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Tuesday Round-Up: Seahawks Bolster Red-Hot Defense With Leonard Williams Trade

Douglas Clawson of CBS Sports breaks down why Seahawks trading for defensive lineman Leonard Williams after red-hot October makes perfect sense.


Good afternoon, 12s. Here's a look at what's out there today — Tuesday, October 31 — about your Seattle Seahawks.

Douglas Clawson of CBS Sports looks at the ascension of the Seahawks defense and the addition of Leonard Williams.

Don't look now, but the Seahawks are in first place in the NFC West after Sunday's 24-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns. On Tuesday, Seattle agreed to a trade with the New York Giants to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams. In his latest for CBS Sports, Douglas Clawson breaks down why adding Williams to the league’s stingiest defense in October bolster Seattle's roster and playoff potential.

Seattle is currently on a two-game win streak, winning three games out of their last four, with the defense playing a major role. The Seahawks currently rank No. 8 in rushing yards allowed per game (96.9), finishing 30th in 2022 (151.9). In their last four contests, Seattle has surrendered just three fourth-quarter points combined, tying with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1.0) for fewest-points-allowed in the final quarter of their last three contests. The Seahawks have also allowed just nine second-half points in the last four games. Clawson breaks down the defensive transformation in-comparison to last season.

"Seattle's run defense was embarrassed last year. They gave up 112 yards and three scores to Taysom Hill in a Week 5 loss to the Saints Josh Jacobs ran for 229 yards, including an 86-yarder in OT in Week 12 They allowed 223 rush yards to the Panthers at home in Week 14 The 49ers ran for at least 170 yards in all three wins vs Seattle.

Fast forward to 2023 and Seattle has improved from 26th to third in yards per rush allowed and 24th to fourth in yards before contact allowed. The return of Bobby Wagner has something to do with it. He has shown no signs of aging as he is the second-highest graded linebacker by PFF this year. Wagner has the fifth-most tackles in the NFL (76) and the lowest missed tackle rate (2.5%) in the league in 2023 (min. 50 tackles)."

In April, Seattle selected Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon No. 5 overall. Through six games, Witherspoon has recorded 33 combined tackles, 2.0 sacks, 8 passes defensed and one interception, a pick six that helped him win NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Clawson breaks down why Witherspoon could follow in the footsteps of New York Jets second-year cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner in winning the 2023 Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

"Gardner led a Jets' defensive revival last year that had him drawing Revis Island comparisons. Witherspoon is leading a Seahawks defensive improvement that'll have people hoping a return to the Legion of Boom days is in the works. Gardner was the first rookie CB honored with an All-Pro selection since Ronnie Lott. While he's the premier coverage cornerback in the league, Witherspoon is flashing upside all over the field. He leads the NFL in yards per attempt in coverage (3.9) this season after leading the FBS in that category (3.0) in his final college season at Illinois. He's got the stats and viral plays that are tough to ignore, starting with this pick-six on Monday Night Football in Week 4. He came into the NFL with hype for big hits and has delivered so far. Bottomline. Witherspoon is a massive addition to a Seattle secondary that already benefited from Tariq Woolen's Pro Bowl season as a rookie in 2022."

Clawson also weighs in on the trade to bring Williams to Seattle. In his nine-year career, Williams has been an impact interior defender, starting his career with the New York Jets before being traded to the Giants in 2019. In the wake of Seattle losing linebacker Uchenna Nwosu to season-ending pectoral surgery, Williams will look to bolster the Seahawks' pass presence from inside. Since 2020, the University of Southern California alum's 20 sacks rank No. 8 of all interior linemen league wide. Clawson breaks down what Williams' addition could mean, as he reunites with former teammates Jamal Adams and Julian Love and joins a young Seattle pass rush.

"The Leonard Williams trade continues the makeover on Seattle's defense, especially with depth on the front seven. Not including Williams, the Seahawks have an NFL-high eight different players with multiple sacks this season. Three of the Seahawks' top five players in pressures this season are offseason additions, between Jarrad Reed (21), Dre'Mont Jones (19) and Mario Edwards (12). They'll be even more formidable if they can get anything from Frank Clark, who has yet to record a pressure on 35 pass rushes this year. Seattle might finally have a big-time edge rusher in Boye Mafe, though. He has at least 1.0 sack in five straight games, tied for the longest single-season streak in team history. The 2022 second-round pick entered Week 8 leading all edge rushers in ESPN's pass rush win rate, just ahead of Micah Parsons and Myles Garrett. Seattle's pass rush ranks 14th in pressure rate (36%) and sixth in sack rate this year (8.9%). That's definitely bolstered by an 11-sack game against the Giants, who have the worst offensive line in football, but the group, headlined by Mafe and now Williams, bears watching going forward."

Seattle prepares for its Week 9 road matchup this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens with another veteran presence looking to take Seattle's defense to another level.

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Leonard Williams was the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets where he played three and a half seasons before being traded to the New York Giants. Check out some of the best photos from Williams' career so far.

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