Without elaborating on the new CBA and how that can impact game day rosters, teams won’t be carrying 55 players as was speculated during the offseason. Each team will still be required to cut down to 53 by September 5th at 4PM EST. Here’s my rendition of how that looks for the Seahawks.
QB (2): Mr. Unlimited, Geno Smith
At the midpoint of his career, Russell Wilson stands on top of the Quarterback echelon as one of the best in the league, if not maintaining as the absolute leader in blotting out his team’s inefficiencies. Though not quite the dual threat he used to be, Russ is still an above average athlete at the position. Entering the 3rd year in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, Wilson and others have been clamoring for quicker starts featuring more aggressive play calling and increased tempo. If we see this adaptation happen, Wilson may have a legitimate path to the illustrious MVP. An award he’s never received a single vote for. Even if we had a preseason, I’d likely still cement Geno Smith as the backup. Other than the Trevone Boykin experiment, Seattle’s QB2 has always been a veteran with starting experience. We’ll check back in on Anthony Gordon next year if he’s delegated to and remains on the practice squad.
RB/FB (5): Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer, Deejay Dallas, Nick Bellore
Running back durability has been a problem for Seattle since the first departure of Marshawn Lynch. This came to a head last season when the Hawks had to enter the playoffs with Travis Homer as their starter. John Schneider’s reconciliation to this was adding Carlos Hyde, and drafting Deejay Dallas. Carlos will be the RB2 while Rashaad Penny is designated to the PUP list. Last season, Hyde started 14 games for the Texans and ranked 10th in Seattle’s favorite RB metric: Yards After Contact. Travis Homer will be a natural shoulder for Deejay Dallas to lean on, as they have history and will likely be used in similar fashion on special teams. If Penny makes it back earlier than anticipated, Deejay could land on the practice squad but frequently utilized as one of the gameday “call-up” players. Nonetheless, I don’t anticipate the rookie to make an impact until next season or 2022. By then, we’ll know the fate of Chris Carson who is playing for a contract extension this season.
WR (5): Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Phillip Dorsett, Josh Gordon, Paul Richardson,
Tyler Lockett & DK Metcalf are both top 15 receivers according to their peers who voted on the NFL’s Top 100. While the order of that list is highly debatable with a handful of deserving sophomores, it’s clear to me Metcalf’s ceiling is higher than anyone in the league next to Julio Jones. Of all the receivers with S-Tier genetics, he is among the top of that list at only 22 years old. What makes him a superstar is that he’s clearly not settling on being a physical specimen. He has great confidence but speaks with humility and understands work ethic is the separator of athletes and all-time greats. Of course, going from Shea Patterson to Russell Wilson also helps a little too. One of the better value signings of this free agency may be Phillip Dorsett who is being hyped as the fastest guy they’ve ever had. Paul Richardson’s return may be nothing more than a hedge in case Dorsett’s foot injury flares up. The cherry on top came this week when the Seahawks reportedly agreed to terms with Josh Gordon. Josh has applied for reinstatement, which sounds inevitable. The signing likely means the team has received some indication from the league that his application will be approved.
TE (4): Will Dissly, Greg Olsen, Jacob Hollister, Colby Parkinson
The doomsday prepper level of hoarding doesn’t hold a candle to what Seattle has done to their tight end room. This is obviously due to the injury history and/or age of their projected starters, Dissly and Olsen. Though Jacob Hollister’s impact was good enough for 3rd in team receptions, the Seahawks elected to add more competition. Coby Parkinson’s NFI status could temporarily leave the door cracked for Luke Willson. Even if healthy enough to be removed from NFI, Colby is still a rookie with basically no on-field time during this abbreviated camp. He’ll have some catching up to do. It could be wise to keep Luke as a practice squad veteran just in case, but also do him a favor by allowing him to negotiate with other tight end needy teams. We all love Luke, but even he would admit there aren’t going to be many more bites at the apple. We should expect an uptick in 12 personnel this season with two actual tight ends. I can’t lie, I’m going to miss the George Fant memes, but for at least one season this group is no joke. Greg Olsen recently said, it was the most talented group he’s ever been a part of. The post-draft hype for Stephen Sullivan will remain dormant for now as I don’t see him making an impact in 2020. He’ll need to display more than a high upside athlete with Ed Orgeron’s stamp of approval. Now allow me to contradict myself in saying Sullivan is absolutely ‘that guy’ who would kill it in the preseason and make life difficult on cutdown day. Alas, these aren’t normal circumstances. I’ve delegated him to the practice squad for now and am looking forward to seeing him develop.
OL (9): Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic, Damien Lewis, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi, Phil Haynes, BJ Finney, Jamarco Jones
The only true positional battles are at Center and Left Guard. While Phil Haynes starting over Mike Iupati would warm my heart, I realize the likelihood of that happening is less than I’ve clamored for. There’s far more concern surrounding who will be the starting Center though. The team spent a decent amount of capital on BJ Finney who is losing starting reps to Ethan Pocic. The former LSU Center has spent most of his time as a backup, learning all interior lineman positions until recently when Coach Carroll said he would focus on Center. Finally! While I’d been waiting to hear that since he was drafted, I admit the timing seemed a bit odd. Then the smoke really started to rise when Justin Britt came back for a workout. Britt’s rehab has gone well but he’s flown under the radar to other teams during this pandemic. There is some objectivity to bringing Justin back. Continuity with Russ ranking rather high. With no preseason, he’s another plug and play guy with no learning curve. You don’t have games to let a true battle take part between Pocic and Finney. However, Britt was not signed, and it appears Pocic has a slight edge to become the starter. The right side of the line appears to be pretty chalk with newcomers Damien Lewis and Brandon Shell projected to start. The lynch pin to this group is of course the left tackle. Duane Brown is the definition of a consummate professional and he’ll no doubt be ready to go. One of the more important variables to this season’s success will be his ability to stay available.
DL (9) Rasheem Green, LJ Collier, Benson Mayowa, Alton Robinson, Damontre Moore, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone, Cedrick Lattimore
All eyes are on this defensive line who has the most to improve upon this season. In 2019, Seattle ranked 29th in sacks and 16th in pass rush win rate. The leading contributors in the latter were Clowney and Quinton Jefferson, who were also the line’s two leaders in total snap share. LJ Collier will likely slide into the QJeff role after altering his body composition this offseason to fit the hybrid 3T/5T spot. The LEO rusher appears to be a grab-bag of Benson Mayowa, and camp standout Alton Robinson. Rookie Darrell Taylor remains on the NFI list and will be playing catch up once he’s finally cleared to practice. The interior defensive line is another position I could see being added to after waivers clear from other teams. In the wake of Al Woods’ departure, Bryan Mone’s snap share appears to be due for a significant increase. However, the defense would benefit greatly if they could improve their interior pass rush. Though double-digit sacks are unlikely, it would be great if we saw Jarran Reed return to his 2018 form. My surprise make would be Cedrick Lattimore. The former Iowa Hawkeye played defensive end as an underclassman and has since converted to defensive tackle. If anything, he brings some pass rush capability to the table which I believe is the difference maker over Christmas and Johnson….
Please Clowney,,, I know you read BeastPode. Come back m8.
LB (7) KJ Wright, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Shaquem Griffin, Ben Burr-Kirven
Typically, I would only slate six linebackers. Assuming the team keeps a role carved out for Shaquem as a speed rusher in nickel packages, I’ve kept seven. KJ Wright will likely fend off 1st-rounder Jordyn Brooks in base. However, things can get lethal when you consider the Bear front Carroll deploys. I’d assume this get Brooks, Irvin, Wright and Wagner on the field at the same time. Cody Barton doesn’t project to get an increase in snaps unless the team feels he can start at strong-side linebacker in base. Obviously in pass rushing situations, Irvin will be the SAM. If this doesn’t happen, Barton might have a decreased snap share from 14% in 2019. His usage will be something to keep an eye on.
DB (9) Shaquill Griffin, Quinton Dunbar, Tre Flowers, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi, Neiko Thorpe, Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Lano Hill
At RCB, FS, and SS this group is much more talented than the week 1 starters a year ago. The big question is who wins the nickel corner battle. Regardless, both Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi are making the team. Both will have learned how to play safety and nickel corner in this defense which keeps you covered if one of the starting safeties is lost to injury. Another key element is learning how Tre Flowers’ role changes. If our presumptions are correct, Dunbar absorbs a lot of Tre’s snaps, perhaps taking over the job outright. Tre seems to be in good spirits. Recently, he suggested his confidence has never been higher despite feeling ‘some type of way’ when Seattle acquired Dunbar in late March.
ST (3) Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott
The biggest gripe I have with the Madden video game franchise is not that their animations are trash; it’s that Tyler Ott’s rating is now 36 overall. The disrespect has been noted and I will be requesting a refund for this infraction.
There will inevitably be more roster churn in the next week, hopefully headlined by the return of Jadeveon Clowney. John Schneider refers to this as the 4th phase of player acquisition. There will be an influx of potential contributors hitting the open market, allowing the team to tie up any remaining loose ends.
On paper, the Seahawks have improved. Being a real contender goes beyond star power though; it also requires depth. Seattle addressed both areas this offseason and upgraded at multiple starting positions. They are by no means a dominant squad, but with just average play from both sides of the trench, the expectation of contention for a Super Bowl title is justifiable.