Thursday, July 21, 2011

Seahawks Who Could Flash In 2011

Free agents are great and all, but there is a long and painful history that shows free agency is not where a team really improves. The best free agent signings are when a team that is one or two players from competing for a championship plugs those holes. A 2009 Minnesota Vikings team that was a competent quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender would be a classic example. A team like the Seahawks is dozens of players from being a team that can contend. Sure, the NFC West could fall apart again and a mediocre Seahawks team could sneak in the playoffs and make a run, but that's not the way to build a champion. Instead, Seattle will need players already on the roster to grow into more than they were last year, or draft picks to make an instant impact. Below is a run through of just a few of the players that could emerge as important parts of the 2011 Seahawks.

Leon Washington
It may come as a surprise to see Washington on this list. After all, he was a major contributor to last season's squad. His contributions, though, were limited to special teams. He carried the ball a career-low 27 times and caught a career-low 9 passes. He had never had fewer than 71 rushing attempts or 25 receptions in any previous season that was not interrupted by injury. He also scored between 3-8 touchdowns rushing and receiving each year before 2010. Expect Washington to play a larger role in the offense a full two years after his leg injury. He is a special player on screen passes and can be a great 3rd down running back on draws and other quick-hitter plays. Tom Cable also has a history of using all the running backs on his roster.

Dexter Davis
Davis was a pre-season monster last year, sacking the quarterback and dragging opposing players down behind the line of scrimmage in nearly every game. He had a mild 2010 regular season, registering only a single sack. Davis appeared to be a hard worker and quick learner. It would not be surprising to see him come into camp ahead of some teammates and earn additional snaps. It's possible the team will try him at linebacker. His best position is LEO behind Chris Clemons.

Walter Thurmond
Thurmond was hailed as a medical miracle for coming back and playing last year after a serious knee injury. His story of recovery almost seemed to excuse what appeared to be mediocre on-field performance. While everyone was talking about Thurmond, it was Roy Lewis who stood out to me. Thurmond was not great in coverage, and looked a step slow. He recently tweeted that he was back to his old self physically. He was an All-American corner in college, and if he can step forward to be a legitimate starting corner this season, it will be among the most important developments on the team.

KJ Wright
Wright is the first rookie to make an appearance on the list because of the combination of his potential and the team's needs. Wright could get time at the strongside linebacker behind Aaron Curry. He could see time at LEO behind Chris Clemons. He could play the Raheem Brock role of late last season and sub for Red Bryant in passing situations. He may even be able to sub for David Hawthorne if Hawthorne slides over to play MLB in place of Tatupu. Wright doesn't need to be special, but good linebackers don't take long to make an impact.

Earl Thomas
I debated putting Thomas on this list because he and Russell Okung are guys that really should step up, as opposed to could  step up.  They are both talented enough that big improvement is expected. Thomas, however, plays such a crucial role and has the chance to be among the best players in all of football if everything falls into place. A Pro Bowl season for Thomas in his sophomore year is possible.

Anthony McCoy
McCoy may never get another chance like the one he had in 2010. John Carlson played like crap, and every tight end on the roster got a chance to start a game. McCoy was injured and never got to see what he was capable of. He has the best combination of catching and blocking ability among the players at his position on the team. Even if he does not become the starter, he could make an impact in two tight end sets.

Kam Chancellor
BamBam was a role player last season. He contributed on special teams, was a goal-line/short yardage replacement at safety and was part of the three safety bandit package the team featured at times. He did a respectable job. Chancellor is the type of athlete that almost certainly will get your attention with additional playing time. He will smash some opposing players in the face, cause dramatic fumbles, possibly sack the quarterback and even intercept a pass or two. He will also likely look foolish at times in coverage, take unnecessary risks and look slow-footed. Chancellor's ceiling is yet to be defined. He has the physical ability to be a great safety, but also some traits that could force him into more of a specialist role like he played last season. It's too early to tell, but my money is on the former.

Players like James Carpenter, John Moffit, Marshawn Lynch, Ben Obamanu, Mike Williams and others could all make an impact with either improved play or just being new quality players on the roster. Guys like Charlie Whitehurst, Golden Tate, Aaron Curry and others were left off the list because I don't yet have reason to believe they will be measurably better this season than last.

8 comments :

Anonymous said...

Yes, linebackers don't take long to make impacts.

Aren't you glad we have Aaron "Safe pick" Curry?

FWBrodie said...

So with two of these guys we're banking on a two-year recovery from devastating leg injuries. It would be interesting to look at a few comparative examples of players coming back from similar injuries and how they played in year one vs. year two post-injury.

FWBrodie said...

Also, I don't know how you can make such a harsh assessment of a QB after two career starts. Kind of strikes me as pure and simple pessimism.

hawkblogger said...

@FWBrodie I wouldn't say "banking" because all of these are guesses. They each had very different injuries, and a number of players in many sports have come back from knee injuries like Thurmond's. Washington's is much less common, so it's hard to say.

As far as Whitehurst, I don't make a harsh assessment after two starts. I do make one after 6 years of never beating out a single NFL QB for a single spot. He couldn't even beat out Billy Volek for the back-up spot in SD. I also watched a ton of training camp and all of pre-season. The guy will never win a Super Bowl, so it's time to move on. That's how I see it.

FWBrodie said...

1. You completely missed the essence of my comment.

2. You can take the Volek excuse and throw it in the trash. Why would the Chargers who have a clear franchise starter in Rivers and one of the most solid backups in the NFL in Volek bother developing a young QB like Whitehurst? I mean give me a break.

Imangine that team meeting, "so we have this kid who has some big upside, but zero chance of ever beating out Rivers who is already one of the best QB's in the NFL, but is completely unproven. We also have a reliable veteran who is fully capable of maintaining the offense should Rivers get hurt. Oh, and we're trying to win Super Bowls right now."

Do you really have to give more than a split second of thought who your backup is? Why would you bother with Whitehurst regardless of upside?

hawkblogger said...

Hey FWBrodie,

I love a friendly debate among Hawks fans, but you appear to prefer trying to pick a fight. I'm not particularly interested in those. That's not what this site is about.

Take care, and enjoy your weekend.

FWBrodie said...

Trying to fight? Not at all.

My first comment was simply an observation followed with a friendly suggestion for a discussion topic, which for some reason you mistook for criticism of your analysis. I actually thought this post was great.

On the topic of Whitehurst, we clearly disagree. I'm not sure where you see the line between "debate" and "fight", but in my mind I haven't approached it. I happen to believe that circumstantial evidence such as Charlie's place among one of the strongest QB depth charts in the NFL and making a final analysis on his career based on about 18 quarters of football (most that didn't even count) is completely unfair. I don't have to tell you how awful Matt looked in his first few games with the Seahawks.

If you just want to post your thoughts and not receive feedback then sorry, I'll unbookmark your blog and stay out of your way. I just discovered it recently and think you're doing a great job so I hope that's not the case.

hawkblogger said...

Fair enough. Thanks for reading, and double thanks for taking the time to comment.

Quantcast