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Which Seahawks rookies could contribute on special teams

Every year fans are broken hearted when their favorite draft pick or undrafted free agent signing fails to make the roster in spite of an impressive preseason, when the cause of that is often a lack of special teams contributions.

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It’s that time of year again, when the offseason program has finished, but training camp has yet to arrive, creating the early summer void in the NFL news cycle. For the Seattle Seahawks the offseason program wrapped up early, and just over three weeks remain until rookies report for training camp on the seventh anniversary of this infamous tweet:

Hopefully the next three weeks remain injury and suspension free for the Hawks, as fans prepare for the inaugural season of the Mike Macdonald era. Between now and roster cuts on August 27, 2024, there will be no shortage of debate on how various players are able to contribute on the field and on who will make the team.

To that end, for every Kasen Williams making spectacular catches in training camp practices and every Levi Bell making an impression in the preseason, there’s a Cody Thompson or Jon Rhattigan ready to lay claim to the roster spot with their special teams contributions.

With that in mind, during John Schneider’s tenure as general manager there have been certain position groups that have repeatedly performed as special teams snaps leaders for the Seahawks. Those position groups are linebacker, tight end, running back, wide receiver and defensive back, and while tendencies could certainly change with a new head coach and new kickoff rules, but all there is to do is to work with the data that is available.

Thus, looking just at the rookies who are in the above mentioned position groups, here is a look at the number of special teams snaps each played in 2023.

Seahawks rookies and special teams snaps played during the 2023 season

Player ST Snaps Coverage Return
Player ST Snaps Coverage Return
TaMerik Williams 0 0 0
George Holani 22 20 2
Kobe Lewis 15 3 12
Dee Williams 261 137 124
Hayden Hatten 12 2 10
AJ Barner 120 1 41
Jack Westover 124 47 74
Rason Williams 101 0 6
Nelson Ceaser 86 29 0
Sunny Anderson 35 1 3
Tyrice Knight 65 0 6
Easton Gibbs 58 2 2
Devin Richardson 130 86 9
Nehemiah Pritchett 39 3 9
D.J. James 100 44 8
Carlton Johnson 90 29 14
Ro Torrence 90 5 23

Obviously, not all special teams snaps are created equal, which is why there are different types of special teams snaps in the three columns. The first column is all special teams snaps played, whether as on kick or punt returns, coverage or field goals and extra points. Now, there’s no question that field goals and extra points are important, but the players who earn their way onto the roster on special teams like Neiko Thorpe, Nick Bellore and Jon Rhattigan do so by contributing on kick and punt coverage moreso than by lining up as a blocker on a kickoff return that goes for a touchback.

That is why the number of snaps each played in coverage and on returns are spelled out, as those players who have the guts and willingness to regularly engage in the high-speed collisions of kick and punt coverage are those who can set themselves apart without putting gaudy statlines that attract the majority of fans.

So, while nearly seven weeks remain until the Seahawks travel to SoFi to take on the Los Angeles Chargers to open the preseason, it’s as good a time as ever to begin taking a look at those names who could surprise on the fringes of the roster based on their special teams contributions.