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Seahawks 2023 rookie minicamp: Could Cameron Young be the new starter at nose tackle?

The Seahawks have had success identifying difference makers in the later rounds of the draft, Cameron Young could be next.

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Mississippi State v Ole Miss Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks have some big shoes to fill with Al Woods and Poona Ford no longer in town. Heading into the offseason, the interior defensive line was always viewed as a need for the team, but especially so after the decision to sign Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed, who — while talented — are not prototypical nose tackles; they are more likely to slot in as big ends in Clint Hurtt’s scheme. Enter Cameron Young, the 4th round rookie out of Mississippi State. While he may not have the raw size of either Woods or Bryan Mone, he has potential to be a starter as a rookie at a position of need.

In his recent article in The Athletic, Michael-Shawn Dugar reported that Young put on roughly 20-lbs prior to minicamp in anticipation of holding down the middle of Seattle’s defensive front.

In defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt’s scheme, Young’s role will be more about gap control, either two-gapping as a head-up nose tackle or controlling a gap and a half in other alignments. Knowing that’s how Seattle planned to use him, Young went from being 304 pounds at the combine to 320-plus pounds at rookie camp.

“It gives me the ability to stay in my gap longer and hold those double teams for guys like Bobby Wagner to make plays,” Young said. “It really gives me that opportunity to play the gap-and-a-half scheme.”

With this extra mass, it isn’t difficult to see what Pete Carroll will like about Young; he has solid size, length, and power as a defender, and reportedly was a leader on the Mississippi State defense, according to Dane Brugler. In addition to his raw traits, he plays tough and looks disruptive on the field. He is more than a space filler — he can make his presence felt through the whistle.

While he isn’t expected to contribute as much to the pass rush as he is to the run defense, he is able to use his size and power to disrupt when given the opportunity. Here he is forcing top overall pick Bryce Young out of the pocket after taking on three fifths of the Crimson Tide offensive line.

Nose tackle isn’t the sexiest position on the defense, but it is important nonetheless. The Seahawks got repeatedly gashed by the run last season, and though the issue clearly extends beyond the defensive line, adding another capable run defender was a necessity for this squad. The team may not be done adding depth to their front seven, but Cameron Young might still have the clearest path to be a Week One starter of any of the team’s Day Three picks. While it is sad to see the days of Al Woods and Poona Ford coming to a close in Seattle, I have high expectations for Cameron Young. Hopefully, he will be the next great Seahawks defender drafted in the 4th round out of Mississippi State.