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A way too early 53 man roster projection for 2023 Seahawks defense

Took a stab at predicting the 2023 Seahawks offense Sunday, and here’s a guess at the defensive side of the ball.

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

It’s the middle of the offseason, and on Sunday Field Gulls took a way too early attempt to project the initial 53 man roster for the 2023 Seattle Seahawks on the offensive side of the ball. With that done, Memorial Day can be spent on the defensive side of the ball, and with no need to waste any time, it seems prudent to jump right into the predictions.

Defensive Line (7):
Keep: Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, Mario Edwards, Mike Morris, Myles Adams, Cameron Young and Forrest Merrill
PUP: Bryan Mone
Cut: MJ Anderson, LaTrell Bumphus, Austin Faoliu and Johan Tavai

Jones, Reed, Edwards, Young and Morris seem like locks, with Adams’ 2022 performance seemingly giving him a strong leg up on the others in the group. Depending on how well Mone progresses through rehab, it seems possible the Hawks could potentially go light at the position to start the season, but given the reports regarding the severity of the injury, it seems unlikely Mone starts the season anywhere but on the physically unable to perform list.

Linebackers (8):
Keep: Bobby Wagner, Devin Bush, Uchenna Nwosu, Boye Mafe, Darrell Taylor, Derick Hall, Nick Bellore and Jon Rhattigan
PUP: Jordyn Brooks
Cut: Cam Bright, Vi Jones, Joshua Onujiogu, Patrick O’Connell, Alton Robinson and Tyreke Smith,

Several of the names on the keep list are extremely easy, including Wagner, Bush, Nwosu, Mafe and Hall. Sure, there was a proposal from CBS Sports that Nwosu could be on the chopping block for cap purposes, but teams don’t tend to improve defensively by releasing their best player just as he’s reaching an age at which he’d expect to reach peak performance. Add to that the amount of turnover the Hawks are already dealing with in the defensive front seven, and it seems pretty far fetched that they’d move on from Nwosu.

Taylor is a name that has been bandied about as a potential trade or cut candidate with the addition of Hall to a room that already includes Mafe and Nwosu. Sure, Taylor hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations of fans, struggling against the run and in coverage, but the reality is that with two years of team control remaining and sixteen sacks over the past two seasons, it’s unlikely Taylor goes anywhere anytime soon. Sure, he’s a one-trick pony at this point, but that one trick is an extremely valuable trick. So, in spite of playing just 485 snaps during the 2022 season, the 9.5 sacks he recorded is tied for the most by any member of the Seahawks defense over the past four seasons with Nwosu in 2022 and Jamal Adams in 2020. A situational pass rusher likely isn’t what they hoped they were getting when they drafted him, but it’s a valuable enough role that they won’t move on without getting something significant in return.

Bellore and Rhattigan seem likely to continue their reign as special teams monsters, with Rhattigan continuing to improve following a return from a 2021 knee injury that kept him out of most of the 2022 campaign. Robinson and Smith are the names that are most likely to surprise people, but the reality is that Robinson has 44 tackles and 5.0 sacks in three seasons, which is barely more than 41 tackles and 3.0 sacks Mafe recorded while playing a depth role behind Nwosu and Bruce Irvin as a rookie. As for Smith, injuries derailed his rookie season, just like they derailed his senior season, just like they derailed his junior season, just like they derailed his sophomore season and just they derailed his freshman season. Yes, he’s got talent, but unless he magically finds the fountain of health, making an impact in a stacked edge rusher room seems an uphill battle.

The wild card here is, of course, Brooks, and how quickly he recovers from a significant late season knee injury. Sure, Pete Carroll is confident that Brooks is confident he will be ready for training camp, but the reality is that the physically unable to perform list seems more likely than the 53 man roster initially.

Cornerbacks (7):
Keep: Devon Witherspoon, Tariq Woolen, Mike Jackson, Tre Brown, Coby Bryant, Artie Burns and Isaiah Dunn
Cut: Lance Boykin, Arquon Bush and James Campbell,

Witherspoon and Woolen are in, and given how managed to hold off the competition for the left cornerback position in 2022, Jackson has the inside track as the third cornerback on the outside. The interesting competition to watch could be on the inside, where both Dunn and Burns have athletic measurables that are not dissimilar from the athletic profiles of the nickel corners who have found success for Seattle in the past, including Justin Coleman, Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead. Given the makeup of the secondary, it seems likely the team might attack the nickel role situationally, depending on the personnel being covered.

Safeties (5):
Keep: Quandre Diggs, Julian Love, Jamal Adams, Joey Blount and Jerick Reed
Cut: Ty Okada, Jonathan Sutherland, Christian Young and Mo Osling

As much as some fans want to move on from Adams, it appears as though he’ll be given every chance to show off his recovery and reclaim his role as a playmaker on defense. As for why he’s not projected to start the season on PUP while Jordyn Brooks and Bryan Mone are, the simple answer is that Adams was injured in Week 1, as opposed to Week 16 or Week 14 like Brooks and Mone.

Outside of Adams, Diggs and Love seem all but locks, while Blount’s 175 special teams snaps in 2022 and Reed’s status as a draft pick give them the inside track over the undrafted free agents.

For those curious, with just one kicker, one punter and one long snapper currently on the roster, outside of an injury or off field incident like an ATV crash or whatever, there’s no need for a standalone article to project Jason Myers, Michael Dickson and Chris Stoll to make the roster on special teams.