What does Seahawks safety situation look like without Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor?
The Seahawks starting defense was already poised to look a whole lot different from last year’s, with former starters Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett gone and Kam Chancellor’s future in limbo. But it became murkier still with the announcement of a holdout from Earl Thomas.
Bradley McDougald started in place of an injured Chancellor for the final six games of the season last year. But how do you replace Thomas?
“With what you’ve got, and what you have drafted over the last few years,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard said during his Blue 42 segment of Brock and Salk. Huard believes McDougald – a versatile player who played both strong and free safety last season – will be swapped back into Thomas’ role should the longtime veteran’s holdout last into the season. Meanwhile, second-year player Delano Hill will get a shot to compete for the starting strong safety position should Chancellor (who will have scans on a neck injury this month) be unable to return to the field.
“McDougald is a guy that has a tremendous football I.Q., but he has nowhere near the size and the speed quotient that Earl has,” Huard said. “When you really dig into it, that’s what has made (Thomas) so incredibly unique. Typically, guys of his size that play at his speed, and go red line to red line the way he does, they typically then can’t come up and finish. You’ve got to sacrifice something. And the NFL guy looked at him (in the draft) and said, ‘Well, that’s wonderful speed, a dynamic dude. You’re not going to last in the league at the size, though.’
“And he has. He’s lasted for nine years. He’s been unbelievably durable other than the last couple things that picked up on him a little bit from an injury front.”
Huard said McDougald doesn’t have Thomas’ speed and playmaking ability, but is a smart player with a good understanding of the Seahawks’ scheme.
“We saw that last year when he filled in. It was much, much better than 2016. But that size-speed quotient, man, very few like Earl Thomas.”