The Seahawks seem set at safety for 2019 with Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald. But make no mistake, Marquise Blair is the future at strong safety.
In 2019, the Seahawks did not use their rookies overall as much as they do in some years. Players like Ugo Amadi should have probably played more and didn’t. On the other hand, safety Marquise Blair got a chance to start three games and appeared to do well. But then, something happened?
I use that last sentence as a question because while Blair wasn’t perfect (he was a rookie and made some rookie mistakes), he also appeared to have the potential to bring the boom back to the LOB.
Blair started three straight games for the Seahawks between weeks five through 7. In week six against the Falcons, Blair had 11 tackles, 9 of them solo, and forced a fumble. In his three starts, Blairs snap count was 58 in week 5, 65 in week 6 and then 76 in week 7. I understand that Seattle traded for Quandre Diggs midway through 2019 and Diggs is not only a good player but he is experienced. This limited how much Blair would play.
Still, after week 7, Blair got a total of 19 snaps on defense the remainder of 2019. That makes little sense. Blair was a second-round draft pick and when given the chance did pretty well. According to Pro Football Focus, Blair received the highest grade of any Seahawks safety last year. And it was not close.
(I realize the above tweet is from a preseason game. But in the future Blair will bring this kind of physicality every week in the regular season for Seattle.)
Blair’s overall grade was 78.3 in 238 snaps. Next best was Diggs‘ 73.4 but in 732 snaps. Bradley McDougald had a grade of just 62.8 in 1,068 snaps. Maybe the best part was that Blair had a pass coverage grade of 80.5. This was 14th best in the NFL.
Blair is part of the future Legion of Boom 2.0
So here is what likely happens in 2021. McDougald, who is in the last year of his contract, won’t return. Diggs is signed through 2021 and could be signed to an extension after that. Blair is still under his rookie contract and is signed through 2022. In 2021, Seattle’s starters at safety will be Quandre Diggs and Marquise Blair.
McDougald isn’t a bad player, but he is the kind of player that needs better players that he to make him good. But McDougald doesn’t bring the pain as Kam Chancellor did. Neither does Diggs. Diggs is more of an Earl Thomas, fast with the ability to cover a lot of turf. Seattle needs an intimidator. Blair, even though he is much smaller than Chancellor, has that capability. He needs to start at strong safety in 2021.