Clayton: Five things we learned about the Seahawks at the combine
INDIANAPOLIS – The scouting combine is a transition point in every NFL offseason.
It’s the time a team shifts from the review of the previous season to looking ahead to the next one. First, a team evaluates its needs. Next, the team studies the available free agents. For the past two weeks or so, teams have held meetings to prepare for the combine and the draft.
The seven-day session in Indianapolis is the transition for a team like the Seahawks to take what they learned from their review and then start to map plans for the next season.
Here are five things we learned about the Seahawks over the past week:
1. It’s almost inevitable that the Seahawks will add a veteran free-agent or two to their offensive line, an area of weakness last season.
The question is: at what position? Don’t be surprised if it’s not a left tackle. Coach Pete Carroll was pretty clear on Thursday when he said George Fant is the team’s left tackle. Fant, rushed into service as a rookie last season because of the shaky play of Bradley Sowell at left tackle, made the remarkable transition from being a college basketball player to a starting left tackle in the NFL. Carroll was impressed. “He should grow more than anybody can possibly grow,”’ Carroll said. “He has played less than anybody.” Carroll also said Seattle plans to bring back right tackle Garry Gilliam, who is a restricted free agent. That gives the Seahawks six young starting options on the line: Fant, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, Gilliam and Rees Odhiambo. They have flexibility. If they add a veteran guard, Ifedi could move to tackle. If they add a right tackle, Gilliam will be challenged. General manager John Schneider conceded the team might have been a little too young along the line last year, making him wonder whether it was right to release veteran Jahri Evans, who returned to New Orleans and started all season. Whoever the Seahawks bring in won’t disturb the development of the young players on Seattle’s line.
2. Carroll is excited about kicker Blair Walsh.
When asked about Walsh’s signing, Carroll loved discussing him. Though he lost his confidence because of his struggles in Minnesota, Walsh has one of the league’s strongest legs. He’s only 27 and went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012, when he made 10 of 10 field-goal attempts from 50 yards or longer. He’s made 70.6 percent of his 50-plus-yard kicks during his career. Though it was hard to say goodbye to Stephen Hauschka, the Seahawks landed a talented kicker in his prime and signed him to a cheap, one-year deal at $1.1 million.
3. If Luke Willson leaves in free agency, the Seahawks have options at tight end.
The first is 2016 third-round pick Nick Vannett. The Seahawks knew from watching him at Ohio State that he could block. What surprised them is that he could be a natural pass-catcher with a good feel for route-running, something that wasn’t as evident in his college tape. Carroll said it took only a couple of days to determine Vannett had the potential of being a complete tight end. If Willson leaves, the Seahawks have Vannett for three years and could re-sign veteran Brandon Williams, an unrestricted free agent who was a good blocker in a backup role last year.
4. There don’t seem to be any plans to break up the core group of players.
Carroll and Schneider sounded as though they don’t want as many changes as last year. The Seahawks had 20 new players at the start of last season, including 14 rookies. The plan is to let the former rookies grow and bring in a few veterans to compete. That means no Jimmy Graham trade. Carroll is standing by the Legion of Boom. He feels comfortable about the depth and development of the receiving corps. Expect additions in the secondary, maybe a linebacker or two and maybe some help along the defensive line.
5. The Seahawks like their current trio of young running backs.
It doesn’t appear the Seahawks need to bring in a veteran like Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles. Thomas Rawls remains the starter and Carroll calls him a terrific player. The team likes the potential of Alex Collins, who lost about 16 pounds during his rookie season last year and offered some production late. Carroll wants to see what kind of role Prosise can fill. “He carved out a very small one so far because he hasn’t played much, but C.J., we feel like we really found the kind of guy we were hoping to find,” Carroll said. “He can do the things we like him to do, which is a variety of stuff.’’ Carroll loves Prosise’s versatility. He can be a pass-catcher, a route runner and a power back who can hit the middle of the field. Still, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Seahawks draft a power runner in one of the later rounds. It’s a great running back draft.
Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.