Seahawks rookie AJ Barner set on unleashing fury on NFC West

Barner was chosen by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft.
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The Seattle Seahawks had a massive overhaul of their tight end group this offseason. Only Noah Fant remains from the players who got the most reps in previous seasons. Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson both left in free agency. Fant needed to be resigned as a free agent as well and he still needs to show he can be an extremely productive pass catcher.

Losing Parkinson and Dissly, however, meant the Seahawks needed to find a tight end who could block well. Fant is not a bad blocker, but his main job should be to catch passes. He should be better used in new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb's system after former OC Shane Waldron appeared to have no clue as to how to involve his TEs consistently.

This is where former University of Michigan tight end AJ Barner comes in. He is thought of as a player close to what Dissly was expected to be when Seattle chose Dissly in the 2018 draft. That means NFL analysts expect Barner to be a quality Y tight end who can be a glorified offensive lineman but not much more.

AJ Barner ready to help the Seahawks achieve greatness

Still, in Dissly's first two seasons, he flashed the ability to catch and run better than most expected, and Barner is set on proving he can do the same. But he does not want to stop there. Barner says he is not going to be content to be an average tight end who catches 30 passes a season and blocks efficiently. AJ Barner wants to be great.

When Seattle made the call to Barner after the Seahawks chose him in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft, Barner made no bones about what he is focused on accomplishing. He told Grubb, "You guys just got a steal. I waited a long time, but I'm ready to go. I'm going to do everything I can to bring this team a championship. I want to be one of the best tight ends in the league, and I'm not going to settle until I do that."

That kind of mentality is likely something general manager John Schneider loved and new head coach Mike Macdonald already knew about. Macdonald was the defensive coordinator for Michigan in 2021 when the Wolverines faced Indiana. Barner played for the Hoosiers before transferring to Michigan ahead of the 2023 season. Macdonald's defense got an up-close look at the tenacity Barner brought as a blocker.

Now Barner just needs to prove he can catch passes and run. He has the athleticism to do so at 6'6" and 250 pounds. He might not sprint past cornerbacks, but he has the height and strength to catch contested passes against linebackers and safeties. He could be a first down machine in Grubb's system.

Plus, if Barner can help keep the Seahawks' offense on the field long enough and keep scoring points and assuming the defense is better (which it should be under Macdonald), Barner might help Seattle reach his ultimate goal. That is, of course, winning another Super Bowl.

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