Editor's note: This story is part of KING 5's Seahawks season preview series.
A brand new Seattle Seahawks season is upon us, although the 2022 edition will look noticeably different than years past at some key spots.
The quarterback position might be the most obvious with Russell Wilson now in Denver, but longtime linebacker Bobby Wagner arguably leaves a more gaping hole in the heart of the Seahawks defense.
Wagner returned to his roots in southern California and someone new will have to step up and become the vocal, on-field leader of Seattle's defense. Clint Hurtt is in his first season as the Seahawks defensive coordinator, although he has been on the defensive coaching staff since 2017.
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So how does the defensive depth chart look entering the 2022 NFL season?
Let's examine each level of the defense, as well as who will be manning the most visible roles on special teams.
Shelby Harris and Poona Ford are expected to be the Week 1 starters at defensive line, while Al Woods will hold down the nose tackle spot in the team's new 3-4 defensive scheme.
Harris was part of the package the Seahawks received in the Wilson trade with the Broncos. The veteran started 16 games for Denver in 2021, finishing with six sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble along with a total of 49 tackles.
Ford was signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and enters his fifth season in Seattle. He started all 33 of the team's regular-season games the past two seasons at nose tackle and likely will slide between both tackle and end throughout the season. Ford had 53 combined tackles with two sacks in 2021.
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Woods returns after signing a one-year contract with the Seahawks before the 2021 season. Woods set career-highs in tackles and QB hits last season and will be counted on as one of the elder statesmen of this somewhat young defensive unit.
The Seahawks also claimed defensive end Daryl Johnson off waivers after he was let go by the Carolina Panthers. He played three games in 2021 before going on injured reserve and could end up playing either defensive end or outside linebacker in the Seahawks' new scheme. Speaking of which...
As previously mentioned, Wagner's absence opens up a void in the middle of the Seahawks defense. Jordyn Brooks is expected to be the player stepping up and filling that spot in 2022, with Cody Barton also expected to start as an inside linebacker. The new 3-4 outside linebackers are expected to be Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor.
Brooks was the team's first-round draft choice in 2020 and led the NFL in solo tackles last season with 109. Over his time in Seattle, Brooks has a total of 241 tackles, including 12 for loss and seven pass deflections.
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Barton was the Seahawks' third-round draft pick in 2019 and made 37 tackles in 2021 over 16 games played (with one start). Barton played some safety in college before transitioning to linebacker and will be tasked with more pass coverage this season as the weakside middle linebacker opposite Brooks.
Nwosu played his first four NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers before signing with the Seahawks in March. He started 15 games in 2021 and picked up 40 tackles -- including five sacks -- as well as four pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
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Taylor was a Seattle second-round pick in 2020 but made his first on-field contributions a season ago. He had 37 tackles including 6.5 sacks as a defensive end in 2021 and should continue to get ample pass-rush opportunities in the team's new scheme. Taylor has been one of the more intense players in training camp and appears highly motivated for 2022.
One other name from this group to keep an eye on is 2022 second-round pick Boye Mafe. Showing off his high motor throughout the preseason, Mafe could end up being a major contributor as a pass rusher and on special teams.
The Seahawks will feature two of the NFL's 10 highest-paid safeties in Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, as well as Sidney Jones IV and Artie Burns expected to start at cornerback in Week 1.
Adams hasn't quite produced to the level expected when the Seahawks traded a haul of draft picks to acquire him from the New York Jets in 2020. Limited to 12 games in each of his first two years in Seattle, Adams will be determined to stay healthy and return to the All-Pro/Pro Bowl caliber production he's shown in the past. Adams had 87 tackles and five pass deflections in 2021.
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Diggs signed a three-year extension with the Seahawks earlier this year and tallied five interceptions and seven pass deflections while earning Pro Bowl honors in 2021. High expectations will land on both Diggs and Adams as they live up to the sizable investment the Seahawks have made in the position.
Jones IV returns for this second season with the Seahawks, after starting 11 games in 2021 and finishing with 66 tackles and 10 pass deflections. Another University of Washington product on the Seahawks, Jones' availability for the season opener remains up in the air due to a concussion during the first full week of practice.
Burns comes to Seattle after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears. The former Miami Hurricane posted an impressive 85.1 Pro Football Focus grade in coverage and finished with six pass deflections in just 11 games.
Two other names at cornerback to keep an eye on are rookies Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen.
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Bryant has been hyper-competitive in practice against Seahawks wide receivers and should begin the season in many of the defense's nickel packages.
Woolen's remarkable physical traits should lead to him eventually finding his way into the Seahawks' starting lineup, whether that be sometime this season or after a year of learning behind Jones IV and Burns.
Now let's do a quick run-through of the Seahawks' most notable special teams players.
Jason Myers once again will handle the kicking duties for the Seahawks, after connecting on 17 of his 23 field goal attempts in 2021. He will hope to recapture the magic that led him to hit all 24 of his attempts in 2020, one of which came
from 61 yards out.
Michael Dickson is also back as the Seahawks' punter for his fifth NFL season. The former fifth-round draft choice was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season.
Returning punts in 2022 will be Dee Eskridge, who returned some kickoffs in his rookie season with the Seahawks a year ago but was nagged by a concussion for much of 2021. Eskridge is one of the faster players on the team and likely will see extensive playing time on special teams.
DeeJay Dallas appears slated to be the kickoff returner for the Seahawks after he had 33 returns in 2021. Dallas was one of the brightest stars from the preseason and training camp and could see an increased workload at running back given the injury to Kenneth Walker III.