Seahawks Position Battle: Nickelback

There isn't much to say about Kevin Hobbs and what there is isn't complimentary. I've been led to believe Hobbs has made a quantum leap over the offseason, so instead of dragging his name in the mud, I'll simply say, prove it in the preseason.

The Winner:

Josh Wilson

Defenses employ a nickel personnel grouping on about a quarter of all plays. Those plays are often high leverage, third down plays. In 2007, Seattle deployed "Big Play" Jordan Babineaux as its primary nickelback. In 2007, Big Play had a projected quality as all the big plays came by the man Babs was "covering". If one play exemplified Babineaux's season, it was the pick 6 against Washington. With Seattle up 14 and only 44 seconds left on the clock, Babs cashed in on a season's worth of staring into the backfield, intercepting an errant Todd Collins pass and returned it for a score. A season's worth of clueless nickelback play, persistent gazing into the pocket while his assignment ran untouched, culminating in a worthless but flashy pick 6 to chainsaw an already moldering horse.

I digress.

This season, Seattle hopes to substitute Big Play with a competent corner. Ideally, 2007 second round pick Josh Wilson. I don't buy into human objectivity so I'm going out and say it, I like Josh Wilson and have wanted him to succeed since he was drafted. Kid's a little Bob Sanders and a little Darrell Green and should he hone his pickoff ability has terrifying return ability out of the nickel.

At Maryland, Wilson played as the Terp's "boundary" cornerback. That's not a term you hear much in the pros, but all it means is the corner who covers the short side of the field. In college, with their funky wide hashmarks, that can be a significant difference in area. The boundary is asked to contribute more against the run, blitzes more and sees more one-on-one coverage. It's considered the more demanding position (opposed to the "field" corner) in a college system but does not necessarily produce the best pro talent.

Wilson is a spirited tackler. He plays big, despite his size. He has excellent quickness and should grow into an excellent zone corner. Wilson is already a good man cover corner, true to Tim Ruskell's tastes, and should improve his ball skills in a less demanding position with a good secondary around him.

His father Tim Wilson was Earl Campbell's lead blocker. That's a bit like being George Foreman's boxing glove. Tim died in 1996 when Josh was just 11. His senior season, Josh Wilson was selected as All-ACC and won the James Tatum Award for top student athlete. He's chippy but high character and plays with a lot of pride. Wilson has the makings of an excellent nickelback, should he survive his own ferocity.

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