The Seahawks have an immediate need at cornerback, but the real concern surrounding the position regards their long-term plan. To keep things short; they don't have much of one right now.
D.J. Reed broke out in 2020 and will be one of the team's two starting corners this fall. They also have solid depth behind him with Tre Flowers - the de facto second starter as of now - and Ugo Amadi, who will battle to see playing time in nickel and dime packages over safety Marquise Blair. Starters Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar are unrestricted free agents in a matter of two weeks, and the former is unlikely to land back in the Emerald City while the latter could return depending on how his market shakes out.
A year from now, the Seahawks will see another pair of corners hit free agency: Reed and Flowers. That leaves Amadi as the lone corner likely to be on Seattle's roster in 2022. There are, of course, players like Jayson Stanley and Gavin Heslop who could earn their way into a future role, but as far as "sure things" - as if there are any in the NFL - Amadi is all they have.
Free agency has plenty of options for them to comb through for the sake of 2021, but the draft will ultimately be the place to focus on for establishing a long-term talent. The Seahawks, however, only have four selections in the 2021 NFL Draft as of this writing and don't make their first pick until No. 56. Fortunately for them, this is shaping up to be a fairly deep class of cornerbacks with several intriguing names who fit their style.
One player who doesn't necessarily fit their prototypical cornerback build but should entice them anyway is San Diego State's Darren Hall. While Hall doesn't have the arm length or size Seattle tends to covet on the outside, head coach Pete Carroll has admitted that the rise of the smaller-sized Reed has perhaps altered their philosophy when it comes to identifying corner talent. All that really matters in the end is if the corner can play or not, right? Well, Hall certainly proved he can hang at the collegiate level in his time with the Aztecs.
Transitioning from safety to cornerback in 2018, Hall became quite the playmaker for San Diego State. In his three years at the position, he logged six interceptions, three forced fumbles, two touchdowns, and 25 pass deflections.
Measuring 5-foot-11, 189 pounds at the Senior Bowl, Hall is a physical defender who doesn't shy away from making tackles and blitzing when called upon. He recorded 101 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 33 games, showing effort in ways many other corners simply don't.
That level of physicality can also be pinpointed in his coverage skills. Though he played a heavy dose of zone coverage in college, he's improved his press at the line of scrimmage. He has the strength to win in hand fights and get receivers off-balance at the point of attack, as well as the athleticism to keep pace inside and out. He sizes up receivers well and has no issue locating the ball with good timing and accuracy.
Hall's the ideal corner for a zone scheme which, of course, the Seahawks implement often. He has great awareness, reads the quarterback well, and has the closing speed to break passes up or limit damage.
He's capable of playing pretty much anywhere in the secondary, whether it's at safety, outside corner, or nickel. I think he has the tools to stick outside in the NFL, which is where he'd be most valuable to the Seahawks.
Although he has the ability to play up to his opponent, Hall's 30.2-inch arms are going to be a negative on the Seahawks' assessment of him. Typically looking for length in the 32-plus range, this would have been a deal-breaker any other year for Seattle, but perhaps D.J. Reed's success has truly made them more open-minded.
Hall's ball-hawking tendencies occasionally get the best of him. Playing with a high level of intensity and desire to leave his mark on the game, he's prone to being baited into jumping routes and being left in no man's land at times.
The athleticism is there, especially when talking about his burst to the football, but there are questions about his ability to hang with receivers on deeper routes. He's really solid in sticking to his man on fade routes, curls, comebacks, etc., but did allow some separation the further he got down the field. To be fair, he wasn't tested much by the limited arms in the Mountain West Conference, which makes it all the more curious as to how he'll adapt to the downfield nature of the NFL.
Fit in Seattle
The Seahawks have dipped into the Aztecs' pool of prospects a few times in the past, most notably selecting running back Rashaad Penny in the first round in 2018.
Aside from the arm length, Hall is a perfect fit for Seattle's defensive scheme. He can play any and every role, has the toughness and willingness to get down and dirty when necessary, and served as a leading voice in San Diego State's locker room.
As mentioned at the top of the article, the Seahawks have bigger issues at corner beyond 2021 than what they're currently faced with. Hall may need some time to find his footing at the professional level, but he's a player they could find late on day two or early day three who may establish a longtime starting role opposite Reed before the year is out.