Seahawks needs leading into the draft

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If the Seahawks had to field a 53-man team right now and play before the draft starts on Thursday, who would be their “weakest starters”?

Chris Carson looked like an excellent starting running back in his short stint last season, but there is an issue of small sample size and coming off of an injury. So while I do believe that Carson has the talent, there has to be a consideration for how confident one feels in said player being able to display that talent week-to-week. I like Carson a lot, but I lack confidence still, so running back is certainly a need.

The outside receivers at the moment appear to be Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown or Amara Darboh or Tanner McEvoy or … I could go on with that “or” for a minute opposite of Lockett. And I do not feel great about Lockett yet either. It may not be a need that gets addressed on day one, and maybe Seattle doesn’t draft a receiver at all, but I think that outside receiver is a need in general. It’s just one that they seem to try to be addressing internally or with their already-made tier four acquisitions. That being said, receivers/tight ends have been given more draft capital consideration and money than many other positions on the Seahawks since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived.

It would be hard to argue that D.J. Fluker, Ethan Pocic, and Germain Ifedi won’t be in contention for “worst starter” next season. That doesn’t mean that I think Pocic and Ifedi won’t improve, but we’re talking about who is “in contention.” Surely Seattle’s offensive linemen fall in that category. That being said, the Seahawks seem to have their starting five offensive line and that’s something that never happens to them pre-draft. Having that five basically locked in from day one could be a huge advantage relative to the last few years; it could also come to be that any of Ifedi, Fluker, or Pocic have bad camps and are benched for other options. That’s also on the table. Also, new offensive line coach Mike Solari might have a totally unforeseen card up his sleeve, as sleeve cards are wont to do.

Pushing out one position, we know that Seattle also lost Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson at tight end, bringing in only Ed Dickson to compete with Nick Vannett and Tyrone Swoopes. At this point, they have a really good blocking tight end and two prospects who’ve yet to prove anything at the NFL level. It’s just a matter of: How does Brian Schottenheimer want to run this offense in regards to tight ends? It hasn’t been a huge priority for him in the past in terms of passing the ball, so we’re less likely to see the Seahawks emphasize the tight end like they were trying to do with Graham for three years.

The defensive line has already lost Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson, while rumors have Cliff Avril and Malik McDowell as very unlikely to be on the team when next season begins. That still leaves some pretty good players, like Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, and Dion Jordan, but Clark and Jordan are both free agents in 2019. Nazair Jones may be in competition with Tom Johnson and Shemar Stephen to start at defensive tackle, but it will most likely be in heavy rotation anyway. Edge rusher is where I have the most concern on the defensive line, because regardless of how hyped you are on the possibility of Jordan, he still has more left to prove than most of the players who will be getting their names called this weekend. That being said, I don’t consider pass rusher to be as much of a “need” as some of these other positions in the sense of “starting in Week 1” but I do consider it perhaps the number one priority.

Linebackers are set. Even Barkevious Mingo looks to be about as good as they can get for a third linebacker spot that has the least amount of responsibility on the defense it seems.

At the moment, Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald look to start at safety, though Kam Chancellor’s at least going to put in the effort to return. With Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson, and Mo Alexander, there’s not a huge need at safety unless an absolute standout player falls down to them at some point. Or if Thomas isn’t around after the draft, obviously. The cornerback spots are looking good at Shaquill Griffin and Justin Coleman’s posts, but Dontae Johnson is the current leader opposite of Griffin and that is a concern. Likely still Seattle’s number one concern, if we’re looking at “What if the Seahawks had to put out 11 starters on offense and defense right now?”

So, these are my needs for Seattle based on that:

  1. Starting CB
  2. Starting RG
  3. Starting RT
  4. Starting TE
  5. Starting WR
  6. Starting DE

Just remember this after reading those rankings: the order is super important and if you disagree with my order, even slightly, I take the utmost offense and won’t ever be able to see eye-to-eye with you on any issue ever.

No, the truth is that it’s extremely tough to rank any of these things and too many variables to debate a few spots for a somewhat-arbitrary decision. I think the only position on the team that could truly be up-for-grabs is starting cornerback (their clearly-biggest hole among the 22 starters and they could still sign Byron Maxwell) and starting wide receiver. Perhaps a rookie offensive lineman could push his way past Ifedi or Fluker but I don’t think Solari pushed to sign Fluker only to see him benched/released and I don’t think that Ifedi’s opportunities are close to dried up. It would take a pretty phenomenal and unexpected performance by a rookie offensive lineman to push into the starting lineup right away, especially given that they likely won’t be drafting one in the top 20, perhaps not on day one or two at all.

You could also argue that Dickson has no hold on starting tight end, but again, it would be a little shocking to see a tight end in this class who can win the number one job right away, even if you feel that Dickson/Vannett/Swoopes is lacking.

But these are just needs based on that criteria. What about long-term needs? What about depth needs? What about just overall this-is-how-football-is-played-in-2018-and-the-Seahawks-don’t-have-it-yet needs?

  1. Pass Rusher

Like quarterback, this is ALWAYS a need. If you have a quarterback, you don’t usually need a quarterback (though I’ve argued for why Seattle taking Lamar Jackson does make sense) and that’s that. But even if you have pass rushers, you still need pass rushers. The Seahawks really need pass rushers now more than ever. It could prove impossible to keep both Clark and Jordan. To do something like that, Seattle may need to risk extending Jordan before he’s proven anything and then take care of Clark. But even still, they have those two and then Quinton Jefferson, Branden Jackson, and Marcus Smith. I think pass rusher is the number one priority even if it is not the number one immediate need.

Depth needs:

QB

Austin Davis and Stephen Morris are currently backing up Russell Wilson. They could run with that and it may not be an issue, or they could draft someone to build up for the next year or two and see what happens. Just depends on how the board falls. I think the QB group will be a lot more unpredictable on day one and day two of the draft than most people even expect.

RB

I don’t think they have any one you could feel confident about as a starting running back, including Mike Davis, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic, and Carson. They might be fine with those four but they’ll need to bring in another couple guys to round out the competition. I still expect them to sign a veteran “name.”

WR

Depth not as much of an issue as the starters are. Doug Baldwin’s the only one I feel confident in on a full-time basis.

TE

Not depth so much as starters.

OL

I actually think the depth could be considered a strength (George Fant, Jordan Roos, Rees Odhiambo, Joey Hunt).

DT

Depth looks fine.

DE

As noted, they could always use more. Depth is a concern.

LB

Of course, if anything happens to Bobby Wagner, that’s a tragedy regardless. Almost the same goes for K.J. Wright. They have Paul Dawson, D.J. Alexander, and Josh Forrest. More linebackers are coming into the fold by week’s end.

CB

Not sure that Neiko Thorpe, DeAndre Elliott, or Alex Carter could start if necessary. More depth will come in the form of adding a starter or two though. If they sign Maxwell, then Dontae Johnson becomes a backup. If they sign Maxwell and use their first pick on a corner, then they’ll have even better depth. Depth will be improved by improving the starter.

S

At the moment, I’d feel fine about both the starters and the depth.

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