John Clayton: 10 things to consider after Seahawks minicamp

Jun 16, 2016, 4:53 PM | Updated: Jun 17, 2016, 12:28 am
Chris Clemons still has the quickness to benefit the Seahawks' pass-rush game, John Clayton writes....
Chris Clemons still has the quickness to benefit the Seahawks' pass-rush game, John Clayton writes. (AP)

Minicamps concluded around the league for NFL teams and the summer has begun.

The Seahawks, like the other 31 teams, have six weeks to regroup and relax before the start of training camp toward the end of July. For the Seahawks, it was an impressive offseason of work. While the veteran leaders mature, the overall roster looks younger and more competitive.

Here are 10 things to consider coming out of the minicamp:

1. Russell Wilson couldn’t be better. Pete Carroll says it takes quarterbacks five to six years to become great. Wilson hit that mark late last season and only looks better. His throws are crisper. His decisions are faster and better. I remember going to Rams training camp back when Kurt Warner was the quarterback. For the Greatest Show on Turf, Warner never let the ball hit the ground during a practice because his passes always hit the mark. Whether it’s throwing deep or rolling out to hit a target, Wilson is achieving the same level of play. Carroll said the improvement last year had to do with the improved rhythm of the offense. This spring, Wilson is in as much rhythm as the music played during practices.

Related: Times are changing, and so is the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom

2. The team is healthy. In fact, the medical report is better than expected. Carroll said Thursday that Jimmy Graham, coming off a tricky torn patella tear, is ahead of Thomas Rawls, who is coming off a broken ankle. While the Seahawks won’t rush either player, the announcement that Graham is ahead of Rawls shows both should be ready for the start of the regular season and might get some time in training camp. Rawls doesn’t need to push his recovery until the final preseason game, when he needs to see action. Graham is running, catching passes and doesn’t even have a sleeve on the surgically repaired knee.

3. Trevone Boykin is starting to look like the backup quarterback. In fact, he finished minicamp on such a high note the Seahawks might not re-sign Tarvaris Jackson. To be a backup in the Seahawks offense, Boykin checks off all the boxes. He’s a great runner. He makes fast decisions. His arm strength is excellent and he can throw completions even when the window to a pass-catcher is small. Plus, he shows good leadership in the huddle, which is amazing for a quarterback who was in an Air Raid offense and didn’t have much experience running huddles. The Seahawks probably had a fifth-round grade on him, but he’s already looking better than that.

4. Cassius Marsh and Eric Pinkins are the sleepers in the starting strongside linebacker derby. Mike Morgan came out of the minicamp as the No. 1 starter in the base 4-3 defense, but Marsh and Pinkins are fitting in well enough they should be in the mix to get playing time. Marsh brings pass-rush. Pinkins, a former safety, brings coverage.

5. As long as Tharold Simon stays healthy – and he is – he will be an outside cornerback when the team uses three corners. Jeremy Lane and Richard Sherman are the starters. Simon leads a talented group of outside corners, a group that has size, great arm length and tenacity. The coaches have been hoping Simon would come on for the past two years and now he’s starting to respond.

6. Justin Britt has made strides at center. At first, Britt didn’t look like a good fit at center. Tom Cable moved him there because he considers him one of the five best players on the line. But he opened camp looking as if he wasn’t a fit. His first positive step was his brains and knowledge of the game. He does the first things centers need to go – get the linemen in the right places. His long arms are a big aid in pass blocking. The competition is a good one between Britt, Patrick Lewis and rookie Joey Hunt, but Britt will enter training camp with a shot to be the starter.

7. The battle for the final receiving spot should be interesting. Kenny Lawler, the seventh-round choice, catches the ball so well he might have an edge. But Kasen Williams has made the biggest jump of just about any player on the team from where he was last year.

8. Chris Clemons’ quickness justified his return. Showing up at the VMAC for minicamp for this first time since rejoining the team, Clemons showed great pass-rushing quickness coming around tackles. Clemons is 250 pounds but he looks leaner and quicker. His only problem in Jacksonville was being on a bad team.

9. The steal of the draft was tight end Nick Vannett, the team’s third-round pick. Coming out of Ohio State, everyone knew he could block. That was his strength. But he’s a much better pass-catcher than anyone would have guessed. The Seahawks are three-deep at tight end.

10. Defensive end Frank Clark should be the breakout player on defense. He’s explosive. Against man blocking, he is a monster. Plus, the veterans on the line respect his skills and hard work.

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