Entering last season, Seattle Seahawks fans expected big things out of then rookie second-round edge Boye Mafe. Unfortunately, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher struggled to make much of an impact as a pass rusher despite playing in 17 games; he registered just three sacks, four QB hits and three tackles for loss.
Mafe did suffer a shoulder injury during the second preseason game last year, which potentially hampered him throughout the season, but regardless it was a disappointing debut. However, this preseason Mafe has looked like the explosive pass rusher and edge setter that has resulted in a few flash plays, a few of which we will review below.
Boye Mafe has much more pop in his hands this year. Biggest difference from his rookie season (and college profile). Two plays back to back here--one pass and one run--where it's easy to see. pic.twitter.com/X3Ap3de3r7— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) August 21, 2023
The power in Mafe’s hands is beyond evident on the first play and something that should make Seahawks fans salivate this season. Mafe, who is lined up on the defense’s left in a two-point stance, explodes off of the line before converting that speed into power and blowing right through the Cowboys right tackle. He is extremely precise with his hands as well, as he strikes the RT square in the chest and moves him to the side which forces the quarterback to speed up.
The second play is a lot less exciting for me personally. For starters he is going against a tight end and edges should always have, well, the edge against them in blocking situations. He also does not get below the pad level of the tight end, which was something that concerned me when he was coming out of Minnesota. Additionally, rather than getting his hands on the tight ends chest plate, they actually worked high onto the helmet of the Cowboy. It is the preseason though so hopefully this is more so rust on his part than anything.
Boye Mafe sets the edge, knocks his block back with violent inside hands & stays disciplined as he waits for the RB to commit. Mafe sheds his block & gets the TFL! #stoptherun #seahawks pic.twitter.com/avcc4VLn3i— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) August 11, 2023
One of Mafe’s best traits coming out of Minnesota was his ability to utilize both his length and strength in the running game, with both traits on full display here. He gains leverage off of the snap, has accurate hands and gets his arm extended, which allows him to perfectly set the edge. Once the running back gets outside of the tackle he disengages and makes the tackle for a loss. These were the type of plays I expected Mafe to make in his rookie season so hopefully this play was a teaser to his coming out party in 2024.
Boye Mafe was getting it done last night as well pic.twitter.com/gvfFiZp01w— Marcellus Maddox (@CellusWrites) August 20, 2023
Mafe won on this play with a rip move, which was something he hardly ever used at Minnesota. He executes it perfectly by first accurately striking the tackle in the chest and then getting his inside hand to the outside, which allows him to rip through the tackle’s arm. Once he is able to do that he uses his upper body strength to fight through the contact before batting the pass down.
Pete Carroll said Mafe was one of the most improved players of the offseason, and preseason has backed that statement up. If he can continue this into the regular season it will be a huge boost to the Seahawks defense.