Putting aside questions about Malik McDowell’s desire and Ethan Pocic’s position, the Seahawks accomplished all of their major goals in this draft: interior rusher, O-line competition, lots of DB depth.
They also added a couple of big receivers, which could be bad news for Jermaine Kearse, and replaced key role players Kelcie McCray and Tony McDaniel.
Asked if the roster is better than it was after the 2016 draft, Pete Carroll really couldn’t say that. The best he could do was: “I feel strong about it.”
He pointed out the three linebackers Seattle has signed, the O-linemen added via free agency and the draft, the two D-linemen.
“We’ve done some great stuff up front to make it more competitive. We’ve boosted the competition, obviously in the DB room but also at the receiver side of it. … I feel like it’s really going to be a competitive go.”
John Schneider said they aren’t finished tweaking the roster either.
“We don’t stop. We compete at every corner. There’s no finish line,” he said. “We’re going to continue to evaluate the guys we have, all the guys coming in as tryout guys. You guys have seen us sign many tryout guys with the rookie minicamp as well, then we’ll head into the post-June area and see if there (are) cap-casualty guys involved. And then we get to the 53 (in early September) and see if anybody’s cut there that can help us. It really, quite frankly, never stops.”
With that in mind, let’s see where they stand at this significant point of the offseason.
Top vets: Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin, Jake Heaps.
Top rookies: Skyler Howard (UDFA).
Outlook: Because the Hawks have drafted only one QB since 2010 and don’t want to pay a veteran more than $1 million to back up Wilson, they are down to UDFAs fighting for the No. 2 spot. Boykin held it down last year, but he might lose the gig simply for being stupid — if he ends up in jail or prison on a probation violation. Heaps was in camp last year and had been working out with Wilson and other Seahawks in California before being re-signed this week.
Carroll said: “(Howard is) a mad bomber, man. He threw a ton of deep balls. He goes downtown. A real resourceful kid, active on the field, moves around well. But, man, he can bomb it.”
Top vets: Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, George Farmer, Troymaine Pope.
Top rookies: Chris Carson (Round 7).
Outlook: The Hawks have 11 backs at the moment, which equals the number of backs who carried the ball for Seattle last season. A few won’t make it to camp. The Hawks are hoping Lacy, Rawls and Prosise will stay healthy for once so they can get the running game going like it was before last year.
Carroll said: “I was hanging on Chris Carson. He’s a guy that I found looking through the stuff late in the draft, kind of like we’ve done over the years. I really love this guy because he is so physical and tough the way he ran. You haven’t heard a whole lot about him; he hasn’t run the ball a lot. But when he did, he made a great statement of his style and a style that we really covet.”
Top vets: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, Tanner McEvoy, Kenny Lawler, Kasen Williams.
Top rookies: Amara Darboh (3), David Moore (7).
Outlook: Kearse, the recipient of two of the most famous TD passes in franchise history, faces a big challenge to keep his spot this summer. Unless the Hawks totally whiffed on Darboh, he definitely should make this team. With McEvoy a strong bet to make it again, considering his great utility, Kearse could be on his last legs. The Hawks could lean toward keeping six receivers, but Kearse still could face a challenge from Lawler or Moore.
Carroll said: “Good, solid guys. Darboh is a really good solid kid and we’re really fired up about these guys. We think that David is a stud of a receiver. He’s 219 pounds and he runs really fast and he’s really physical. Both of those guys, what I’m really excited about, is that they can both contribute on special teams. All of our receivers we have grown through here have been big factors on teams, and that was a theme, as we were looking, that the guys that we wanted were able to hit that.”
Top vets: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett.
Top rookies: Hayden Plinke and Tyrone Swoopes (UDFAs).
Outlook: Unless Plinke or a yet-unsigned veteran pushes his way onto the team, the Hawks seem likely to go with three tight ends this year. They went with four last year because Graham was coming off injury. Brandon Williams left for Indy and they haven’t added anyone of note. They also want Vannett to get a lot more playing time in 2017.
Top vets: Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, Luke Joeckel, Mark Glowinski, Rees Odhiambo, George Fant, Oday Aboushi, Joey Hunt.
Top rookies: Ethan Pocic (2), Justin Senior (6), Jordan Roos (UDFA).
Outlook: Even the coaches don’t know what this crew will look like Sept. 10 in Green Bay. The only spots that seem possibly set right now are Britt at center and Ifedi at right tackle. Beyond that, all we know is which side of the line most guys will play: Joeckel and Odhiambo on the left, Aboushi on the right, Glowinski at either guard, Fant and Hunt limited to single positions. Pocic is like Britt, capable of playing four spots. At this moment, we project (L-R) Joeckel, Odhiambo, Britt, Pocic, Ifedi. That would be new starters at four spots for the second straight year — but also would conceivably be an upgrade over what they had last year. Again, we won’t know until Sept. 10.
Carroll said: “Getting Ethan was really an important part of this because he had the most versatility. We’ll see how that works out, but we do know that he can do some backup stuff. … The center thing is really connected to us, and we like that. But he’s played on both sides of the line of scrimmage, so we’re going to fit it together with the thought that, with time, we’ll get it worked out. … It’s going to be really exciting to put this thing together.”
Top vets: Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Ahtyba Rubin, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh, Quinton Jefferson, Dion Jordan.
Top rookies: Malik McDowell (2), Nazair Jones (3).
Outlook: The Hawks are hoping McDowell will be the pass-rushing D-tackle they haven’t had since Clinton McDonald in 2013 (and Jordan Hill for a bit in 2015). All they have to do, apparently, is keep McDowell interested. Jones replaces Tony McDaniel (and Brandon Mebane before him) in a run defense that was very stout in 2016. If Jefferson comes back healthy, he also could figure in the interior pass-rush rotation. This group already was among the league’s best. McDowell and Jones are an effort to make it elite.
Carroll said: “Naz is a strong , thick guy and Malik is more slippery, more active, moves really well when we move and stunt and all that. He’s really savvy on the move. So they’re really different style, and we love that.”
Top vets: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Michael Wilhoite, Terence Garvin, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Dewey McDonald, Arthur Brown.
Top rookies: Otha Peters, Nick Usher (UDFAs).
Outlook: The Seahawks have been de-emphasizing linebacker since Bruce Irvin left, using more nickel instead. Wilhoite and Garvin offer depth and special-teams help, with perhaps a few starts against run-heavy teams. Considering all of the defensive backs drafted, the Seahawks might go with just five guys at this spot. Carroll said the free agents made linebacker a moot position in the draft, and Schneider said undrafted rookies didn’t want to sign with Seattle because they had added so many linebackers in free agency.
Carroll said: “Those guys are all competent players, special teams guys, smart guys, tough guys. They’ll fit right in. In the draft, John was maneuvering, knowing what was coming, so we hit it there instead, and I thought that was great.“
Top vets: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, DeShawn Shead, Bradley McDougald, Jeremy Lane, Neiko Thorpe, DeAndre Elliott.
Top rookies: Shaq Griffin (3), Delano Hill (3), Tedric Thompson (4), Mike Tyson (6).
Outlook: With the four rookies and McDougald, the Seahawks definitely have upgraded their secondary and are working toward setting up LOB II. With Shead recovering from a knee injury, Griffin should push for a starting spot on the outside. The Hawks apparently want to try safeties Hill and Tyson at corner, too — either could vie for a nickel role. The Hawks seem pretty likely to keep 10 as they look toward the future (Shead figures to start the season on PUP, not counting on the 53-man roster).
Carroll said: “I think it will be really fun to see how these guys fit in. They’re all real competitive guys; they’ve all been great players in their programs. We’ll see how they fit in with our guys. But, it’s a very competitive room. We would not take guys that we thought weren’t going to be able to handle that. We think that they’re going to add to it. Also, what our older guys have done a great job of is mentoring, and we’re going to count on that as well. And, we’ll see how they’ll do. It should be very competitive.”