The Seattle Seahawks rookie class of 2022 is looking like something special. The team drafted nine players in April, and nearly all of them are making significant contributions to the team; Charles Cross and Abe Lucas look like they will be bookend tackles for many years to come, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant are impressing on an otherwise unimpressive defense, and Kenneth Walker III is making plays that would make Shaun Alexander proud. Boye Mafe has had ups and downs on a defensive unit that has mostly had downs so far, and he appears to be an ascending pass rusher from what I can see. Many of these guys have outplayed their draft position already, and we are only six games into the season. So let’s look at how each player has fared as we approach midseason.
Charles Cross — 1.09
Cross has started all six games for the Seattle Seahawks thus far. Rookie tackles often struggle as they acclimate to the NFL, and he is no different, but he has also looked like an impactful blocker who will develop into a long-term starter at the most important position on the offensive line. He currently has a higher pass blocking grade than any of the tackles drafted ahead of him, according to Pro Football Focus. He looks every bit the part of a franchise tackle for this team.
Trabalho fenomenal da OL aqui, com exceção de Damien Lewis.— Alexandre Castro (@alexcastrofilho) October 11, 2022
Charles Cross consegue o pancake e Abraham Lucas usa o leverage para levantar uma parede contra Cam Jordan pic.twitter.com/QQgzr2NGJv
Boye Mafe — 2.40
The former Minnesota Golden Gophers pass rusher has had his ups and downs so far, but he has picked up a sack playing in a rotational role, and has made two starts on the season so far. He is still developing as a defender, but he has clearly had some moments of looking like a three-down player, like this one:
Excelente jogada de Boye Mafe aqui. Se manteve disciplinado, um erro aqui e teria sido TD. pic.twitter.com/MvVGhAJxmJ— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) October 16, 2022
Kenneth Walker III — 2.41
After playing second fiddle to Rashaad Penny, Walker finally had an opportunity to start following Penny’s unfortunate season-ending injury. He responded by picking up 110 yards from scrimmage and his second touchdown of the season. He looks like a special running back, leading to this comparison to former Michigan Wolverines standout Aidan Hutchinson:
Abe Lucas — 3.72
Lucas has started every game so far and leads all rookie tackles with a pass blocking grade of 70.5 according to Pro Football Focus. The Seahawks have to be thrilled that they seem to have found their bookend tackles in the same draft, and hopefully they have the building blocks to field a formidable blocking unit for seasons to come.
The ability to anchor on command like this against power & inside moves from rookie RT Lucas is continually one of the more impressive things I've seen from any rookie OL this year. pic.twitter.com/djN6MXxv0r— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 14, 2022
Coby Bryant — 4.109
Bryant was overshadowed by Sauce Gardner while playing for the Cincinnati Bearcats, but by no means was he overlooked entirely; while his coverage game is still a work in progress, he has made one start on the season so far and leads the NFL in fumbles with 4. And he seemingly is getting better each week.
Coby Bryant vs Cardinals:— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) October 17, 2022
• 37 coverage snaps
• 7 targets
• 3 receptions allowed
• -1 receiving yards allowed
• 1 PBU
What a game for the Seahawks rookie CB pic.twitter.com/JvXJ7GTKcA
Tariq Woolen — 5.153
Wow. Woolen is tied with Jordan Poyer in leading the NFL in interceptions with 4 and is allowing a passer rating of 38.6 when targeted. Words can hardly describe how incredible Tariq has looked on the field, quickly proving to be basically everything that the team and fans hoped he would be. He has even received praise from Richard Sherman, who isn’t shy to point out the eerie similarities in their respective NFL careers:
Tyreke Smith — 5.158
Bo Melton — 7.229
The former Rutgers receiver was waived and signed to the practice squad; he has yet to be called up to the active roster and has not played any snaps in 2022.
Dareke Young — 7.233
Young has been a healthy scratch in 3 games and sat out another with an injury; he has only played seven total snaps and has yet to see any targets or record any significant statistics.
I think it is fair to say that the Seattle Seahawks have to be absolutely thrilled to be seeing six of their nine rookies not only finding playing time, but actually racking up starts and racking up stats. Four of these guys are the primary starters at their position (Cross, Lucas, Walker, and Woolen), and the other two (Mafe and Bryant) are key role players on the defense. After several seasons of hand-wringing over the declining returns on Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s draft magic, this organization looks to have gotten back to their roots and found impact players at nearly every point in the draft; even the three guys who haven’t played (or at least have barely played) are still on the team in some form or another. People were right to assume that the Seahawks would be “rebuilding” in 2022; but few expected them to be winning while they were doing it. Having impactful rookies all over the field is factoring heavily into their success this season, and gives this organization a massive amount of hope for the future.