Huard: How Seahawks CB Devon Witherspoon has already stood out

Sep 27, 2023, 11:31 AM

Seattle Seahawks Devon Witherspoon...

Devon Witherspoon of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after a stop on Sept. 24, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks left their Week 3 win over the Carolina Panthers feeling awfully good about the play of their top draft pick.

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Cornerback Devon Witherspoon, the No. 5 overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft, played in his second game and made his second start.

After an up-and-down game in his NFL debut in Detroit, Witherspoon was one of the best players on the field on Sunday.

The Illinois product led the Seahawks with 11 tackles, and Pro Football Focus had Witherspoon targeted 13 times by Carolina quarterback Andy Dalton. Of those 13 targets, only five were caught, and Panthers receivers tallied just 31 yards on those receptions. Witherspoon was also credited for two pass breakups.

So what is it Witherspoon showed during his second career game? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard broke it down during Tuesday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“We saw an instinctive player,” Huard said

Huard pointed to Brock and Salk’s Monday conversation with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, where the longtime Seattle coach compared one of Witherspoon’s tackles to that of a former Hawks linebacker who Carroll coached in the NFL and in college.

“They threw a quick screen inside, and he attacks the blocker and then dips inside and gets in on the hit. Most guys won’t do that,” Carroll said of Witherspoon. “You’re supposed to contain, keep your leverage and keep your outside arm free on that play. But he didn’t do that. He was able to manipulate the blocker to position himself and still contain the play. Lofa Tatupu was one of those guys. He was a great player in the way that he could manage his way to fit into plays and set blockers up to finesse them into ways that he could make the tackle.”

Said Huard on Tuesday, “Lofa had to do that. He had to do that. He was undersized, he wasn’t the fleetest of foot. He had to play the game that way where he managed his way into it, as Pete says there, by instincts, by that first step being right all the time.”

As for Witherspoon, that kind of play is why he was drafted where he was, Huard said.

“When you combine that with elite athleticism, you get the No. 5 pick in the draft. When you combine those heady instincts ‘and I’m gonna see it before it happens and I’m gonna take the right step,’ and then you’ve got the athletic arrogance to back it up and go knock dudes out, that’s how you become the fifth pick in the draft,” Huard said.

Huard noted that Witherspoon had a “limited” offseason due to a hamstring strain, which kept him off the practice field and out of action for all three preseason games as well as the team’s Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

“The first two Sundays have been doubles. He’s had extra-base hits in both of them knocking guys out of the game, fourth-down stops twice in Detroit,” Huard said of Witherspoon’s two games thus far. “If this is just the beginning, man, we are in store for a great story.”

Listen to the full third hour of Tuesday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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