Clayton’s observations from OTAs: Wilson, Baldwin have had best offseason, DE still a concern
The Seahawks concluded the next-to-final phase of their offseason Thursday when they completed their 10th OTA practice.
Pete Carroll said he felt great about the offseason. Even though the coaching staff and the roster underwent their biggest changes since Carroll took over the team in 2010, he believes the team has recaptured the mentality in practice that worked so well for making this franchise a Super Bowl contender.
Let’s review some of the observations from OTAs.
• I made the comment when the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round that I still think Chris Carson would be the opening day starter. From what we saw in the OTAs, that could still be the case. Penny looks great, but Carson has been the unofficial star of the offseason. His weight is up 10 pounds to 226 and he’s running with speed and power.
• Running back was a deep position last year, but the unit was ineffective. The backfield looks deep again but it also looks better. Last year’s group was deep enough that Alex Collins was cut and ended up gaining over 900 yards with the Baltimore Ravens. This offseason, C.J. Prosise has been healthy and has revamped his body, Mike Davis has done good things, and J.D. McKissic remains fast and elusive.
• Defensive end has to be a concern. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are gone. Dion Jordan is on a six-to-eight week recovery period from a knee surgery (though he should be ready for training camp). With Frank Clark missing the OTAs, the Seahawks have started Jacob Martin and Branden Jackson. They still can use Marcus Smith, Barkevious Mingo and third-round choice Rasheem Green. Some of the options on the street are Connor Barwin, Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers and Charles Johnson.
• Shaquill Griffin looks fine at Richard Sherman’s old position at left cornerback. His footwork is excellent and he doesn’t looked lost. What probably helped was that he played both sides of cornerback in college. Carroll expects Byron Maxwell to be at minicamp next week, where he is expected to reclaim the starting job at right corner.
• Even though defensive tackle Tom Johnson wasn’t a big name signing for the Seahawks, he should be an important addition. Listening to him, he sounds as though he should be a good leader. Second, he expects to start at the three-technique, and has the ability to sack the quarterback.
• Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin have had their best offseason. No surprise there. Pro Football Focus rated the Wilson-Baldwin quarterback-to-receiver duo the fourth best in football since 2006. Baldwin’s caught 441 of 602 passes for 5,746 yards and 44 touchdowns since they’ve been together.
• Even though it’s hard to judge offensive lines in non-contract practices, the offensive line shows signs of improvement. Germain Ifedi should improve dramatically at right tackle thanks to Mike Solari’s blocking scheme. Ethan Pocic has also been impressive and looks good in a more physical scheme.