With free agency, the draft, rookie minicamp and OTAs behind us, there is just one final phase to get through before the real quiet part of the offseason begins. Mandatory minicamp opens Tuesday and runs through Thursday, giving teams a final look at their roster before personnel and players go off on vacation. While there isn’t much to glean from these few days – the most newsworthy parts of minicamp being who isn’t there rather than who is – it’s a good chance to take a look at the roster and potential battles before training camp opens in late July.
We’re going to go through the roster, position-by-position (offense today, defense later this week) and note the locks, the players on the bubble and the long shots, as well as noting how many players at each position are kept on the 53-man roster on average (noted in brackets next to the position).
Locks: Russell Wilson
On the bubble: Alex McGough, Austin Davis
The best quarterback in Seattle Seahawks’ history is back for a seventh season at the helm. Wilson is one of the most durable players in the league, evidenced throughout the 2016 season. Behind him, rookie Alex McGough and the incumbent Austin Davis will be battling for the backup job. McGough is a favorite of Pete Carroll’s and possesses a skill set more closely similar to Wilson’s, while Davis is the safer, know-what-you’re-getting option. Seattle didn’t hesitate to roll with UDFA Trevone Boykin as the backup in ‘16 – even with a hobbled Wilson – and so McGough should be the favorite here.
Running Back (5)
Locks: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny
Long shots: Jalston Fowler
Sophomore Chris Carson has been showered with praise throughout the offseason and along with Rashaad Penny, should be the focal point of the running game in 2018.
C.J. Prosise is the team’s most talented RB, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy through two seasons and now finds himself in a camp battle with J.D. McKissic; it’s likely only one of the two satellite backs makes the 53-man roster. Mike Davis was seemingly the last man standing in the Seahawks’ backfield at the end of 2017, but will have to provide special teams value to be a RB 3/4 on 2018’s roster. Rounding out the running back group will be a traditional fullback — my money’s on UDFA Khalid Hill.
Wide Receiver (6)
Doug Baldwin is the only sure-thing Seattle has in its wide receiver corps at the moment. Tyler Lockett still hasn’t gotten back to the level he played at in 2015, while Jaron Brown will be expected to take on the largest role of his career in his first season with the Seahawks.
Second-year wideout Amara Darboh is bordering on a roster lock, but the presence of Brandon Marshall makes you wonder what the coaching staff expects out of Darboh in year two. The team acquired Marcus Johnson in the Michael Bennett deal and one would expect they have a clear plan in place for him on the roster, as long as he proves he can contribute in camp and preseason.
Tanner McEvoy has inexplicably stuck around for two seasons despite being a net negative as a receiver and it’s hard to imagine him lucking into a third season in Seattle. David Moore is the most physically intriguing player out of the long shots, but unless he’s made great strides this offseason, will likely fall victim to the numbers game. Damore’ea Stringfellow, like Moore, is physically intriguing and can do things similar to the departed Paul Richardson, but has to be viewed as a long shot. Keenan Reynolds and Cyril Grayson both have defined ceilings as gadget players and in a talent-poor group, it’s tough to justify a roster spot for either. Caleb Scott is a total question mark who may or may not have already hit his ceiling.
Tight End (3)
Locks: Ed Dickson, Will Dissly
On the bubble: Nick Vannett
Long shots: Tyrone Swoopes, Clayton Wilson
Getting back to a more traditional skill set at tight end, newcomers Ed Dickson and Will Dissly will headline the tight end group and solidify blocking on the edge. Nick Vannett is yet to take a step forward as an NFL player and time might be up for him with the Seahawks; however a lack of quality competition at the position might buy him another season.
Long shots Tyrone Swoopes and Clayton Wilson are both raw, but both are much better athletes than any of the players they have ahead of them and would bring a different element to the group. If Seattle chooses to go with upside over a known quantity in Vannett for the third tight end, either Swoopes or Wilson could surprise.
On the bubble: Isaiah Battle
The four roster locks provide the team with clear starters and reserves on both sides of the line: Duane Brown and Jamarco Jones on the left, and Germain Ifedi and George Fant on the right. Provided Fant is fully recovered from last August’s knee injury, he can push Ifedi for the starting job.
After being acquired during roster cut downs last year, Isaiah Battle spent the majority of the 2017 season bouncing between the active roster and the practice squad. Provided he can play the role of swing tackle, he should be the favorite for the fifth tackle spot heading into training camp. Avery Young and Willie Beavers are both newcomers on the Seahawks and will need to put together a strong preseason to push Battle for a roster spot. The fifth tackle spot will come down to positional flexibility.
Long shots: Marcus Henry
Barring any injuries or position switches, the interior of Seattle’s line is poised to be Pocic-Britt-Fluker in 2018. Pocic has added 20 pounds over the offseason, which should help him not only adapt to a power-heavy system, but also improve as a run blocker, where he struggled last year. Britt is a steady presence inside, while Fluker should step right in after playing nine games under Mike Solari last season in New York.
Rees Odhiambo is moving back inside after a disastrous spell at left tackle in 2017. Versatility and an ability to play inside and outside (in theory) will only help him as he pushes to make the roster. Roos is a favorite of John Schneider’s and ended up playing seven games last season after beginning the year on the practice squad. Hunt, another favorite of Schneider’s, has been unable to make any sort of impact on the roster after two seasons. Released once before, the clock is ticking on Hunt’s time with the Seahawks. Skyler Phillips is as NFL-ready as any UDFA offensive lineman and can play at tackle, guard and center — something that could make him difficult to cut as the team’s ninth or tenth offensive lineman.
Marcus Henry participated in the Spring League this year and turned his performance there into an invite to Seattle’s rookie minicamp, which he then turned into a roster spot. Besides Hunt, Henry is the only natural center behind Britt on the team’s roster. Originally going undrafted following the 2016 NFL Draft, Henry’s yet to make a team’s 53-man roster and faces an uphill battle to do so in 2018.
There will of course more than likely be more roster moves to come prior to the opening of training camp, especially with Schneider and Carroll at the helm. Regardless, it appears Carroll has gotten his wish with competition at nearly every position.