Since drafting Russell Wilson in 2012, the Seahawks have won 10+ games in each of the past five seasons. Despite their consistent success, the Seahawks have fallen short the last two years losing in the Divisional Round after making back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks have reloaded their roster and are looking to make another Super Bowl run. Here are some of the key roster changes and players coming back from injury.
QB Austin Davis (DEN)
RB Eddie Lacy (GB),
Chris Carson (7th round pick)
WR Amara Darboh (3rd round pick),
OT Matt Tobin (PHI)
OT/OG Luke Joeckel (JAC)
OG Jordan Roos (UDFA)
C Ethan Pocic (2nd round pick)
Oday Aboushi (HOU)
Isaiah Battle (LAR/KC)
Jermaine Kearse (traded to NYJ)
Returning From Injury:
Injured: LT George Fant (IR – ACL tear)
One of the big offensive questions for the Seahawks revolves around the offensive line. Last year, the offensive line struggled to protect Russell Wilson and open up running lanes for the running backs. The Seahawks have lost starting LT George Fant for the year due to an ACL tear, but they have also added Joeckel, Tobin, Roos, Pocic, Aboushi, and Battle through the draft and free agency to add depth to the weakest positional group on the team.
I don’t think Seattle’s offensive line will be nearly as bad as it was last year. The Seahawks, although not spending a ton of money, made a concerted effort to add competition to the offensive line. More than the additional players they added, I expect Wilson’s health to make a huge difference too. Seattle loves running zone-read plays, or at least threatening it, to freeze an edge rusher making the blocking schemes easier for the offensive line. But with Wilson’s injuries last year the DE didn’t have to respect Wilson’s mobility and was able to crash the pocket and they didn’t have to take a defender out of coverage to spy on Wilson. With the threat of Russell running again defenses will have a harder time exploiting a weaker than average offensive line.
The Seahawks are coming into the season with a strong stable of running backs consisting of Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, and Chris Carson. Early indications are that Rawls and Lacy will share early down work with Prosise taking the passing down work. Chris Carson currently sits fourth on the depth chart, but had a very impressive preseason and could push for more touches as the season goes on. If there’s an injury to a player ahead of him on the depth chart he could immediately step in for 10+ touches a game. Prosise also threatens to take more of the workload due to his explosiveness and versatility. The 2nd year converted wide receiver from Notre Dame has had durability issues, but he has been incredibly effective in the games he has played in. It’s a small sample, but in all 3 games Prosise logged at least 5 touches he had either 100 combined yards or a touchdown. I will be watching to see if Prosise can stay healthy and expand on his role in the offense this year.
The Seahawks have moved on from Jermaine Kearse altering being the WR2 in the offense the last several years. With Kearse gone it opens up the #2 spot for Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett to compete for. Paul Richardson is entering the final year of his rookie contract after being drafted in the 2nd round out of Colorado. Injuries have been a consistent problem for Richardson, but the young wide receiver emerged as a dynamic threat down the stretch last year making several remarkable catches. Lockett is another dynamic player that struggled with injuries last year, but is on track to play a full snap count Week 1. With Doug Baldwin , Richardson, Lockett, and Jimmy Graham, Wilson will have a ton of offensive weapons. They also have 3rd round pick Amara Darboh, Tanner McEvoy and J.D. McKissic . As long as he can create time in the pocket with his mobility I think the Seahawks offense will be tough to stop.
Additions (Former Team or Draft Pick):
DE David Bass (TEN)
DE Marcus Smith (PHI)
DE Dion Jordan (MIA)
DT Sheldon Richardson (NYJ)
DT Nazair Jones (3rd round pick)
DT Malik McDowell (2nd round pick)
LB Michael Wilhoite (SF)
LB Terrance Garvin (WAS)
LB D.J. Alexander (KC)
CB Shaquille Griffin (3rd round pick)
CB Justin Coleman (NE)
CB Demetrius McCray (JAC)
FS Bradley McDougald (TB)
SS Delano Hill (3rd round pick)
FS Tedrick Thompson (4th round pick)
DT Athyba Rubin (Cut)
DE/OLB Cassius Marsh (traded to NE)
Returning from Injury:
FS Earl Thomas
CB Deshawn Shead (PUP)
DT Malik McDowell (NFI)
DE Dion Jordan (NFI)
CB DeAndre Elliot (IR)
CB Demetrius McCary (IR)
Starting up front, potentially the biggest addition is the acquisition of the offseason is getting Sheldon Richardson from the Jets in exchange for Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 2nd round pick. Richardson joins an already elite pass rushing unit of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark. Michael Bennett is a terror for offensive lines due to his refined technique and ability to line up in just about any position on the defensive line. Cliff Avril is one of the top speed rushers in the league having recorded more strip sacks than any other player since entering the league. And third year player Frank Clark has shown similar positional versatility as Michael Bennett and after coming off a 10.5 sack sophomore season is going to require a lot of attention from offenses. Now add Sheldon Richardson to this group, who also has the versatility to line up in multiple spots on the defensive line. Opposing quarterbacks should be scared.
The linebacker position is pretty similar to previous years with Bobby Wagner, who led the NFL in tackles last year with 167, as the field general in the middle at MLB and K.J. Wright playing next to him. Since the Seahawks lost Bruce Irvin in free agency to the Raiders the Seahawks have not found a player to fill the third linebacker spot and instead have played Nickel on most plays, but the Seahawks did acquire Michael Wilhoite and Terence Garvin who could potentially fill this void for the Seahawks.
Most people know the key names of the Seahawks secondary, or ‘Legion of Boom;’ FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor, and CB Richard Sherman. Having Earl back is a big boost for the Seahawks who rely on his speed and play recognition to protect the middle of the field allowing the Seahawks to play their Cover 3 defense. With Earl Thomas healthy last year the Seahawks allowed 7 TDs and recorded 10 INTs with an average opponent Quarterback Rating of 77.8. After Earl Thomas got injured the Seahawks allowed 12 TDs and only picked off 1 pass with an opponent Quarterback Rating of 100.3.
The big question for the secondary is how will newcomers Shaq Griffin and Bradley McDougald factor in to the unit. Griffin seems pegged to open the season as the starting corner across from Richard Sherman. Griffin seems ready for the challenge, but facing Aaron Rodgers Week 1 will be a big test for the rookie. McDouglad offers depth at the safety position if Earl or Kam were to get injured again, but I think the Seahawks have bigger plans for him as well. Last offseason the Seahawks brought back Brandon Browner and converted him to safety to experiment with Buffalo Nickel packages (basically nickel with 3 safeties instead of 3 corners). It didn’t work out and the Seahawks ended up releasing Browner before the season, but I don’t the Carroll abandoned the concept and I think McDougald might have been brought in to fill that position in sub-packages.
The Seahawks have retained almost all of their key players from the 2016 campaign and have also managed to make some notable additions. I imagine the Seahawks will continue their 5 year streak of 10+ win seasons and think they could be poised for a deep playoff push if they can avoid any major injuries.