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Roster outlook

There is enough practice and game play behind us to start thinking about who is going to make the final roster. First, a refresher on how many players the Seahawks broke camp with at every positions last year, their average keep for that position since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived, and my projected keep. The plus/minus column indicates where I am projecting a change from what the team kept for that position last year.

I initially had the Seahawks keeping two more defensive linemen than the year before, but I fall into the trap each preseason of thinking they have to keep more than 8 defensive linemen, and they almost never do. In fact, they kept just seven to start last season. I don’t think there are seven linebackers worth keeping even though they typically keep more than six on the roster. I have them keeping an extra corner and one less safety, largely due to the thin talent pool at safety and the potential that Earl Thomas will be forced to come back at some point.

 

Current projections

Quarterbacks

I could have listed McGough as on the bubble, but I don’t think there is a real competition there at this point. I do, however, believe the team could choose to look at veteran QBs who get cut as Davis is far from solidified in the backup spot.

Running backs

This one will be interesting. It is a position of strength for the team. Much will hinge on what happens with C.J. Prosise from here on out. I believe he makes the roster over Mike Davis, much to the chagrin of many Seahawks fans. He just offers far more upside and flexibility. That said, if he doesn’t recover soon from this current injury and demonstrate he can play in two straight games, the team will have a much harder decision.

Adding to the drama will be whether Seattle wants to keep a fullback. They did last year, and that cost Davis his spot. Many forget Davis started the year on the practice squad. Expect the team to keep Madden again.

Wide receivers

This is perennially one of the toughest position groups to predict. The team tends to keep six receivers, but they barely make use of four. Amara Darboh was fourth on the team in targets last season with just 13 and Tanner McEvoy was fifth with 9 targets. The guys at the back end of the receiver list are evaluated far more for their special teams skills than their receiving ability. If that was not the case, David Moore would be ahead of Marcus Johnson for me. The fact that Johnson is a strong special teams player and was targeted by Seattle in the Michael Bennett trade makes me think they are pretty invested in him.

It may not matter as I have Moore making it as well. The intrigue could come with whether Brandon Marshall makes the final cut. Seattle has a history of keeping big name free agents around through camp and then cutting them at the end. Marshall is a guy I believe makes the final cut, but it is not out of the question that the team decides to go with younger players who can contribute on special teams. That would open a spot for a guy like Damore’ea Stringfellow or possibly Keenan Reynolds.

Not really in the conversation are Darboh and McEvoy. That says a lot considering Darboh was a 3rd-round pick just a year ago. It will take one heck of a redemption story the rest of the way for him to claw onto the roster.

Tight ends

Barring injury, this position should be set.

Offensive line

This one could be complicated. I have D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy as on the bubble. Why? There is a chance the team is trying to figure out which veteran to start at right guard and would let the other walk in favor of a younger player. I see it as a lock that they will keep one of them, and Fluker currently has the edge.

Another wrinkle could be what happens with Jamarco Jones. He has what Pete Carroll has described as a serious high ankle sprain. That generally means many weeks of recovery. The team cannot put him on the PUP list because he has already been active. They cannot put him on the IR before making cuts if they want to bring him back later in the season. Players have to be on the week one roster in order to be eligible for the IR list that allows someone to return. My current guess is they will IR him and put him on the shelf for the whole season. That is purely based on the assumption his injury is serious enough to require multiple months of recovery and the team does not want to cut someone else to make space for him week one. If his injury situation is more hopeful, he definitely makes the roster.

The other guy who is always hard to predict is Joey Hunt. Ethan Pocic should be able to act as the backup center, but the problem there is that if Justin Britt goes down in a game, you have to make two lineup changes as Pocic would slide over from guard. The team tends to keep a true backup center on the roster, which could mean a guy like Rees Odhiambo gets bumped. There are lots of moving parts with this group.

Defensive line

Another super tough group to project. The team typically keeps 3-4 interior linemen and 4 or more edge rushers. They kept 3 interior guys last year. If they did that again, you would be looking at cutting one of Nazair Jones, Shamar Stephen, or Tom Johnson. I have a really hard time seeing them cut any of those guys. Johnson and Stephen were signed as a free agents with some guaranteed money. Both would create about $1M in cap space if they were cut. Carroll has been effusive in his praise of Johnson, and you would guess the older player would be the more vulnerable. I just don’t see the team walking away from Johnson.

The other challenging aspect here is figuring out edge rushers beyond Rasheem Green and Frank Clark. Initially, I was counting Jacob Martin in this group, which made it even tougher, but I believe they will classify him as a SAM LB when it settles out. He will factor into how many edge players they feel they need to keep. Quinton Jefferson has been playing well, but is primarily an interior player. They really do not need five defensive tackles. That is why it was important to hear the team was playing him outside at the 5-technique end position in practice this week.

The team needs to know if Jefferson can play on the edge, at least in the base defense. If not, his roster spot becomes far more questionable. Branden Jackson has the strong edge over Marcus Smith II. Those two are likely battling Jefferson for the last spot on the line. It is hard to imagine them cutting Jackson, which is why I originally had them keeping nine on the defensive line, but they just do not do that. If they buck the trend, then Jackson and Jefferson are probably safe.

Linebackers

This group is mostly straight-forward, but I have a suspicion the D.J. Alexander may not have a spot on lock. He was not as dynamic on special teams last year as I expected him to be, given that he was a former Pro Bowl player. Emmanuel Beal is a name to watch as he played quite well on special teams in the first preseason game. Austin Calitro has a shot largely because the team does not have a legitimate option to backup Bobby Wagner at MIKE without him.

Cornerbacks

This was yet another challenging position. I am not convinced that Byron Maxwell is a lock. We could see Dontae Johnson, who just started practicing, make a run at that starting corner spot opposite Shaquill Griffin. Akeem King is also a young player who could grab a spot. I wound up predicting the team will keep one more corner than last year, and that still meant special teams standout Neiko Thorpe gets left off. The team could save a decent amount of cap space if they cut Thorpe, which plays a role in my projection.

Safeties

The team tends to keep five safeties, but I cannot understand how they would choose to keep either Lorenzo Jerome or T.J. Mutcherson over guys like King, Johnson, Jefferson, or Jackson on the defense. It seems unlikely Thomas will play anytime soon.

Special teams

I don’t believe there is a real competition here. Michael Dickson will be the punter and Sebastian Janikowski will be the kicker.

8 Responses

  1. GoHawksDani

    Good article, agree on a lot of things, but see other stuff differently 🙂
    Here are my projections:
    QB (2): RW, Davis
    Maybe they’ll get someone in place of Austin Davis.

    RB (4): Carson, Penny, McKissic, Davis
    Carson and Penny are clear locks. McKissic a good 3rd down back and half WR half RB, also able to return kicks.
    Davis played relatively well. Prosise had ton of opportunities, but always injured, not worth keeping a roster spot for him.

    WR (6): Baldwin, Lockett, Brown, Marshall, Moore and… Johnson, Stringfellow or Darboh
    First two are clear locks. They said nice things about Brown and Marshall and Moore is a training camp winner. Also has good size and played well in the first game.
    It’s kind of a threeway tie between the last guys. Darboh was a pick, and didn’t do much wrong (but neither did much right).
    Stringfellow made some nice plays, but maybe it’s just another Kasen Williams.
    Johnson played solid, but nothing spectacular. Maybe Reynolds also an option, but to me he’s more like a practice squad candidate.

    TE (3): Dissly, Dickson, Vannett
    It’s pretty clear. I’m really pumped about Dissly, I think it’s possible he’ll steal the starter spot somewhere along the season.
    Swoops also has some upside, but not more than Vannett or Dickson.
    If they want to utilize TEs a lot, they might carry 4 (and only 5 WR)

    OL (10): Brown, Pocic, Britt, Fluker, Ifedi, Fant, Sweezy, Roos, Battle, Jones
    Starting five is more or less a lock.
    Fant shown nice progress, Sweezy is a vet, Roos also has some upside. Battle is a swing tackle
    Jones also a swing tackle, rookie and has some possibilites

    DL (8): Clark, Reed, Green, Jones, Johnson, Stephen, Jackson, Jefferson
    Mingo and Martin beside LB will probably both play some snaps at DE
    Clark, Reed, Green, Jones are obvious. Johnson and Stephen both well playing vets.
    Jackson and Jefferson are young guys with high motor. Both can play multiple spots.

    LB (6): BWagz, KJ, Mingo, Martin, Griffin and Alexander or Calitro or Pugh
    KJ and Bwagz both lock at starters. Mingo is playing pretty good at SAM and also able to rush the passer well.
    Martin played pretty well and probably has high ceiling. Bright guy, good influencer at the locker room.
    Griffin played OK so also a lock.
    And for depth probably comes down between Alexander who is a great special teamer or Calitro who mostly played well in first game, or Pugh a rookie with possibilities.

    CB (7): Griffin, Coleman, Maxwell, Flowers, King, Johnson, Thorpe
    Griffin and Coleman both obvious starters. RCB might come down between Maxwell, Flowers and maybe King and Dontae Johnson.
    Maxwell is a low ceiling, but proven vet. Flowers is a young convert rookie, who has great potential, but still a lot to learn.
    King had some nice plays in the preseason, we’ll see how well he progress.
    Johnson is a relatively young vet with some potential.
    Thorpe is a special team ace and good for the depth.

    S (4): McDougald, Thompson, Hill, Alexander
    McDougald can play both position and play pretty good. Thompson has some rave reviews from camp.
    Hill isn’t anything shiny and won’t make your heart pump faster, but he’s OKish
    Alexander proven vet.

    ST (3): Janikowski, Dickson, Ott
    Proven vet for K, young stud for P and Ott played well as the LS

    Reply
  2. Uncle Bob

    Not much to argue with in your assessments Brian, pretty realistic given what we see today. As such, and with training camp winding down as the season approaches, we need one block buster shake up. As a bonus, it will deal with your greatest area of struggle.

    Earl was hobnobbing with Davis a couple weeks ago so something must be cooking. JS and Reggie are long time buds, and Gruden is grumpy about certain players while showing a tendency to embrace vets over younger guys. So here goes. JS packages Thomas, Kiki Mingo, and Ryan in exchange for Mack. If he has to, there may be a mid to lower round pick as gravy. The Hawks get the top flight pass rusher they need that also helps the young secondary, the Raiders bolster their secondary, get a pass rusher, and replace the ousted King with a reliable punter. Salary wise it comes close to a wash for both sides, so little cap impact. Grumpy players exchanged on both sides might look risky, but hey, that’s why the GM gets the big paycheck………..work it out. You can thank me later………………:)

    No, probably not much chance, but I can dream can’t I?

    Reply
  3. JoeB

    Pre-season means rooting for underdogs to make the roster or, at least, through to the practice squad. Unfortunately for our bubble guys, JS and PC tent to kick the tires on other teams’ bubble guys, especially in “reloading” years.
    That being said, I personally would package bubble guys for future draft picks, especially to teams with deficiencies, like the Jets receiving corps.
    I’d like to keep a TE that is more receiving oriented than the big 3, retaining TSwoopes.
    We’re not going anywhere this year, not with the powerhouses in our own conference. Developing younger players first should be highest priority. Aim for the 2020 playoffs.

    Reply
  4. Rowdy Yates

    I was wondering about Poona, myself. (Like the “Party” poster above)

    I’m gonna send Poona a poster of Rodney Dangerfield.

    Reply
  5. Joel

    I know there hasn’t been alot of news about Mike Tyson switching back to safety this year, and I don’t know that he’ll make the 53 man roster, but I don’t even see him on your depth chart, at safety or corner. Isn’t he still on the team?

    Reply

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