason.

“Sliding over to the middle, still just 24 years old – he’ll turn 25 in October … he’s going to slide over and he’s going to fill some very large Hall of Fame gold shoes,” Huard said. “I think he’s going to play his more natural position. I think he’s more of a MIKE linebacker anyway. And if Jordyn Brooks is the captain right in the middle of your defense with his speed, (that’s huge) … If you find your cornerstone middle linebacker replacing the guy that did it for a decade at one of the highest levels we’ve seen in the NFL, that would be enormous.”

No. 4: LB/DE Darrell Taylor

Going from one high 2020 draft pick to another, Huard is looking forward to seeing Darrell Taylor play in his second full season after flashing a lot in 2021 after missing the entirety of his rookie campaign.

“He showed flashes of being the most dominant defensive player on the field last year,” Huard said. “He had 6.5 sacks and some of the most violent collisions … There were times that he couldn’t be blocked … You need him.”

Huard thinks new linebacker/edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu will be a good player who gets six to eight sacks in 2022, but that Taylor has the ability to be the dominant force the Seahawks really need.

“You need your next Frank Clark. You need your next Cliff Avril,” Huard said. “You need your next guy to hang your hat on and say ‘Yes, you will not be solo blocked, you will take over games, and you will be the next freak pass rusher that all of these teams look for that you find in this division. You’re the (Nick) Bosa, you’re the Chandler Jones … You’ve got to be that guy.’ And if he can be that guy, that is a huge, huge bonus for years to come.”

No. 3: LT Charles Cross

When the Seahawks traded Wilson to the Denver Broncos, they acquired the ninth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Rather than trading down like many expected, the Seahawks kept their pick and selected Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross, who figures to be Seattle’s long-term answer at left tackle with Duane Brown no longer on the roster.

Huard thinks having a franchise left tackle is essential for the Seahawks.

“You had it with Walter Jones for a decade, you had it with Russell Okung for six years, you’ve had it the last few years with Duane Brown in his mid- to late-30s. When you’ve had them, you’ve seen the difference. When you have not had a (franchise) left tackle, it’s a nightmare,” he said. “And if Charles Cross – who’s only 21, who comes out of an air raid system, who is going to be climbing a steep learning curve and doing it against some of the most difficult and demanding pass rushers in your own division and (best) defensive lines in your own division –  if you’re right with Charles Cross, you’re right for the next 10 years and you solidify one of the most important positions on your football team.”

Salk also thinks Cross is important, but thinks that if the rest of Seattle’s offensive line isn’t good, it almost doesn’t matter how good the rookie is. Huard thinks no matter what, Cross’ development is incredibly important for the Seahawks because of how highly they view him.

“Yeah, but you took him in a position of real estate as an asset. You didn’t trade down, right? He was one of the five or six guys (they were targeting at No. 9). I know their list didn’t run real deep after him. If he wouldn’t have been there, I don’t know what they would have done because they valued him as that kind of piece of real estate,” he said.

And with Wilson now on the Broncos, pass blocking is even more critical going forward, Huard said.

“Russ has had a great left tackle (at times in his career). Well, Russ has also at times, especially early in his career, made people better and escaped how many sacks? I mean, he took a bunch, but he escaped and was able to run away from how many? You don’t have that anymore,” he said. “You don’t have that (ability to escape). You don’t have that at that position, so I think it puts a premium on (Cross) being a difference-maker. And if you’re right on Charles Cross, you’re right for the next decade. That answers a big, big question, a big important piece of real estate on your football team.”

No. 2: WR DK Metcalf

No player on Huard’s list is more established than star receiver DK Metcalf, who is entering his fourth NFL season.

“He’s 24. He’s younger than Darrell Taylor. He’s 24 years old,” Huard said to Salk. “And in three years, he’s stayed healthy, which was a huge fear you and me had when they took him in the (2019) draft.”

Over his first three seasons, Metcalf has compiled 216 catches for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns in 49 regular season games. He’s also due for a massive extension as he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

“They’re gonna have to make a decision within the next two weeks into training camp of whether or not they pay him the going rate for people of his star power,” Huard said.

With Wilson and Wagner gone, the Seahawks need “that next absolute stud,” and Metcalf is it, Huard said.

“That charismatic ‘the Seahawks are relevant, the Seahawks matter and are must-see TV. What is DK going to do next?’ and be able to elevate the QB position,” Huard said. “I think this is, for the 2022 season, incredibly important that if and when DK gets signed, he lives up to that contract.”

It’s going to be a tough task to live up to that expected megadeal, Huard said, due to the uncertainty at quarterback.

“You don’t have Russell Wilson. You don’t have a franchise quarterback,” Huard said. “And we need to see a maturity out of DK Metcalf. We need to see him grow in his voice.”

While Tyler Lockett is still a great player and is an established veteran, he will “hand the reins over” to Metcalf when he signs his extension, Huard said.

“This new contract is going to demand that DK lives up to that,” he said. “I think there’s still some maturity there that we need to see from DK, who can lose his mind out on the field and on the sidelines. So I think this year is incredibly, incredibly important for DK Metcalf.”

No. 1: QB Drew Lock

Salk thought Huard’s No. 1 choice would be safety Jamal Adams and was instead in disbelief when Huard chose Drew Lock, a quarterback who came to the Seahawks in the Wilson trade with Denver.

Huard said it’s unclear how Adams will fit in the Seahawks’ new defensive system or whether he’ll be a long-term fixture in Seattle. Salk said the same can be said about Lock, a 2019 second-round pick of the Broncos who, after a strong five-game stretch as a rookie, has really struggled as a pro. Both Carroll and general manager John Schneider have publicly backed Lock, saying they were big fans of his when he was a draft prospect.

“If he can play, that changes all of this conversation,” Huard said. “If Drew Lock is actually good, if Drew Lock can actually play, it changes the whole foundation and trajectory of the Seahawks.”

Huard pointed to Ryan Tannehill flourishing with the Tennessee Titans after leaving the Miami Dolphins or, roughly 15 years ago, Drew Brees becoming a star in New Orleans after leaving the then-San Diego Chargers.

“We’ve seen some of these guys get fresh starts in new places and be difference-makers,” Huard said. “If Drew Lock can be a difference-maker, Mike, it changes the whole trajectory trajectory of John and Pete.”

Huard admitted he doesn’t have a ton of confidence in Lock becoming that kind of player, but he noted that the Seahawks have passed on adding another quarterback multiple times this offseason, and that Schneider has had reported draft crushes on some of the game’s best quarterbacks in their draft years.

“John Schneider said different deals are out there and different opportunities. And who do we want? And who are we looking for? I’m not going to draft a QB and I’m not going to take on Baker (Mayfield), and I’m not going to do this. He’s doing that for a reason,” Huard said. “Because he wants to see what this kid can do. He drafted Russell for a reason. He loved Patrick Mahomes for a reason, he loved Josh Allen for a reason.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk Podcast at this link or in the player below.

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