BROCK AND SALK

Huard: Witherspoon has been Seahawks’ best defender so far

Nov 17, 2023, 3:55 PM | Updated: 3:59 pm

Seattle Seahawks Devon Witherspoon...

Devon Witherspoon of the Seattle Seahawks reacts on Nov. 12, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks enter a key NFC West clash with the Los Angeles Rams at 6-3 and tied for the NFC West lead.

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Part of the reason for that is their defense, which has been up and down this season, but is showing improvement from a year ago.

So who has been the Seahawks’ top defender this year? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard shared his pick during Monday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports, and it may surprise you.

“Do you think I’m gonna say Boye Mafe?” Huard asked his co-host Mike Salk.

Mafe would likely be the pick of many. The second-year edge rusher has seven sacks, and all of those have come over Seattle’s last seven games. In fact, Mafe set a Seahawks franchise record last week by recording a sack in seven consecutive games.

Mafe is not Huard’s pick, however. But his selection is also a young defender.

“I’m gonna say Devon Witherspoon has been the best defensive player on this team,” Huard said. “He missed the opening game and since then has come back with eight games where I mean … just listen to these NFL guys, former players, doing these (TV) broadcasts. Who do they talk about the most? ‘Spoon is everywhere.'”

Witherspoon, a cornerback, has shined since making his NFL debut in Week 2.

The No. 5 pick in this past April’s draft out of Illinois is fourth on the team in sackles, seventh in sacks and has a pick-six and forced fumble to his name. He also leads the Seahawks with 12 pass breakups, six more than No. 2 on the list, fellow cornerback Tre Brown.

“He’s doing things that you’re not supposed to do. He’s a nickel, he’s like outside corner, he’s flying to the football, he’s batting balls down, he’s playing with an unbelievable juice,” Huard said. “He’s playing with Jamal Adams’ juice, but doing it with a discipline and consistency that is different than Jamal’s.”

Witherspoon hasn’t been perfect, Huard noted, pointing to him being in coverage on a Washington Commanders touchdown last week.

“Could he get a little bit deeper?” Huard said.. “.. And I guarantee you that in college, there’s no college QB that made that throw on Spoon. But Sam Howell did. And he’s in zone coverage and you’ve gotta be a little bit deeper to play these things, especially as that play goes on. Let him throw it in front of you go finish (the play). But that ball just sailed over he and Jordyn Brooks’ fingertips into the receiver’s hands. Unbelievable throw.”

But all in all, Witherspoon has been everything the Seahawks hoped for and then some.

“For what is being asked of Devon Witherspoon and the juice and the impact and the impact plays that he makes, there’s not been a better defender for me on that defense this year than the rookie,” he said

Witherspoon may not have the flashiest numbers when it comes to interceptions or sacks, which could impact where he finishes in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year race.

“But the pass breakups, the tackles, the ferocity of play and just the absolute confidence he’s playing with, man, (Witherspoon) staying on the field is a big thing for this defense,” Huard said.

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

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Carroll: Why Seahawks’ Wagner became a ‘true Hall of Famer’
• Bump: Why Seahawks’ offense needs to use more RPOs
• Lefko: Seahawks’ 5-game stretch will set course for next 2 seasons
• Huard: What the Seahawks’ O-line should be when Lucas returns

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