The Seahawks invested a lot of capital in contracts and draft this offseason to improve their pass rush. The Hawks added Dre'Mont Jones in free agency and brought back Jarran Reed as well. Jones will man one end of their 3-4 alignment and had 6.5 sacks last year with the Broncos.
A few years ago I wrote that Reed would never reach double digits in sacks again. I still doubt he'll hit that number, but playing in a 3-4 certainly boosts his odds. Along with the return of sack leaders Ochenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor, Seattle has a nice corps to attack the opposing backfield.
But you can never have enough pass rushers. To this end, the Hawks drafted linebacker Derick Hall in the second round of 2023. Add fifth-round pick defensive end Mike Morris, a player you can find listed as the steal of the draft, and Seattle brought in two more solid weapons to drop the quarterback in his tracks. Still, it really isn't enough. Happily, the Hawks already have the best answer in the fold already, in 2022 second-round pick Boye Mafe.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking, 12s. At least some of you are thinking that Mafe was a wasted pick. Those that have a bit more vision and patience might say that while he wasn't a waste of draft capital, he didn't come close to realizing his potential. Compared to the real Offensive Rookie of the Year Kenneth Walker III, okay, it's fair to say Mafe didn't pan out in his rookie season. But that's okay, 12s. I'm here to tell you that this is the year Mafe takes over.
It's all in the numbers for a big Boye Mafe season for the Seahawks
Let's get mathy, 12s. Take a look at the following stats, then tell me which of these rookie lines belongs to our guy. By the way, two of these stat lines belong to Hall of Fame players who combined for 277 sacks. Not a bad start, right?
Hopefully, you didn't cheat. Aww, I know you didn't; you're not part of the Patriots organization, after all. So, our guy Boye Mafe is listed as player C. Yes, I did cheat and showed him with 16 games rather than 17. I mean, that would be a dead giveaway. Still, he did have one game with just 10 snaps and no stats, so it doesn't exactly destroy the meaning behind the data. He holds up pretty well, doesn't he?
The two Hall of Famers are player A, the stellar Vikings and Seahawks legend John Randle, and player E, former Dolphins QB destroyer Jason Taylor. To fill out the roster, player B is Frank Clark, while player D is Mafe's new teammate Dre'Mont Jones.
Okay, so we know that none of these guys looked like world-beaters in their rookie season. That's okay, because what we care about is their second-season performance. That's the good news, 12s, because they all stepped it up. John Randle jumped from one sack to 9.5, despite still just getting eight starts.
The other Hall of Famer, Taylor, improved from five to nine sacks. Jones bettered his rookie campaign by nearly doubling his sack totals from 3.5 to 6.5. He also had a huge jump in tackles, from 14 to 41. You probably remember Clark exploding in year two with 10 sacks, despite just getting five starts.
That's the key for me, the fact that of all these players, only Taylor got more than eight starts in their sophomore season. Randle and Jones got eight starts, while Clark had the aforementioned five. Yes, Mafe will have a lot of competition to keep his spot in the rotation. Yes, that's a good thing for the Seahawks. But it won't keep him from hitting double digits in sacks in 2023. And that, dear 12s, will be a very good thing indeed.