Wyman: L.J. Collier could emerge as a No. 2 pass rusher for the Seahawks
The Seahawks need to improve at getting after the quarterback in 2020. That is without question after mustering just 28 sacks in the 2019 regular season.
One player Seattle is likely disappointed didn’t contribute much to the pass rush in 2019 was first-round pick L.J. Collier, a defensive end from TCU. In 11 games, Collier had just three tackles and no sacks or tackles for loss in 152 snaps.
Defensive end was clearly a position of need last offseason, especially after the team traded 2018 sacks leader Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs for draft picks, including the 2019 first-rounder that the Seahawks took Collier with. The team also signed Ziggy Ansah in free agency, though he had a season to forget, and traded for Jadeveon Clowney. Both those moves were done after the Seahawks selected Collier.
First-round picks always have high expectations attached to them, especially as they’re typically the position of need for the team selecting those players. Despite Collier not meeting expectations and actually being a healthy scratch throughout the season, Dave Wyman, a former NFL linebacker and current host of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore, has said that he thinks Collier will take a step forward. He went even deeper Wednesday afternoon, saying Collier could very well be the team’s No. 2 pass rusher behind Clowney if the latter re-signs in free agency.
“I would expect him to have a Rasheem Green-like leap, except maybe a little bit better. Maybe more production,” Wyman said.
What Wyman means by that is Green had a rookie year to forget, very similar to Collier.
Green played in 10 games and had one sack and just nine tackles. He had an injury in training camp, like Collier did, and struggled to catch up with the rest of the team. The 2018 third-round pick bounced back in 2019, however, and actually led the team in sacks with four and ended up starting eight games. He also forced three fumbles and deflected two passes at the line of scrimmage.
Wyman sees potential for Collier to play a big role for the Seahawks in 2020.
“What I saw in general, to characterize, a lot of plays just went away from him,” Wyman said. “So a lot of times, you go into a game, you do your job and you don’t have that much production. But you did your job and you grade out high, but you want to make plays, right? That’s the thing with him.”
Collier’s career actually started on a high note. In his first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, he drew a penalty on the man blocking him.
“He had such a good move inside that their backup tackle who reported (eligible) like (Seahawks backup offensive lineman) George Fant (did during the season) held him,” Wyman said.
Unfortunately for Collier, people often look at stats as the end-all be-all, Wyman said, similar to how some people look at Clowney as having a disappointing season in 2019 since he had only three sacks.
“Here’s what I see from L.J. Collier,” Wyman said. “He’s very powerful, he’s got good burst and I think he needs to work on his mechanics.”
Bringing up Green again, Wyman said when he watched Green do drills in training camp before 2019, coaches rarely corrected him on mechanics and that his technique paid off in a big way. A problem Green and Collier both had their rookie seasons was that they appeared lost when they did get in the game, even if they were doing their assignments correctly.
“I wrote that word down probably 10 times looking at L.J. Collier: He’s lost,” Wyman said. “That’s what you expect from a rookie, though … He fights through a block and the play (goes) away (from him) and he kind of jogs. He’s not into it and he’s also got to work on his pass rush (moves). He’s got one move, slap the hands down, and that’s all he does.
“Once he starts to develop those kinds of things, I see the burst, I see the power, I just see a guy who came in his rookie year (and) I think the injury in camp really effected him and he just never got any momentum going and then a lot of plays never came his way. He drew a bunch of double teams.”
Wyman also said Collier impressed by being “stingy with the space” when he received playing time.
“He’s fighting for every last inch … he’s always pushing and leaning and trying to break down a gap, so that’s the other thing I see for him. He fights for it, man,” he said. “He was not that bad … I would just say to Seahawks fans, (Collier’s rookie season) was not that bad … I didn’t see him ever hurt the defense.”
Listen to Wyman discuss Collier with Bob Stelton and Michael Bumpus at this link or in the player below at the 23:35 mark. Also hear why Wyman compares Collier to Seahawks legend Jacob Green, the franchise’s all-time sacks leader.
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