Seattle Seahawks top five candidates to have surprising seasons

/ Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
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Seahawks will see young veteran players step up

Surprise season No. 2: Tight end Colby Parkinson

As with my first candidate, this doesn't mean I'm projecting Colby Parkinson to make the Pro Bowl. But he made a big jump in his third year with the Seahawks. His 25 catches were five times his numbers in 2021, while his 322 yards were nearly ten times the yardage. He accounted for 16 first down and two scores on those receptions, so - dare I say it? I dare - the 6'7" Parkinson came up big.

The Hawks targeted him deeper than in previous years with an average depth of 8.2 yards compared to just 5.9 in 2021. His yards before the catch jumped from 2.6 to 6.9, and his yards after the catch improved as well, from 4.0 to 6.0. His passer rating when targeted skyrocketed from 71.4 to 122.4. I have to admit, he didn't improve his drop rate, but that's only because he's never dropped a pass in three seasons.

I think it should be quite evident from all those crunchy numbers that Parkinson is a player on his way up. Whether or not you choose to believe the mathy people at Pro Football Focus (paywall alert) is up to you, but it's worth noting that they graded Parkinson ahead of Will Dissly in blocking for both passing and running plays. Whether you pay attention to their grades or not, he's clearly a better blocker than Noah Fant.

I really like Fant, but that's just not his game. Uncle Will has stayed pretty healthy now for three straight years, but even with that - and what I expect to be a great season from rookie WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba - I see a significant uptick in snaps for Colby Parkinson and a much bigger impact on the Hawks season.

Surprise season No. 3: Seahawks edge rusher Boye Mafe

I've already said my piece about Mr. Mafe, so I won't dive into all the reasons I see him taking a big step forward this season. In the immortal words of Bernard Fife, "I don't chew my cabbage twice." Just go read what I wrote the first time. Better yet, read why Carson Schroer said the Seahawks needed to target Mafe before the 2022 draft. As Carson wrote then - remember, this is before the Hawks drafted him - Mafe was raw and would likely get 30 percent of the snaps, then develop further in 2023. Mafe was in on 37 percent of defensive plays last year, and I obviously agree with Carson. Mafe has a tremendous upside in 2023.