OFF THE CUFF So many more questions than last year
It was striking how much there was to get caught up on this year compared to last year or the year before. Sure, there was a right tackle battle between Justin Britt and Michael Bowie last year, and Kevin Williams was a new face, but most of the depth chart was pretty predictable. I spent almost three-quarters of the practice trying to get on top of the depth chart at almost every position on the roster. Which linebacker spot was Eric Pinkins playing? Who are the top three receivers? What do the nickel packages look like? I will cover all that and more in these notes, but I have a lot more work to do tomorrow and Sunday. This feels far more like a new team than the 2014 squad.
Jimmy Graham makes it look easy
Stud. This guy is a different breed of athlete, and it shows up on nearly every play. There was a moment midway through practice where R.J. Archer threw a pass to Graham who was running an out-breaking route and caught it easily before stepping out of bounds. Russell Wilson was shaking his head as Graham jogged back to the huddle and slapped him five as if to say, “We are going to have a lot of fun.” Graham played plenty and caught at least four passes. I will pay more attention in the coming days to where he is lining up and what personnel groups they have him in.
Cassius Marsh is still very intriguing
I did a bit of a double-take when I found Marsh on the field. He is definitely lighter than last season. I wrote “skinny” in my notes. He is quick off the ball, and getting most of snaps at backup LEO behind Cliff Avril. I did not see him take any snaps at linebacker. My eyes glanced over the field later and he caught my eye because I thought he was Chris Clemons. Yes, I know that sounds silly, but he is wearing #91 and I made a note to look up Clemons’ height and weight. Sure enough, Clemons is listed as 6’3″ 254 lbs. Marsh is listed at 6’4″ 254 lbs. That is not to say Marsh is the next Clemons, but he is looking long and lean, and already was quick off the ball.
The deep ball is back
It felt like every other throw was down the field. That is in stark contrast the bubble screen baloney we were being fed last season with Percy Harvin infecting the offense. That led to a drastic reduction in yards per attempt, and fewer throws down field from Wilson, who excels at the deep ball. The team has now collected players who are promising in that regard, and they got their chances today. Jermaine Kearse, Chris Matthews, and Ricardo Lockette were among the deep targets. Only Lockette came down with the catch, but each throw was terrific and put the receiver in a position to make a catch.
Impossible to judge the offensive line
Evaluating offensive lineman is tough enough in a practice, let alone a practice without pads and the very first one of camp. I’ll share some observations on depth chart below, and a bit on pass rush drills, but this critical part of the team will need more observation to get a strong feeling.
Tyler Lockett looks like the #3 receiver right now
It was certainly newsworthy that when the Seahawks trotted out their first three-receiver set, something they do quite often from past personnel groupings, rookie Tyler Lockett was nestled between Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin, who were split wide. We have all heard good things, but this was confirmation that the coaches are seeing Lockett as a guy who will factor into a lot more than just special teams this year.
I present these with a few very important caveats:
These are not official. They are based on what I observed.
The team does varies their rotations based on different drills, so I have to guess based on what I have seen to be predictive of their depth chart patterns in the past.
There is a lot going on, and I can only watch one group at any one time, so I absolutely miss things.
Important! These represent practice depth charts. The actual fourth linebacker or third offensive tackle is not represented, and that is how the team would judge things (i.e., Garry Gilliam would backup right tackle if Justin Britt got hurt even though Jesse Davis is playing backup RT in practice)
All that aside, I would want to see these if I were you, so here you go!
Offense was a tough one as I was primarily following the defense, but I got a pretty good feel for the offensive line depth chart. As I alluded to above, Gilliam is clearly the third tackle. Davis looks very raw, and was beaten badly in 1v1 pass rush drills a few times.
You see a blank below Lockett at slot and that is because I did not see who subbed for him. What I did see is that he was playing slot with both the first and the second string receivers. They have Baldwin and Lockett, so they don’t really need anyone else there.
I cannot swear to whether Matthews was subbing for Baldwin or Kearse and vice versa with Ricardo Lockette. I also saw Matthews and Norwood alternating a bit, so that might not be a strict #2 and #3 situation. I did not get into depth on the receivers, so there are guys not showing up here. I will add them in the coming days as I see where they fall.
For tight ends, Graham was the top, but Luke Willson played plenty. I decided not to publish a 22 personnel (2 tight ends, 2 RBs, 1 WR) depth chart because I just didn’t see enough to say. I want to get a better grasp of when Graham is in versus Willson and McCoy.
This one should be pretty accurate. I did not get a good look at backup corners, so they are left off. I also have more to do on the defensive line as that tends to be one of the hardest to figure out based on how they rotate things in practice and numbers are hard to see. Linebackers should be correct.
I will fill this out more over the next few days, but this was enough to be of interest.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES TE Jimmy Graham
It almost feels like cheating to put him on this list. The guy is a monster. I think we will be saying that all year.
LB Tyrell Adams
I didn’t know much about Adams before practice, but he flashed a few times. First, he read a screen pass to Thomas Rawls and blew it up. Later, he broke up another pass play in zone coverage. He looks like he has good instincts, and is on my early list of ones to watch.
WR Tyler Lockett
Had a nice catch on a deep comeback route.
RB Thomas Rawls
Looks solid. Hesitated to put him on this list because I think he is being overhyped at this stage. Running backs true test comes in games with pads against opponents who are actually trying to tackle them. That said, he showed good hands and good burst. Feels like a solid player. Not convinced he is more than that yet.
C Kristjan Sokoli
Standing out is not always a good thing. The guy is making a very tough transition, and it looked that way today. There was at least one problem on the snap, and he was beaten soundly in 1v1 pass rushing drills. Michael Bennett may have actually touched the QB before Sokoli was out of his stance. Don’t write him off yet, but don’t expect him to challenge for that starting role anytime soon either.
Jeremy Lane, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor (holdout), Jesse Williams, Dion Bailey, Tharold Simon, Paul Richardson, Robert Turbin (partial participation), Ty Zimmerman
THINGS I NOW KNOW
1. Kevin Pierre-Louis is the backup WILL, not SAM
As I had hoped and expected, KPL is playing behind KJ Wright, not Bruce Irvin.
2. Greg Scruggs looks back to his old athletic self
Scruggs stood out with his slimmed down physique and the fact that he still was getting reps as the backup 5T DE. I have a feeling he is going to have a strong camp and preseason.
3. Christine Michael is still amazing
I will go to my grave believing that Michael is a Pro Bowl quality running back in the NFL. He is still ahead of Rawls on the depth chart, and as good as Rawls looked, Michael looked faster and more agile.
4. Robert Turbin won’t be on the PUP
There was some question about whether Turbin would start the year on the PUP after hip surgery. He practiced today, so that is not an option. He did not participate in team drills, though, so his recovery is still going on.
Amazing first day overall. Lots to be excited about. Graham looks every bit as good as you would expect. Lockett is already impressing coaches enough to get “starter” snaps. The running backs looked solid, and the pass rush looked promising.
Safety is a mess right now with Thomas, Chancellor and Dion Bailey all out. Bailey was the big disappointment as he could be a threat to make the roster. The hope is he is back soon.
I want to see more from Clark tomorrow and in future practices. He looks strong and quick. Marsh was coaching him through special teams drills. They looked close, possibly roommates.
On the down side, Britt still gets beat like a drum by Avril in pass rush drills. Obum Gwacham looks like a special athlete. He caught my eye a few times just standing there.
Kasen Williams had a nice catch, and looks interesting as a special teams player. That’s a good sign for him. And finally, Bruce Irvin looked yoked. His arms are big.
Lots more to come throughout camp.
I will be Periscoping my immediate thoughts after each practice I attend, so be sure to follow me on Twitter. Today’s instant analysis is below.