At this very moment I think you can make the case that this is the shakiest the Seattle Seahawks have been at cornerback since the 2010 season when they had a fading Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings as starters.
Seattle will enter Week 1 of the 2021 season with neither of its 2020 Week 1 starters on the roster. Shaquill Griffin went to the Jaguars and Quinton Dunbar signed with the Lions. With Damarious Randall moving from safety to cornerback, the CB depth looks like this:
Ahkello Witherspoon (borderline reclamation project coming off his best season)
DJ Reed (a hidden gem who probably should be slot but held his own as an outside CB)
Tre Flowers (converted to corner in 2018 and… well he’s had his highs and lows)
Damarious Randall (hasn’t played corner since 2017)
Ugo Amadi (slot)
Marquise Blair (slot?)
Jordan Miller (24 NFL snaps to his name)
Gavin Heslop (0 NFL snaps)
This is not inspiring at all. On the plus side the Seahawks got around to fixing that lack of depth at the nickel spot after what transpired in 2019. They arguably have a surplus of talent at slot corner!
But who will be the outside corners? Witherspoon is surely going to be a starter and that seems logical given he was a starter for the 49ers in 2018 and for half of 2019 but with two benchings to his name. He might even be CB1 as a direct replacement for Griffin just perusing the depth chart.
But what about CB2? Reed was clearly superior to Flowers when he replaced him midseason but there may be some apprehension from the Seahawks about making him a long-term starter at just 5’9”. While I’m a big fan of Reed neither he nor Amadi fit the dimensions of what the coaching staff prefers from it outside corners. Flowers has the better physical profile but from the 2019 postseason onward he has had some serious struggles.
Randall at least has experience as a corner but at 5’11” and with 30 1/4” arm length again he does not fit the traditional Carroll mold at the position. Perhaps it may be a sign Seattle is trying to go away from what they’ve known to work for the better part of a decade but I remain skeptical.
Blair was drafted as a safety, figured to be a big nickel before his injury, and Amadi’s success really makes it unclear as to where Marquise fits on the defense. Could they re-train him as an outside corner? Perhaps but there have been no indicators on that front.
Amadi was one of the more consistent performers on the Seahawks defense in 2020 but again, his frame is far too small for anything but the slot.
That leaves you with Miller and Heslop, both of whom are camp fodder and until I see otherwise are long shots to get any playing time, let alone start.
Seattle doesn’t always throw youngsters right into live game action but there is some recent precedent. Shaquill Griffin was not a Day 1 starter but it took only a month for him to become the full-time starter over Jeremy Lane. Flowers became a starter sooner than expected due to injury but they started him nevertheless in Week 1 of 2018. Perhaps that will be the case if the Seahawks draft a corner whom they believe is NFL ready right away.
There’s also the possibility of a Richard Sherman reunion, which I’ve not really been enthused about but acknowledge is something that we may very well see and could be beneficial. Sherman doesn’t intend to sign with a team until after the NFL Draft, so what the Seahawks do (or don’t do) may determine whether Sherm reunites in Seattle colors.
All of this is to say that for as much optimism as there should be for the state of the Seahawks defensive line, there’s every reason to be skeptical about the current shape of the cornerback position. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Seattle has invested considerably in its front line to make up for the potential shortcomings of the corners.
There’s still a lot of offseason left but this may be the biggest position of concern for the Seahawks to address.