Devon Witherspoon named most important non-quarterback for Seahawks

Seahawks fans have a lot to be hopeful about heading into the first year of the post-Pete Carroll era. New head coach Mike Macdonald comes in with a reputation as a defensive genius, having turned the Ravens into the best defensive unit in the NFL in less than two seasons’ time. If Macdonald can get the most out of what has been a talented but underperforming defensive unit, it will go a long way towards making a Seattle a contender again.

Nobody has more reason to be excited about Macdonald’s arrival than second-year cornerback Devon Witherspoon. Taken at No. 5 overall in last year’s draft, Witherspoon hit the NFL scene like a meteor, quickly establishing himself as one of the top young defensive backs in the league. Witherspoon eventually finished No. 4 in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting behind stars like Will Anderson Jr. and Jalen Carter, but we’ll take Witherspoon’s ceiling over any other defender in that draft class.

In 2023 Witherspoon proved he has the tight coverage skills we saw at Illinois and the willingness to put his nose in and make tackles (Week 17’s disaster against the Steelers notwithstanding), but we also learned he’s a superb pass rusher and disrupter from the slot. Wherever he lines up, Witherspoon will be a foundational piece for Macdonald’s defense.

In fact, one could argue that Witherspoon is the single most important non-quarterback on the Seahawks roster right now. Apparently Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News agrees.

“Witherspoon starred immediately as a rookie, earning Pro Bowl honors to justify his No. 5 overall selection in the 2023 draft. He will be a key playmaker in the new secondary scheme of defensive-minded coach Mike Macdonald, and will push Riq Woolen and Michael Jackson to better play behind an improved front seven.”

In recent years this honor would have rightfully gone to star wide receiver DK Metcalf, who has made two Pro Bowl teams and averaged over 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns per year. Impressive as Metcalf has been, he hasn’t quite lived up to his full potential given what may be the best athletic profile of any wide receiver in the game. Witherspoon surpassing him in just one year as the biggest non-QB on the team speaks both to his own ability but also Metcalf falling just a little bit short of what he’s fully capable of.

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One more reason for the Seahawks and their fans to look forward to the Mike Macdonald era. Getting Metcalf playing at an elite-receiver level like he should have been all along will be a significant piece of the puzzle in Year 1.


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