This offseason saw the Seahawks hand out a 2-year, $19,055,000 contract with $10,535,000 of it fully guaranteed to edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu. If you have read any of my prior stories covering Seattle’s edge room, you know that I love Nwosu as a player and what he is going to offer to this Seahawks defense. Below we are going to evaluate what it is that Nwosu brings to the table as a pass rusher and how that is going to help him get to 10+ sacks this upcoming season.
Uchenna Nwosu is playing really well today, stepping up big time while Joey Bosa has been off the field. pic.twitter.com/CwnakUvEE6— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) December 5, 2021
Mitchell Schwartz can't land his punch after Uchenna Nwosu clubs away his hands. Mahomes ends up on his back again. KC's tackles are really struggling with the speed of the Chargers ends. #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/D5QiOpGqtZ— Mitchel Summers (@MitchSummersTV) September 20, 2020
In watching Nwosu as a player the only thing that flashes more than his overall athleticism is his hand usage, which is present on the majority of his snaps. On the first play we see Nwosu get off of the line a little sluggish but that does not prevent him from getting to Joe Burrow. He does a good job of keeping his hands moving throughout the play and utilizing a slight swipe of the lineman’s inside arm to disengage with him and gain enough leverage on him to get around him.
Nwosu does slightly over rush Joe Burrow, but he maintains the presence of mind to still go for the football and force a fumble on the play. The second play is a very savvy pass rushing move from Nwosu, rather than going straight on with a head of steam and trying to swipe his hands away. Nwosu instead slows it down right before the point of contact to force the left tackle to bring his arms out. Upon doing that Nwosu goes for an immediate swipe which lets him beat the tackle with ease and gives him a straight shot at Lamar Jackson. On the final play Nwosu completely takes Mitchell Schwartz out of it with a quick club once Schwartz flashed his hands. The former Chief is able to force Nwosu up field slightly, but his burst still allows him to get home to Mahomes forcing a throw behind Kelce.
Uchenna Nwosu bull rushes Terron Armstead into Drew Brees' lap for the sack pic.twitter.com/qmw34zWKEj— PFF (@PFF) October 13, 2020
High-level speed to power rush by Uchenna Nwosu against LT Orlando Brown Jr here. This was a fun battle to watch. pic.twitter.com/JyVnzkpsBP— Steven Haglund (@StevenIHaglund) September 29, 2021
Nwosu does a great job of converting speed into power as shown in both of these clips against two of the better left tackles in the league. On the first play we can see Nwosu slow it down before the point of contact with the hopes that Terron Armstead is going to drop his arms to protect both the inside and outside pass rushing lanes. Once Armstead drops them down Nwosu strikes him in the chest, setting him back at the point of contact allowing him to drive Armstead back.
In the second clip Nwosu stutters right before the point of contact but does not slow it down nearly as much as the first play because Orlando Brown Jr.’s hands are down already. Nwosu is immediately able to get Brown Jr. off balance at the point of contact and as a result Brown Jr. is forced to throw him down in what was a pretty obvious hold. On both plays we can see just how heavy Nwosu’s hands are. Terron Armstead and Orlando Brown Jr. are two of the stronger offensive linemen in the league and Nwosu is able to set both back at the first point of contact with relative ease.
On this play, which also comes against Orlando Brown Jr. but from the defense’s left side instead, Nwosu shows off a strong long arm, which he combines with a rapid first step. This prevents the former Ravens offensive tackle from being able to do nothing more than force Nwosu up field. Nwosu’s pressure forces Lamar Jackson to step up in the pocket to try and avoid the edge who has the awareness to stick his hand out and go for the forced fumble which he is successful in doing. At first glance it does appear that Nwosu over-rushes the former MVP, although he goes right to the 36-yard line which was Jackson’s deepest drop point during his drop. Being able to feature a quick first step paired with a long arm move is a deadly weapon for Nwosu to have against bigger and more heavy-handed offensive lineman.
Uchenna Nwosu had his way with Christian Darrisaw.— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) November 17, 2021
Nwosu sells his rush to one side, gives Darrisaw a short stutter, then has a clear path to Kirk Cousins. pic.twitter.com/Ae6ecwK586
Nwosu starts this move with the anticipation that he is going to have to swipe Darrisaw’s hands in order to get to Kirk Cousins. Although Nwosu’s jab step to Darrisaw’s outside shoulder was quick enough that it forced the left tackle to sell out to protect his outside shoulder. Nwosu does a great job in switching in between gears seamlessly on this play which allows him to also beat the right guard to the spot inside. Nwosu is a fantastic athlete, and it shows in just about every single play shown above, although this play does a fantastic job in putting a spotlight on just how great of an athlete he is.
How does he get 10+ sacks this season?
Nwosu has multiple ways to beat offensive linemen as highlighted above which is going to give him a strong shot at averaging a little over half a sack per game. There are so many pass rushers who are reliant on one to two moves that only work against certain types of offensive lineman, however Nwosu is not one of those rushers. Additionally, with Clint Hurtt discussing his desire to have edge’s drop into coverage fewer times compared to last season Nwosu will likely be utilized more so as a pure pass rushing edge/OLB. In addition to tha,t Nwosu also only played in 67% of the Chargers available defensive snaps. That number is likely to increase this season which simply put means more pass rushing opportunities for the new Seahawk. With those three factors in mind, it is easy to envision the former Charger doubling his career high sack total of 5.