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Friday Round-Up: Seahawks Earn High Grade for 2023 Rookie Class in NFL Network NFC West Rankings  

NFL Network ranked each rookie class from every team for the 2023 season.  

02092024 roundup

Good afternoon, 12s. Here's a look at what's out there today — Friday, February 9— about your Seattle Seahawks. 

Eric Edholm of Around the NFL grades the NFC West rookie classes, with Seattle earning a B+. 

The Seattle Seahawks chose 10 players in the 2023 NFL Draft, making double-digit selections for the second-consecutive year. In his latest divisional breakdown of rookie performance, Around the NFL writer Eric Edholm grades Seattle's rookie class with high marks.

Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon represented the franchise as one-of-three rookies chosen to the 2024 Pro Bowl, after a memorable first-year campaign. In 14 games, the University of Illinois alum combined for 79 tackles, 3 sacks, an interception (pick-six), 16 pass deflections, 8 tackles for loss and three sacks. Witherspoon finished fourth in defensive rookie of the year voting, earning four votes. Witherspoon was Seattle's first selection in the 2023 draft at pick No.5, but he wasn't the only rookie to produce at a high-level. Eight Seahawks drafted rookies (Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Derick Hall, Zach Charbonnet, Anthony Bradford, Cameron Young, Olu Oluwatimi, Jerrick Reed II and Witherspoon) would participate in at-least 10 games in 2023. Three undrafted free agents (Jake Bobo, Chris Stoll, Brady Russell) participated in at-least 15 games, bringing value to help the 9-8 Seahawks climb above .500. Both Witherspoon and Reed (Special Teams) were named to the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) All-Rookie team for their efforts. Edholm breaks down why the Seahawks' two first-round selections (Witherspoon, Smith-Njigba) set precedent for the rest of the class to contribute. 

 It's not surprising that a team with four selections in the top 52 picks of the 2023 NFL Draft had a strong rookie class. And though Seattle's first-year crop was anchored by two first-round picks, there were contributions throughout the group, including from the undrafted ranks. Witherspoon showed star power in 14 games, recording a 97-yard pick-six, 16 passes defended (fifth in the NFL), a forced fumble and three sacks, earning a place among the Defensive Rookie of the Year finalists. His season was delayed a bit by a hamstring injury, but he was a factor both in the slot and at outside corner, displaying a great knack for blitzing, covering and playing the run, even if he lost a few physical battles. After a tepid start, Smith-Njigba got rolling a bit, settling into the WR3 role behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks used him predominantly on underneath routes, however, limiting his potential. Based on multiple game-winning touchdowns and his work on third downs, Smith-Njigba could be a star if the next staff can expand his route tree and role a bit.

Smith-Njigba nabbed 63 receptions for 628 yards and 4 scores, trailing Seahawks Legend Joey Galloway (67) for the most catches by a Seattle rookie in franchise history. Edholm continues with his thoughts on the contributions of the remaining rookies and what Seattle has to build on from the group.  

Charbonnet was very solid when he got the chance, although he was hardly featured outside of the games for which Kenneth Walker III was injured. Charbonnet might never provide value commensurate with his draft slot (52nd overall), but he's a quality complement who brings a physical element and capable receiving chops to the offense. 

Bobo was a pleasant surprise, earning the No. 4 WR role out of training camp and providing some highlight-reel catches, including a one-handed TD grab against the Cardinals. With his three TDs on a mere 20 touches, quality blocking and special-teams contributions, Bobo was an outstanding value and figures to maintain his role despite the coaching change. Bradford started 10 games, including the final six, and proved to be a good run blocker right away, although his pass-protection skills need sharpening. Oluwatimi started one game and saw significant action in two more. There were some snapping issues when he was out there, but Oluwatimi was solid in pass protection and might be in line to start at the pivot next season. 

The defensive contributions after Witherspoon were less impressive, with Hall struggling to adjust, Morris missing all but one game to a shoulder injury and Young relegated to a backup role most of the season. Those three have potential, but how they all fit in Mike Macdonald's system remains to be seen. Reed barely played on defense, but proved to be an excellent special-teamer in Year 1.  

The 2023 season is now behind Seattle, as they look forward to what the future holds under new Head Coach Mike Macdonald. With another successful draft under their belt, Seattle looks to the 2024 offseason to find more puzzle pieces to build another contender.

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