Which OLB is Seattle Seahawks’ long-term future opposite Nwosu?
Jul 2, 2023, 10:06 AM | Updated: 10:08 am
(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)
The Seattle Seahawks found an answer at one outside linebacker spot in 2022 with the addition of Uchenna Nwosu.
A signing in free agency from the Los Angeles Chargers, Nwosu was a bright spot in his first season in Seattle’s defense, registering a career-high 9.5 sacks that tied for the team lead.
While Nwosu seems like a certain starter for the Hawks in 2023 and a likely candidate for a contract extension (he’s set to be a free agent again after this season), what’s less certain is who of Seattle’s three other young outside linebackers will be a long-term solution at the position.
On the one hand, Darrell Taylor tied with Nwosu for Seahawks’ sack lead last season. But as the first of a trio of edge rushers that Seattle has picked in the second round in each of the last three NFL Drafts, he has serious competition for playing time. After Taylor was selected No. 48 overall out of Tennessee in 2020, Seattle grabbed Boye Mafe out of Minnesota at No. 40 in 2021, then picked Auburn’s Derick Hall at 37th overall this April.
Which of those three players has the brightest future with the Seahawks? Michael Bumpus of Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy shared his take when he filled in for the Blue 88 segment on a recent edition of Brock and Salk.
“Man, I really hope Derick Hall is the long-term starter, and the reason why I think he’s a long-term starter is because I think that he has a couple years to develop,” Bumpus replied to host Mike Salk. “I think that DT is still gonna hold it down, I think Boye Mafe is gonna be your nice changeup guy coming off the bench. But if you give Derick Hall a year or two to grow and then eventually you extend him, that means that it’s paying off.”
Bumpus detailed what makes Hall stand out to him more than the other outside linebacker who preceded him as Seahawks second-rounders.
“You look at just the attributes, the athletic ability – all these guys are athletes, all bring something different to the table – but I think you and I have a little man crush on Derick Hall,” Bumpus said to Salk. “Just the way he looks, his story, the way he communicates. He’s just a guy that you want here for the long-term. You look at all the things that he can do physically, he’s not forced to be the guy right now. You can bring him along slowly. I think he’s gonna be great.”
The fact that the 22-year-old Hall is two years younger than Mafe (24) and nearly four years younger than Taylor (26) has a lot to do with Bumpus’ choice.
“Because he’s younger, too, you want the youngest guy to be here the longest – that means that longevity is kicking in,” Bumpus said. “But we look at all three, all three can play. I hope that all three are here for a long time – that means you’ve drafted well. But I look at Derick Hall and there’s just something different about his twitch, about his motor, about how he plays the game. I love what he brings to the table.”
Listen to the full Blue 88 with Bumpus in the final segment of the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.
Mike Salk’s take
Salk agreed with Bumpus, explaining the aforementioned mutual “man crush” they have for Hall, but he also had perspective about how easy it is to get excited about rookies before they take a snap in an NFL game.
“I’m right there with you with the sort of man crush. I really like so much of what he brings to the table,” Salk said. “But all the descriptors you had of him are things that I feel like we said exactly a year ago about Boye Mafe. ‘Give him a couple of years to develop, unbelievably athletic, needs to learn the game a little bit more, leadership, communication, great kid to root for.’ I feel like all those things were just as true about Mafe.”
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