The competition at the top of any NFL roster is pretty straightforward. Coaches and front offices are looking for the best players at every position. Wide receivers are competing against wide receivers. Defensive tackles compete against defensive tackles. The logic shifts, though, at the back end of the roster. No longer is the decision solely based on which player is best at their given position. Special teams performance becomes a primary factor. This can see receivers battling cornerbacks, running backs battling safeties. It is a mostly silent battle that will be the most fierce over the final two weeks of preseason. Here are your Seahawks combatants.
Setting the field
There are 43 players who are locks, or near-locks, to make this team. That leaves 10 spots for the remaining 47 players on the roster. Many of those players are not truly in competition for those spots. There are really about 18 players with a realistic shot to grab those final 11 spots. They are stack-ranked below according to my read of how strong their special teams resume has been so far. Note, this is purely about their special teams value, not about their likelihood to make the final roster. It is, however, possibly the biggest factor for these players.
1. WR Ricardo Lockette
A proven difference maker last year on punt and kick coverage. He continues to have the speed necessary to be a factor. His age and limited potential as a receiver could make him vulnerable, but that does not appear likely at this point.
2. CB Marcus Burley
Has been a widely used special teams player in camp, playing on all coverage units. This gives him an important roster edge over nickel corner Will Blackmon, who only serves as a backup punt returner.
3. LB Mike Morgan
A proven veteran who has made the team every year due to his special teams play. His versatility on defense (he can play two linebacker and one defensive line position) combined with his quality performance on special teams should make him safe once again.
4. WR BJ Daniels
A valuable punt and kick returner, Daniels has proven he can also cover kicks. His value as a backup quarterback plus his special teams abilities should get him a roster spot over more polished receivers on this list.
5. LB Eric Pinkins
Pinkins is the first name on this list that was not on the roster last year. He came in as highly regarded in special teams, and has lived up to the billing. He has the potential to be a core special teams player who is on all coverage and return groups. This, more than his play at linebacker, should get him a spot on this roster.
6. S Dion Bailey
Emerging as a possible starter at safety, Bailey also is a strong special teams contributor. He is physical and fast, and has been running with the first team on punt and kick coverage.
7. S Steven Terrell
Terrell was on the first team for kick coverage throughout training camp. His spot at safety is being challenged by the versatility of DeShawn Shead and Bailey, but it is possible he forces the team to keep an extra safety due to his special teams play.
8. DE Greg Scruggs
It is easy to miss the big fellas when it comes to special teams, but Scruggs has been a first team player on both punt and kick returns. He might be battling with the next guy on this list for a spot.
9. DE Demarcus Dobbs
Dobbs might be a bit more athletic than Scruggs, but has been injured most of camp. He may also be a slightly better lineman. These two are close.
10. S Ronald Martin
Martin has all the athletic ability he needs to be a great special teams player. He has made a strong case for himself on defense, and could help cement his spot by making some more plays on special teams.
11. RB Thomas Rawls
The slightly overhyped running back is a good all-around football player, and that included special teams. He has a strong edge over Rod Smith based on his special teams play.
12. CB Mohammed Seisay
He has been injured for the past few weeks, but had been making consistent plays on special teams before that. If he can get healthy soon, he can still force his way onto this roster.
13. WR Kasen Williams
Williams is a natural athlete who could eventually supplant Lockette as a great gunner, and could be a great punt blocker on the edge.
14. WR Kevin Norwood
Norwood has been running with the second string on punt and kick coverage and has done well. Like his receiving, Norwood’s special teams play is solid if not spectacular.
15. WR Kevin Smith
Smith had a nice coverage tackle in the preseason opener, and has some ability in the return game as well.
16. CB Will Blackmon
Blackmon is a proven returner. It is not clear where else he would contribute on special teams.
17. LB Tyrell Adams
Adams has all the physical tools to be a great special teams player, but he has not translated that on the field yet. He has played well enough at linebacker to earn a possible practice squad spot where he could refine his special teams skills.
18. RB Rod Smith
Smith seems like a more gifted runner than Rawls, but has not found his niche on special teams. That is going to make it hard for him to find a spot.
LB Alex Singleton has shown a lot of athleticism in the first two preseason games, and had a nice coverage tackle on special teams in Kansas City. He would rank higher on this list, but he has no chance to make this roster, so he was left off. S Ryan Murphy is supposed to be a great special teams player but has been hurt. He needs to show out the next two weeks to have any chance of sneaking on the backend of the roster.