Roster projections are hard enough after watching practice and seeing players compete. It is foolish to think any of us on the outside have any chance of accurately assessing a player’s chance to make the roster before training camp even begins. Let’s be foolish.
This table shows how many players Pete Carroll and John Schneider have kept at each position group since they came aboard in 2010. It also shows what they did last year, and what I am projecting for this year.
The tough calls are always at wide receiver, offensive line, and defensive line. I think receiver will be simpler this year. They should keep only five, and look to stash one or two young players on the practice squad. Offensive line has some real injury concerns, so it would make sense for the team to keep an extra body this season. Defensive line will hinge on the health of Ezekiel Ansah.
The extra offensive lineman meant I needed to pull from another position. Running back seems like the right spot. It would seem foolish to keep six backs this year.
This should be pretty straightforward. Geno Smith has been a starter and is just a better player than Paxton Lynch.
Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are locks. Travis Homer would seem to have a huge leg up on his competition given his special teams hype. Seattle has said he was the best special teams player they scouted. He also is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and a good blocker in pass protection.
A guy like C.J. Prosise may be more talented than just about anyone on the running back roster, but it’s hard to see how the team could justify using a roster spot on him given his injury history and this being the last year of his rookie deal.
Nick Bellore is the lone fullback on the roster. He should make the cut.
J.D. McKissic likely also makes it as a third down back option and return specialist.
It was hard to remove Doug Baldwin’s name from the list. Tyler Lockett moves up to the top player at the position. D.K. Metcalf and David Moore are locks. Moore is a likely starter.
Gary Jennings is close to a lock, but let’s be honest about a fourth-round pick who sat out most of mini-camp with an injury. He has to prove himself.
Jaron Brown likely makes the team, but I could not bring myself to making him a high confidence player. Keeping a mediocre veteran around at the expense of a young player seems short-sighted. The hope here is a young player like Malik Turner steps forward and gives the team the confidence it needs to move on from Brown.
John Ursua is a name most hardcore Seahawks fans know because the team traded into the 7th round this year to nab him. He also led the nation in receiving touchdowns last season, and fits the mold of a slot receiver. Watch out, though, for Terry Wright. He was one of the unsung heroes of mini-camp and profiles as a slot receiver himself.
I am intrigued by Caleb Scott, and Schneider is as well. He looks like Jordy Nelson, and was brought back after missing all of camp last year due to injury. Unproven players who are brought back after not proving anything the prior season generally have piqued the interest of the front office for some reason.
Keenan Reynolds is a guy who started strong in camp last year, and then faded. He’s been in the league a while now. It’s hard to see him making enough of a jump to justify cutting one of the guys ahead of him.
Amara Darboh…won’t make the team.
Tight endsThere is a small chance Ed Dickson could get pushed off the roster in favor of Nick Vannett and Jacob Hollister. That seems unlikely.
Vannett has an uphill battle to stick around. He has battled injury and has failed to live up to team expectations. Hollister flashed during mini-camp and comes in as a guy expected to make the cut.
Will Dissly’s injury situation may impact this position, but he should be ready for the season.
Offensive lineMost of this position group is set. You have your starting five, plus a sixth starter in George Fant.
Jamarco Jones was super impressive in his brief stint last year. Assuming he has fully recovered, he will make the team. Phil Haynes has received good reviews so far and is a touted rookie. He’s not going anywhere.
The rest gets a bit muddled. Jordan Simmons played well last season, but has an injury history that makes Prosise look like Cal Ripken Jr. Given the question marks about the durability of D.J. Fluker and Mike Iupati, it would be a gamble to keep another injury-prone guard. Haynes helps.
Keep an eye on Elijah Nkansah. He can play tackle or guard and is quite athletic.
Marcus Martin is also a name to watch. He played guard and center. He could push Ethan Pocic off the roster. Pocic does not fit the profile of a Mike Solari guard. He’s way too small. He could make the roster as a backup center and due to his versatility as he can back-up all five positions. It may be a three-way battle between the seemingly un-cuttable Joey Hunt, Martin and Pocic for back-up center.
Keep in mind Justin Britt may not be back, and the team could be grooming their next center.
Defensive lineAnsah is a guy the team will be cautious with. Don’t be surprised if he starts on PUP. This position is super thin overall. There is not a single proven edge rusher outside of Ansah.
Guys like L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, and Quinton Jefferson likely push Nazair Jones off the roster. Jones had a promising rookie year, but appeared to get locked in the dog house last year when he was often not active.
Jarran Reed and Poona Ford are locks. Al Woods seems likely to stick around as part of that rotation. Jamie Meder was acquired from Cleveland during the off-season and probably has an inside edge over Demarcus Christmas and Bryan Mone, although Mone is massive and could surprise.
This really feels like a position group that could see Schneider trade or nab some guys right before the season as cuts are looming. The talent level just is not where the team wants it to be.
A big step forward from Green would be a god send.
LinebackersThis might be the deepest linebacking corps the Seahawks have had in Carroll’s tenure, and maybe in franchise history. It would be ideal if the young guys could push Barkevious Mingo off the roster. Although, don’t be surprised if he follows the Jacob Martin route from last year.
Martin started as a linebacker on the roster, but saw all his action as a nickel edge rusher. The team has already started talking about using Mingo the same way, and they need all the help they can get. If Mingo starts getting treated like a DE instead of a LB, that eases the path for a guy like Shaquem Griffin to stick around. He is a bit of a longshot as a linebacker, but did show some production on special teams.
My guess is Ben Burr-Kirven is ahead of Griffin.
CornerbacksI am oddly optimistic about this crew. Shaquill Griffin acknowledged his step backwards last year, and sounds ready to work his way back to an above average corner. Tre Flowers played better than I expected last season, and should take a big step forward this year.
The loss of Justin Coleman is huge, but there is a strong set of competitors to take those snaps. My money is on Jeremy Boykins. He’s long, skinny and agile. I liked his athleticism and fight last year during training camp.
Akeem King is the guy most people know, but I’m not convinced he’s a good fit at nickel corner.
Ugo Amadi is another guy to watch depending on how things shake out at safety. I like his moxie and physical skills in the slot.
Neiko Thorpe could take that work, but that would probably be a bad sign. Thorpe has been in the league a while and if he was not good enough to start before, starting him now would mean the talent level has dipped lower.
Keep an eye on Simeon Thomas. He’s a 6’3″ edge corner who the team acquired just before the season last year.
SafetiesOy. This position still gives me shivers. Bradley McDougald is a good player. Everyone else is a question mark. Marquise Blair is certainly talented, but has struggled with the playbook. He is also a strong safety, which would push McDougald to his less preferred free safety role.
You all know my feelings on Tedric Thompson. Lano (formerly Delano) Hill is a guy I have liked who simply has not stepped up. The opportunity is certainly there.
Amadi may emerge as a free safety candidate. If by some crazy good fortune he is good enough to push for starting snaps at free safety as a rookie, that would be extremely good news. The team is best off with McDougald at strong. The only free safeties on the roster with a chance to start are Thompson and maybe Amadi.