Sandwiched in between the L.J. Collier and DK Metcalf picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, Marquise Blair figured to be the future at the safety position for the Seattle Seahawks. Earl Thomas had departed, Bradley McDougald ended up aging pretty rapidly, and Tedric Thompson was self-explanatory.
Entering his contract year, it’s been a frustrating time in the NFL for the former Utah star.
Blair sparsely played in his rookie season even though it stands to date as his only (mostly) healthy year. He started three games in the middle of 2019, and after the Quandre Diggs trade he was relegated back to special teams, appearing in only a handful of defensive snaps the rest of the way.
Based on Pete Carroll’s comments after his first start against the Baltimore Ravens, it appeared as if Blair was behind on the playbook and knowing his assignments.
“I caught him (out of position) a few times, and I have to look at the film to really know, but for the most part he came through and he did fine,” Carroll said (via Seattle Times). “He had a couple of nice plays and was good playing the ball one-on-one. He seemed to hold up his edge. It was a pretty basic game for us in that regard, in what he had to do.
That’s as close as you can get to Pete saying “you’re not ready, dude.”
In 2020, Blair moved to nickel corner but remained a contributor on special teams. His forced fumble against the Atlanta Falcons helped blow that game wide open, but unfortunately he would tear his ACL the following week against the New England Patriots.
This past season, Blair returned a fumble for a touchdown in the preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers, and generally created reason for optimism for him to get more snaps as a rotating extra DB. Against the New Orleans Saints, Blair committed a critical roughing the passer penalty on Jameis Winston and then on the same drive suffered a season-ending knee injury yet again.
We enter year four for Marquise Blair and he only has 412 defensive snaps to his name. There doesn’t seem to be a route back for him to be a safety again and the nickel corner position is a bit more crowded following the return of Justin Coleman. Ugo Amadi didn’t have a strong 2021 but he has held up as the chief slot corner since Seattle mercifully ended the Jamar Taylor era. Coleman was Amadi’s predecessor from 2017-2018 and nothing from his stints with the Detroit Lions or Miami Dolphins indicate that he’s lost a step. Artie Burns, who will likely compete for a starting spot at outside corner, can also play on the inside.
Blair has flashed potential but he’s seldom been consistent when he has played and has historically not been available to play. Unless they want to move him to outside corner to help fill the void left by D.J. Reed’s departure — highly unlikely given the drafting of Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant — he doesn’t have an inside track to a starting spot at really any position in the secondary. With a heavily changed defensive coaching staff we really don’t know either way how Blair fits schematically, no matter how much his versatility has been advertised.
As is the case for everyone else from the class of 2019, Blair is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Perhaps when he’s healthy again they’ll resume playing him in the same role as they attempted to do in the previous two seasons. It’s also distinctly possible he’ll be fighting for a roster spot.