Seahawks-Cardinals: Stock up/stock down
Seaside Joe 1321, 10/16/22: John Schneider stock up or stock down this week?
The Seattle Seahawks faced the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in a matchup of 2-3 teams who both had a chance to be tied for first place in the NFC West with a win. The loser of the game would find themselves all alone in last.
Now we know who came out as the winner on Sunday: Fans of Ken Walker III.
And the Seattle Seahawks, 19-9.
We said many things about Walker here in the offseason. Even before the Seahawks selected Walker, Joe defended the use of a second round pick on a running back because it seemed probable. My message to Seahawks fans was essentially: If the Seahawks draft Breece Hall or Ken Walker III, you are more than welcome to be excited about it.
Don’t let a narrative ruin your fan experience.
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There are fans out there who are not enjoying what Walker is doing as much as they should because they said or felt that it was a bad pick. It’s fine to believe that. It’s fine to still believe that. My point isn’t that those people are definitively wrong, it’s that they are robbing themselves of enjoying a good Seahawks player as much as they potentially could if they had just embraced Seattle’s selection to begin with.
That’s why I wrote “Root against Ken Walker at your own peril” on July 10. And why I wrote “Uh oh, Kenneth Walker is going to be good right away :/” on May 4.
The more that we watched Walker throughout each one of his college games at Wake Forest and Michigan State, the more obvious it became that he was such a special running back prospect. And probably a top-15 pick in a different era, if not for that narrative against drafting running backs.
Through the research done on Walker, a few things became obvious:
He is extraordinarily consistent, so whatever traits you read below, know that what’s most impressive is that he wasn’t a streaky player. At different schools, with different offensive systems, he was consistently the best player on the field and did the same things week after week with a high level of execution
He has great patience behind the line of scrimmage. Walker has a talent for reading the field and waiting for the right time to strike.
Insanely quick feet. I cited “Dance Dance Revolution” as his running style. Walker chops his feet so fast as he is navigating through a tight window or a pile of players.
Nose for the end zone. Walker scored on a high rate of his rushing attempts and he had a deserved reputation for making touchdowns happen.
Would catch a lot more passes in the NFL than he did in college.
High football IQ.
Would be able to hit the edges and pick up a lot of yards on the sidelines.
Would take direct snaps and run wildcat.
Would become a fan favorite immediately.
It seems Walker will repeat in the NFL as the same player he was in college. Walker has shown all of those attributes in the NFL so far and his first start was even better than I expected. The Cardinals hadn’t allowed more than 69 rushing yards to any running back this season.
Walker finished his first career start with 21 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown, but also highlights multiple times over. Creating the moments that Seahawks fans will talk about all week long, which has value to fandom that is never properly calculated.
Walker wasn’t alone as a rookie Seahawks star on Sunday either. In fact, by the end he had probably taken a seat behind the amazement of watching Tariq Woolen’s fourth interception in four games, and Coby Bryant’s NFL-leading fourth forced fumble.
Seattle was a different team in Week 6 than they were in Weeks 1 through 5. Just imagine what the final score had been if Geno Smith, Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and the passing offense had been productive too. We can expect those players to rebound, so the Stock Up report could have major implications on the Seahawks’ plan to outpace pre-season expectations by finishing over .500.
Are the Seahawks much better than the team people expected them to be before the season? Or are the Cardinals just a much worse team than people expected them to be before the season? Is 9-8 a realistic ambition for Seattle or did the defense get a day off? You tell me that:
I’ll tell you this:
GM John Schneider, HC Pete Carroll
As a fan of the draft and the Seahawks, I always wish to give Seattle the benefit of the doubt with regards to their picks and general strategy. I’ve long praised Pete Carroll’s emphasis on having greater quantity than quality (of prospect) when it came to picks because Seattle was always picking at the end of the first round. I just don’t think it’s fair to ask teams to get blue chip draft talents without top-10 picks. At picks 25-32, I am not too picky if a team decides to trade that pick for a player or trade down. Those are not the same as early first round picks. However, it was harder to defend the Seahawks’ drafts lately because the results were underwhelming on all three days of the draft, not just the first.
The 2022 draft class has earned Pete and John a huge amount of confidence back with the fanbase before going into next year’s offseason. That can’t be forgotten no matter what Seattle’s final record ends up being. The Seahawks have had an offseason that could be remembered and talked about for years to come, in part thanks to how criticized it was by so many analysts.
Charles Cross, Abe Lucas, Ken Walker, Boye Mafe, Tariq Woolen, and Coby Bryant are key members of this team and several of them are playing about as well as the best in the league at their positions. Uchenna Nwosu, Quinton Jefferson, and Shelby Harris had three of today’s six sacks. The offensive line is mostly working.
The last thing that the Seahawks want to do before the next offseason is consider getting rid of the regime that selected this draft class. There are still a lot of fans who think Pete Carroll isn’t deserving of that.
RB Ken Walker III
Another nickname we have for Walker around here is “The Shrewd Negotiator.” Kenneth Walker HATES being tackled.
I found it interesting that Corbin Smith tweeted that Walker wouldn’t be as good as Rashaad Penny at hitting the corner because hitting the corner was something that Walker did over and over and over again in college.
CB Tariq Woolen
Tariq Woolen will soon be one of the most feared cornerbacks in the NFL (it’s inevitable) and that’s half the battle to becoming a great NFL cornerback. With four interceptions in four weeks and another fumble recovery on Sunday, Woolen is setting new benchmarks for a number of player categories: Rookies, fifth round picks, day three picks, players in their first-six-games, players who switched from offense to defense, players out of non-Power 5 college programs, players who run under a 4.3.
How to speak on Woolen when there’s never been anyone like Woolen?
Pass Rush - 6 sacks
Fittingly, the Seahawks sacked Kyler Murray six times but no player had more than one sack. Darrell Taylor, Poona Ford, and Ryan Neal each had a sack.
DT Bryan Mone
I read this tweet too fast (and don’t speak the language) and accidentally attributed this to Al Woods at first. It was Bryan Mone treating the offensive lineman like an inanimate blocking sled.
TE Noah Fant
Even on a day when he led the team in receiving yards (45), it didn’t feel like a “high DVOA” type of performance. He’s had a weird thing about not reaching the first down marker all throughout the season and these seem to be the “little things” that kept Fant from being considered a huge loss to the Broncos.
G Damien Lewis
Seattle’s offensive line stars are really their two rookie tackles. I think guard could be a consideration for a top free agent contract in 2023.
Stock up and down
CB Coby Bryant
Another forced fumble for Coby Bryant. Whether he is going to be a solid starter playing every snap this season is yet to be determined.
S Ryan Neal
Brutal missed tackle by Ryan Neal on third-and-six in first quarter. I know that many people have Neal as “stock up” and so do I, but I also see some of the issues that have kept Seattle from being able to settle on a safety next to Quandre Diggs.
Neal did have a sack on Murray in the second quarter.
OT Abraham Lucas
Abe Lucas had no answer for J.J. Watt on third-and-1 run play for Walker in the second quarter. Both Lucas and Charles Cross were a bit up-and-down on Sunday. Which is fine for rookies.
NFL Draft order news:
The Broncos play the Chargers on Monday. A loss by Denver would drop them to 2-4, very close to the 1-5 Carolina Panthers for the number one pick
1-5 Panthers, 1-4 Lions, 1-4 Raiders, 1-3-1 Texans, 2-4 Browns, 2-4 Steelers, 2-4 Jaguars, 2-4 Commanders, 2-4 Bears, 2-4 Saints, 2-4 Cardinals
At 3-3, Seattle goes back to being in the middle of the pack and not worth tracking until they’re back in the top-10.
In the space of 6 days, the Chargers will go from my current second favorite team to 32 place.
Why not just a solid "stock up" for Bryant? I thought he played well in coverage but especially shined as a tackler, wrapping up and hitting hard.