One of the biggest weaknesses in the 2016 Seattle Seahawks was the absolute ineptitude of Steven Terrell and Kelcie McCray to fill in for Earl Thomas in a passable manner. The Seahawks addressed that hole in free agency with the signing of Bradley McDougald.
The Seahawks were clearly unhappy with their secondary depth, and drafted four defensive backs in the 2017 draft. They also added two-year starter and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Bradley McDougald. Seahawks General Manager John Schneider told 710 ESPN Seattle that McDougald was graded as one of the 10 best free agents entering the off-season. He could not believe that he became available to the team.
It isn’t hard to understand why McDougald wasn’t a hot commodity in the free agent market. A draft class that was loaded with DB’s, and the non-stellar production of McDougald certainly put a damper on his market.
What McDougald does bring to the Seahawks is a solid, starting-caliber safety. They now have an acceptable plan B should Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas miss time in 2016. How does a backup safety make the Top 20 Most Interesting Seahawks list?
Three months ago, we wrote about the possibility McDouglad can help the Seahawks transition to a 4-2-5 defense. The team experimented with the idea last season, but veteran Brandon Browner could not fill the role.
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The former Kansas Jayhawk possesses the size to play near the line, but the speed to make plays in coverage. It is this rare ability that makes McDougald a real wild card in the Seahawks Cover 3 scheme. The Seahawks are desperate to get back to their hard-hitting, play making defense. McDougald should help.
Yet the most important role McDougald will fill is that of Kam Chancellor insurance. Chancellor hasn’t played a full season since 2013. He has missed 9 of the last 32 games, and is also a free agent after the 2017 season.
Almost certainly, McDougald will be a key special teamer and play in a “big nickel” package. In addition, he will serve as the primary backup to both Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Exactly how much he plays is still a question entering the 2017 season. If McDougald can force his way onto the field, it is a great sign for the defense.
If he must play because of injury, he needs to be a solid starting option. In order for the Seahawks defense to avoid the disaster of the second half of 2016 in 2017 Seattle needs Bradley McDouglad to be a big hit in 2017.