Seahawks Draft: Versatile players for Mike Macdonald’s defense

Mar 6, 2024, 11:26 AM | Updated: 3:24 pm

Seattle Seahawks draft Chop Robinson Penn State...

Chop Robinson of Penn State hits Rutgers QB Gavin Wimsatt to cause a fumble in 2023. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

(Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks are featuring a new look going into next month’s NFL Draft, with Pete Carroll out and Mike Macdonald coming to the Pacific Northwest as the franchise’s next head coach after a stellar two-year run as Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator.

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Someone who’s gotten the chance to know Macdonald well is CBS Sports NFL analyst Charles Davis, who is also a draft expert for Davis shared his insight into Macdonald’s defense and some potential draft fits during a Wednesday visit with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

Davis said that Macdonald really stood out when he was on the CBS broadcast for a game between the Ravens and Miami Dolphins late last season. The Dolphins have a high-powered passing attack and Baltimore’s cornerbacks were banged up, but the Ravens thumped the Dolphins 56-19 and recorded two interceptions despite playing multiple backups.

“My point being all these guys filled in and played really, really well. You’re gonna get a guy, a coach, who is going to make sure that all his guys are coached up and ready to play,” Davis said of Macdonald. “And then he will adapt to who’s on the field in terms of calls on defense, how you can work different things. what works for the guys that are out there versus, ‘Oh, this is my system, this is what I’m gonna call.’ He’s not going to ask (undrafted veteran cornerback) Arthur Maulet to be (three-time Pro Bowl cornerback) Marlon Humphrey, right? He’s going to know what he has, who’s out there, and then adapt and play accordingly.”

During Macdonald’s time in Baltimore, he liked to utilize his defenders in multiple ways. No player was a better example of that than All-Pro safety Kyle Hamilton, who had four interceptions, three sacks and 10 tackles for loss last year lining up all over the field.

“If you talk about Mike Macdonald, from the time that I’ve been around him – use (2022 first-round pick and 2023 All-Pro safety) Kyle Hamilton as kind of a guide for you,” Davis said. “We all know finding Kyle Hamilton is not easy because of his ability to do so many different things, but (Macdonald) likes his defenses and his players to be able to do many different things.”

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft fits

Davis’ insight on Macdonald’s use of Hamilton led Seattle Sports host and former NFL quarterback Brock Huard to ask what kind of “multiple” players are available in this draft.

“It’s really hard to find that guy. It really is, Brock,” Davis said.

But two defenders did come to mind, and both have first-round buzz.

“What I’m looking at, though, is really like a Chop Robinson, the edge rusher for Penn State,” Davis said. “He blew away the combine with speed and agility and the whole thing.”

The 6-foot-3, 254-pound Robinson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, second-fastest among defensive linemen. He was a first-team all-conference selection in 2023.

Robinson is a physical presence with that kind of speed at over 250 pounds, but he had just four sacks last year at Penn State and 5.5 the year prior. His edge rushing counterpart, Adisa Isaac, had 7.5 and is seen as more of a Day 2 or Day 3 prospect, Davis said.

“But can Chop Robinson do more than just rush off the edge? Based off the speed, agility, what I saw, the answer is yes,” Davis said. “He becomes a much more versatile piece because of what we’ve seen.”

Another player that can do a lot on defense?

“I guess the closest, and I’ll leave it here, would probably be Cooper DeJean,” Davis said.

DeJean is a defensive back from Iowa who had seven interceptions over the last two years. He’s played all over the field for Iowa’s defense and had three interceptions for touchdowns in 2022.

“I can drop him in at the nickel. I can play him outside (at cornerback). I can bring him back to safety if I want to. I can make him a dime linebacker because of the size and the tackling ability. And then, of course, he can return punts,” Davis said.

In addition to being a stellar defender, the 2023 unanimous All-American was a standout punt returner, which was key for an Iowa team with a historically poor offense.

“This kid, he might be the closest we have (to a versatile player like Hamilton),” Davis said.

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

More on the Seahawks

• Salk: Do Seahawks’ three releases signal a big change?
• AP Mock NFL Draft: D-lineman to Seahawks in 1st round?
• What stands out after Seattle Seahawks’ 3 big cuts
• Huard: How Seahawks can still benefit from Russell Wilson trade
• The one UW player Seattle Seahawks shouldn’t pass on in draft

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Seahawks Draft: Versatile players for Mike Macdonald’s defense