There are a few positions that still remain pretty big question marks as FA is winding down. Here I’ll try to list those out and explore how those may be addressed. This are in no particular order. I’ll also add that I’m intentionally going to avoid discussing the offensive line since there’s been plenty of OL talk on the board already.
Still no word on bringing back Marcel Reece, which seems to be most people’s preference. One intriguing option on the roster is Brandon Cottom, former TE, but he is a bit of a question mark coming off of injury and with little proven experience at FB. Physically he has some exciting tools, but if the Seahawks do still plan on keeping a FB or two on the roster it’s a risk hoping he’ll come out and grab that role.
Another possibility is that the team wants to move away from FBs and use the freed-up roster spots on more TEs. There does seem to be a recent emphasis on TE - from trading to JG, to drafting Nick Vannett, to kicking the tires on Jared Cook in FA, to ultimately re-signing Luke Willson on a one-year deal.
Pete has already made a point of saying he wants to re-establish the Seahawks dominance in running the ball, and may feel that going with more two TE sets is a good way to help that. It could also help the young line with pass blocking.
Both Graham and Willson are set to be UFAs after this year, and Vannett is looking like a disappointment so far, if not a bust, after getting relegated to 4th string and making no discernible impact. That, combined with the strength of this year's TE class, makes me think we could go TE pretty high in the draft.
Last year both of our starters suffered significant injuries, and our top backups are all gone (Kelcie McCray, Jeron Johnson, and Steven Terrell, to FA, and Shead to major injury. Earl’s recovery seems ahead of schedule but he has to still be considered a question mark due to the nature of his injury. Kam also had surgery this offseason and the health of his body is a constant concern, (not to mention he’s in the last year of his contract and unlike Michael Bennett has not been given an extension). We are also two seasons away from Earl Thomas reaching unrestricted Free Agency. One or more of our CBs could move to safety, but officially we have Pierre Desir as a backup FS and that’s it. That’s a big concern.
With the depth of S in this draft I have to think addressing this area is one of, if not the top priority in this draft. I would not be surprised to see us go early and often here. Budda Baker is my personal favorite among those who might fall to us, but there are plenty to choose from - Obi Melifonwu another name that seems to be a board favorite.
Richard Sherman (unless you believe the rumors) has LCB locked down, but RCB is a big question mark with Shead’s injury, and Jeremy Lane’s drop-off last year has to be concerning for the slot nickel role. Like Safety, there are a ton of talented CBs in the draft, and despite their criticisms, the Seahawks org has a great record of drafting and developing CBs.
That track record could impact the season 2-fold: 1) Pete and John don’t need to spend top picks to find talented corners that fit their scheme. Of all the CBs that have become prominent members of the LOB, only one (Walter Thurmond) was drafted higher than the 5th round. What that means is the Hawks can worry about filling other needs early and still replenish the talent at CB later in the draft. One caveat there is most of these guys take some time to grow in to the Seahawks scheme, so finding a starter ready on day one out of the draft is less likely.
This brings me to point 2). There is a pretty intriguing stable of young corners with varying years of experience in the Seahawks scheme that could make the jump to full LOB status in their 2nd or 3rd year, similar to Shead and Byron Maxwell. This list includes Nieko Thorpe, Demetrius McCray, Perrish Cox, and my personal favorite, DeAndre Elliott. Do not be surprised if one of these guys makes a big-time jump this year.
Not going to in to too much detail here but the depth at DT is a little concerning. With Tony McDaniel and John Jenkins moving on, our primary backups at DT are both unproven and coming off of IR. If either Jarran Reed or Ahtyba Rubin go down this could be a big problem. The Seahawks seem to do a good job of pulling serviceable big boys off the street, but it would be nice to shore this up before TC.
6. SAM linebacker.
With Mike Morgan now gone, and Cassius Marsh appearing pretty limited in what he can do at SAM, it’s a bit of a concern that we haven’t addressed this position. Like FB, this position has clearly become de-emphasized in recent years, with the majority of defensive sets using some form of nickel. However, the Seahawks defense is still predicated on dominating against the run in order to force teams to pass, so having a SAM who can set the edge against run-focused teams is a good thing. Even better if that player is not a liability against the pass.
Ideally we could find another Bruce Irvin; someone athletic enough to cover effectively and versatile enough to join the pass-rushing package in the nickel. The Seahawks may again be looking help on that in the draft. Personally I’m very intrigued by TJ Watt - he looks all the world like a rich man’s Marsh. If you’ll indulge me for a second (I know this is not the draft forum), check out the comparison below. If we think Marsh is at least serviceable, then based on these physical characteristics, Watt could be great. He and Baker are my two favorites for our #1 pick.
TJ Watt vs Cassius Marsh - NFL Combine Results
Watt: 252 lbs
Marsh: 252 lbs
Watt: 33 1/8”
Marsh: 32 3/4”
Marsh: 9 1/2”
40 Yd Dash:
Watt: 4.69 sec
Marsh: 4.89 sec
Watt: 21 reps
Marsh: 14 reps
Watt: 6.79 sec
Marsh: 7.08 sec
20 Yd Shuttle:
Watt: 4.13 sec
Marsh: 4.25 Sec
If you got this far, thanks for reading!