The Seahawks didn’t have a so-called “championship offseason” last year, and the results were pretty predictable: no championship.
Everyone hoped they could overcome all of the negatives — the loss of confidence in Pete Carroll after his asinine Super Bowl call, the silly fan backlash against Russell Wilson, the poor health of almost their entire secondary, the pointless holdout of Kam Chancellor, the idiotic coaching decision to start Drew Nowak at center.
It all added up to a disjointed start and disheartening finish. It was obviously too much to overcome for a team that had become fractured and really needed to be glued back together again.
The Hawks entered this offseason with more than a few concerns about their ability to bounce back. They needed to replace Marshawn Lynch, deal with unhappy campers Chancellor and Michael Bennett, rebuild their offensive line and fortify their defensive line.
At this point, it looks like they have put the glue in place for all of those fixes: Lynch was replaced by three draft picks; Chancellor made up with the team; Bennett sounds like he will come back ready to repeat his stellar 2015 season; the club replaced Russell Okung, Alvin Bailey and J.R. Sweezy with five linemen and Brandon Mebane with three.
Carroll says this offseason “almost feels like a rebirth.”
“We’ve been through a lot of stuff; we’ve been challenged by a lot of stuff,” he told 710 ESPN on Monday. “We’ve learned so much: winning and losing and then trying to come back again and still maintaining this huge standard and expectation. And we know it’s right there for us. Everybody feels it. That’s what is really fueling the energy around the building and why we’re so enthused. And then we hit it with this draft, so it’s feeling pretty good. Millions of things have to happen, but we’re in the right place right now.”
Let’s take a post-draft look at the roster and see whether that is true:
Carroll said: “(Russell Wilson) is the best he’s been. He’s the most versed he’s ever been. He can command the calls more so than ever, so he can correct things that might not get seen by a guy or might not get communicated properly; he’ll catch it. … We’re going to rely on Russell to do a really nice job there again.”
Lock: Russell Wilson
Bubble: Trevone Boykin, Jake Heaps
The right place? Yes. Wilson took the next step as an NFL QB in the second half of last season, and Carroll is counting on him to continue his ascent. The Seahawks need a No. 2 QB (just to say they have one, not because there is much danger of Wilson missing any time). Tarvaris Jackson still could return, but the cheaper Boykin is a mini-Wilson and might make Jackson obsolete.
Carroll said: “I’m really excited about that spot and complementing what Thomas can do and Christine. It’s going to be a great camp of competition for us.”
Locks: Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise
Bubble: Christine Michael, Alex Collins, Zac Brooks
Long shots: Tre Madden, Taniela Tupou, Brandin Bryant
The right place? Yes. Rawls already has shown he has what it takes to replace Lynch; Carroll said he will remain the starter. Carroll also has big plans for Prosise. Collins seems very likely to nail down the third spot, leaving Michael to fight for his roster life against Brooks and the rest. They have no true fullback but are trying out conversions in the mold of Will Tukuafu: 280-pounders Tupou and Bryant.
Carroll said: “Kenny Lawler had a great day today. He must have caught four balls that were terrific catches. He’s a guy that is noted for tremendous catching range and he had four spectacular opportunities today, and he made them all. So I was really fired up for that. His hands are so good that we’re not surprised that he can make those plays, but to get a chance to show it on his first day is pretty cool.”
Locks: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson
Bubble: Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith, Kenny Lawler
Long shots: Deshon Foxx, Tanner McEvoy, Douglas McNeil
The right place? Yes. The top four are rock solid (we expect Richardson to have a healthy third NFL year), leaving the rest to fight for one or two spots. With Prosise and Graham basically functioning as receivers, there really seems no reason to keep more than five wideouts.
Carroll said: “We love playing in two-tight end sets. … We’re hoping that Nick will be able to pick up some good slack for us there. We felt like we’ve needed that over the past couple years, but there just (haven’t) been guys available to get. That’s why he was a priority to see if we could nail him in the draft, and we were very fortunate to get him.”
Locks: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett
Bubble: Cooper Helfet
Long shots: Brandon Cottom, Brandon Williams, Ronnie Shields
The right place? Hopefully. It all depends on when/whether Graham is ready to go. If he is, this position will be stacked. Assuming Vannett is indeed the best blocker among this group, he figures to play in a lot of two-TE sets and in short-yardage situations. Helfet’s only chance to make the team might be if Graham is not healthy for the start of the season.
Carroll said: “(Moving Justin Britt to center is) an opportunity for us to mix our guys and see how we can get the best guys on the field. Justin is the guy (who has) been with us the most and can be in command of the most information and all that. We’re going to take a good look at him at center and see how that works out. We know he can play guard and tackle. We have great flexibility here. So at this time of the year, we’re trying to get more information.”
Locks: Garry Gilliam, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, J’Marcus Webb, Patrick Lewis, Rees Odhiambo
Bubble: Joey Hunt, Bradley Sowell, Terry Poole, Kristjan Sokoli
Long shots: Will Pericak, George Fant, Lene Maiava, Kona Schwenke
The right place? Not yet. This group is the key to winning the Super Bowl. The quicker they come together, the better chance the Hawks have of securing a second Lombardi Trophy (like they should have in XLIX). They’re starting out with (L-R) Gilliam, Glowinski, Britt, Ifedi and Webb — almost 1,600 pounds of blockers. Of course, not a single one is proven. Expect growing pains galore and some ugly offensive performances early in the season. But, if they can figure it out, they might finally have some kind of a future set up.
Carroll said: “It’s just such a crucial pick for us. Jarran can really jump in and give us the stout play. He’s just got great savvy for the running game. … It gives us really good flexibility and he’s a terrific football player.”
Locks: Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Ahtyba Rubin, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark
Bubble: Jordan Hill, Chris Clemons, Sealver Siliga, Quinton Jefferson, Ryan Robinson
Long shots: Tavaris Barnes, DeAngelo Tyson, Justin Hamilton, Koht, David Perkins
The right place? Yes. This group is as deep as the 2013 line that helped win the Super Bowl. Reed will step right in to replace Brandon Mebane, and Clark should see a lot more action in his second year. Hill could be fighting for his job against Jefferson — with the healthiest interior rusher getting the roster spot. Robinson, who spent 2015 on IR, could be a dark horse.
Carroll said: “There’s going to be a big competitive opportunity there at the SAM spot.”
Locks: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mike Morgan, Cassius Marsh
Bubble: Brock Coyle, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Montese Overton, Christian French, Steve Longa, Pete Robertson
The right place? Mostly. The Hawks have to replace Bruce Irvin, and Morgan and Marsh are the top candidates for now. Coyle seems safe, especially due to his special-teams contributions, but KPL needs to prove he can stay healthy. The Hawks put no draft resources into this position, choosing to go heavy on the lines and at running back instead, so it could well be the same crew as last year — with Marsh playing linebacker instead of end.
Carroll said: “This is an amazing (secondary) room right now. To have all the fellas in good mental state and physical state to get us back into it. … It’s deep, it’s competitive, it’s fast, with great leadership — and a system that we are going to continue to grow and ask our guys to do more things on the back end. So it’s a great group. I think the run that we’ve been on in terms of just pass defense and limiting big plays and stuff like that is pretty well documented, and we are coming back to try to go for it again, see if we can really be on top of it.”
Locks: Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead
Bubble: Tye Smith, Brandon Browner, Marcus Burley, Tharold Simon, George Farmer, Stanley Jean-Baptiste
Long shots: Trovon Reed, DeAndre Elliott, Jamal Marshall
The right place? Yes. Unlike 2015, this group is healthy and deep, and Carroll has specific plans for Browner and others. The competition for the final three or four spots should be hot. Mohammed Seisay was waived/injured, but it won’t be a surprise if he returns for camp; he looked very good last summer before suffering a groin injury that landed him on IR.
Carroll said: “We are going to play (Browner) at safety in base downs; and, in nickel, we are going to use him to match up in different spots playing inside. We may be able to develop a really unique role for him. New England … used him quite a bit inside and he really matched up on tight ends and slot receivers and things like that; he matched up well. And we are going to see how that develops.”
Locks: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Kelcie McCray
Bubble: Steve Terrell, Tyvis Powell
The right place? Yes. Thomas is healthy and Chancellor has wised up. With Browner expected to play some safety, the Hawks might just keep their top three here. But Powell apparently was their most coveted UDFA — some rated him a fifth-rounder — so he might have a decent shot.
Locks: Jon Ryan, Steven Hauschka
Bubble: Drew Ferris
The right place? Probably. Ferris has replaced longtime snapper Clint Gresham, ostensibly to save a couple bucks. But Ferris will have to prove he can snap as consistently as Gresham did. Ryan signed a new deal this offseason, and Hauschka is entering the final year of his contract.