I think it’s fair to say that of the remaining teams left in this season’s NFL playoffs, only the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers will have their rookie draft classes playing significant roles for the remainder of their respective playoff runs.
For the 49ers, it was somewhat expected. Defensive end Nick Bosa burst onto the scene as an early Defensive Player of the Year candidate, wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s stats were not too far behind DK Metcalf’s, Mitch Wishnowsky is the team’s punter, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw is a Chase McLaughlin shanked field goal away from personally stopping the Seahawks from sweeping them this year.
It’s a different story for the Seahawks, as some rookie contribution was expected, just not necessarily the way it happened. First-round pick L.J. Collier was a healthy scratch last week and has been a total non-factor due to injuries and presumably not being up to speed with his role on the defensive line. Second-round pick Marquise Blair played nearly 200 snaps over a three-game span while Tedric Thompson was put on IR and Quandre Diggs hadn’t yet made his Seahawks debut. He has played only 28 defensive snaps since then, with Lano Hill preferred over him in Diggs’ absence.
As recently as the end of November, it looked as if DK Metcalf would be the only notable Seahawks rookie to have any consistent playing time on offense or defense.
Then a ton of shit changed.
Sixth-round pick Travis Homer was the fourth-string running back on the depth chart entering December. By the end of the regular season he was the team’s starter, with Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and C.J. Prosise all sent to IR.
After witnessing Jamar Taylor struggle week after week, the Seahawks waived the nickel corner and by Week 16 it was fourth-round Ugo Amadi’s job. Akeem King had previously been used as an extra DB in the aftermath of Taylor’s release, but Amadi has the job and has fared well thus far. It’s also worth nothing that Amadi has been outstanding as as a special teams gunner, which is very important given the loss of Neiko Thorpe.
Then there’s Cody Barton. The third-round choice out of Utah started twice in place of the injured Mychal Kendricks in December, went back to the bench for the last two weeks of the regular season, but now Seattle has no choice but to start Barton for the rest of the year thanks to Kendricks’ torn ACL. Barton responded with a sack, five tackles, and two passes defended in his maiden playoff start.
Last and also least (this is a subtweet in article form towards someone from Seahawks Twitter), seventh-round selection John Ursua has been a gameday inactive almost every week this season. It took injuries to Malik Turner and Jaron Brown and the suspension of Josh Gordon for the dream to become reality, but Ursua is now a part of the Seahawks offense. After playing only four snaps through Week 15, Ursua has shot up to 15 snaps. FIFTEEN. He had one catch for 11 yards that was a mere yard away from being an NFC West winning touchdown, and no targets against the Eagles. His 100% catch rate is hard to deny. If Turner and Brown can’t play again this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, Ursua may be on the field once more and ready to wreak havoc like the second coming of Chris Matthews.
Homer, Barton, Amadi, and Ursua were not meant to see meaningful playing time this late into the season. Metcalf has not only silenced critics, he has exceeded expectations as the #2 wide receiver. To varying degrees — okay probably not Ursua — the end result of this year’s Seahawks story will be written by a group of rookies whom we hope will help extend Seattle’s window of title contention.