Hawks focus on familiarity, fit

While the spotlight on the first day of the league year understandably was on Russell Wilson’s official departure from Seattle and arrival in Denver, the Seahawks were busy building back their roster.

By the end of the first day, they had seen five players depart, five return and six newly arrive (including the three they got in the Wilson trade) — leaving them with just four positions to fill (QB, LT, RT, RB).  

They are focused on their typical traits: familiarity, scheme fit, rehabilitating former high picks.

John Schneider and Matt Thomas did well to keep Quandre Diggs and Sidney Jones while adding another corner (Artie Burns) to replace D.J. Reed, upgrading at center (we hope) with Austin Blythe and adding a rising young pass rusher, Uchenna Nwosu, to play in their new multiple 3-4 scheme.

Seattle got both familiarity and scheme fit in Burns and Blythe. Burns, a former first-rounder by Pittsburgh, played under new secondary coach Sean Desai in Chicago last season. Blythe started for the Rams from 2018 to 2020, so he reunites with Shane Waldron and Andy Dickerson and figures to replace Ethan Pocic for 2022.

Blythe was overpaid at $4 million – he made just $990,000 in 2021, when he was limited to four games after sports hernia surgery. The Hawks obviously are hoping he returns to 2020 form; he was rated the 13th-best center in the league by PFF that year with Waldron, Dickerson and the Rams.

Shelby Harris, the defensive end coming from Denver in the Wilson deal, also fits the Vic Fangio 3-4 that Clint Hurtt plans to run much of the time.

Nwosu had five sacks and 17 QB hits in 2021, his first year as a full-time starter. He ranked 15th in pressure rate at 12.9%, despite playing through a labrum injury.

The Seahawks surely liked him because he played in a 3-4 defense under Brandon Staley, who coached under Fangio.

Then there are the high picks the Hawks hope to build back up. In 2019, Noah Fant was Denver’s first-rounder and Drew Lock was a second-rounder.

Schneider said the Hawks were going to draft Fant with the 21st pick, but Denver grabbed him at 20, so they moved down. Fant has been good in Denver, despite uneven QB play. We’ll see whether Lock remains his QB this year or another beats him out.

Carroll said Lock looked good in his first five starts as a rookie but then regressed, possibly due to coaching changes.

“He battled his tail off and competed his tail off, but it hasn’t worked out,” Carroll said. “Is this a second chance for Drew Lock? Heck yeah, it is. It’s an absolute clear second chance for him to show, to take us back to where we knew him to be — and we’ll find out.”

Schneider added, “We’ll continue to explore options, but we have a ton of faith in Drew. We’re excited about a change of scenery for him. … We’re excited to get him into our culture with our coaching staff, and we’ll continue to look for guys to compete with him. … There’s a number of guys still available (in free agency), and we’re gonna continue to work through that.”

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