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Seahawks camp competition at cornerback could be crucial

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

It’s a new era for the Seattle Seahawks, with the team looking to replace captains on both sides of the football following the departures of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner during the offseason. With the changes come the excitement and potential for the youth that has been added to the roster, but at the same time it will come down to the coaching staff to make the proper decisions regarding building the roster.

In particular, one of the positions at which the revamped defensive coaching staff, which now includes Karl Scott and Sean Desai, will be challenged before the season even starts against the Denver Broncos is at corner. Digging right to the core of the issue, the defensive coaching staff will be tasked with putting together a secondary that will, health permitting, have Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams deep, but which has a more questions than answers at the cornerback position.

There is, no doubt, that the cornerbacks on the roster possess a lot of potential, but before fans can truly get excited that potential needs to manifest itself in the form of on field performance, rather than just offseason hope and hype. The players who will be competing for spots on the roster at cornerback include:

  • Tre Brown
  • Coby Bryant
  • Artie Burns
  • Mike Jackson
  • Elijah Jones
  • Sidney Jones
  • John Reid
  • Josh Turner
  • Tariq Woolen
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair
  • Justin Coleman

There’s certainly reason for optimism with that group, as it is a group that is filled to the brim with youth, and most of the names on the list have shown something to warrant hope for upside in the future. However, on the flip side, the group does not offer much in the way of proven experience, as evidenced by their career snap counts:

Age and NFL experience in snaps played of current Seahawks cornerbacks

Cornerback Career Defensive Snaps Career Special Teams Snaps 2022 Season Age
Cornerback Career Defensive Snaps Career Special Teams Snaps 2022 Season Age
Tre Brown 255 11 25
Coby Bryant 0 0 23
Artie Burns 2412 699 27
Mike Jackson 29 20 25
Elijah Jones 0 0 24*
Sidney Jones 1673 166 26
John Reid 277 168 26
Josh Turner 0 0 23*
Tariq Woolen 0 0 23
Ugo Amadi 1318 580 25
Marquise Blair 412 294 25
Justin Coleman 3658 834 29
*Age/DOB not published by team

Staying on the topic of experience concerns for a moment, the only one of the twelve players on that list who has started a full season worth of games at the NFL level is Burns. Burns logged 1,784 of his 2,412 career defensive snaps during his first two seasons in the NFL, during which he started 25 of 32 games. However, he was benched just a few games into the 2018 season, and has started only 13 games while playing 628 defensive snaps over the past four seasons. Coleman and Amadi have played every game in a season on multiple occasions, but filling the nickel role for their teams, neither has started more than 11 games in a season.

Now, youth and inexperience does not mean a player will be bad, as Tre Brown excelled when given a shot to play and start as a rookie in 2021. That said, youth and inexperience do tend to mean growing pains, especially in a new system, so struggles along the way shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans.

What could come as a surprise to fans, though, is which of these names might not make the initial 53 man roster out of training camp when final cuts arrive. Since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010, the Hawks have never carried more than six cornerbacks on the initial 53 man roster, which makes cornerback one of the positions to watch during camp.

Burns and Sidney Jones likely have the inside track on roster spots at this point, between Burns’ experience with Desai as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2021 and Jones’ experience playing for Carroll. Assuming they both make the roster, that likely leaves four spots. The first names that fans are likely to slot into those spots are the fourth and fifth picks in the 2022 draft in Bryant and Woolen. If that is indeed the case, it leaves a pair of spots remaining, with whoever emerges in the competition at nickel corner between Amadi and Coleman getting one of those spots.

That would appear to leave a single roster spot for the final seven of:

  • Tre Brown
  • Mike Jackson
  • Elijah Jones
  • John Reid
  • Josh Turner
  • Marquise Blair
  • Amadi/Coleman (whichever of the two did not grab the nickel role)

The wild card(s), therefore, become the recoveries of Brown and Blair from their 2021 season ending injuries, and whether either of them starts camp and/or the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. If that proves to be the case for one or the other, or both, then things become even more convoluted as the team works to rebuild the position for the coming seasons.

And building the position for the coming seasons is something that is an absolute must for the Seahawks, because the list of cornerbacks currently signed to the roster past 2022 and into 2023 and beyond are:

  • Tre Brown (255 career defensive snaps, signed through 2024)
  • Josh Turner (0 career defensive snaps, signed through 2024)
  • Tariq Woolen (0 career defensive snaps, signed through 2025)
  • Coby Bryant (0 career defensive snaps, signed through 2025*)
    *Bryant has yet to sign his rookie contract, but upon doing so will be under contract through 2025

Thus, the question for the Seahawks becomes which of the veterans at the position who are only under contract for the 2022 season will work their way into the long-term plans at the position for the team? At this point it’s a question that cannot be answered, but the situation should certainly become more clear through training camp and as things develop through the regular season.