The Seattle Seahawks added the right player when they traded for defensive lineman Leonard Williams. There's been a lot of buzz over whether the Hawks or Niners made the better deal. I can assure you, it doesn't matter. What matters is who the Seahawks added, and how he fits the team.
I think it's a bit odd that there's been nearly as much buzz on social media about which team made the better deal to land their flashy new toy - read that as a defensive beast - the Seahawks or the 49ers. The day after Seattle landed Williams, San Francisco made a big move of their own by trading for defensive end Chase Young. Side note: I'm sure the Eagles and Cowboys are just heartbroken that these two and Montez Sweat are all out of the division now.
Oh, I understand why people are talking about the details of the trade, sure. We posted this exact question on our Facebook page and fostered quite a lively conversation. Side note two: one of my issues with social media is that so often, people don't answer the question. Yes, discourse is terrific, but at the least, address the opening query. Happily, most respondents did so, and many identified the key to the entire question: what did each team need?
The Seattle Seahawks added value in three areas by adding the versatile Leonard Williams
Let's take a close look at the deal each team made. The Seahawks sent their 2024 second-round and 2025 fifth-round selections to the Giants for Williams. If Seattle doesn't re-sign him for 2024, they may earn a fourth-round pick as compensation. Meanwhile, the Niners only spent a third-round pick to the Commanders for Young. Yes, Young is indeed younger - by five years - so on the face of it, San Francisco made the better deal. I mean, one third-rounder as opposed to a second and fifth is simply, irrefutably better.
But it isn't as simple as that. John Schneider and John Lynch aren't playing Madden '99 where you simply push a button and your trade goes through. They had to contend with 31 other teams for the services of these players. Obviously, not every team was in the market to make a deal, although for some reason the 2-6 Chicago Bears were the team that dealt a second-round pick for Sweat. Remember that deal the next time you even think of criticizing John Schneider.
Let's get back to the players. Chase Young can play one position, edge. He's not there to drop back in coverage - according to Pro Football Focus (paywall alert, sorry gang), he's been targeted just seven times in his career. Somehow he has a coverage grade of 72.5, even though he allowed his only target this season. While he started out a decent run defender, he's been, oh, subpar this year. He's missed 27 percent of his tackles in 2023. So he's all about the pass rush. And yes, he's good at that, with five sacks, three QB hits, and nine hurries. By the way, Boye Mafe has just as many sacks and plays much better against the run. Just sayin'.
As for Leonard Williams, he's far more versatile than Young. You'll note in John Boyle's article linked above, that Williams is described as a Pro Bowl defensive end. He played five seasons at end, moved to nose for two years, and is now listed as a defensive lineman. Williams said that he prefers to play three-technique - that is, between the opposing guard and tackle - but that he can play anywhere. It's his versatility that landed him in Seattle. As quoted by John Boyle - what, this guy again - Pete Carroll made it clear what he likes about Williams:
""Oh man, everything. We watched him for a long time and have known of him for a good while, (USC) Trojan and all of that. He's a fantastic football player. He's the kind of guy that can make the difference in games. He's really a nice player. He can play anywhere," Carroll said. "He can play five-technique, he can play three-technique and he plays on the center as well. He's done all of that. He brings a lot of versatility.""- Pete Carroll, as quoted by John Boyle
Williams has played right defensive end and every spot between all the way to left end. At 6'5" and 305 pounds, he can certainly play over the nose to spell Jarran Reed but still has the quickness and initial burst to step in for either Dre'Mont Jones or Mario Edwards. Don't be surprised when you see all four on the field at the same time to confuse blocking schemes and introduce more mayhem to the opposition. Leonard Williams gives the 12s one more reason for great hopes for the rest of 2023.
The Hawks already added Frank Clark to help replace Uchenna Nwosu. I'm not suggesting that Clark is in his prime, but he's still very capable of producing in big games. Seattle had a far greater need for help on the inside, and they got exactly that. Adding Leonard Williams makes a team strength even stronger. I wrote earlier that this move gives the Hawks a great problem for next year. Regardless of what the opposition did, Schneider and Carroll made the right move for the Seahawks.