Seahawks 2020 Awards: Unsung Heroes

While stars such as Bobby Wagner, DK Metcalf, and Jamal Adams garnered All-Pro recognition for Seattle, lesser heralded players stepped up to help the team capture its first NFC West title in four years. Which underappreciated heroes elevated their game the most for the 12-win Seahawks?
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While they didn't finish their season as envisioned with a Wild Card round playoff loss at Lumen Field, the Seahawks still enjoyed a strong 12-win season that culminated in their first NFC West title since 2016 and fifth overall under coach Pete Carroll.

Over the course of the season, Seattle had no shortage of star power, as three players earned All-Pro honors and numerous others could have staked a claim to such distinction playing for one of the NFL's best teams. Seven players also garnered Pro Bowl nods, including four first-time selections.

Looking back at one of the best regular seasons in franchise history, which two players stood out as the biggest "unsung heroes" that contributed to an NFC West title? Our writers make their picks:

Offensive Unsung Hero

Corbin Smith: Duane Brown

It may seem odd to have a former All-Pro listed for this honor, but coming off an injury-plagued 2019 season, Brown turned in one of the finest seasons of his 13-year career in 2020 and somehow remains underappreciated. He started every game at left tackle for the Seahawks, committing just two penalties and allowing only two sacks and five quarterback hits against Russell Wilson all season long. He also remains an incredible athlete at 35 years of age and used his speed to his advantage getting outside as a lead blocker on sweeps and toss plays. He's still a top-five left tackle in the league and the undisputed leader of Seattle's offensive line.

Ty Gonzalez: Tyler Lockett

It may seem weird to put Lockett here, but with all the attention DK Metcalf deservedly received, Lockett felt a bit overlooked at times. That seems crazy considering that Lockett, despite clearly not playing at 100 percent at times in 2020, finished the year with Seattle's single-season record for receptions (100) and posted 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns. Typically, such numbers would put a player in All-Pro consideration, but he went under the radar once again.

Nick Lee: Brandon Shell

When Shell replaced Germain Ifedi at right tackle, most viewed that as a lateral move or maybe just a slight upgrade. Instead, he earned an admirable 71.2 grade from Pro Football Focus and was penalized just four times during the season. That's certainly much better than Ifedi's 15 penalties in 2019. The most telling aspect was when Shell was out with an injury, you could really tell, as the right side of Seattle's line wasn't the same without him.

Colby Patnode: Brown

As crazy as it may seem to pick him for this award, Brown has been so steady since his arrival in Seattle that most Seahawks fans don't even think about his impact protecting Russell Wilson's blind side. Since 2018, Brown has been credited with allowing just seven sacks by Pro Football Focus, who also gave the 13-year veteran a fantastic 87.3 overall grade in 2020. He's not slowing down as he gets older.

Defensive Unsung Hero

Corbin Smith: D.J. Reed

Back in June, Reed's season looked to be over before it began when he tore his biceps during an offseason workout. But John Schneider once again proved to be a magician, claiming him off waivers from the 49ers. Motivated to make it back onto the field, Reed made a rapid recovery and eventually emerged as a starting outside cornerback for the Seahawks in November. While also contributing as a return specialist on special teams, the feisty defensive back produced 53 tackles, two interceptions, seven passes defensed, and a forced fumble in 10 games, providing a much-needed spark to Seattle's secondary during an impressive second half resurgence by the defense.

Ty Gonzalez: Poona Ford

How can you not love you some Poona Ford? Once considered to be "too small" to play at his position in the NFL, he established himself as one of the game's most underrated defensive lineman in 2020. The former undrafted rookie posted an 81.9 Pro Football Focus grade and logged 30 tackles and a trio of sacks in his second full season as a starter. Continuing to improve as an interior pass rusher, he should be poised to earn a lucrative raise as a restricted free agent.

Nick Lee: L.J. Collier

Collier got crushed for his utter flop of a rookie season in 2019 after being selected 29th overall and playing just 153 snaps all year with three tackles. This year, while he didn't pile up the sack numbers you would like from a first round defensive end, he made a big impact. Look no further than the goal line stand against the Patriots and Cam Newton when he upended the quarterback short of the goal line on fourth down. Collier finished with 3.0 sacks and 17 pressures, which was fourth-best on the squad. 

Colby Patnode: Quandre Diggs

As the defense gave up historic passing yardage totals, Diggs seemed to be largely invisible for the first month of the 2020 season and struggled with missed tackles. But once Jamal Adams returned from a groin injury, Diggs returned to his 2018 form manning center field for Pete Carroll's defense and was a problem for opposing offenses, racking up five interceptions and 55 tackles on his way to earning his first Pro Bowl nod.