With Earl Thomas yet to show up and Kam Chancellor’s retirement, Seattle Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald has been thrusted into some pretty big shoes to fill for the time being. McDougald is a savvy veteran who is still just 27 and has made his niche in the NFL by being a fierce competitor when opportunity knocks.
Backstory: McDougald was a true freshman wide receiver who came onto the scene at Kansas in 2009, finishing his first season with 33 receptions, 318 yards, 9.6 yards per catch, and 395 kick return yards. In the beginning of his sophomore season, new coach Turner Gill and Bradley decided it was in his best interest to switch to defensive back if he wanted to have any shot at the professional level. Bradley had great junior and senior seasons, but still end up going undrafted. He was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs, cut by the Chiefs midseason, and signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off waivers to make their active roster in late November during his rookie season. Fast forward to today, and McDougald has started 45 games over the last four seasons between the Bucs and Seahawks.
He’s earned his way from undrafted to reliable starter by being the type of player who does everything right, but nothing flashy or eye popping that would help him become a superstar in the common fan’s eye. Which often has its pros and cons.
Cons: Although he does everything well some GMs only want playmakers on the backend. Not saying that McDougald isn’t one in his own way, but he could do a better job of getting his hands on the ball for interceptions. He has a total of just five interceptions in the last four seasons. He’s not a risk taker, which is a trait that playmakers posses on every snap. But there are plenty of pros.
1). With not having all eyes on him no one will see him coming. Meaning opposing teams don’t spend too much time gameplanning for him week in and week out like they would do with Thomas or Chancellor, which has lead him to being a solid contributor for the past four seasons.
2). With McDougald being undrafted and unappreciated since college, it has only added fuel to his motivation.
3). Another pro about McDougald’s game is that he’s versatile. On the film breakdown you’ll see him play in the box in a “40 shade” from linebacker depth, you’ll see him at the 1-high single safety, at the nickel, and a few plays at corner. That’s a tough task in today’s game and did I forget to mention that he’s 215 lbs? That’s a lot of weight to be moving around on when you have to guard 4.3, 4.4 guys, and play in the box for 40% of the snaps. McDougald was one of the best run-stopping safeties in the NFL per PFF:
Strong safety Bradley McDougald has racked up 17 run stops on his 241 run defense snaps this year, which has resulted in a run stop percentage of 7.1 percent, the best rate among all safeties with at least 210 run defense snaps this year.
4). With him being semi-conservative on the backend he is almost always in position for good coverage. According to PFF, he finished with a “Green Trophy” in 2017, which translates to being High Quality in coverage, the second best trophy they give out for that category.
All in all, I believe that McDougald can be as good as he allows himself to be. I’m sure that’s not the concrete answer people are expecting to read, but he’s the type of player that constantly likes people to doubt him from what I hear. It feels better when many doubt your ability and then you prove them wrong again, again, and again. He’s done that for the past five seasons. I’d bet on him to do the same in season six.
Enjoy the breakdown #BeastMode2