Roster spots up for grabs next month
We are five weeks away from Seattle Seahawks training camp kicking off on July 26, and after an offseason of tremendous restructuring of the roster toward building the club back into playoff form, many, many questions remain to be answered. Not every position has the same high stakes battle but everywhere features a key element of uncertainty:
Russell Wilson is the starter, obviously, and has been one of the most durable players in the NFL as he approaches his seventh season. Yet with so much doubt still in the pass-blocking game and live tackling just around the corner, it might be a dynamic factor in the Seahawks season who gets named to back Wilson up should it come to that. Seattle drafted Alex McGough, the first passer selected by the organization since No. 3 in 2012, but can the seventh round pick hold off veteran backup Austin Davis?
Although some fans continue clamoring for the departure of supposedly-fragile C.J. Prosise, the former third round pick seems a lock to make the team considering his talent and onfield performance when healthy—barring of course another injury. But the chief debate surrounds who out of last season’s breakout prospect Chris Carson and 2018’s top draft choice Rashaad Penny will get the starter’s share of carries on first and second down. Until we see them in action the guess remains a toss-up. Then again does this renewed depth in the backfield signal bubble trouble for either of 2017’s surprise standouts Mike Davis or J.D. McKissic?
Possibly the above running back slot could be determined by how committed Seattle remains to this vestigial position—holdover Tre Madden or undrafted free agent Khalid Hill are the top contenders. But maybe in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense the Seahawks go for more of an H-back role from one of the tight end candidates?
Will Dissly gets the recent draftee’s prerogative to make the team, presuming he doesn’t look literally out of his league blocking on the end, and free agent, um, priority, Ed Dickson probably has a roster spot penciled in too. But is this Nick Vannett’s last chance or will Tyrone Swoopes push the 2016 third rounder into maximum overdrive?
i love brandon marshall. probably wont make the team but at least then you know you have 5 receivers better than brandon msrshall
— beat valley (@beat_valley) May 9, 2018
Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Amarah Darboh—after that it’s up to now-veteran Tanner McEvoy and 2017 draft mystery David Moore to keep the ghost of Brandon Marshall from making this crew look shallow. Cyril Grayson and Damore’ea Stringfellow could also play dark horses.
Finally Seattle has an established left tackle again. Indeed, with Ethan Pocic expected to man Luke Joeckel’s vacancy, Justin Britt entrenched at center and D.J. Fluker brought in to solidify right guard, most of the front five looks secure entering camp. However, some still speculate Fluker might instead push Germain Ifedi out of the right tackle job, or otherwise George Fant makes the transition to the other side and usurp the embattled Ifedi’s responsibilities. I suspect fifth round pick Jamarco Jones can be a swing guard but Bob Condotta puts former practice squadder Willie Beavers ahead of Jones for now.
It’s a total shuffle at defensive end after Frank Clark, where Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson or Dion Jordan could each elevate themselves into Michael Bennett’s former share of snaps. We shall also see whether defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., prefers third round draft choice Rasheem Green better inside or outside, given the edge rushing need. The interior line looks pretty safe, up top, with Jarran Reed and Nazair Jones returning, but a pair of former Minnesota Vikings—Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson—take aim at Sheldon Richardson’s erstwhile roster spot after Richardson made the reverse transit to the Land O’Lakes.
A duel between Barkevious Mingo and Shaquem Griffin at the strongside backer sounds fascinating, but Griffin looks more likely to present an understudy role to K.J. Wright and fill in on special teams for now—while sprinkling in as a hybrid safety and special teams player or occasional NASCAR rusher, at least in our dreams.
Whether Delano Hill or Tedric Thompson end up thrust into starting roles depends more on what happens with Earl Thomas’s contract than with actual camp performance, most likely, with Bradley McDougald apparently assured one or the other safety spot (at least unless Kam Chancellor gets some extraordinarily good news). Behind these front figures I don’t really see anyone pushing Maurice Alexander for the other reserve role, and Alexander may end up taking the field alongside McDougald and Hill or Griffin if the Seahawks ever want to opt for an extra heavy safety package against the likes of, say, the Chicago Bears in Week 2.
Opposite Shaquill Griffin’s move into Richard Sherman’s old boundary, the battle for starting right cornerback and nickel cornerback should probably be one of the most exciting in Seattle’s camp. Both Byron Maxwell and Justin Coleman receiver high marks from our Jamar Rashuan for their 2017 play, but can Tre Flowers adjust in time from his college safety position to nudge himself into the nickel conversation and maybe push Coleman outside in favor of the aging Maxwell? What about improvements from Mike Tyson, DeAndre Elliott or even practice squad stud Akeem King? If Neiko Thorpe doesn’t make the cut at corner, do his special teams credentials still earn him a roster hold?
I don’t believe Jason Myers offers sufficient competition to win the job from Sebastian Janikowski. Can the Seahawks bring in another surprise name to push the beefy Pole toward the roster’s edge?
A high draft investment (for a punter) insinuated the job belonged to incoming Michael Dickson, but the stouter Canadian Jon Ryan insists he is going to give the competition everything his body can handle.
Who do you think will survive the camp crucible and end up with these bubble spots, or starter’s accolades, in Seattle for 2018?