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The upside for Seahawks in the return of Benson Mayowa

Los Angeles Chargers v Oakland Raiders Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

When the curtain came down on the Seattle Seahawks 2019 season in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs against the Green Bay Packers in January, fans were hopeful that the defensive line would be addressed in the offseason. Not only did fans hope that the team would bring back Jadeveon Clowney, who had been acquired in trade from the Houston Texans on the eve of the season, but they hoped for other big additions in free agency.

With names like Gerald McCoy, Mario Addison, Dante Fowler and Everson Griffen set to be available, fans had hopes and dreams of big name additions to the defensive front. However, in true Seahawks fashion, Pete Carroll and John Schneider opted to go a different route, and the result has been a large amount of disappointment for many Seattle fans.

There has been no shortage of complaints on the addition of Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa to address the team’s pass rush. Fans have asked how much Irvin has left in the tank with his 33rd birthday in less than two and a half months, and in recent days the fact the Seahawks are paying Irvin $6M this season, while the Dallas Cowboys just recently signed Everson Griffen to a one year contract for the same amount. In short, complaints about what the team has done have not been difficult to find, especially when it comes to the addition of Mayowa.

However, is there potentially hidden upside regarding Mayowa that the team is hoping will be realized that fans may be writing off? Physically and athletically Mayowa comps out well to former Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons, who was acquired in trade by the Hawks in the spring of 2010, angering Hawks fans who felt Daryl Tapp was the better player. Before getting too far into that, though, here is a look at how Mayowa and Clemons compare physically.

Physical and athletic profiles of Chris Clemons and Benson Mayowa

Category Mayowa Clemons
Category Mayowa Clemons
Height 6020 6030
Weight 241 236
40 time 4.73 4.68
20 time 2.67 2.75
10 time 1.64 1.72
Bench 19 18
Vertical 37.5" 35"
Broad 120" 116"
Shuttle 4.26 4.66
3-cone 7.05 7.48

Coincidentally, the Hawks added Clemons before 2010, which was his age 29 season, and likewise 2020 is set to be the age 29 season for Mayowa. Beyond that, each of the two had exactly 20.0 career sacks entering their age 29 season, and in fact through that point of their careers Mayowa has outproduced what Clemons did through the same point in his career.

Comparison of production for Benson Mayowa and Chris Clemons through age 28 season

Category Clemons Mayowa
Category Clemons Mayowa
Games 68 87
Starts 3 15
Passes Defensed 5 5
Forced Fumbles 5 6
Sacks 20 20
QB Hits 27 41
Tackles 62 131
TFL 17 34

And, that leads to the reason for hope: Beginning with his age 29 season in 2010, Clemons recorded 11, 11 and 11.5 sacks over the next three years in Carroll’s defense. So, while there is no question there is room for debate on whether the Seattle offense may be holding Russell Wilson and the team back, and the defensive performance has certainly slipped in recent seasons, there is no debate that Carroll knows how to coax maximum production out of players who fit his system.

And just like with Clemons a decade ago, Mayowa fits Carroll’s system.

Which is why Field Gulls own Alistair Corp has declared that the Mayowa hype train is about to leave the station, and for those who don’t want to miss it, it’s time to jump on.