Camp Observations Through Two Weeks

A lot has happened in the first two weeks of Seahawks training camp. Many players have impressed, while some have disappointed. A number of players have been injured, while a handful have returned to the field. Here is a look at what has stood out to me so far.

Offensive line can be better

I entered camp as skeptical as anyone regarding the offensive line. The veterans the Seahawks added were off the scrap heap. Their first-round draft pick was inconsistent in pass protection in college. Justin Britt, who struggled in pass protection at tackle and guard was taking over at center. Tom Cable has not earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to scouting or coaching up pass protection, given the performance of his lines since joining the NFL.

Even when factoring all that in, I find myself cautiously optimistic about what this line can become. As many of you know, I put a lot of stock into 1v1 pass rush drills. More than any other year, I have ignored the more sexy 7v7 drills to give my full attention to the pass rush drills that happen at the same time.

Justin Britt looks competent

Jarran Reed tried to bull rush Britt today and got nowhere. I have seen Michael Bennett effectively blocked by Britt multiple times. That may not sound like much, but this guy was a turnstile last year and the year before in this drill. We won’t know until game time whether any of these guys are truly worthy of optimism, but Britt is showing some potential to be the stronger force in the middle of the line the team needs when facing the dominant interior lineman of today. He does not need to be an All-Pro, just a fighter who consistently gets in the way for a few seconds.

The tackle positions are the only true question marks

Bradley Sowell was dominant at times today. He is showing above average pass blocking skills. It would not be a surprise whatsoever if Sowell becomes the team’s starting left tackle, and Garry Gilliam moves back to right tackle. J’Marcus Webb is a guy I had little excitement about when he signed. I am still lukewarm on his prospects. Having said that, he has been better in pass protection than I expected. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being Walter Jones, I expected Webb to be about a 3.0. He’s at least been a 5.0, and maybe even a little higher than that. Gilliam is a guy I really like, but he’s only had a so-so camp thus far. Preseason games will reveal a lot here.

Communication has been largely untested

Cable has had glowing things to say about the intelligence of this group. He implied that some of the challenges with the previous line were due to assignment mistakes. Going against the same guys every day makes it tough to truly simulate the randomness of games. Seeing how these guys work together is a key unknown, even after two weeks of practices.

Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi could become a power duo

Dare to dream. Both Seahawks guards are strong, nasty blockers. Glowinski is as strong as an ox. Ifedi is a hotly-tempered 332 pound clydesdale. They could form the foundation of this line for years to come. Ifedi has not been as solid as Glowinski, but he has been far better than other offensive line rookies the Seahawks have had like James Carpenter, John Moffitt, Britt and more.

Paul Richardson looks like an important addition

Someone asked me at camp today how I thought Richardson has looked. He went on to offer that Richardson had been looking great before he got hurt as a rookie. I could not help but push back on that characterization. Tyler Lockett was great as a rookie last year. Richardson started to show promise as a rookie, and not much more. He is back now. All signs point to him taking over the fourth receiver spot.

He brings something to that role the team has not had in many years. This is not just a straight-line deep threat. Richardson is a polished receiver with big-play potential that can even come after the catch. He probably won’t catch more than 20 balls this year, but he may average 20+ yards per catch.

Safety is a stacked position

Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Kelcie McCray are locked in at the top three safety spots. McCray is a very impressive player who will definitely help the team win games this season. After him, the picture gets murkier. Brandon Browner has had a terrific camp so far. He has broken up passes and dominated his chances in special teams. Tyvis Powell is an intriguing rookie who belongs on an NFL roster. The team tried him a bit at corner today, tipping their hand a bit about looking for any way to find a spot for him. Steven Terrell has been on the team the past couple of years even if few fans know it. He is a core special teams players and the fastest safety not named Earl Thomas on the roster. Even newly re-signed Keenan Lambert is a good player.

Tight end looks stacked as well

Brandon Williams is the story of camp for me. The team talked glowingly about Nick Vannett when they drafted him. They were enamored with the idea that he could be a true inline tight end, a la Zach Miller, and help the run game. He has stood out more as a receiving tight end so far. Meanwhile, Williams is built like an armored car and moves extremely well. I can see Williams being the Ryan Hannam of this team. He will be the guy making crucial blocks and will add some big catches along the way.

Add in Vannett who has been far from disappointing, and Luke Willson who is a known quantity, and that’s a legitimate tight end trio. Now toss in Jimmy Graham. That is a lot of quality talent. The team is set up well to handle any uncertainty around Graham’s health. That lack of desperate need to fit him in, could be exactly what he needs to break out.

Sealver Siliga and Jordan Hill better get on the field

Siliga finally put his helmet on for the first time today. The team has been quiet about why he was out. My guess is he reported to camp overweight. If he thinks his spot is secure, think again. The emergence of Brandin Bryant, along with the versatility of Reed and Ahtyba Rubin mean the team has options on the interior.

I currently have Siliga, Jordan Hill and Bryant all making the team. Then I saw Bryant taking snaps with the first string nickel pass rush group today and found myself wondering if Jordan Hill may find himself a free agent a year early.

Carroll has not been particularly positive in his assessment of Hill, and now Hill has missed a week with injury. That’s not a good look for a guy who has already missed too many games since joining the league. If Reed is starting at nose tackle, Siliga or Hill could be the backup. Siliga is better suited for the position. That would mean Hill’s primary role would revert to being a nickel interior pass rusher. If Bryant wins that role, Hill becomes redundant. The bottom line is he better get his tail on the field and force the team to keep him. Same story for Siliga.

Trevone Bokyin is growing on me

Boykin had arguably his best practice of camp today. He made a series of pretty throws and ran decisively when the situation called for it. He has picked up his game since the scrimmage last Sunday. He still has a propensity for throwing the ball into dangerous places, but most rookie QBs do. His trajectory is definitely positive.

SAM linebacker could be Pinkins job

The team wants him to win the role. All Eric Pinkins needs to do is play assignment-correct football during the games and ideally make a play or two. Key for him will be defending the run. Do that, and we could have a fresh face in the starting lineup when the season opens.

Kasen Williams injury opens the door for Douglas McNeil

Williams appeared to be firmly in control of the fifth receiver spot before hurting his hamstring. He was getting reps on special teams and doing well as a receiver. His absence has allowed McNeil to gain a bunch more reps, and he has taken advantage. McNeil made a few nice grabs today, and was working with the first team special teams groups. This guy is an athlete with good size (6’3″). Williams can say the same thing. He just can’t say it from the sideline.

Not worried about running back

I have a lot of faith in Thomas Rawls, but even if he can’t make it back to the player he was, the Seahawks are in good shape. Christine Michael finally looks ready to realize his potential. Alex Collins is more than capable of getting tough yards for the team. C.J. Prosise has yet to take the field, but should be back next week and brings a unique dimension. Zac Brooks was showing signs of being a quality change-of-pace back before needing to sit out a few days. The team had Marshawn Lynch in the past, and not really much behind him. The stable is full now.


Different than the 2013 team

Lots of folks want to compare this squad to the Super Bowl team. I get it. They are definitely deeper than they have been in recent years. The key difference between this team and the 2013 squad was the depth in 2013 was veteran depth. Bennett and Cliff Avril were nickel pass rushers. Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell were nickel corners and bench players. The depth this team has at running back, receiver, offensive line, defensive line, cornerback, and linebacker is largely unproven. Talented, but unproven.

It is too early to say just how great the depth on this roster can be. Signs are positive.