The Seahawks are a team that has done a lot of roster shuffling this offseason. We have seen the likes of Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Carlos Dunlap, Duane Brown and others all leave the team this offseason. As a result of this roster turnover there are going to be young players who are provided with increased snap totals and a chance to truly breakout. Who are three players who look primed to take the next step for the Seahawks in this upcoming season?
Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton are going to be tasked with filling the Bobby Wagner sized hole at linebacker. The nine-time All-Pro defender departed for the Rams this offseason, leaving 1,128 defensive snaps that have to be filled as well as the 170 combined tackles he amassed last season. Brooks’ snap count will likely go up a tick or two from the 87% he played last season; however, the majority of that snap load is going to fall onto Cody Barton. Barton, who is entering his contract year, only has four starts and 454 career defensive snaps thus far in his career. It is unlikely we see him jump from his 189 snaps last season to 800+ snaps this season. Although, a number around 700 defensive snaps is certainly something that is in the cards for the former third round pick.
Of those 189 snaps last season he totaled 37 combined tackles, 3 missed tackles, 3 pressures and 1 tackle for a loss. None of those stats jump out off of the screen, but if you project that to a 700 defensive snap season he would be sitting at roughly 135 combined tackles, 11 pressures and 4 tackles for a loss. A season like that would certainly be a breakout for Barton and would line him up for a strong payday from Seattle or somewhere else this offseason.
Eskridge had a stop-start rookie campaign last season. He picked up a toe injury in training camp that hampered his participation in the preseason and he then suffered a concussion in Week 1 of the regular season, which cost him 7 games. In the 10 games the former second rounder appeared in his numbers were rather unimpressive. He totaled 187 offensive snaps where he totaled 10 catches, 64 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown and 59 rushing yards. Those numbers are certainly not what Seattle was hoping for from the 59th overall pick but nonetheless there are signs that point to a breakout in 2022.
- Seattle is likely to rely on the quick passing game this season with the turnover the offensive line suffered this offseason. This is something that plays into Eskridge’s hand as he is a true weapon in the screen and quick passing game near the line of scrimmage. He consistently excelled in it at Western Michigan and is likely to be utilized in it this upcoming season as highlighted in my prior article on him.
- He is expected to be healthy this upcoming season. Eskridge did miss part of mandatory minicamp with a hamstring injury, but he had no reported injuries that lingered into the offseason, nor did he require any offseason surgeries like so many players do.
- Seattle eased Eskridge along in 2021 in part due to the concussion he suffered but also because of how raw he was as a receiver. That is likely to not be the case in 2022 and if Seattle decides to unleash Eskridge whilst defenses are focusing on the likes of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett then he is in line to have a true breakout season.
Like Barton, Taylor is in line to see an increased snap total in part due to who departed this offseason. Both Carlos Dunlap, who appeared in all 17 games last season and played 481 defensive snaps, and Rasheem Green who started 16 games last season and totaled 846 defensive snaps, are no longer with the team. The likes of Uchenna Nwosu, Boye Mafe, and Tyreke Smith are all likely to see high snap counts in 2022.
Taylor does have a leg up on them as he is the only one with previous playing experience under new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt. Taylor only played 46% of available defensive snaps in the 16 games he played in last season, but he still generated an impressive 6.5 sacks. If that number can get up to 65%-75% it is certainly not out of the question to see him tally 10-11 sacks in 2022.