What Seahawks fans should — and shouldn’t — read into from OTAs
The Seahawks will host their first open-to-media session of OTAs Tuesday, and with so many new faces, fans are understandably eager to learn more about this year’s team.
But as a word of caution, teams must adhere to a strict set of offseason training rules, which makes evaluating certain position groups more difficult. 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps offered a quick primer on what Seahawks fans should (and shouldn’t) take away from practice:
Don’t read too much into…
Plays from defensive backs
As a quick refresher on the rules for offseason training activities, players cannot wear pads (with the exception of protective knee and elbow pads, and helmets) and live contact is prohibited, meaning defensive players can’t make a play on the ball or tackle an opposing player, even in 11-on-11 drills.
That doesn’t mean defensive backs can’t be evaluated; they can still cover and make interceptions. But it’ll be tough to see this early in the offseason just how effective they can be making disruptive plays.
“The DBs aren’t allowed to really fight for the ball a lot, so you’re not going to be able to evaluate a ton on those guys, because they have to be very careful,” Heaps said. “Basically, don’t overreact if a guy’s getting beat on a 50-50 ball… (but) what you do want to watch is how they handle the line of scrimmage and how how they are in their one-on-one route situations.”
The fight at the line of scrimmage
“There’s not a whole bunch you can read into because there’s simply no pads,” Heaps said. “You can’t have a great representation of what they can do… what you can look for is does a guy have enough twitch, enough explosion coming off the ball. And that’s about it.”
How “in shape” a player is
“The other thing I’d be careful of is getting too much into how great of shape a certain individual is,” Heaps said. “In OTAs, it’s great that a guy is coming in in shape and ready to roll. But you don’t know what that is going to translate into once you get into training camp, preseason, and eventually on the field for the regular season.”
But do watch for…
It seems obvious, but reps may be the simplest – and best – takeaway.
“They don’t have ample amount of time in OTAs, and in training camp, for that matter, with how the (collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association) works,” Heaps said. “So the guys that you want to get on the field, the ones and twos, you’re going to get all the opportunities you can and the coaches are going to try to force the issue.”
There are a few position battles to keep an eye. Without longtime veteran Doug Baldwin, wide receiver is an obvious area of need. But Heaps says the linebacker unit could also have new challengers.
“It’s got so much competition and there’s just simply not enough room for everybody,” Heaps said. “By drafting Ben Burr-Kirven and Cody Barton, you then have put Austin Calitro, Emmanuel Ellerbee and Shaquem Griffin on notice. And Barkevious Mingo, for that matter. Barkevious Mingo is not a lock to make this roster. Although he’s a great player – he did great things for them last year and he’s a great special teams player – they could save $4 million off the cap by cutting him. So he has to come in a prove himself and show that he’s worthy of making this roster. But Shaquem Griffin and Austin Calitro and Emmanuel Ellerbee – I would definitely feel uncomfortable in this situation, because Cody Barton and Ben Burr Kirven are coming for your job.”
“Obviously we know Tyler Lockett is going to step up in a big way, and he had a tremendous year last year and you’d expect him to continue building off of that,” Heaps said. “But who is going to step up after that? Is it going to be D.K. Metcalf and Russell Wilson developing strong chemistry? Is it going to be David Moore or Jaron Brown? This is the time for the receivers to show Russell Wilson that you can be in the right place at the right time, that you’re going to run your routes with great detail and be able to get to where he needs you to be.”