Competition Lives: Carroll and Schneider deliver on promise

Apr 24, 2010, 5:10 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:51 pm

By Mike Salk

Wow. Quite a weekend for the Seahawks who have now drastically reshaped their roster in just three days! Whereas a week ago we wondered if they could even fill out a lineup full of NFL-caliber starters, now we see that Pete Carroll has created the one thing he promised: competition.

Here’s a couple of complete lists of the nine players taken by the ‘Hawks in this draft with a brief synopsis of each from ESPN and NFL.com.

After first bringing in Charlie Whitehurst to push Matt Hasselback at quarterback, he has now created competition at running back, safety, offensive line, tight end and wide receiver based on his selections and trades made throughout the draft.

“The central theme here is going to be competition,” said Carroll. “It’s not to make people uncomfortable but more to bring out the best in everyone.”

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the new guys and the competitive situations they enter:

Russell Okung: Not much of a competition for him. Offensive line coach Alex Gibbs has already said that Okung will start from day one at left tackle. But that pushes Ray Willis and Sean Locklear back to right tackle where they can compete. Ben Hamilton should start at guard with Chris Spencer and Max Unger in the middle. Maybe Locklear can push one of them at right guard too (though I’m not sure he can do that in this system).

I had the opportunity to meet Okung today and was a little surprised that while he’s tall, he isn’t enormous. At 6’5”, 310 lbs, he does not look nearly as large as Ray Roberts. That being said, he has HUGE hands and his frame seems athletic and capable of adding a little more strength along the way. I’m not scout, but I liked what I saw. Okung, by the way, is very confident and seemed very comfortable with the media.

Earl Thomas: Again, I think Thomas will start right away at free safety but the addition of Kam Chancellor in the 4th round is interesting too. I believe Jordan Babineaux is best as a nickel back but he will want to compete with Chancellor for the starting job. I’m sure all three of these guys (plus possibly Lawyer Milloy) will battle together. Furthermore, both Thomas and Babineaux can play some corner which could add competition at that position as well. The team is incredibly impressed with Thomas’s speed and thinks they can use him to cover in the slot in three wide receiver sets. Chancellor is more of a hitter who has played free safety but will probably work more at string safety in this scheme.

Golden Tate: Tate intrigues and puzzles me all at once. He is one of the biggest names in this year’s class and was obviously a productive wide receiver at Notre Dame. There are some who love his speed and productivity and see a potential star. Others love his ability to attack the football in traffic. But some (like Mel Kiper Jr.) worry that his football speed doesn’t match his 40-time and that he doesn’t play as fast in pads as he could. There are also those who think his productivity is largely attributable to the quarterback and offensive system he had in college. That may be why he slipped to the end of the second round. The Seahawks believed he was a first rounder on their draft board and were pleasantly surprised to see him fall to pick 60.

Tate now enters a situation at wide receiver where only TJ Houshmandzadeh appears entrenched. He can battle Deion Branch and Deon Butler for reps with Jameson Konz hoping to catch on as well. By the way, according to Carroll, Konz is just a freakish athlete. He has played everything from linebacker to fullback in college and can jump out of the gym. They like his potential as a seventh round flier and he was the “ace in the hole” Schneider was hoping for all along.

Leon Washington/LenDale White: Both running backs were acquired during draft day trades and neither cost the Seahawks much capital. Washington was a pro bowler (as a special teams/returner in 2008) but broke his right leg last year and may have been bumped from the Jets backfield by the emergence of Shonn Greene, the acquisition of LaDainian Tomlinson and the drafting of Joe McNight (who ironically played for Carroll at USC). They will now compete for time in a Seattle backfield currently crowded with Julius Jones and Justin Forsett. According to Carroll, it will be a “competitive group and guys will battle for playing time.” But he likes the “spread of style” and thinks it’s important to have variety at that position. Certainly, this group is diverse with Washington and Forsett offering more of a scat back style and White operating as a hammer. Carroll signaled White out as a guy who “knows how to get into the endzone.” He also thinks White is back to the 220-230 lbs range after ballooning to 250 or 260 lbs.

The best part of acquiring Washington and White is that there is very little risk. If either guy works out, they can help contribute. If not, the team gave up very little to bring them in.

Anthony McCoy: He may not be as highly touted as Gerald or as productive in college as Colt, but McCoy has top tier talent. He fell to the Hawks in the sixth round because of some off field issues (he was academically ineligible for USC’s Emerald Bowl victory as a senior and reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the combine). Given Pete Carroll’s familiarity with him in college, the Hawks felt they were uniquely suited to take advantage of his skills. They are hoping that McCoy and the addition of veteran Chris Baker will allow them to use John Carlson as more of a receiver down the field.

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Competition Lives: Carroll and Schneider deliver on promise