Preseason Preview – Cornerback

Cornerbacks

Richard Sherman, Michael Crabtree

Richard Sherman is one of the top 3 Corners in the NFL with a convincing case for number 1, so Seattle for sure has one starting spot locked down and they can feel great about it. Cary Williams has the in on the other starting corner job, but is getting a push. With Therold Simon and Jeremy Lane out there is a need for a slot corner and added depth, so players like Cary Williams, Will Blackmon, Marcus Burley, and the newly acquired Muhammed Seisay are all pushing for starting and slot corner duties. Additionally, there are a lot of younger players to push them, so this is a big battle with overflow adding to depth and special teams.

Richard Sherman

Snaps

Tackles

Penalties

Interceptions

Passes

Defended

Forced

Fumbles

Fumbles

Recovered

989

57

3

4

4

1

0

Richard Sherman’s counting stats last season are respectable with 4 INTs, but they really don’t tell the story. Among CBs who played at least 75% of their team’s defensive snaps, Richard Sherman was thrown at the least with just 65 passes heading toward him. For those who dared test Sherman, the results were not pretty. He held opposing QBs to 48.4 QBR, second to only Christ Harris at 47.8. Third on the list? Aqub Talib at 72.2%. For comparison sake, Blake Bortles had a 69.5 rating. He made every QB who threw at him look like a worse QB than Blake Bortles. Ouch.

Richard Sherman is as much of a shut down corner as can exist in the current NFL. He is a long, athletic player who uses instincts and a high football IQ to make plays. He is our top starting CB this season and for the foreseeable future.

Cary Williams

Snaps

Tackles

Penalties

Interceptions

Passes

Defended

Forced

Fumbles

Fumbles

Recovered

1198

60

7

2

6

0

0

Cary Williams took a lot of heat last year for his play in Philly, but the numbers actually are not bad. He played a ton of snaps, which account for high counting stats naturally, but other statistics tell the story of a solid QB being asked to play out of his level. He was often called on to play in isolation against the other teams’ best receiver, and in doing so he held QBs an 89.5 QBR. Again for comparison, Jay Cutler had an 88.6 and was in danger of being tarred and feathered.

When asked to play with a much higher talent level around him in the secondary, in a much less demanding role, I think Williams will thrive. He made a name for himself as a cog in the machine that was a good Raven’s defense, and his situation will be very similar here. I think he will likely be out CB2 and put together a quality season doing so. He’s also less likely to have infuriating penalties than Therold Simon, so that is a plus for people with blood pressure issues.

Will Blackmon

Snaps

Tackles

Penalties

Interceptions

Passes

Defended

Forced

Fumbles

Fumbles

Recovered

361

30

2

0

0

1

0

Will Blackmon was burned early and often last season, making very few plays and allowing an Aaron Rodgers like 112.8 in the 8 weeks he played last season before a broken finger ended his year. In the past though, he’s been effective both playing against the slot and on the outside, as well as being used on corner blitzes (he had 1 sack last year).

With Jeremy Lane out, Will Blackmon is the favorite for the slot corner job heading into the preseason. However, if the free pass CB from last year shows up the Pete Carroll will not hesitate to pull him as there are plenty of other talented players trying to earn snaps. As a veteran coming off injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his snaps low in the preseason, but around game 2 or 3 they are going to have to figure out whether or not he’s their best option.

Therold Simon

Snaps

Tackles

Penalties

Interceptions

Passes

Defended

Forced

Fumbles

Fumbles

Recovered

305

13

8

1

2

0

0

Last year Therold Simon had a lot of growing pains mixed with some good play. At times he hit Brandon Browner level of making people yell at their TV with the penalties he committed, but he also had some very good games as the season went on. He certainly plays better on the outside than in the slot, and as a bigger corner that makes a lot of sense.

Good news this week as it appears Simon will be back probably in Week 3 of the preseason. That being said, much as Maxwell blocked him last year I do not see him out playing Cary Williams for the starting job and as I said before I don’t really think he is comfortable in the slot. He is a good option to give other players rest, and he can fill in capably in case of injury, but I think at this stage he is playing for a backup spot on the team.

Jeremy Lane

Snaps

Tackles

Penalties

Interceptions

Passes

Defended

Forced

Fumbles

Fumbles

Recovered

186

13

1

0

2

1

0

Aside from a bad showing in his first game back from injury in Week 10 against the Giants, Lane showed all year that he could handle the slot and really produce. He fits nicely in with our scheme and really is in a lot of ways a younger Will Blackmon, as he not only played solid in pass coverage but also had 3 QB Hurries rushing from the slot position.

Jeremy Lane made his first career interception during the Super Bowl, but it resulted in a nasty injury that involved a broken arm and a torn ACL. He’s starting the season on the PUP list and is unlikely to be cleared until midseason. This looks like it has a good chance of being a lost season for Lane, but he could still be back in time to provide depth late in the year when it is possible the team will be in need of fresh legs. In my opinion he is our nickel corner of the future, but I think that future will unfortunately be delayed a year.

Marcus Burley

Snaps

Tackles

Penalties

Interceptions

Passes

Defended

Forced

Fumbles

Fumbles

Recovered

328

35

0

1

1

0

0

Burley was signed at the end of the preseason after being cut by the Colts, and filled in quite impressively as injuries ravaged the Seattle secondary early last season. He primarily played at slot corner while Jeremy Lane was on the shelf with a groin injury, and outside of a rough game playing outside against Dallas and what could have been a bit of a hangover the next week against the Rams, he did well. Unfortunately he was knocked out of action in Week 10 with a hamstring injury and never really got healthy again last season.

Burley is a bit smaller than Lane and Blackmon, checking in at 5’10 as opposed to the two 6′ corners, but his play style is similar. He’s not a slight player like Kelly Jennings, he has enough size and length to make plays against bigger targets and he has the bulk to play the run or rush the QB (one QB Sack last season). That being said, he has definitely shown that a nickel or dime corner is where his game plays best as he just can’t seem to hang with outside receivers. A full offseason in the system makes him a possible pick to unseat Will Blackmon at the nickel spot or at least push him hard for snaps. If he has a really strong preseason I can see him as the number 3 corner to start the year, but I think either way a roster spot is probably his to lose at this stage.

Mohammed Seisay

Snaps

Tackles

Penalties

Interceptions

Passes

Defended

Forced

Fumbles

Fumbles

Recovered

20

5

1

0

0

0

0

Seattle picked up Mohammed Seisay at the start of the preseason from the Lions, and he is the sort of long, tall (6’2) corner that the Seahawks have done well with. Detroit picked him up as a UDFA out of Nebraska and he saw limited time at corner and on special teams, not really amounting to many snaps. He’s pretty clearly a potential pickup.

I refuse to doubt what this team can do with corners as they have taken low picks and non-picks and turned them into quality players consistently. He is probably low on the list for making the team, and the fact that Seattle dealt a draft pick for him doesn’t mean much. If he shows and competes, he’ll likely make it. If he doesn’t show, he’ll be cut but I don’t think he’d make it to the practice squad as someone would pick him up.

Tye Smith

Smith runs similar in size to slot corners like Blackmon and Lane at 6′ and 195 pounds, and has strong coverage skills coming out of college. However, the big knock on him and the reason he was projected to go late in the draft or undrafted was that he didn’t carry the strength do deal with bigger receivers and was often pushed around by physical wideouts on the outside. Those coverage skills however were enough for Seattle to take him in the 5th, and if he can add some bulk and fight (which the LOB certainly seems to put in people) then he has a shot at being a really good CB eventually.

For this season Smith is likely more of a project than anything else. He has a good chance to make the roster, but I have to think coaches would rather see him develop more than hit the field in the regular season much. I could see him getting a lot of second half snaps in the preseason as the staff works on getting to see him more and giving him things to work on.

Triston Wade

Wade is a UDFA out of Texas-San Antonio with similar measurables (5’11, 185) to Marcus Burley. He was part of the group that helped start the UTSA football team and move them into C-USA. He was a 4 year starter, 2 year captain, and a really productive player. That being said, he was undrafted for a reason. He played a lot of safety in college, but the Seahawks appear to be trying him more at corner. It would seem to me they look for him as a slot/nickel type player, but that is a fairly crowded place on the roster and he will have a tough time making the team.

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