While the Seahawks don’t have a glaring need at the edge rusher position, one thing is for certain: these days, it’s all about getting after the quarterback.
Having an elite pass rush takes the pressure off of the defensive backfield and cornerbacks, a group that isn’t the strongest in Seattle right now. The Seahawks made some moves at the edge rusher spot this offseason, signing former Charger Uchenna Nwosu to a 2-year deal and letting veteran Carlos Dunlap go.
One player that would be an excellent prospect for long-term plans at the edge position is Minnesota’s Boye Mafe.
Boye Mafe should be a second-round target for Seahawks
If Mafe were to fall to the Seahawks back-to-back picks in round 2 (picks 40/41), I would be overjoyed by selecting him (or Arnold Ebiketie, more on him tomorrow). Right now, I see Darrell Taylor as the next big thing for the Seahawks pass rush and Nwosu as a good option for the 2022 season. However, Nwosu likely isn’t in the team’s long-term plan. Boye Mafe can easily come in, play limited snaps in 2022 and become the team’s second-leading rusher by 2023.
Mafe is quite a specimen. He is 6’4″, 260 pounds and ran a 4.53 (!!!) in the 40-yard dash. Over the last three seasons at Minnesota, he averaged 0.6 sacks per game and 0.8 tackles for a loss per game. He’s fast off the edge and is skilled against both tight ends and offensive tackles.
Mafe is somewhat raw and needs development in a few areas, however. These include his footwork and the path he takes to the quarterback, which are both inconsistent.
This is why he’s a great fit in Seattle. I see Uchenna Nwosu (who played 67 percent of snaps last year) playing upwards of 50% of the snaps and Darrell Taylor doing the same. In 2022, Mafe would likely be on the same level as an Alton Robinson, getting maybe 30% of defensive reps. This way, he develops nicely before 2023 begins and he likely takes over for Nwosu.
No one really knows what is going on on the defensive line for Seattle because of the supposed shift to a hybrid defense where there are more 3-4 looks than there are 4-3. Shelby Harris will likely slot in on the line, as will Quinton Jefferson. These players are likely 3-4 defensive ends, not necessarily edge rushers.
I think taking Boye Mafe is a safe choice that comes with a lot of upside. If he reaches his potential, the Seahawks would have a pair of talented pass rushers in 2023 between him and Taylor.