Which Seahawks position groups still face a depth problem?
The Seahawks faced plenty of turnover this offseason, but have filled major holes on their roster through the draft and free agency. Now that the 90-man roster appears (mostly) set for OTAs and training camp, here’s a look at the position groups that currently face the biggest depth issues.
Who they have: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Amara Darboh, David Moore, Tanner McEvoy, Cyril Grayson, Marcus Johnson, Jaron Brown.
Unconfirmed UDFAs or camp invites: Taj Williams, Caleb Scott, John Franklin III.
Russell Wilson lost two of his top three receiving targets when Paul Richardson and tight end Jimmy Graham departed in free agency. Seattle wasn’t able to address the position during the draft, but have reportedly signed three undrafted rookie free agents: Vanderbilt’s Caleb Scott, TCU’s Taj Williams, and FAU’s John Franklin III. There are six returning veterans and two veterans acquired via trade or free agency (Johnson and Brown).
So, it’s a fairly large group heading into offseason training. However, outside of Baldwin, Lockett and Brown, the unit is talented but relatively inexperienced. Baldwin had 853 snaps for Seattle last season while Lockett had 691 – about three times more than the next-leading receiver (McEvoy). Brown had 819 snaps for the Cardinals, which adds an extra veteran presence. But the hope is that 2017 third-round pick Amara Darboh is able to see more action this season, and that another target can also step up behind him. If the offense leans more into the blocking ability of the newest tight ends, Wilson will need weapons in the passing game outside of Baldwin, Lockett and Brown. With just the three of them, a receiving room that looks crowded on paper becomes dangerously thin. It remains to be seen how productive the newest players can be, but don’t count out the potential impact of undrafted rookies – both Baldwin and ex-Seahawk Jermaine Kearse went from walk-ons to starters for Seattle.
Who they have: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Barkevious Mingo, Shaquem Griffin, D.J. Alexander, Paul Dawson.
The Seahawks’ linebacker group appears stacked on the outset. Pro Bowlers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright will start their seventh season together and remain part of the crux of Seattle’s defense. Both Barkevious Mingo and rookie Shaquem Griffin add plenty of speed to the front seven and have a chance to learn from two of the best in the game. But depth could sprout up as a problem should injuries sideline Wright and Wagner (a problem Seattle faced last season when both players were forced to leave the game in a loss to Jacksonville). D.J. Alexander remains one of Seattle’s strongest players on special teams, which could create a bit of a hole there if he’s called to fill in as a regular starter on defense. Paul Dawson has limited experience with the Seahawks, having appeared in just three games. Perhaps it’s why Seattle has reportedly brought on two undrafted rookie free agents to compete for spots on the depth chart: Oklahoma’s Emmanuel Beal and Florida State’s Jacob Pugh.
Honorable mention: Offensive line
Who they have: Duane Brown, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Rees Odhiambo, Ethan Pocic, Jordan Roos, Joey Hunt, Isaiah Battle, Willie Beavers, D.J. Fluker, Jamarco Jones.
Unconfirmed UDFAs or camp invites: Viane Talamaivao, Brad Lundblade, Skyler Phillips.
National outlets were not kind with their grades for this year’s Seahawks draft class, and Seattle’s offensive line performance over the last few seasons is part of the reason. Pro Football Focus ranked the Seahawks’ O-line – which allowed 43 sacks of Wilson – 27th in the league last year. Here’s why it’s on the list: Seattle did address the line this season and has several returning starters, but it will need to exceed last year’s performance to give the run game a chance to take off.
There’s reason for hope; despite drafting just one offensive lineman this year, the lineup looks more promising heading into 2018. Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown will be able to get a full season under his belt and ex-Giants right guard D.J. Fluker looks to be a perfect fit for Pete Carroll’s plan to revamp the run game. Seattle also made another major change this offseason – hiring offensive line coach Mike Solari to replace Tom Cable.