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Seahawks (re)building through the draft

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Tuesday Field Gulls took a look at how the Seattle Seahawks have spent over $100M of cap space on one year contracts from 2017 through 2022, without a whole lot of return to show for it. Many of those one year contracts went to players who did not perform poorly, but who may have prevented younger players stuck behind them on the depth chart from seeing the field and gaining experience.

Whether or not that led to a cycle of one year contracts preventing younger players from playing, what is known is that the team came in below average in terms of the percentage of snaps played during the 2021 season came from players originally drafted and developed by the team.

Coming in at 58.2%, the Seahawks had a lower percentage of snaps from players originally drafted or signed by the team as undrafted free agents of all but the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. Obviously, 58.2% is not a unreasonably low, but the teams coming in on the low end of this - the Houston Texans, New York Jets and New York Giants - would seem to indicate that it may be better to have a higher percentage of snaps from home grown talent. Here’s the data for the entire league plotted.

Obviously, there could be multiple factors driving this, and it’s not like the teams that came in at the top of the table - the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints - had great 2021 seasons. That said, it’s just a single data point to keep in mind when pondering the rebuilding process in which the Seahawks currently find themselves.

Taking this and looking to get a rough estimate for 2022, here’s a way too early, way too unspecific projection of the potential 2022 starters and whether they were drafted or signed originally by the Seahawks.

Seahawks projected 2022 starters and whether they were originally drafted/signed by the team

Offense Snap Pct Defense Snap Pct
Offense Snap Pct Defense Snap Pct
Geno Smith/Drew Lock 0 Poona Ford 100
Rashaad Penny 100 Al Woods 0
Will Dissly 100 Shelby Harris 0
Tyler Lockett 100 Darrell Taylor 100
DK Metcalf 100 Uchenna Nwosu 0
Dee Eskridge 100 Jordyn Brooks 100
Charles Cross 100 Cody Barton 100
Damien Lewis 100 Artie Burns 0
Austin Blythe 0 Sidney Jones 0
Gabe Jackson 0 Quandre Diggs 0
Abe Lucas/Stone Forsythe 100 Jamal Adams 0
Offense Total 72.73% Defense Total 36.36%
Team Total 54.55%

So, on the offensive side of the ball the Hawks could certainly see a significant percentage of snaps from homegrown talent, and if somehow Jake Curhan or Phil Haynes winds up grabbing the starting spot at right guard, the team could see the number move above 80%. Of course, this assumes three starting receivers, so if Shane Waldron opts for two tight ends or Noah Fant winds up grabbing the starting role over Will Dissly, it could remain in the 70s.

However, on the flip side, the defense could wind up seeing barely a third of snaps from homegrown players. Some fans will certainly argue that Coby Bryant or Tariq Woolen will wind up starting, and that certainly wouldn’t be unexpected. That said, the Seahawks have been hesitant to start youngsters as rookies. Tre Brown did not earn the starting nod until Week 8, while Shaquill Griffin and Richard Sherman did not start until Week 5 and Week 7 of their respective rookie seasons.

It’s certainly interesting that on the defensive side of the ball in 2021 the Seahawks had roughly half of their defensive snaps from players who were originally drafted or signed by Seattle. Depending on whether one wants to count Benson Mayowa as having been originally signed and drafted by the team, the Hawks finished 2021 with either 53.27% or 49.61% of defensive snaps from those players who were originally drafted or signed by the Hawks.

In any case, as the team moves into the latter portions of the 2022 season and then into 2023, it’s not difficult to imagine many of the younger players on the roster taking on greater roles. Those like Woolen, Bryant, Boye Mafe, Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor could easily form the core of a homegrown defense that sticks together for several seasons, even if the back end is protected by a pair of hired guns at safety.