Brooks just got better and better as his rookie season progressed and looks like a real star in the making. But with Bobby Wagner getting nearer and nearer the end of his illustrious career, the Seahawks need a long-term successor to fill the sizeable void that Wagner will leave when his career comes to end.
Brooks looks the favorite to be that successor and the next great Seahawk linebacker. If he can build on his excellent rookie campaign he will make that succession plan look even stronger and benefit all concerned massively.
Any sophomore slump in 2021 would put that into doubt and could lead to the ‘hawks looking to bring other candidates in.
I fully expect Brooks to continue on the right path and alongside Wagner form the basis of one of the best linebacker corps in the league for the next two to three seasons at least.
Unlike Brooks, Taylor was denied the opportunity to develop in his rookie year by injury. It looks like he is going to be the first option as starting LEO in 2021. A similar campaign by Taylor in 2021 to what Brooks had in 2020 would cement his future as an integral part of the new generation of Seahawks defenders.
Any further injury issues or failure to performs at Brooks like levels will out his longer-term future as a starter in question. Taylor has looked really good in camp apparently, so the expectation has to be that he and Brooks can be the young foundation blocks to build on for the future and provide a stable base to do so.
Collier is another player that lost his rookie season in 2019 due to injury but then did what Darrell Taylor needs to do and started every game in 2020 and showed continued improvement as the season progressed.
However the Seahawks added Kerry Hyder and Aldon Smith via free agency along with re-signing Carlos Dunlap as defensive ends alongside Collier. Adding in Darrell Taylor’s return from injury this potentially makes for great depth and a strong rotation.
Collier just needs to ensure he does not drop to the bottom of this rotational group and maintains his playing time from 2020 in order to continue to be seen as a starter in the NFL.
Smith had a really good comeback season with the Cowboys last season, but having been given a one-year deal by the ‘Hawks as a result seems to have got involved in another off-field incident during the close season.
If he emerges from any legal ramifications resulting from this incident unscathed, he needs to have a really strong season to make the Seahawks or any other franchise believe in him longer term.
Once you have a negative reputation for off-field behavior, it is almost impossible to shrug it off. However, performing on the field makes general managers blind to the of field incidents and accept the risk due to the huge potential upside in performance at a potential bargain price.
Another player who emerges from his rookie contract, like Gerald Everett, having shown flashes of potential greatness but never done enough to be seen as a regular starter in the NFL.
First target for Witherspoon is to play well in pre-season and secure the starting role at corner for game 1. Again like Everett, he is on a one-year prove-it deal and thus needs to prove it throughout the season.
If he does he is almost certain to receive a contract extension, failure to do so could see him disappear of the wish list of teams and mean his NFL career opportunities dwindle away.
Flowers, it has to be said was really disappointing in 2020. He like, Witherspoon faces plenty of competition for the starting corner positions in pre-season and must win that battle first and foremost.
In order to be seen as a starting corner in the NFL long term, he needs to show the performance levels of his first two seasons and not those of 2020. Otherwise, he will find himself at the end of his rookie contract in the same position as Witherspoon is now, only a year older and therefore less likely to get the deal that Witherspoon has for 2021.
A return to the levels of 2018/19 would get him a good second contract and potentially ensure his future into his thirties.