Seahawks Players with Most to Prove Ahead of 2021 Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 26, 2021

Seahawks Players with Most to Prove Ahead of 2021 Season

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks added more protection for Russell Wilson in the offseason with the trade for Gabe Jackson, but there could still be some worries about the play of the offensive line going into the 2021 season. 

    Duane Brown, Brandon Shell and Jackson form a solid core around him, but there are still two pieces on the interior that were responsible for Wilson's high sack totals of the last two seasons. 

    For Seattle to be competitive in what is expected to be a loaded NFC West, each member of the offensive line needs to improve on his performance from 2020. 

    If the Seahawks fail to keep Wilson upright again, it could result in a frustrating season on that side of the ball.

    Seattle has one of the best defensive quarterbacks in the NFL in safety Jamal Adams, but like Wilson, it needed to surround him with better players this offseason.

    The Seahawks brought in a few cornerbacks through the 2021 NFL draft and free agency to deal with the loss of Shaquill Griffin to Jacksonville

    If those players do not step up around Adams, the safety's play-making ability may be negated by long plays on the outside from Seattle's opponents. 

Ethan Pocic

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    Center Ethan Pocic will receive some help with Jackson next to him, but he still has to improve on his interior blocking to ensure Wilson stays on his feet. 

    In the last three seasons, Wilson was sacked on 146 occasions. He led the league in sacks in 2019 and he was close to achieving that feat last season. 

    Interior blocking is more important to Seattle than it may be for other teams since it has to see Aaron Donald twice in a season.

    By the time the Seahawks see Donald and the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5, Pocic and the offensive line will have faced plenty of tests. 

    DeForest Buckner and the Indianapolis Colts are first up on the schedule. The Colts ranked sixth in hurries per drop backs in 2020. 

    Tennessee, Minnesota and San Francisco follow before the Rams come to Lumen Field on October 7. The schedule does not get any easier in Week 6 with Pittsburgh on the road. 

    In the first seven weeks, Seattle faces three teams that ranked in the top 10 in sacks, two of the top four in quarterback knockdowns and three of the top 10 in hurries. 

    If Pocic can't handle those early tests, Seattle may have to look for a replacement at center to ensure Wilson is not on the ground a ton. 

Ahkello Witherspoon

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Ahkello Witherspoon was signed away from the 49ers in the offseason to replace Griffin in the secondary.

    By the time the season ends, Seattle could have a few options to rotate at the position, but for now, Witherspoon should be the favorite to start because he is the experienced option. 

    Witherspoon will be thrown into the fire right away with Indianapolis, Tennessee and Minnesota on the schedule in the first three weeks. 

    Each of Seattle's first three opponents should attack the outside to avoid challenging Adams and to test what some could perceive as a pieced-together unit.

    Witherspoon has 47 appearances in four seasons, but he only has four interceptions and has not had a season with more than 40 tackles. Griffin produced a single-season high of three picks in 2020 and had at least 59 tackles in each of his four seasons in Seattle. 

    If Witherspoon fails to replace Griffin's output, Seattle could turn to rookie Tre Brown, Pierre Desir or D.J. Reed to partner Tre Flowers. 

Jordyn Brooks

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    At some point, the Seahawks have to stop relying on their old guard to lead them in key defensive categories. 

    In 2020, Bobby Wagner led the team with 138 tackles. K.J. Wright was the next best player on the stat sheet with 86 take downs. 

    Wagner is still effective at 30, but he needs help from the younger linebackers, especially with Wright still being a free agent. 

    If Wright does not come back, Jordyn Brooks should be entrusted with more playing time and a larger role in the heart of the defense. 

    The 2020 first-round pick had a decent rookie season with 57 tackles in 14 games, but he did not make as much of an impact as Wagner and Wright.

    If Brooks increases his output next to Wagner in 2021, the Seahawks could feel more comfortable about where they stand at the position moving forward.

    If that occurs, the Seahawks could place most of their defensive focus in the next offseason on re-signing Adams and bolstering the secondary if need be. 


    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.