If you have been waiting for some exciting news on the Devon Witherspoon front, you are in luck. Following a brief hold-up, the rookie out of Illinois inked his rookie contract and ended up showing out to camp. He joined a loaded position group, and on Tuesday he was getting some extended looks at nickel. He was seen taking reps with the first team defense as the third CB on the field, with second year DB Coby Bryant spending some time working at safety. According to some of the sources who had the opportunity to view the session, this was likely Witherspoon’s best practice thus far.
Thought this was by far Devon Witherspoon’s best day. Lots of action at nickel with the ones. Clint Hurtt confirmed after practice Seahawks also now looking at Coby Bryant as a safety to add options and versatility.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 1, 2023
Practice is over. Really good day for Devon Witherspoon, whose physicality is starting to become noticeable now that they’re in pads and hitting. Seattle’s top pick is still working as a nickel/dime defender with the No. 1 defense, as Tre Brown and Mike Jackson remain the top CBs— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) August 1, 2023
Devon Witherspoon with a great rep denying Tyler Lockett in red zone period. Tight coverage whole rep.— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) August 1, 2023
Mike Jackson is doing his best to keep his outside spot on lockdown, so Witherspoon will likely continue to see time at nickel going forward. This is great news, since it is essentially a starting position in the modern NFL, and is particularly critical in Clint Hurtt’s scheme.
On Devon Witherspoon discourse:— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) August 2, 2023
Elite Nickel cornerback harder to find and more valuable in the NFL than a perimeter dude (somewhat scheme dependent but it’s true with what the #Seahawks are running, for instance)
From what we have seen so far, Spoon is sticky, physical, and fiery. He hasn’t been afraid to lean into some of his aggressive tendencies, and this will endear him to his coaches and teammates. We have even had some chances to see him go up against JSN. Not a great throw in the clip below, but his ability to stay on Njigba like that bodes well.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves... Witherspoon is an exciting young player, but I have also seen him having plenty of rookie moments in his young career so far... there are a few clips of him being cooked in camp. Sometimes — like in the one below — it is by Tyler Lockett, which I feel is to be totally expected for any rookie unlucky enough to draw that assignment. Lockett is a technician on the football field, but Witherspoon is expected to go toe-to-toe and step-for-step with uniquely talented receivers on a weekly basis. But he has also had a couple lapses against guys who don’t have the name recognition or resume` that No-E does.
First of all, yes — that is Richard Sherman. Second, you may watch the clip and notice that the ball hits the turf and it goes down as an incompletion. That is true, and Witherspoon celebrates like he just got credited with a defended pass. From what I can see, though, Dee Eskridge simply dropped it. Eskridge is talented but he has hardly cracked the NFL surface in his first two years as a pro; if Witherspoon can’t blanket a guy like him, how will he hold up going against some of the top-tier pass catchers in the NFL? These are a couple examples of why it is so critical for rookies to hit the ground running, which is why I am so happy that the holdout situation fizzled out rather than turning into a more protracted issue.
The summer may be waning, but the football season is just beginning. I have high hopes for Devon Witherspoon and we are finally getting the chance to see what he can do on the field. The team knew that they were getting a talented, fiery, and physical performer when they drafted him, and he is putting those traits on display early on. I am particularly excited to watch him in the preseason, not only to see what he can do as a pro, but also to see where the team has him lining up. He’ll be joining not only Tariq Woolen and Mike Jackson, but also the likes of Coby Bryant and Tre Brown among others in the secondary. Whether or not he stays at nickel going into the season, the Seahawks seem to once again be loaded in the defensive backfield. With this in mind, he isn’t going to be handed a starting spot, and he has some fierce competition for playing time; fortunately, I get the impression that he is the type of guy who never backs down from a challenge.