JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Expect stiff competition for Seahawks veterans this offseason

May 3, 2019, 12:24 AM
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It's a crowded room for several position groups this Seahawks offseason. (AP)
(AP)

In trying to rebuild the roster, the Seahawks and John Schneider believe it’s all about the numbers.

Clayton: Free agent DE Ziggy Ansah would be perfect fit for Seahawks

Schneider did an incredible job going from four draft choices to 11 this year. It cost him defensive end Frank Clark, but he can fill some of the void by signing Ziggy Ansah and/or Nick Perry, and hoping L.J. Collier or Rasheem Green can step up to be a starter. They also have Cassius Marsh as a starting option in Clark’s place.

It’s pretty clear this is going to be the most competitive training camp since 2013 and 2014. The current roster has 40 drafted players, tied with Minnesota for the second-most in the league. Cincinnati leads all teams with 48.

With the 11 draft choices taken this year, the Seahawks have 27 choices remaining from drafts from 2017 through 2019  (and have 33 if you include 2016). Something has to give. Young draftees could push vested veterans off the roster, and this rookie class could create casualties from the 2017 and 2018 classes.

Let’s look at the state of the roster so far:

• The Seahawks have six drafted wide receivers. Tyler Lockett was the No. 1 receiver in 2018. If Doug Baldwin retires, this unit will be young, and the job of replacing Baldwin is wide open. Will it be David Moore? Can Amara Darboh make a run? Is it out of the question for draftees Gary Jennings or John Ursua push for some of Baldwin’s slot job? One of the advantages of this young group is that just about everyone could help on special teams. Veteran Jaron Brown is a great special teams player, but he will be challenged as well.

• Linebacker was considered a deep position before the draft, and it’s deeper now with the additions of Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. If Mychal Kendricks is able to play this season, the Seahawks have four starters at linebacker for three jobs: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Barkevious Mingo and Mychal. Barton and Burr-Kirven will make it because of their special teams potential. That puts Austin Calitro or Mingo on the bubble. It also means Shaquem Griffin will have to battle for time as a pass-rusher and special teams player.

• What a logjam at safety. Bradley McDougald is a clear starter at either strong or free safety. This year’s second-round choice, Marquise Blair, is the type of hitter Pete Carroll would love to have on the field; he’ll press Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson for time. And where does Shalom Launi, for whom Seattle gave up a 2019 seventh-rounder, fit in this year?

• The Seahawks now have four options to replace Justin Coleman in the slot, and five if you also include Neiko Thorpe. Fourth-round choice Ugo Amadi will compete against veterans Akeem King, Kalan Reed and Jeremy Boykin.

• There are more offensive line options than roster spots. George Fant and Jamarco Jones are the backup tackles. But how about the battles at guard? The Seahawks have Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons, Jordan Roos and fourth-round choice Phil Haynes, a 320-pound rookie who is expected to be a 340-pound blocker by next year.

• The Seahawks appeared to be set at tight end if Will Dissly comes back well from surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon. Nick Vannett and Ed Dickson will also battle for the starting job. But the Seahawks added Jacob Hollister as a blocking tight end, possible fullback and a special teams player.

• And finally, the defensive line now has seven players who have been drafted by the Seahawks, plus Brandon Jackson, run-stopper Jamie Meder, Poona Ford and the two or three they will sign as veterans after May 7 when unrestricted free agents turn into street free agents.

You can get lost in the numbers.

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