O’Neil: 3 questions Seahawks have to answer now that draft is over
The Seahawks chose a defensive end with the first-round pick they acquired in the trade for Frank Clark.
Just don’t make the mistake of saying they used that pick to replace Clark.
L.J. Collier is more strong than he is speedy, more powerful than quick, which means that he’s going to fill a very different role on Seattle’s defensive line than Clark did.
So who’s going to come roaring off the edge as Seattle’s speed rusher? That’s the first of three questions that Seattle will have to answer now that the draft is over.
1. Who starts at LEO, the term Seattle uses for its edge rusher?
Right now, the roll call at that spot consists of Cassius Marsh, second-year player Jacob Martin and Nate Orchard, who’ve started a combined total of 18 NFL games in their respective careers. The Seahawks didn’t use the draft capital they acquired in the Clark trade to find an edge rusher, which must mean they plan to do it with the $17 million they’re not going to pay Clark as part of the franchise tag. Ziggy Ansah visited Seattle on Monday, according to Adam Schefter. Ansah was limited to seven games with Detroit because of injury last season when he made $17 million as the player the Lions used their franchise tag on. Nick Perry of Green Bay is also available. So is Ndamukong Suh, who visited Seattle last year before signing with the Rams. Seattle is going to sign one, maybe two edge rushers before the regular season begins.
2. Who will be Seattle’s safeties come September?
Bradley McDougald will be a starter, but everything beyond that – including the position that McDougald starts at – is unclear. Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill both started for Seattle last season, but neither made an impression sufficient to assure themselves the starting assignment going forward, and don’t forget Shalom Luani, who was a core special-teams player for Seattle last season after he was acquired from the Raiders. He’ll have a chance to hit his way onto the roster, too. Throw in Ugo Amadi of Oregon, who’ll also get a test drive at nickel corner, and you’ve got five guys with significant draft pedigree competing for – at most – four spots on the roster and one open starting job.
3. Who takes Doug Baldwin’s starting spot if he retires?
Baldwin has been an absolute fixture in his eight seasons, missing only five games since entering the league in 2011. He has started 76 of the Seahawks’ 80 regular-season games over the past five seasons, but he would be listed as doubtful for 2019 given the tone of coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider after the draft. Tyler Lockett led Seattle with 57 catches last season, and Baldwin ranked second with 50. David Moore was the only other wide receiver on Seattle’s roster to catch more than 20 passes, but he caught only four passes over the final five games as his playing time dropped. Veteran Jaron Brown scored five touchdowns, which was great, but caught only 14 passes, which was not great. Seattle chose D.K. Metcalf at the end of the second round, but he “knows what he needs to work on” according to Schneider. Fourth-round pick Gary Jennings may be more prepared to make an immediate impact, but Keenan Reynolds and Caleb Scott are two players who’ve been with Seattle for a year now who could play their way onto the opening-day roster.