Written By Matthew Heuett

Tonight when the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft gets underway, we get our first reprieve from the doldrums of the offseason.  Granted, it’d probably feel more exciting if the Seahawks actually had a first round pick, but oh well – football news of actual import is about to occur!  Huzzah!

And in preparation for the excitement of the next few days, I figured we could all use a quick refresher on the current state of the Seahawks’ roster.  I won’t go into detail into every name on the list, but I’ll be noting who the presumptive starters are for next year at each position, if any, and pointing out potential holes the Seahawks may be looking to fill with their slew of draft picks.

Oh, and one more thing – a lot of the shiny new names you’ll be seeing in the lists below will have (Res/Fut) next to them.  Most of you already know what that means, but for those of you who don’t here’s the quick and dirty version.  As soon as the season ends, players who weren’t on an active roster when the regular season ended can be signed by teams to futures contracts, which are essentially minimum-salary contracts that don’t take effect until the official start of the next league year.   The idea behind these contracts is to allow teams to snap up developmental players who weren’t worth a roster spot last year but might be on the verge of making good on their potential next season, but in practice this group of signees is largely comprised of camp bodies and perennial practice squadders.  A couple guys will usually emerge from the pack as quality depth players (and on rare occasions become key role-players or starters down the road), but in general if you see a guy has been signed to a futures contract you should temper your expectations accordingly.

QUARTERBACKS

2014 Starter: Russell Wilson

Presumptive 2015 Starter: Russell Goddamn Wilson

Current Roster:

R.J. Archer (Res/Fut)
B.J. Daniels
Russell Wilson

Still Unsigned:

Tarvaris Jackson

No surprises here, Wilson is still king, Jackson is still playing hard-to-get, and Daniels is still a nebulous mass of athleticism and potential.  It’s possible that Daniels could end up getting a look at a different position like wide receiver in camp.

WIDE RECEIVER

2014 Starters:

WR1 Doug Baldwin
WR2 Jermaine Kearse
WR3 Paul Richardson

Presumptive 2015 Starters:

WR1 Doug Baldwin
WR2 Jermaine Kearse
WR3 ?

Current Roster:

Doug Baldwin
Jermaine Kearse
Ricardo Lockette
Chris Matthews
Douglas McNeil (Res/Fut)
Kevin Norwood
Paul Richardson (likely PUP)
Kevin Smith (Res/Fut)

I love me some Baldwin, but beyond him the current quality of the wide receiver corps depends entirely on whether Norwood and/or Matthews can take the next step forward in their development this year and capitalize on the flashes they showed last season.  Richardson has a promising future, but all signs point to him largely sitting out this next season while he recovers from the ACL tear he suffered in January, and Kearse & Lockette are better suited to being fourth receiving options.  The presence of Jimmy Graham should take some of the coverage focus off this group and free them up to catch some more balls, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that an injection of high-end talent is sorely needed.

TIGHT END

2014 Starter: Zach Miller/Luke Willson

Presumptive 2015 Starter: Jimmy Graham

Current Roster:

RaShaun Allen (Res/Fut)
Jimmy Graham
Cooper Helfet
Anthony McCoy
Luke Willson

Still Unsigned:

Zach Miller

Miller was a favorite of mine and a much better player for the Seahawks than he was generally given credit for being, but his days in Seattle are over.  Graham is the best receiving tight end the Hawks have had since, well, ever.  John Carlson and Itula Mili were solid, but beyond them the cupboard is pretty bare, historically speaking (and no, I’m not going to count Jerramy Stevens because screw that guy).  Beyond him, Willson is developing steadily as a decent backup receiver and blocker, Helfet had a few nice grabs last season, and the odds that McCoy’s knees will stay healthy are getting longer every year.

RUNNING BACKS

2014 Starters:

RB Marshawn Lynch
FB Derrick Coleman/Will Tukuafu

Presumptive 2015 Starters:

RB Marshawn Lynch
FB Derrick Coleman

Current Roster:

RB Demetrius Bronson (Res/Fut)
FB Derrick Coleman
RB Marshawn Lynch
RB Christine Michael
FB Will Tukuafu
RB Rubert Turbin

I doubt this is news to anyone, but the success of this group in 2015 rests largely on the health of Beast Mode’s spine.  Turbin proved last year that he can run angry and move defenders, an element that was lacking from his game in previous seasons, and Michael will most likely continue to be a promising young runner who rarely sees the field.  Coleman is a great fullback when he’s healthy, and Tukuafu pulls double-duty as a reserve fullback and defensive lineman.

OFFENSIVE LINE

2014 Starters:

LT Russell Okung
LG James Carpenter
C Max Unger/~300 other players
RG J.R. Sweezy
RT Jason Britt

Presumptive 2015 Starters:

LT Russell Okung
LG ?
C ?
RG J.R. Sweezy
RT Justin Britt

Current Roster:

G Alvin Bailey
T Justin Britt
G C.J. Davis (Res/Fut)
T Gary Gilliam
G Nate Isles (Res/Fut)
C Lemuel Jeanpierre
C Patrick Lewis
G Keavon Milton
G Drew Nowak (Res/Fut)
T Russell Okung
G Justin Renfrow (Res/Fut)
G J.R. Sweezy
C Jared Wheeler (Res/Fut)

(Note: The distinction between guard and tackle on the official Seahawks roster is fuzzy at best.)

With only three out of five positions locked up, this is by far the biggest hole the team has in its starting lineup.  Unger was a great center, and losing him is a serious blow to the o-line, but he also missed ten games last year (the team went 8-2 in those games, in case you’re wondering).  If there’s a silver lining to be found here, it’s that the rest of the offense already has practical experience soldiering on in his absence.  First-round disappointment Carpenter’s departure at left guard, by contrast, leaves much smaller shoes to fill.

Center and guard are both serious positions of need that I fully expect the team to address in the draft.  For now, the current favorites at each position are Jeanpierre and Lewis at center and Bailey and Gilliam at guard – not terrible candidates, perhaps, but not exactly awe-inspiring, either.

DEFENSIVE LINE

2014 Starters:

DE Michael Bennett
DT Tony McDaniel
DT Brandon Mebane/Kevin Williams
DE Cliff Avril

Presumptive 2015 Starters:

DE Michael Bennett
DT Tony McDaniel
DT Brandon Mebane
DE Cliff Avril

Current Roster:

DE Cliff Avril
DE Michael Bennett
DE Demarcus Dobbs
DT Jordan Hill
DE David King
DE Cassius Marsh
DT Tony McDaniel
DT Brandon Mebane
DE Will Pericak (Res/Fut)
DE Ryan Robinson (Res/Fut)
DT Ahtyba Rubin
DE Greg Scruggs
DT D’Anthony Smith
DT Jimmy Staten (Res/Fut)
DE Julius Warmsley (Res/Fut)
DT Jesse Williams

Still Unsigned:

DE Landon Cohen
DT Kevin Williams

The main worry I have here is with the health of Mebane.  He’s been a fixture as the team’s 1-tech DT in the middle of the line, but he’s not getting any younger and losing him to injury last year was a near-disaster prevented only by a great fill-in performance by Kevin Williams, whom you might note is 1) unsigned and 2) also not getting any younger.  Outside of Jesse Williams and his questionable knees, I don’t see any heir apparent for #92 currently on the roster, and that concerns me greatly.

Secondly, the depth behind Avril and Bennett is also of some concern, as without the two of them providing pressure on opposing quarterbacks Seattle’s defense becomes a lot less intimidating in a hurry.  Whether the solution to this problem means someone like Marsh or Dobbs taking the next step in their development or some nicely disruptive new blood getting injected in the draft, I don’t know, but I’m fine with either (or both!).  A hotshot young QB-devouring 3-tech DT would be a nice addition too, but they’re rarer than red emeralds.

LINEBACKERS

2014 Starters:

SLB: Bruce Irvin
MLB: Bobby Wagner
WLB: K.J. Wright

Presumptive 2015 Starters:

SLB: Bruce Irvin
MLB: Bobby Wagner
WLB: K.J. Wright

Current Roster:

Mister Alexander
Brock Coyle
Luke Ingram
Bruce Irvin
Brendan Kelly (Res/Fut)
Michael Morgan
Kevin Pierre-Louis
Mike Taylor (Res/Fut)
Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright
Mike Zimmer (Res/Fut)

Still Unsigned:

Heath Farwell

It’ll be interesting to see if the team can find a way to afford Irvin and his sack-producing ways after they get finished inking Wilson and Wagner to big new contracts, but that’s a worry for another day.  For now, this is a pretty damn solid group.  Behind the starters, Coyle showed some promise as a fill-in Mike in his rookie season, Morgan is a reasonable backup outside linebacker, and with another year or two of seasoning Pierre-Louis could do some serious damage.  That leaves at most one more roster spot to be filled by the remaining candidates.

Farwell’s career was considered all but over last year after he suffered a nasty groin injury in the preseason, but a few weeks ago he made a surprise announcement that he now feels healthy enough to keep playing for at least another year.  The odds are against him suiting up again for Seattle, partly because of age & injury and partly because Lockette’s prowess on coverage teams has made him expendable, but it’s great to see him take another shot at playing.  Farwell is one of the best special teams aces I’ve ever seen, and it’s been a pleasure watching him down returners for the Hawks these past few seasons.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

2014 Starters:

CB1 Richard Sherman
CB2 Byron Maxwell
NB Jeremy Lane
FS Earl Thomas
SS Kam Chancellor

Presumptive 2015 Starters:

CB1 Richard Sherman
CB2 Cary Williams
NB ?
FS Earl Thomas
SS Kam Chancellor

Current Roster:

CB Dion Bailey (Res/Fut)
CB Will Blackmon
CB Marcus Burley
SS Kam Chancellor
CB Jeremy Lane (likely PUP)
CB Eric Pinkins
SS Deshawn Shead
CB Richard Sherman
CB Tharold Simon
FS Steven Terrell
FS Earl Thomas
CB Cary Williams

The three best starters in the Legion of Boom are returning, and slotting in Williams for Maxwell at the second CB spot has all the appearance of a lateral move, so the only real question is at the nickel back position.  Lane had the job down cold last season, but his gruesome injury in the Super Bowl (broken arm & ACL tear) leaves the position up for grabs until his return.  The two prime candidates to take the job are Burley and Simon, two players who put in adequate performances highlighted with occasional flashes of brilliance and outright flailing, with Simon cratering somewhat more often than Burley.  Bottom line, if someone doesn’t take a step forward while Lane is out, covering slot receivers and tight ends is going to become a glaring weak spot for the defense.

After the nickel position, depth behind both starting safeties is also of some concern, but Schneider has proven successful at mining the mid-to-late rounds for defensive back gold and hopefully training camp competitions will finish the rest of the selection process.

SPECIALISTS

2014 Starters:

K Steven Hauschka
P Jon Ryan
LS Clint Gresham

Presumptive 2015 Starters:

K Steven Hauschka
P Jon Ryan
LS Clint Gresham

Nothing worthwhile to report here – all three did respectable jobs last year, and so all three will return in 2015, although I could see the team bringing in someone to compete with Gresham in camp.  He’s not a bad snapper by any means, but he tosses just enough wayward ones to warrant kicking the tires on a few other candidates.

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