Good morning. With training camp set to begin on Thursday, we take a closer look at the Seattle Seahawks’ 90-man roster in what will likely be the most competitive training camp in Pete Carroll’s tenure in Seattle.
I expect hard-fought battles at linebacker, offensive guard, cornerback, defensive tackle and receiver. The Seahawks also have to answer questions at tight end with the team’s depth behind Zach Miller, and which four pass rushers will work on third down, particularly with the uncertainty of Chris Clemons coming back from his knee issue, and Bruce Irvin out the first four games.
QuarterbackNumber kept last season: TwoCurrently on roster: ThreeAverage number kept since 2009: 2.75Lock: Russell WilsonLooking good: Tarvaris JacksonOn the bubble: Brady QuinnComment – For the first time since 2009, the Seahawks have an unquestioned starter in Wilson, who earned a Pro Bowl invite after an impressive rookie season. Pete Carroll expects that Wilson will be even better adjusting to defenses and making play changes at the line of scrimmage, with a full offseason and training camp working with the first unit under his belt. However, Seattle still has competition for the backup QB position between Jackson and Quinn. Jackson has the edge here because of his experience in offense coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system, but the coaching staff also likes Quinn’s work ethic and game management skills. .
Running backNumber kept last season: FourCurrently on roster: SixAverage number kept since 2009: 4.25Locks: Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine MichaelLooking good: Michael Robinson.On the bubble: Spencer WareLonger odds: Derrick Coleman. Comment – Lynch, coming off a career-best 1,590 rushing yards in 2012, remains one of the best runners in the game. However, the Seahawks drafted Michael in the second round as depth in case Lynch begins to show the tread on his tires is wearing thin. Turbin looked impressive during offseason workouts, and will take over for the departed Leon Washington as the team’s third down back. Robinson, set to make $2.5 million in base salary, will have some competition for his starting job in Spencer Ware, a sixth round selection in this year’s draft out of LSU who offers some versatility because of his ability to play both tailback and fullback.
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Wide receiverNumber kept last season: FiveCurrently on roster: 13Average number kept since 2009: 5.0Locks: Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate.In the hunt: Chris Harper, Jermaine Kearse, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Stephen Williams.Longer Odds: Brett Swain, Greg Herd, Justin Veltung, Arceto Clark. Comment – The addition of Harvin makes this unit one of the most talented in the league. Harvin’s explosive playmaking ability on the perimeter will make it hard for defenses to stack the box against Lynch in the run game. Adding Harvin also will give Rice and Tate more favorable matchups on the outside. Baldwin, who led Seattle in receptions as a rookie two years ago, could have his targets affected because of Harvin. However, the Seahawks need Baldwin on the roster as a security blanket in case the oft-injured Harvin goes down. There will be a nice battle for the fifth and perhaps sixth receiver spots in Harper, Kearse, Walters, Bates and Williams. One player to keep an eye on is Walters. He looked good playing in the slot during offseason work.
Tight endNumber kept last season: ThreeCurrently on roster: SixAverage number kept since 2009: 2.75Locks: Zach Miller,Looking good: Sean McGrath, Luke WillsonLonger odds: Darren Fells, Victor Marshall, Cooper Helfet.Comment – Tight end probably is the thinnest position group on Seattle’s talented roster. With Anthony McCoy out for the year after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during organized training activities, Miller is the only person in the position group who has a reception during the regular season. McGrath, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Henderson State who finished 2012 on the active roster, likely will take McCoy’s role as the team’s second tight end. McGrath is not as good as an athlete as McCoy, but he’s a polished route runner with reliable hands. Willson, a fifth round selection in this year’s draft out of Rice, has elite speed and can stretch the middle of the defense. However, Willson still needs work as a run blocker. Offensive lineNumber kept last season: 10Currently on roster: 15Average number kept since 2009: 10Locks: Russell Okung, Max Unger, James Carpenter, Breno Giacomini, J.R. Sweezy.In the hunt: Paul McQuistan, John Moffitt, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Mike Person, Michael Bowie, Rishaw Johnson.Longer odds: Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith, Alvin Bailey, Jake Bscherer. Comment – McQuistan will have competition for the left guard spot with Carpenter, Seattle’s first round selection in the 2011 draft. Carpenter finished last season on the injured reserve, but had arthroscopic knee surgery to clean up the issue, and is the team’s strongest lineman. Moffitt also will compete with Sweezy for the starting right guard spot. A converted defensive lineman, Sweezy quickly picked up offensive line play, finishing 2012 as Seattle’s starting right guard. While not as strong and athletic as Sweezy, Moffitt is more of a technician. With Pro Bowlers Okung and Unger returning, if offensive line guru Tom Cable can solidify the guard spots, the Seahawks should have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL.
Defensive lineNumber kept last season: EightCurrently on roster: 14Average number kept since 2009: 8.5Locks:Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Jordan Hill.In the hunt: Clinton McDonald, Tony McDaniel, Jaye Howard, Jesse Williams. Longer odds: Kenneth Boatright, Benson Mayowa, Ty Powell, Michael Brooks.Comment – Williams and Hill proved as good as advertised during offseason work, now the rookie duo will have to do it again in preseason games to solidify their spots on the 53-man roster. I’m interested to see how Avril plays during training camp after sitting out most of OTAs with a foot issue. Another player who caught my eye during offseason work was Brooks, a waiver claim from the Detroit Lions out of East Carolina.
LinebackersNumber kept last season: SevenCurrently on roster: 11Average number kept since 2009: 6.5Locks: K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Malcolm Smith, Heath Farwell, Bruce Irvin.In the hunt: Mike Morgan, Allen Bradford, Kyle Knox, Korey Toomer.Longer odds: John Lotulelei, Craig Wilkins. Comment – Second-round draft choice Wagner exceeded expectations by leading the team in tackles his rookie year, and Wright has turned into one of the better outside linebackers in the game. However, Seattle needs to find a replacement for Leroy Hill, who did not return to the team in free agency. Smith, who started four games last season, is penciled in as the replacement for Hill right now. However, he will have competition in Irvin. The West Virginia product led all rookies in sacks last year with eight, but Carroll will use Irvin more like Denver edge rusher Von Miller in an effort to get Irvin on the field more.
CornerbacksNumber kept last season: SixCurrently on roster: 10Average number kept since 2008: 5.75Locks: Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Antoine Winfield.On the bubble: Jeremy Lane, Walter Thurmond, Tharold Simon, Byron Maxwell, DeShawn Shead, Will Blackmon, Ron Parker.Comment – Again, this group remains one of the most competitive in camp. Whoever gets cut from this group likely will end up on an active roster (think Jacksonville or the N.Y. Jets) with another team in the NFL. Shead also has played some safety, so he offers some versatility that way. And don’t rule out Thurmond pushing Winfield for the starting slot defender role. The University of Oregon product was one of the stars of offseason work.
SafetiesNumber kept last season: FiveCurrently on roster: SixAverage number kept since 2008: 4.25Locks: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor.In the hunt: Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos.Longer odds: Winston Guy, Ray Polk.Comment – You won’t find much argument from NFL observers that the Seahawks have one of the best defensive backfields in the league, led by Pro Bowlers Thomas and Chancellor. Seattle allowed just 40 receptions of 20-plus yards in 2012, No. 6 in the league. Seattle also gave up just 15 passing touchdowns last season, tied for No. 2 in the NFL with Baltimore. Polk, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Colorado, is an interesting prospect. At 6-1 and 219 pounds, he packs a punch, but also has good athleticism like Taylor Mays.
SpecialistsSpecialists kept last season: ThreeCurrently on roster: FiveAverage number kept since 2009: 3.0Locks: (P) Jon Ryan.On the bubble: (K) Steven Hauschka, K Carson Wiggs, (LS) Clint Gresham, (LS) Kyle Nelson. Comment – Hauschka will have competition for the starting job from Wiggs, a strong-footed kicker out of Purdue. Gresham, Seattle’s long snapper since 2010, also will have to compete for his job with waiver wire pickup Nelson (Niners). Gresham has been solid since joining Seattle three years ago, but he’s due to make $1.3 million in base salary in 2013 after signing his restricted free agent tender, while Nelson is due to make $480,000 in base salary for the upcoming year. Harvin will take over kick return duties, while Tate is expected to fill the team’s punt return role.