Six Seahawks players to watch closely in preseason

For the first time since 2019 we will see the Seattle Seahawks in preseason football. With just three games and changed roster cut deadlines this is not a return to what we’ve grown accustomed to. However, the essence of preseason should remain unchanged — game results absolutely don’t matter but individual performances do matter as a component for roster evaluation.

© Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Today, with just hours before the Seahawks face the Las Vegas Raiders in their preseason opener, I’m looking at six ‘Hawks whom I have my eyes on the most as far as how they’ll perform in these exhibitions. I’m deliberately leaving out anyone who had considerable playing time with the first-team last season, including role players such as Freddie Swain. The focus is on those who are either fighting to make the roster and/or haven’t had any live game experience in the pros.

Darrell Taylor

Taylor was drafted for pass rushing purposes. Unfortunately, as has been way too common in recent years, the Seahawks’ injury woes with their early draft picks surfaced again and the former Tennessee star didn’t play a single snap due to leg surgery recovery. It’s expected that Taylor will assume the role of SAM linebacker and so far training camp reports have him as “explosive,” per practically the whole Seahawks roster.

Well hopefully we get to witness that explosiveness from Taylor as a pass rusher, as well as how he can perform traditional linebacker duties. His versatility could be extremely valuable across LB and DE for a defense that’s looking to stock up on having a strong reserve unit like we saw from the 2012-2014 squads.

Tre Brown

The Seahawks’ outside cornerback situation is a bit dicey. Ahkello Witherspoon and D.J. Reed are the current favorites to be CB1 and CB2 respectively, with Tre Flowers, Damarious Randall, and Pierre Desir all in contention for roster spots. Brown’s 5’10” stature and sub-32” arm length would historically be disqualifying for Pete Carroll in his search for an outside corner, but Reed’s success last year proves a willingness to adapt and expand options.

Brown has reportedly had a good camp and Carroll has put in his usual coach speak optimism.

Pete Carroll is looking forward to seeing #Seahawks LT Stone Forsythe tomorrow night. Same here.

Another name to watch: Tre Brown.

“He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s fast, he’s physical. I just want to see him be comfortable playing in a game like that.” https://t.co/I5fytmCLye pic.twitter.com/V1Bgj3Etf5

— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) August 13, 2021

Another thing to watch re Brown is not just what he can do defensively, but whether he’ll be a viable kick return option. Yes, this is a seemingly dying play in today’s NFL but until it’s eliminated there’s some measure of value to having quality returners.

Aashari Crosswell

The Seahawks are pretty spoiled at safety right now. Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs are a fearsome starting pair and Ryan Neal was one of the bright spots when he filled in for the injured Adams last season. Marquise Blair can play safety and nickel corner, Damarious Randall did a position switch back to CB but he’s also a former safety, and now there’s a UDFA who has been one of the training camp stars with his impressive ball skills.

A bit more on Aashari Crosswell, the star of #Seahawks camp today… He had six interceptions and 19 passes defensed during two seasons as a starter at Arizona State. Good size (6-foot, 208 pounds) and ball skills, also known for tackling at college level.

— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) August 5, 2021

Aashari Crosswell the star of day today for Seahawks with two interceptions. pic.twitter.com/ukbmCCPwg2

— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 4, 2021

Who doesn’t love a ball hawk, especially on this defense? Training camp footage has been so limited that of all the defensive players I’m actually most looking forward to seeing him in action.

Robert Nkemdiche

The former first-rounder for the Arizona Cardinals was a bust of a pick. He had all of the athletic gifts to be an outstanding defensive linemen but certainly the work ethic and off-the-field problems really held him back.

Nkemdiche is still just 26 years old and it’s not like he isn’t a talented and powerful player at his best. He wasn’t a five-star recruit out of high school for no discernible reason. At a professional level he hasn’t got it together. As for where he fits in Seattle’s defense, he has rotated between 3-tech and 5-tech spots. He’s supposed to be at his best as a 3-tech so I’d love if he can add some strength to the interior.

Stone Forsythe

Duane Brown’s contract situation seems separate from him not playing in the preseason, but Seattle’s tackle depth is not very deep at the moment. Forsythe is a mountain of a man at 6’8” and about 310 lbs. With both Brown and Cedric Ogbuehi not expected to have any exhibition snaps, this is a huge opportunity to see if Forsythe can at least be serviceable depth.

There’s also the long-term side to Forsythe in the sense that Brown is 36 and even if he gets a contract extension it’s not like we see tackles playing into their 40s. I’m pretty intrigued by Forsythe as someone known more for pass protection than run blocking, but just speaking in general terms he’ll have a lot of opportunities to impress over the next three weeks.

Cade Johnson

It’s not a Seahawks preseason without a UDFA to latch onto. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are comfortably the top two receivers on the team, then it’s a scramble for everyone else. Johnson had some Doug Baldwin comparisons heading into the draft, and unfortunately that was too on the nose as no one selected him.

The South Dakota State star amassed 2872 receiving yards on 162 catches and 28 touchdowns. His Senior Bowl showing obviously caught the eye of Seattle and he looks to be a viable slot option.

…But is there reason for skepticism?

For Seahawks fans wondering why I have yet to jump on the Cade Johnson hype train, this is it.

If a WR can’t get separation against FCS CBs, he’s not likely to create separation against NFL CBs. https://t.co/CTNLUPYnzL

— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) July 7, 2021

We’ll find out soon enough.

You might be wondering why I left out D’Wayne Eskridge of the three rookie draft picks. Well even though he’s going to be activated off the PUP list next week, his injury makes him more likely to see limited or no preseason snaps.

Feel free to list your Seahawks to watch this preseason in the comments section!

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