The Seattle Seahawks righted some dire defensive wrongs on Thursday, and set themselves back up to contend for the NFC West title. Two heroes stood out from the game against the Arizona Cardinals, one on either side of the ball, both newcomers to the team. Damien Lewis and Carlos Dunlap bookended the game from the first play to the last, and made it abundantly clear that the newbies are vital to the success of this franchise.
It seemed timely to evaluate all the first-year Seahawks and see how they’ve impacted the Seahawks thus far. This is an attempt at placing actual value added to the team this year. Almost everyone on this list has missed games, which has greatly affected several players whom many thought would be immediate contributors (Jamal Adams, Quinton Dunbar and Darrell Taylor, for example).
Here’s the full list:
- Damien Lewis
- Brandon Shell
- Carlos Dunlap
- Jamal Adams
- Greg Olsen
- Jordyn Brooks
- Carlos Hyde
- D.J. Reed
- Quinton Dunbar
- Alton Robinson
- Benson Mayowa
- Freddie Swain
- DeeJay Dallas
Stud. Lewis has completely owned his position at right guard, and there’s never been a whiff of regret in starting a rookie from day one for the entire season. Seattle’s never really had that on the offensive line. But his move to Center last week, something he never played before at a collegiate level, was statue-worthy. Tons of value added to a team that has historically failed at transitioning well along the offensive line.
Similarly, Shell’s value comes from the fact that he immediately stepped in and played almost every snap. He’s also had only four penalties this year, which was around Germain Ifedi’s per-game average if memory serves. Shell is currently allowing extremely few pressures, and it’s fortunate he’s got some time to let his leg injuries heal up. A massive addition to the line just in time for Russell Wilson to start cooking.
So the #Seahawks top two pass blockers per PFF this week were Mike Iupati and Brandon Shell. Each allowed 1 pressure each against the Cardinals.— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 21, 2020
In three games, Dunlap has earned the third spot on this list. Dunlap has fulfilled the one thing that a six-man rotation could not seem to do in half of a season: win multiple one-on-one matchups per game. He’s basically tripled his sack, QB Hit, and Tackle for Loss totals from the Cincinnati Bengals in three games. The defensive turnaround started last week, and holding the Rams to 23 would have been a big deal had Wilson managed to not throw the game away. On Thursday, it seemed to click even more and Dunlap sacked this year’s best running quarterback twice. Best trade of the year.
Adams showed up Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons and looked like Defensive Player of the Year was inevitable. Then, he missed four and a half games. I have yet to re-watch the Arizona game fully but he’s listed for one solo tackle which is astounding. He is a very strange version of a strong safety, and Pete Carroll is fully into figuring out what that’s supposed to look like on this team. Adams only has two of his six games played in which he did not record a sack, which is the way he prefers to play. He’s obviously very comfortable and very gifted, it only takes a minute of watching to figure that out. He just hasn’t found his groove yet and his impact on the game has come in waves.
This is a tough one. The signing is still hard to justify for me, at the time it was done and the way it was done and then the draft that took a fourth-round tight end anyway. However, Olsen has been without question the most infrequently-used-but-clutch player on this roster. Besides Jason Myers now that I think about it.
But this stat is wild: Greg Olsen has only 23 receptions this year, 15 of them going for first downs. That’s 65% of his catches are for first down, higher than Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, David Moore, Will Dissly...you get the picture. He made some of the strangest blunders on offense this year but was exactly where Wilson needed him, twice per game. It’s an unfortunate loss for the Seahawks due to his foot injury.
Brooks seems to be getting better, and is a very valuable fit at linebacker with speed that Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright might not have any longer. Coverage has been the issue on this defense, coverage was what he was dinged for coming out of college, and coverage does not seem to be a big weakness for Brooks.
Oh my goodness Jordyn Brooks pic.twitter.com/iztrzpFRLl— Alistair Corp (@byalistaircorp) November 17, 2020
In truth I originally had Hyde even higher on this list initially. Then I checked, and he’s only had 45 carries this entire season. He’s missed most of the same games as Chris Carson. Bias of recency makes his value seem sky-high right now, because the drop-off from those to to DeeJay Dallas / Travis Homer is quite noticeable. 5.6 yards per carry against Arizona and refreshing as the moment you get in your car and can take your mask off to see a bona fide running back hitting gaps hard and hitting Patrick Peterson harder.
Carlos Hyde delivers the BOOM pic.twitter.com/bH7Q0XGZNo— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 20, 2020
If Carlos Dunlap is the best trade of the year, D.J. Reed is the best nearly-forgotten signing. Suddenly playing in 100% of cornerback snaps in consecutive games, Reed has become the definition of an essential worker. There’s nobody left on this roster, and while 138 air yards in essentially three games is not great, he’s still out there making plays. Furthermore, while a couple months ago many thought he’d be only a returner, turns out he’s been a serviceable DB while definitely being good at that whole return thing too. It’s not like he’d make a difference on the San Francisco 49ers at this point in their season, but a big phenomenal yay that he’s here instead.
This is trending towards the biggest disappointment of the offseason. Not because Dunbar isn’t good, but he’s simply unable to contribute. Dunbar quietly hurt his knee against the New England Patriots in Week 2, and has never recovered. He missed a couple games, including one where he came back to practice but was scratched later on, and had the agility of modern day Tiger Woods in Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills. Right Cornerback was what many thought to be the second biggest need on this defense in the offseason, and he’s not been a positive factor in eight games.
I know not to put too much hope in fifth-round rookies. I know this. But this was so exciting!
In the final seconds of the game, rookie Alton Robinson records his first NFL sack!— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 28, 2020
: FOX pic.twitter.com/4y2IQoveWP
Everyone’s celebrating Carlos Dunlap’s game-ending sack on a three-man rush, well, he clearly took it right out of Robinson’s playbook! To Robinson’s credit, he’s played in every game since he was activated in Week 3, even though he recorded not one single statistic against the Buffalo Bills. Robinson is good but not developed enough to be a consistent playmaker, which is fine for the time being. It’s a far better position for Seattle to not depend on big plays coming from fifth-round rookies.
I admit to being swooned by Mayowa’s first game. That Superman sack of Matt Ryan had me boondoggled for days. But he’s been quiet since then as Seattle did what they promised and dropped his snaps to around 63% per game. He got just three QB hits in the next four games, missed three consecutive games, and then played 18 snaps against Arizona.
The fact of the matter is that Freddie Swain has done what John Ursua never could: make a second catch. The sixth-round wide receiver quickly earned enough trust from Wilson to receive multiple looks per game, which is remarkable as effectively the sixth receiving option. The fact that he’s on this list at all is a big nod in his favor. He’s on the active roster playing every game, and should fight to be here for the duration of his rookie contract.
Dallas has not really been asked to do much besides carry the run game for a game and a half. The best that can be said about Dallas is he didn’t fumble the ball. He’s had a couple of big runs mixed with a bunch of duds, and caught all but two of the passes thrown his way. That last one is an encouraging stat, and might be enough to keep him around to get more looks if he can clean up the pass protection.
- Colby Parkinson
- Darrell Taylor
- Bruce Irvin
- Stephen Sullivan
- None of the undrafted free agents have been involved as of yet so they have not been included
There we have it, with some pretty incredible contributions from rookies alongside trade targets and free agents.
Take to the comments with your own suggestions!