The Seahawks’ secondary defines itself with intimidation, but attrition has slowed their stars’ abilities. Can the L.O.B. return to feared dominance?
Under head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks went from a NFL joke about the isolation of their home city to a premier defense in the league. Between 2010 and 2011, Seattle drafted their three defining defensive backs — cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas III, and strong safety Kam Chancellor. The Legion of Boom’s brutal style made passing tormenting.
However, last year revealed the first signs that the current L.O.B. has put its best days behind it. The team finished 2016 8th in passing yards allowed (226), 9th in opposing passer rating (85.0), and gave up 16 touchdowns (3rd) to 11 interceptions (tied 13th). That’s surprising given that in 2015 they were 2nd in passing yards allowed (210), even in touchdowns (1st) to interceptions (13th) at 14 each, and 3rd in opposing passer rating (78.1). Not to mention they dominated in nearly every category in 2013, and 2014.
Legion of Boom 2.0? Not yet, but rookie defensive backs learning to belong https://t.co/LPEfnaceIf— Seattle News 360 (@SeattleNews360) May 14, 2017
Sherman, Thomas, and Chancellor have thrown their bodies into every play, and put every ounce of will they have towards being the best unit in the league. Now, those same bone-crushing hits are turning on their deliverers, and the lively personalities are beginning to wear on select fans and coaches alike.
Whether through future contract and/or age related turnover, the Hawks are starting their retooling now. While opposing fans and teams desperately want to signal the decline of these individuals, the L.O.B’.s real hindrances have been injuries and the lack of a true number two corner.
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General manager John Schneider doesn’t want the team’s recently acquired winning culture to pass on when this batch of stars reach the end of their career arch. It’s why he moved so hard to turn Seattle’s measly seven picks into 11, and why they have historically valued young depth in the defensive backfield. In doing so, the Hawks were able to secure their annual haul of mid and late round picks to reinforce an already deep and young secondary depth chart.
UCF Football (@UCF_Football) April 29, 2017
With 50 tackles, a team-high four INT, and 15 passes defended his senior year, cornerback Shaquill Griffin from the University of Central Florida plays hard. He’s being billed as the guy with the ability to press opposite Sherman and solidify Seattle’s aggressive style. Griffin is faster, running a 4.38 40-yard dash time, but will need to develop discipline to play with separation.
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Drafted in the third round, Griffin is the highest selected Seattle defensive back since Thomas was taken 14th overall in 2010. His pick at 90 in a Carroll and Schneider system should hint at his potential. Look for Griffin to play plenty of snaps as the number two defensive back throughout OTA’s, and to give the struggling Jeremy Lane a run for his money.
Safety Mike Tyson is a pick that could end up surprising people. Given his size and position in college, it seemed foolish to predict Tyson would compete at defensive back. However, his size and abilities are being reported as suited for what Schneider and Carroll want on the outside. He’s another big senior who produced 46 tackles, five interceptions, and broke up five other passes. Schneider said Tyson “basically fits the profile that we’ve been looking for since we’ve been here as a corner [sic].” Even if he’s not ready to keep up with Jeremy Lane or Griffin, look for the team to make a project out of Tyson’s uniquely mixed attributes.
im ready to work big bro!! 🙏🏾✊🏾 https://t.co/aHAAh60Lsy— Tedric Thompson (@nuevexted) April 29, 2017
Free safety Tedric Thompson was a bonafide steal at the 111th pick. Producing 63 tackles, three interceptions, and eight passes defended, Thompson was a big piece of the Buffaloes defensive prowess. Colorado easily had its best season in recent memory last year after moving to the Pac-12 in 2011, and a large part of that success was their renowned secondary. Teammates and Pac-12 standouts Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon were chosen at 60th and 66th respectively, despite Thompson earning PFF’s best coverage defender for 2016.
Although he ran the slowest 40-yard dash of Seattle’s selected defensive backs at 4.60 seconds, Thompson has desired top-end speed, and knows how to contest for passes. He’s a true safety who will see plenty of time as Thomas returns from his injury.
Now it is SS Delano Hill showing off quick footwork backpedaling in pass coverage at Seahawks rookie mini camp Sunday. pic.twitter.com/WZkwnDPNC7— Todd Milles (@ManyHatsMilles) May 14, 2017
SS Delano Hill has good size and build at 6’-1” and 216 pounds and plays the position in the style of Chancellor himself. What he lacks in coverage instincts, he makes up for with hard hitting, sure-tackling play. He was commendable at Michigan and managed 52 tackles, three interceptions, and three passes defended on a team with impressive depth. Hill could line up as a hybrid SAM linebacker to fill the team’s need for depth. Schneider hinted that in the pass heavy league, a large additional corner could be more suited for that role. Look for Seattle to try him low in the box, or lined up against tight ends after OTA’s start on May 23rd.The Seahawks drafted defense, and did so in its own classic fashion. They went after raw talent, and focused on players with that special spark that dubs Carroll and Schneider picks as OKGs. Targeting four defensive backs on their pre-draft day board, Seattle got essentially what they wanted from the onset. Now, it will just be a matter of Carroll working his mad magic, and motivating this unit to return to the top of league.
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