JOHN CLAYTON

Breaking down the Seahawks’ offense entering training camp

Jul 29, 2016, 11:00 AM
Running back Alex Collins is among the rookies who will be vying for significant roles during train...
Running back Alex Collins is among the rookies who will be vying for significant roles during training camp. (AP)
(AP)

Seahawks training camp will open with a little bit of a twist.

Since they started turning the franchise around in 2010, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have emphasized the defense. Thanks to finding players who fit Carroll’s scheme, the Seahawks have allowed the fewest points in the league the last four years. Seven of their projected starters on defense – including rookie Jarran Reed – were draft picks. Three others – Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Ahtyba Rubin – were signed in free agency. Of that entire group, Earl Thomas is the only first-rounder.

What’s different this year is the emphasis on offense. Eight of the Seahawks’ 10 draft picks were offensive players, the biggest push by the current regime to get younger and better on that side of the ball.

Depending on how many draft choices make the team, the Seahawks should end up with anywhere between 13 to 15 new players, but that number is a little skewed because Brandon Browner is making his second tour with the team. They added tackles J’Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell. You figure eight to 10 draft choices can make the team, and quarterback Trevone Boykin leads the group of undrafted rookies who can earn a roster spot.

If this draft class is as promising as Carroll and Schneider believe, it creates some interesting scenarios for the future. Let’s break them down.

Offensive line: The developments of 2016 draft picks Germain Ifedi, Rees Odhiambo and Joey Hunt are the keys to the present and the future. Seattle’s line has been criticized for the past two years. Though it projects to be the fifth-biggest line for size, it’s one of the youngest in age, and that can be dangerous. But if Tom Cable and the scouting staff are right about the six offensive linemen Seattle has drafted over the past two years, the Seahawks could have a starting group and backup depth together for at least two or three seasons. Ifedi is beginning his career at right guard. Odhiambo is at left guard, but he could project to be a future starter at right tackle. Part of the success of the Seahawks’ offensive line in 2005 – when Seattle reached the Super Bowl – was having an experienced group that played together for around 50 games. Aside from Webb, the current projected starting line has two players who entered the league in 2014 (Justin Britt and the undrafted Garry Gilliam), one from 2015 (Mark Glowinski) and one rookie (Ifedi). Gilliam will be a restricted free agent after this season, but the team has control over all those players through at least 2017.

Running back: This is most exciting position to watch because of all the options. Thomas Rawls and Alex Collins look like excellent early-down backs. C.J. Prosise should be the passing-down back because of his experience as a receiver at Notre Dame and being a decent-sized runner. Zac Brooks can possibly back up either spot. Oh, and don’t forget Christine Michael, who was considered one of the most talented backs from the 2013 draft but only started to show that potential late last season.

Tight end: Third-round pick Nick Vannett was the surprise of the Seahawks’ offseason. They knew he could block, but he looked better than anyone expected at catching the ball during OTAs. If Jimmy Graham comes back healthy, Carroll has his best tight-end trio since he’s been in Seattle with Graham, Luke Willson and Vannett.

Wide receiver: The only thing that would prevent seventh-round pick Kenny Lawler from making the roster is Kasen Williams, who might be the most improved player on the team. Lawler catches the ball well. Williams was outstanding in OTAs and in minicamp. That should be an interesting battle.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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Breaking down the Seahawks’ offense entering training camp