The Seattle Seahawks run game has been on a recent upswing. After leading the league in 2014, averaging 172.6 yards per game, and again finishing near the top in 2015, the Seahawks’ rushing attack fell toward the bottom of the NFL’s rankings.
Year after year, Seattle was sticking to the run without seeing a return on its investment. Fans bemoaned at hearing “Establish the run” and still cringe when reminded the Seahawks should have put the ball in Marshawn Lynch’s hands on the goal line in the final moments of Super Bowl 49. After consecutive seasons of either almost missing the 100-yards-per-game mark or barely surpassing it, Seattle once again became a rushing threat. It led the league in 2018 (with 160 yards per game) and finished behind some of the best ground games last season; the Seahawks averaged 137.5 yards behind the Tennessee Titans (138.9), San Francisco 49ers (144.1), and the Baltimore Ravens (206.0).
Chris Carson will continue to be the No. 1 running back in 2020. Behind him will likely be Carlos Hyde, who signed with the Seahawks in May after a one-year stint with the Houston Texans, and Rashaad Penny, who’s entering his third season in Seattle but was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list at the beginning of training camp. The Seahawks get a seasoned vet in Hyde and a rusher familiar with their system in Penny. There’s another “stud” in the team’s backfield as well, which will be beneficial if the team loses any backs to injury again; both Carson and Penny suffered season-ending injuries in 2019.
Rookie DeeJay Dallas is already making a strong impression in Seattle. As the Seahawks’ fourth-round 2020 draft pick, Dallas has gotten early praise from head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson, among others. Running mate Carson, who has been largely absent from training camp after tragically losing multiple family members, has already noticed improvement from his brief time with the team.
“He’s one of those players that, you know, you can just see the growth from the first practice to the last, and I haven’t even been out there for that long,” Carson recently told NFL media, via Sports Illustrated.
Dallas will have to adjust to NFL defenses, already raising concern that running lanes will close quickly compared to what he faced in college at Miami. Luckily for Dallas, he’s facing some of the best defenders in the league, squaring up against Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. In three seasons with the Hurricanes, Dallas recorded 1,527 rushing yards, 17 rushing touchdowns as well as 317 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. His production can also come on special teams, where he played a significant role for Miami.
What works in Dallas’ favor is his competitive toughness. According to The Draft Network’s senior NFL draft analyst Joe Marino, “he showcases some likable traits in terms of power, physicality, contact balance, hands, and [has] a competitive demeanor. If he can become more refined and nuanced then he should be a quality backup running back who claims some touches as an RB2 in the NFL.”
There is a fairly high ceiling here, or at least a back with a lot of potential, and the Seahawks can’t go wrong with good depth in the backfield. Dallas doesn’t need to make a huge splash his rookie season; Seattle has accounted for that with the addition of Hyde and the hopefully fully healthy Carson. Dallas with have to play his way through a loaded running back room but can make the final roster with the hopes of becoming sort of a Swiss Army knife. His experience as a quarterback and his pass-catching ability can serve Seattle well.
He may not be a breakout rookie, or even have a huge role right away as he adjusts to NFL speed, but Dallas could develop into a good weapon for his draft value; after all, the Seahawks specialize in finding late-round gems who carve out a significant role.