The Seahawks got a preview of the man who could be their next strong safety. But can Marquise Blair come close to the great Kam Chancellor?
Let me correct that headline before we go any further. It’s unfair to Marquise Blair to ask him to be the next Kam Chancellor. So let’s rephrase that question. Can Blair be the Seahawks next great strong safety in the tradition of Chancellor? That seems like a much more reasonable question. Before we get to Chancellor, let’s see if he can step into Bradley McDougald‘s cleats.
McDougald was one of the better strong safeties in the league last year. According to Pro Football Focus, last year was the best of his six seasons. McDougald is a fine player, of course. One of his greatest skills is his ability to switch seamlessly between the strong and free safety positions. PFF rates him as better in coverage than in run support, in fact.
It was McDougald’s versatility that intrigued Pete Carroll back in 2017. Carroll saw a tough player who could back up both Chancellor at strong safety and Earl Thomas at free safety. Bringing McDougald in was a very good move for the Seahawks at the time. As things turned out, it was critical to the continued success of the secondary. They weren’t LOB great, but where would they have been without number 30?
McDougald’s versatility opened the door for Tedric Thompson at free safety and Lano Hill at strong safety. This year, it will give Marquise Blair the opportunity to show his skills as a guided missile. Blair built a reputation as one of the hardest-hitting players in college ball while at Utah. As you can see, he picked up right where he left off in his first NFL action:
By all means, check out the great Bob Condotta’s views on the Seahawks rookie. Yes, Blair will have some growing pains. I sincerely doubt this will be the last time we see him penalized for separating a ball carrier from the football. But let’s not forget that Kam Chancellor didn’t arrive in the league as the full-fledged destroyer he would become. Well, not a full-time destroyer, anyway.
Chancellor played in all 16 games as a rookie in 2010. Not one of those appearances was a start, as he played behind Lawyer Malloy. The future four-time Pro Bowler had just 16 total tackles as a rookie. He had just one penalty in 2010. Then again, he just had 16 tackles. That isn’t a lot of opportunities to light people up.
He exploded in 2011 with 95 combined tackles, 13 pass defenses, and 4 interceptions. Chancellor also got five penalties, three for unnecessary roughness and one for illegal contact. When you hit like Kam, you’re going to get flagged every once in a while. Unofficially, Chancellor caused at least a dozen receivers to be diagnosed with alligator arms. He was an absolutely destructive force for the Seahawks.
Again, that wasn’t until his second season. As a rookie, he showed the Seahawks he could step into the shoes of Milloy, and play even better. Not knocking Milloy at all. Even at age 37, he was a formidable hitter. Just as Chancellor had to wait a season to fulfill his potential, Blair may not truly shine until his second year in Seattle. I have a feeling he’ll get a lot more time on the field than Chancellor did as a rookie. He’ll get his share of penalties, as did Chancellor. But yes, Marquise Blair is the next great Seahawks strong safety.