Seattle Seahawks Edge Rusher Excited For Versatility 'Once We Get Everything Cooking'

After primarily lining up outside the tackles in his first two NFL seasons, Boye Mafe expects to be deployed in a more versatile role in Mike Macdonald's defense.
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) passes the ball while being hit by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Boye Mafe (53) at Lumen Field.
Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) passes the ball while being hit by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Boye Mafe (53) at Lumen Field. / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
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Fresh off a nine-sack campaign in his second NFL season, Seattle Seahawks edge rusher Boye Mafe is getting his feet wet with Mike Macdonald’s fresh defensive scheme.

Mafe, who spoke to reporters ahead of Seattle’s first mandatory minicamp practice on Tuesday, said he enjoys how the defense is maximizing the skill sets of the Seahawks’ pieces on the front seven and utilizing their versatility.

“There’s a lot of things I like about this defense, honestly,” Mafe said. “It gives us opportunity to use guys in different ways. A lot of different people have different roles, and we can use guys to the best of their ability and put them in different positions.”

Boye Mafe

Last season, Mafe played 99 percent of his defensive snaps at EDGE, per Pro Football Focus. That could change this season, Mafe said, with the versatility of Seattle’s defensive personnel and Macdonald’s desire to keep opposing offenses guessing.

It’s already known that Mafe can rush the passer from both sides of the defense. About 64 percent of his defensive snaps on the edge in 2023 were from the left side, per PFF, and he began shifting to the right side more frequently following Uchenna Nwosu’s season-ending injury in Week 7. However, in Macdonald’s defense, Mafe may even appear on the interior.

“You are learning more positions. You’re not strictly playing on the outside. You have wherever you want to be,” Mafe added. “You could be off the ball, on the ball over the center, wherever you want to put somebody. Having that opportunity to learn and just having that chance to learn — it heightens your football IQ and heightens everything you’re learning. I think it’s great and I think it’s something that we want as a team. We’re learning it, and once we get it dialed in and once we get everything cooking, I’m excited to see what it’ll look like.”

Boye Mafe

With Mafe, Nwosu, fifth-year veteran Darrell Taylor and second-year edge rusher Derick Hall, Seattle has plenty of weapons to test out in minicamp and training camp. That doesn’t even crack into the versatility the Seahawks have on their designated interior defensive line, which features multiple athletic, 300-pound big men that can move anywhere from nose tackle to big end.

While he will still mainly be a pass-rushing outside linebacker, Mafe also emphasized his role in stopping the run. Seattle has allowed a league-worst 4,906 rushing yards (4.7 yards per carry) in the last two seasons.

“At the end of the day, I’ve still got to rush the passer. I’ve still got to do my job, play the run, set the edge,” Mafe said. “From a standpoint of what am I doing, I’m still doing the same thing. We just have the opportunity to learn new things and learn more and have a different role and bigger role in the defense.”

Boye Mafe

Despite having a borderline breakout season in 2023, Mafe isn’t satisfied. Macdonald’s defense has a chance to unlock Mafe’s strengths even further, while also asking him to do things that will be new. There’s still plenty of areas he can improve, Mafe said.

“It’s a stepping stone,” Mafe said of last season. “There’s a lot to learn from last year; there’s a lot to improve on from last year and the job’s not finished. We still got work to do. There’s still things that I got to work on in my game and learning the game and becoming a better player. So, for me, it’s just taking the next step.”

Boye Mafe

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Connor Benintendi