Let’s pick up making our way through the potential impact of the players on the 2021 roster. With one week until season opener, we’ve got only the big names and playmakers left.
At this point, with the lone exception of Kerry Hyder Jr, nobody on this list played more than like eight minutes of preseason football. These are the big dogs.
And it begins with an apology. Somehow, the 53-man list got jumbled over the course of the month it’s taken to put this out, and Will Dissly / Marquise Blair ended up on it twice in recent posts. The investigation is underway and I’ve already suspended my admin, but my condolences for screwing that up, and in their place should have been the following:
15. Chris Carson, running back
Carson has so established himself that he sat out all preseason, while a first round pick and a former starter both competed for backup jobs.
In a day that RBs are undervalued, having a better one it turns out is quite a bit better than having a worse one. The following, from former fearless leader Kenneth Arthur himself:
There are people who have built their entire online personas around the belief that literally any running back can do this https://t.co/SvtrmPR5qQ— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) December 1, 2020
The offense will not live and die with Carson, but it certainly doesn’t work as well without him.
15. Poona Ford, defensive tackle
Technically, Poona Ford should get the “next Doug Baldwin” comps far above fellas like John Ursua. He’s the best undrafted player since Baldwin and probably will stay that way for a long while. Ford the guy you should be most confident in stopping the run on the defensive line, with his eight tackles for loss and elite 4.8% missed tackle rate. Not only that, but he’s consistently proved above average at squeaking through the line for bonus pass rush. Ford jumped up to 2.0 sacks, seven QB knockdowns, 14 pressures, and nine QB hits. All of which were about quadruple what he’d done the year before.
The defensive tackle depth isn’t great, but Ford is a stud in the middle.
14. Quandre Diggs, free safety
The relief you felt when Diggs said he’ll be available to play for the season opener is an indicator of how important he is to this team.
Quandre Diggs is an essential piece to the defense thriving the way it has at times, especially with the free-running Jamal Adams as his counterpart. His greatest undervalued strength is his ability to find the football, culminating in an NFL fourth-best five interceptions last year. However, that was no fluke. As a safety, Diggs has turned in three picks for four consecutive seasons. He absolutely needs to be able to do that because of late, the Seattle corners have been slightly devoid of interceptions.
13. Gerald Everett, tight end
It’s been true for all of Russell Wilson’s career that he likes to throw to tight ends over the middle - especially lately. Everett and Shane Waldron denote a dedicated effort to maximize this tendency in Wilson’s game.
Greg Olsen? Gave him 7 million last year— Riley Michel (@rileymichel) September 4, 2021
12. Kerry Hyder Jr, defensive line
If preseason revealed (reveals) nothing else, it should be that (1) injuries suck and (2) football is a sum of its parts. Individually talented athletes were out there looking like a flock of startled cats at times, and not the good kind.
Enter again the importance of a second player who can rush the passer. Far and away the best Seattle preseason moments were when Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson were applying combined pressure. Carlos Dunlap was a massive addition to this roster, but imagine the upside gained and the cornerbacks overlooked if this team has consistent pressure from two sources. Kerry Hyder Jr. is the team’s gamble for one such source. At this point it looks like he won’t play opposite LEO as often as Darrell Taylor getting SAM linebacker snaps. Instead, Hyder retains the versatility he displayed with the San Francisco 49ers and his ability to generate pressure from multiple fronts. If Dunlap and Hyder can collapse the entire right side of the pocket in a way that we never saw last year, it will go a long way in protecting the worrisome cornerback hole on defense.
11. Gabe Jackson, guard
Jackson represents the biggest upgrade along the offensive line. Yes, he sure was also the only upgrade, but it was at the position of greatest need - at the time. Fast forward to September, and some are still wishing the team had taken Creed Humphrey in the draft. Hindsight is unfair here as Pocic has been injured far too much already, but by the end of last year Mike Iupati just didn’t have it. It’s not all that fun if you’ve got two good tackles, a great guard, and Aaron Donald on the wrong side of the left guard every other play.
It’s far superior to have this problem though, and I think fans are going to relish having the best guard tandem in the league for a change. That’s what landed Gabe Jackson highest on this list of the new recruits.
Coming up tomorrow: 10-6.