STACY ROST

Rost: The 3 position battles to watch at Seahawks training camp

Jul 21, 2023, 10:25 AM

Seattle Seahawks DK Metcalf Tyler Lockett...

DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks react against the New York Giants at Lumen Field on October 30, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks training camp is less than a week away and while a few positions are set, others will see ongoing battles through the preseason.

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Whether it’s a rookie fighting for a role or a veteran looking to bounce back, here are three position battles to watch this summer:

Wide receiver

Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are set at the top of this group but behind them are veterans Dereke Young and Dee Eskridge, both of whom will be battling it out alongside some former practice squad players and undrafted rookie free agents. From the latter group, UCLA’s Nick Bobo is garnering attention as a big target (6-4, 207) who led all Bruins pass catchers last season by no small margin with 57 receptions for 817 yards and seven touchdowns.

Returning is 2022 7th-rounder Young, a versatile option on offense and a special teamer, and Eskridge. Eskridge brought intriguing speed when he was drafted in the second round in 2021 but has yet to take advantage of it at the professional level;he’s been sideline by injury, most notably a serious concussion, and is quickly entering make-or-break territory. Can he flash in camp, or will a younger player leapfrog him?

Center

Credit to ESPN’s Brady Henderson for noting a less-than-stellar fact about the Seahawks offensive line in a recent feature: 11 different players have started at center for the Seahawks since 2013. Add to that list for 2023 because last year’s starter, Austin Blythe, announced his retirement in February.

The Seahawks added some veteran insurance by signing Evan Brown in free agency. Brown spent most of his first few seasons in the league as a practice squad player but finally found a role as a starter for Detroit in 2021. PFF gave him a 66.6 grade for that season at center. It wasn’t the highest grade on the line, but he also wasn’t the weakest, and the group finished ranked 13th overall as a unit, which to their credit was much higher than Seattle at 25. He assumed a backup role again in 2022 with the return of veteran starter Frank Ragnow, but more injuries saw him get plenty of starting time at guard. The Seahawks do love versatility with their OL options, but Brown will be competing at center this summer.

You’ve got two more names here: Joey Hunt, an undersized veteran with experience in Seattle, and rookie Olu Oluwatimi.

Pete Carroll said during minicamp that it was way too early to tell who was ahead in the battle, but he did have high praise for Oluwatimi.

“He did really well,” Carroll said. “There’s no question that he can handle (the role).”

Nickel corner

This one’s less straightforward. Coby Bryant won the starting role last year and remains a favorite among the younger players, but Seattle has a deep secondary group heading into camp. No. 5 overall pick Devon Witherspoon played there some during minicamp, but I’d still expect him to be starting on the outside.

With a defensive coordinator looking for ways to be more creative, we could see a few players rotated in at both outside corner and nickel. We could also see extra safety looks once Jamal Adams is healthy, especially if he’s able to drop into the box as a rusher. So, this position battle is less about whether Bryant can remain the starter (though as with almost every player, that’s going to be a question every year) and more about who stands out in a crowded defensive back room. Keep an eye out for Michael Jackson, who excelled in OTAs and minicamp, and don’t forget about 2021 pick Tre Brown.

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