JOE FANN

Fann’s Seahawks Preview: 8 players with uncertain, important upside

Jul 26, 2022, 12:18 PM
Seahawks Darrell Taylor...
Seahawks pass rusher Darrell Taylor takes down Houston QB Davis Mills in a 2021 game. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The Seahawks open training camp practices on Wednesday with an unfamiliar shift in expectations. Russell Wilson’s decade-long tenure, one that included near-annual trips to the postseason and consistent hopes for a Super Bowl run, is over.

Report: Seahawks RB Chris Carson retiring due to neck injury

Seattle has entered a rebuild that will last as long as it takes to find Wilson’s long-term replacement at quarterback. But while very few expect the Seahawks to make the playoffs in 2022 (myself included), there’s still considerable talent on the roster.

Below are eight non-rookie players who possess promising and important ceilings. Should a handful of these players reach their varying potential, it would give fans hope that quarterback is one of the team’s few missing pieces.

1. Jamal Adams, SS

Adams’ ceiling is obviously an All-Pro safety, given he earned that honor in 2019, but he’s still worth mentioning in this list. Seattle is shifting from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 in 2022. It’s the first time the Seahawks have altered their base defense since Pete Carroll became head coach in 2010.

One of the biggest questions is how that pivot will impact Adams. The NFL’s top paid strong safety failed to record a single sack in 2021 (12 games) after racking up 9.5 in 2020 (also 12 games), which is the NFL single-season record for a defensive back. Adams regaining form as at least a Pro Bowler while staying healthy is vital for the Seahawks’ defense.

2. Tre Brown, CB

Seattle’s 2021 fourth-round pick offered a tantalizing showcase of his ability in just five games as a rookie prior to suffering a season-ending patellar tendon injury. It’s not certain whether he’ll be ready for the start of training camp but hopefully his availability for Week 1 won’t be in danger.

Brown has the most upside of any Seahawks corner. He flashed speed and physicality in his three starts that indicated he’s a starting-caliber NFL defensive back despite his 5-foot-10 frame. D.J. Reed Jr. signing with the Jets in free agency leaves Seattle particularly thin in corners with NFL experience. Brown and Sidney Jones are the team’s projected starters, with draft picks Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen also in the mix.

3. Darrell Taylor, EDGE

Having an elite edge rusher is certainly a necessary centerpiece to a rebuild. Is Taylor that guy? He could be. Taylor posted 6.5 sacks in his first NFL season in 2021 with a respectable 62.1 pass rush grade. Most importantly, the 2020 second-round pick played in 16 games after essentially redshirting his rookie season with a leg injury.

A noticeable jump in production and consistency this season would make all Seahawks fans feel more comfortable with the future of the team’s defense. Taylor is one of the few young defensive players that has “face of the franchise” type potential at this juncture.

4. Marquise Blair, DB

Blair has been snakebit with back-to-back season-ending injuries, playing in just eight games combined in 2020 and 2021. And yet you can’t give up on the 2019 second-rounder. Blair is the odd-man out at safety, but he could still compete for time at nickel corner if he’s able to get back on the field at some point in August.

5. Rashaad Penny, RB

Penny’s one-year, $5.75 million contract was earned almost entirely in December. Nobody in the NFL ran for more yards than Penny over the final five weeks of the season. The former first-round pick racked up 671 yards on 92 attempts for an eye-popping 7.29-yard average with six rushing touchdowns.

With Chris Carson reportedly retiring, the runway is open for Penny to take control of Seattle’s backfield ahead of rookie Kenneth Walker III. The Seahawks might be the most run-first team in the entire NFL in 2022, which should bode well for Penny’s production and chances at a multi-year contract next offseason. As always, health is Penny’s biggest question mark.

6. Dee Eskridge, WR

It’s not Eskridge’s fault he was drafted ahead (No. 56 overall) of star Chiefs center Creed Humphrey (No. 63) in 2021, but that doesn’t change the reality that it happened. Humphrey immediately becoming an All-Pro will have Seahawks fans quicker to label Eskridge a “bust.”

Eskridge is already 25 years old and is coming off of a rookie season where he was largely invisible in 10 games, making just 10 catches for 64 yards and one touchdown as well as four carries for 59 yards as a runner.

It’s too early to write off Eskridge, but Seattle needs him to flourish into the versatile piece they envisioned when they drafted him 56th overall in 2021.

7. Uchenna Nwosu, EDGE

The Seahawks signed Nwosu to a two-year deal worth just under $20 million this offseason. That’s enough money to signal that Seattle believes the 25-year-old pass rusher’s best football is still ahead of him.

Nwosu posed a career high five sacks with the Chargers in 2021 in what was his first season as a full-time starter. He’ll start opposite Taylor, forming a promising yet mostly unproven duo.

8. Jordyn Brooks, LB

Wilson’s departure commanded most of the Seahawks-centric headlines this offseason, but All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner signing with the Rams after being released by Seattle is also a changing of the guard. Brooks, a 2020 first-round pick, is already in place to potentially be the next great Seahawks linebacker.

Brooks racked up 184 total tackles in 2021, including a league-leading 109 solo tackles. He excelled as a tackler and run defender while showing flashes as a pass rusher. Brooks’ pass coverage will need continued development if he’s going to adequately fill Wagner’s shoes.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brooks make his first Pro Bowl in 2022.

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