Clayton: What we learned — and what we’re waiting to find out — after 10 Seahawks offseason practices
The Seahawks ended their minicamp Thursday and players headed out for vacations until the start of training camp on July 25th. Pete Carroll is exited about this year’s team — it’s young, it’s fast, and he is enthused about how attentive the players are in meetings and on the field. This particular draft class has really pleased him.
Let’s take a look at the biggest things we learned (plus the things we are still waiting to find out) about the team through the 10 OTA practices and three days of minicamp:
• The big winner of the offseason program was the offense. The Seahawks were able to move the ball up and down the field, whether by running or passing. Of course, that shouldn’t be a surprise. With no contact and no pads, the defense really is handicapped when it comes to trying to stop offenses. (Defensive backs, for example, can’t make contact with receivers to slow them down). It also didn’t help that the defense didn’t have Ziggy Ansah, Mychal Kendricks, Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, Nazair Jones, and Jarran Reed on the field due to injury. They didn’t have much practice from linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, and safety Marquise Blair missed time toward the end of OTAs and minicamp after injuring his hamstring.
• There was improved play at the wide receiver position. Tyler Lockett looked like a No. 1 receiver, making catch after catch from Russell Wilson. Veterans Jaron Brown and David Moore stepped up and looked as though they are ready to compete for starting jobs. Meanwhile, rookie D.K. Metcalf excelled. They had him run some routes inside the numbers, something he didn’t do in college, which was good to see.
• The star of the offseason was Russell Wilson. He helped the team by putting forth a deadline for a contract extension, and he got it at $35 million a year. Wilson’s negotiations weren’t going to be a problem. On the field, it’s noticeable how much he’s tried to improve his throwing. His delivery is more compact. His throws have more velocity. His accuracy on deep balls was uncanny. He showed good leadership in trying to teach his three rookie draft choices at wide receiver. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer praised how well he’s worked and is also pushing him to cut down on some of the sacks he caused himself by slow decisions. Wilson should have another Pro Bowl season.
• There will be no change in the style of the offense, but there will be little tweaks. Expect a few more throws to the running backs. J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise, Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer run well, but they also catch the ball well. Last year, the Seahawks didn’t throw many screen passes to the back. That should change this year.
• One of the downers for Pete Carroll is that he didn’t learn too much at safety. Bradley McDougald (knee), Delano Hill (hip), and Marquise Blair (hamstring) all missed some, or all, of offseason workouts. Free safety Tedric Thompson didn’t stand out during OTAs and minicamp. Shalom Luani ended up finishing the minicamp as a starter.
• Pass-rush evaluation was also limited. The current structure of the offseason programs league-wide makes it tough to see how good teams are along the defensive line. That’s why the Seahawks will have to sort out where their pass rush is in training camp and the preseason. Defensive end Jacob Martin shows great speed and elusiveness. You get the feeling that Cassius Marsh could end up with one of the starting jobs until Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) can get back on the field and play. Barkevious Mingo and Shaquem Griffin were interesting options to get into the pass-rush mix.