Three significant questions Seahawks must answer on the edge

The Seahawks season could very well depend on these answers.
Boye Mafe and Uchenna Nwosu of the Seahawks
Boye Mafe and Uchenna Nwosu of the Seahawks / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Considering how thin the Seattle Seahawks edge group was last year, they absolutely have to produce this season. There's every reason to believe they will. Well, three, at least.

There are certainly more pressing questions in Seattle, such as whether they ever stop the run. Will their completely new linebacker corps make that huge gamble pay off? And when exactly will people understand that Geno Smith actually is an NFL quarterback? I'm not holding my breath on that one, trust me.

He could lead the league in touchdown passes and QBR, and I guarantee you, it wouldn't be enough. There will be some "fans" who swear it was all because of Ryan Grubb and Sam Howell would have been even better.

Seattle Seahawks will definitely have the edge this year

Okay, back on topic. Let's talk about depth at edge rusher. When Uchenna Nwosu was lost for the season in Week 7, Seattle abandoned their plans to trade Darrell Taylor for additional depth on the defensive line. As he only contributed four sacks and six QB hits the rest of the way, it's difficult to see how the team would have been worse by trading him.

Rookie edge rusher Derick Hall had made little impact to that point of the season and saw even less playing time after the loss of Nwosu. The best I can say about Hall is that at least he had one QB hit after Week 7. That's more than Frank Clark contributed to what had to be the most anticlimactic homecoming ever.

The first question has to be: Do the Seahawks have the right talent at the position this year? As for starters, absolutely they do. Nwosu is back. All reports say that he'll be 100 percent healthy and fully recovered from his torn pec. Man, the thought of that hurts so much; I get a twinge every time I reach across my desk from my water bottle. Anyway, Nwosu should be back to his 2022 form, when he barely missed hitting double digits in sacks. He added 26 QB hits as well. Add his dozen tackles for a loss, and Nwosu is a player who rarely needs to step off the field.

Playing opposite number 10, Boye Mafe expects to take another big step forward on his way to dominance. He missed double digits last year by just one and should only improve in his third season in the league. Like Nwosu, he's proven to be a fairly complete player, not a one-trick pony like - well, you know who. Mafe does need to improve in coverage, but I expect he'll take another leap forward there as well in his third season in the league.

As for the second question: do the Seahawks have the depth they need at the edge? In 2023, it was made all too clear the answer was a resounding "no". Seattle expected to have significant depth, but the injury to Uchenna Nwosu proved how thin the Hawks were outside the defensive ends. Derick Hall won't be going anywhere. It would cost the Hawks close to $1.7 million to cut him now, per

If they somehow find a trade partner, they'd shave $1.1 million off this year's cap. But considering he's shown zero trade value so far, that's not happening. If he shows something this summer, why would Seattle move him? So Hall is here to stay.

Darrell Taylor is a different story. Seattle can cut him loose at any point until Week 1 kicks off, and save $3.1 million. Yes, I get why Mike Macdonald wants to see if Taylor can play a complete game every week with solid coaching. If Taylor can't deliver consistently with this coaching staff, he's a role player at best, and the Hawk's most overrated player at worst. Seattle can find much better uses for that money.

Who would replace Taylor? Enter undrafted free agent Nelson Ceasar from the Houston Cougars. While there have been some doubts about his athleticism translating to the NFL, there has never been a doubt about his production. In his last two collegiate seasons, he totaled 23.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks. Unlike Taylor, he's solid against the run. In fact, he's probably even better versus the run game and can be effective in dropping back in coverage as well. It sounds like the versatile athlete Macdonald likes.

The Seahawks have an ace up their sleeve at the edge as well. Dre'Mont Jones has been working some drills with his trainer at the edge, as noted by Tim Weaver for USA Today's Seahawks Wire. Macdonald has made no secret that he envisions not only playing Jones as a true edge rusher this year but even dropping him back into coverage at times. It's about about confusing that offense!

Okay, that was a long way to go for that second answer, I know. You made it, though. Question three: will that talent be placed in the best position to win? To put it another way, will the Seahawks defense employ the best schemes possible? For the first part of that answer, I refer you back to the 2024 edition of Dre'Mont Jones discussed above.

The real answer lies in one of the Seahawks' most underrated additions. I see defensive coordinator Aden Durde as a secret weapon for the Hawks. The lion's share of the attention in Seattle has gone to first Mike Macdonald - duh - and then new OC Ryan Grubb.

Next. Andy Reid says one former Seahawks head coach is the GOAT. Andy Reid says one former Seahawks head coach is the GOAT. dark

What's been a bit lost in the shuffle is that Durde is the Hawks' new defensive coordinator. Yes, Macdonald should get a lot of attention. He's the new head coach, was the DC for a historically great defense in Baltimore, and will call the defensive plays in Seattle. But he plucked Durde from the Cowboys as his DC for a reason. Dallas was graded as the second-best pass rush in the league by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Yes, I know Durde coached the defensive line in Dallas, not edge rushers per se. I'm pretty sure he noticed guys like Micah Parsons in his three seasons in Dallas, though. Combine their ideas, and you create havoc for opposing quarterbacks.

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