With the draft and rookie minicamp over, we'll start looking at each unit. This is by no means a hardline depth chart. Obviously, multiple things are subject to change. Rather, it's a general view with some thoughts on how everyone fits in, but we'll try to line up players to some degree.
Let's start with the running backs:
StarterMarshawn LynchHe's still the one heading into this season. His only rushing number that increased from last season versus 2012 was his touchdown total. He went from 11 to 12. His receptions and receiving yards were also up.
Otherwise, his total carries dipped slightly (315 to 301) and his yards per carry dipped significantly from 5.0 to 4.2, back to his YPC average of 2011. This is where the responsibility for his YPC debate begins. The offensive line last season was oft-injured and, at times, simply ineffective. But, the 4.2 YPC may be more in line with what you get with Lynch as a back than the 5.0. In fact, 4.2 is his career average. Lynch's 2012 season is looking more and more like a career year.
Let's look at some info from Football Outsiders. Here's how they explain their run blocking rankings:
A team with a high ranking in Adjusted Line Yards but a low ranking in Open Field Yards is heavily dependent on its offensive line to make the running game work. A team with a low ranking in Adjusted Line Yards but a high ranking in Open Field Yards is heavily dependent on its running back breaking long runs to make the running game work.
However, it is important to understand that these ratings only somewhat separate the offensive line from the running backs. A team with a very good running back will appear higher no matter how bad their line, and a team with a great line with appear lower if the running back is terrible.
So, the Seahawks were ninth in Adjusted Line Yards and 23rd in Open Field Yards, which, by the above logic, makes the Seahawks a team heavily dependent on its offensive line to make the running game work. At least from how FO constructs its analysis (incidentally, the Seahawks' offensive line was ranked last in pass protection).
We're seeing the causal relationship they alluded to. A good back will influence any attempt to try and sort out the influence of the offensive line. Though, in this case, the line may have been more effective in run blocking than previously thought.
It should also be noted Lynch, 28, was second in the NFL last season in yards after first contact. Only Adrian Peterson had more.
Another factor for Lynch's future with the Seahawks is his contract. He has two years remaining. He will be a $7 million then $9 million cap hit. He can become an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
BackupRobert TurbinProbably fair at this point to continue to call Turbin the backup, until he is clearly unseated. His strength is he remains a very good blocker.
However, his yards per carry not only took a precipitous drop last year from 4.4 to 3.4, Football Outsiders rated him as one of the worst part-time running backs in the league. As you can see here, FO had only six other running backs with 20-99 rushes ranked below Turbin in their advanced metric of DYAR.
There is also an immeasurable factor with Turbin vs. Christine Michael: trust. Pete Carroll trusts that Turbin won't make a mistake that gets Russell Wilson clobbered.
Next upChristine MichaelAs we've discussed here over and over, Michael's shortcoming is two-fold: the concern about his ability to block and his lack of participation in special teams (again, not because he refuses to do it, but because the opt for someone else). For the amount of times he would carry the ball, it didn't make sense most of the season to have him gobble up an active roster spot if he couldn't also play special teams.
One other good thing about Michael finishing last season with only 18 carries: he finished the season with only 18 carries. Protecting the body of a running back for a whole year in the NFL holds its own value. If the Seahawks decide they can't swallow Lynch's 2015 cap hit and Michael has proven after more chances in 2014, which seems will be the case for him, he can take over, then they bought themselves almost two full years to work him in. His cap hit in 2015? A mere $920,300. He barely cracks a million dollars the next season. In the end, we're talking about a scenario where the Seahawks were the No. 1 rushing offense in the league and won the Super Bowl, while protecting and teaching their likely No. 1 back of the future. That's Utopian.