Forced into the spotlight on Monday night: Byron Maxwell

World & 12th man on his shoulders

One injury and two suspensions later, and Byron Maxwell has found himself starting for the Seattle Seahawks at cornerback.

Surely this isn’t how the former sixth-round pick from Clemson envisioned his ascension towards the top of the Seahawks depth chart, but one can only hope he’s come to terms with it over the prolonged break in-between games due to the bye week.

Lining up opposite Maxwell will be the second-ranked passing offense, led by future hall-of-famer Drew Brees. Were the odds not against the Seattle corners as is, the Saints offense is getting healthier by the day and is receiving contributions nearly across the board.

No small order for Maxwell and the defensive backfield, a group I wrote about at length (following their recent slew of suspensions).

Time to Panic?

Hardly. In the Seahawks stable of corners you will find no better testament to the organizational depth that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have amassed over their tenure – and this rings especially true upon the realization that Maxwell was fourth in the organizational depth chart.

Is Byron Maxwell up to the challenge ahead?

Is Byron Maxwell up to the challenge ahead?

With Maxwell the Seahawks have a cornerback that I genuinely believe could start on several teams in the NFL. Looking as far back as training camp for proof of this, consider that the Seahawks chose to keep Maxwell over Will Blackmon who is now a starter with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Digging even further into training camp, it is worth considering that Maxwell looked great in nearly every game he played in. He was shutting down receivers with regularity and even showed a yet unseen ability to play the football.

Not bad for a former sixth-rounder.

There is a lot to like in Maxwell’s game, but his ability to not give up the play is paramount. He’s a bit of a hand-fighter and as such can be prone to penalties in coverage, but that’s more of a right of passage than anything in this secondary.

Maxwell isn’t nearly as big or physical as Brandon Browner, but he makes the opposition fight just as hard for every yard.

Hardly Perfect

Worth noting when looking at Maxwell’s play over this season is that opposing quarterbacks have a relatively high rating QBR throwing against him. The mean QBR of quarterbacks throwing in his direction is about 100, which is more than a little concerning.

Now that being said, the cause of this could be the fact that Maxwell has been inserted into a lot of garbage time situations late in games where the opposition is always taking shots downfield, but it’s still a concerning number.

Also worth noting is the fact that Maxwell lacks the physical abilities to play the role of a nickel cornerback well; the problem being that Jeremy Lane is even less suited to that role, which will force Maxwell to play it in Seattle’s nickel defense.

With Richard Sherman patrolling the opposite sideline, Maxwell will be challenged on the regular in prime time. Just hope he’s up to it.


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About J.D. Burke

Living in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. the majority of his life, father introduced him to hockey at an early age and made sure his team was the Canucks. Eventually found himself loving the Seahawks. Masochistic much? Loves beer, novels, music, writing, long walks on the beach & sushi. "Be more like J.D." Connect with him today!
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