Brock: The Seahawks primed to make sophomore jump

May 10, 2024, 9:23 PM

Seattle Seahawks Derick Hall...

Derick Hall of the Seattle Seahawks reacts on Oct. 29, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

After a standout rookie season in 2022, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Riq Woolen took a step back and endured what’s commonly referred to as a “sophomore slump.”

It’s fairly common for players to see their numbers dip after strong debuts, as opposing teams gain more scouting information on a player and adjust their game plans accordingly. The flip side of that situation is the “sophomore jump,” when players break out during their second year in the league.

Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard highlighted four Seahawks players he sees primed for a sophomore jump Thursday during Blue 88 on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

Anthony Bradford, G

Bradford was a fourth-round pick and saw plenty of action as rookie on Seattle’s patchwork offensive line. The 6-foot-5, 332-pound LSU product appeared in 14 games, started 10 and played 76% of the team’s offensive snaps. However, a starting spot is far from guaranteed for Bradford in 2024, with the Seahawks singing veteran guard Laken Tomlinson and spending a third-round pick on Connecticut’s’ Christian Haynes.

“He played a little bit, got his feet wet last year,” Huard said. “… He’s now got a third-rounder that’s looking to take his job as a right guard. I think that competition with a guy younger than him could be very, very healthy.”

Kenny McIntosh, RB

The Seahawks took a flier on McIntosh in the seventh round of last year’s draft but didn’t get much of a chance to see him in action. The Georgia alumnus missed all three of Seattle’s preseason games and the first eight of the regular season after suffering a knee injury in early August, and he logged just 13 special teams snaps across three games after making his Week 10 return. McIntosh was a versatile threat out of the backfield for the national champion Bulldogs during his senior season, with 829 rushing yards, 505 receiving yards and 12 total TDs.

“In this system where we want to get the ball on third downs to some mismatches and create mismatches, Kenny McIntosh better show up this year or he’s not going to be in Seattle,” Huard said. “So he’s got a chance to make a jump because, well, there was nothing that unfortunately he was able to do a year ago.”

Derick Hall, EDGE

Hall checked a couple boxes that many Seahawks draft picks have over the years: he’s a great athlete and had strong showing at the Senior Bowl. However, there wasn’t a ton of production from the second-round pick during his rookie season. Hall played just 26% of defensive snaps and was featured about as much on special teams as he was defense. In 17 games, Hall had 38 tackles, three tackles for loss and no sacks, but as Huard pointed out, he all the tools of a high-level pass rusher.

“We talked a lot about (Los Angeles Rams’ first-round pick Jared Verse) the last few months,” Huard said. “We’re gonna see him in LA with the Rams. Jared Verse at the combine: 6-4, 254 (pounds), 33 1/2-inch arms. Derick Hall (is) 6-3, 254 (pounds with) 34 1/2-inch arms. Jared Verse ran a 4.58 (second 40-yard dash), Derick Hall ran a 4.55. Jared Verse jumped 35 (inches), Hall jumped 34. They both broad jumped exactly the same – 10 feet, 7 inches. They are physically, in that way, so unbelievably similar.

“Can Derrick Hall refine his game? Can he understand details? Can he utilize that great strength and power? This staff will hopefully bring it to light in a sophomore jump.”

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR

The Seahawks made Smith-Njigba the first wide receiver drafted in 2023 when they selected him in the first round at 20th overall. The Ohio State product joined a receiving room that already featured established veterans Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and he never really had a true breakout game as a rookie. He did end up with a respectable line of 63 catches for 628 yards and four TDs while slotting in as the No. 3 receiver.

“This dude is going to be on a mission and he’s going to have a system now that’s not just going to talk about using three receivers,” Huard said. “It’s going to be a system that’s gonna absolutely play to his strengths.”

Listen to the full Blue 88 segment at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6-10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

How will Riq Woolen fare in ‘ferocious’ Seahawks cornerback battle?
• What Huard keeps hearing about Seahawks coach Macdonald
• A rookie’s impression of Seattle Seahawks’ new coaches from UW
• What improvements Bump wants to see from Seahawks’ JSN
• How will new XFL-style kickoff rules impact Seattle Seahawks?

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Brock: The Seahawks primed to make sophomore jump