Young Stars Foster Optimism For Seattle Seahawks Entering Mike Macdonald Era

While the Seahawks have obvious concerns rolling into 2024, Devon Witherspoon and Byron Murphy II could be catalysts for a rapid defensive turnaround.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch (83) makes a catch against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon (21) during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Jan. 7, 2024.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch (83) makes a catch against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon (21) during the first quarter at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Jan. 7, 2024. / Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY
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While some experts may have a pessimistic viewpoint on the Seattle Seahawks chances of contending in year one under new coach Mike Macdonald, a young nucleus on defense headlined by a pair of talented first-round picks could warrant a different outlook.

As Macdonald looks to turn around a defense that struggled mightily over the last several years of former coach Pete Carroll's tenure, the Seahawks have plenty of questions that remain unanswered. Among them, a new-look linebacker group minus Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks has much to prove and free agent signees Rayshawn Jenkins and K'Von Wallace will have big shoes to fill at safety replacing Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams.

At the same time, however, Macdonald has youthful building blocks already in place to set the stage for immediate success, starting with returning Pro Bowl cornerback Devon Witherspoon. A finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, he became only the seventh player - and the first rookie - since 1999 to produce 14 pass breakups, three sacks, and eight tackles for loss in a single season.

With "Spoon" ready to soar in Macdonald's scheme, Seattle also has added a blue chip talent to an already good defensive line in Byron Murphy II. Though he will still have to prove himself in game action, he's impressed in his first month with the team and looks the part of an instant contributor, if not a starter at some point as a rookie.

On a new episode of Locked On Seahawks, host Corbin Smith discusses how the presence of Witherspoon and Murphy has the upside to transform Seattle's defense into a top-10 unit overnight and why both players should be poised to reach their full potential in Macdonald's scheme.

Smith also tackles listener mailbag questions and shares his five most intriguing players to watch as OTAs unfold over the next three weeks, including three players from last year's 2023 draft class looking to make a sophomore jump.

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Corbin K. Smith


Graduating from Manchester College in 2012, Smith began his professional career as a high school Economics teacher in Indianapolis and launched his own NFL website covering the Seahawks as a hobby. After teaching and coaching high school football for five years, he transitioned to a full-time sports reporter in 2017, writing for USA Today's Seahawks Wire while continuing to produce the Legion of 12 podcast. He joined the Arena Group in August 2018 and also currently hosts the daily Locked On Seahawks podcast with Rob Rang and Nick Lee. Away from his coverage of the Seahawks and the NFL, Smith dabbles in standup comedy, is a heavy metal enthusiast and previously performed as lead vocalist for a metal band, and enjoys distance running and weight lifting. A habitual commuter, he resides with his wife Natalia in Colorado and spends extensive time reporting from his second residence in the Pacific Northwest.