Despite falling 17-13 in Sunday's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon has been nominated for Week 6 Rookie of the Week. Pro Football Focus is taking notice of the No. 5 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, as he ranks No.1 amongst all rookie corners with a 84.4 grade through six weeks.
The Illinois alum is currently tied for No. 2 league-wide in passes defensed with seven despite missing the first game of the season with a hamstring injury. In Seattle's Week 6 loss to the Bengals, Witherspoon is credited with allowing just three completions for 14 yards, including holding Cincinnati star wideout Ja'Marr Chase to one reception when lined up against each other. Dalton Wasserman of Pro Football Focus breaks down why Witherspoon is a 'forced to be reckoned with' after playing just four games.
"Devon Witherspoon is morphing into a force to be reckoned with: He stuffed the stat sheet with five total tackles, a pressure and two pass breakups while allowing three catches for just 14 yards against a dangerous Bengals attack."
Wasserman breaks down Witherspoon's dominance in-relation to PFF's grading system, leading the rookie corner group in coverage grade (78.8) by a wide margin.
Overall Rookie Grade: 84.4 (Rank: 1/17)
Principal Opponent: Ja’Marr Chase Week 6 Snaps: 54
Week 6 Grade: 83.0
"Witherspoon is morphing into a force to be reckoned with. He stuffed the stat sheet with five total tackles, a pressure and two pass breakups. He allowed three catches for just 14 yards against a dangerous Bengals attack. Interestingly, Seattle has shifted Witherspoon to the slot over the past two games, and he's responded with a 91.4 overall grade in that span, the best in the NFL. His aggression in run support has solidified a previous weakness. The idea of him and Jamal Adams roaming inside the numbers is going to give offensive coordinators headaches."
Witherspoon joins Houston Texans linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (80.3) and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter (91.8) as rookies to earn an 80-plus grade on the season. In just four games, Witherspoon showed plenty of reasons why he was the first defensive player selected in April's draft. With so much of the season to go, the attention on Seattle's breakout cornerback will only increase.
Take a look at photos of cornerback Devon Witherspoon during his four years at Illinois. Witherspoon, a consensus All-American and Big Ten Tatum–Woodson Defensive Back of the Year in 2022, was selected by the Seahawks with the 5th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.