A look at the roster as camp opens

Training camp logo2As the Seahawks start the ninth training camp under Pete Carroll, the coach has retaken control of his team and is looking to build a new Super Bowl core behind new assistant coaches.

It seemingly won’t include Earl Thomas, whose holdout unfortunately presents a big distraction as Carroll attempts to reboot his team. But Carroll and John Schneider created this problem with poor roster management and now have to live with it.

That issue, along with the loss of four other key defenders, has plenty of people pegging the Seahawks as a .500 team or worse. Let’s just get it clear right here though: The very worst Seattle will do with Russell Wilson at QB is .500. We still think they are a base 8-4 team, with four games that could go either way, which puts the over/under at 10 wins.

To be worse than that, they basically would be the 2010-11 squads again. Those teams had young defenders still learning Carroll’s system and injured quarterbacks. Yes, this defense has lost five key defenders — Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Thomas — but it is still led by great veteran linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. And it figures to have seven returning starters, including 2017 fill-ins Bradley McDougald and Byron Maxwell, from the unit that finished 11th in overall defense and sixth in pass defense in 2017.

New DC Ken Norton Jr. will have fun coaching up the defense around Wagner and Wright, and Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Solari will bring new voices and perhaps more discipline to an offense that will retain 70 percent of Darrell Bevell’s scheme.

A veteran defense and a dynamic QB. This is far from the 2010-11 squad. Think more along the lines of the 2012 crew that came a few seconds short of the NFC title game and a possible trip to the Super Bowl.

Here’s a detailed look at the roster as camp opens:

QUARTERBACK
Roster: Russell Wilson, Austin Davis, Alex McGough
Keep: 2
As camp starts: Wilson is learning a new OC and working with some new skill players, so there will be growing pains. But they might not be as sharp and enduring as you think. Davis and seventh-round rookie McGough will battle to see which one ends up as the cheap backup. Even if they both struggle in preseason, don’t expect Colin Kaepernick to be signed. Carroll doesn’t want any more distractions.

RUNNING BACK
Roster: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Mike Davis, J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise, Tre Madden (FB), Alston Fowler (FB), Khalid Hill (FB)
Keep: 5
As camp starts: For the past three years, this position has been defined by attrition. Will that be the case again? Or will Carson and Penny stay healthy enough to put together the best roster battle of the summer? The roster fight continues below them, too, with Davis, McKissic and Prosise battling for two spots (reminder: you can’t make the club from the tub, C.J.) and the three fullbacks aiming for one (Fowler the seeming favorite). Carroll said he plans to use the fullbacks heavily throughout camp.

WIDE RECEIVER
Roster: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Amara Darboh, Jaron Brown, David Moore, Brandon Marshall, Marcus Johnson, Tanner McEvoy, Cyril Grayson, Keenan Reynolds, Caleb Scott, Damore’ea Stringfellow
Keep: 5-6
As camp starts: Baldwin and Lockett are the starters, and Darboh and Brown should be the top candidates for the No. 3 spot. A third-round pick last year, Darboh needs to take a big step up. That should be a good battle all camp. Marshall was a pointless signing; he’s unlikely to be in the top three, which means the Hawks would be smarter going with younger guys in spots 4-5. McEvoy had a horrible 2017 season and could easily get bumped by Marshall, Moore or Johnson. Special teams will be a big factor, as always, in the bottom couple spots.

TIGHT END
Roster: Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Will Dissly, Tyrone Swoopes, Clayton Wilson, Kayaune Ross, Je’Ron Hamm, Tyler Clark
Keep: 3
As camp starts: The largely misused (and therefore overpaid) Jimmy Graham is gone, and so is longtime backup TE Luke Willson. The cheaper Dickson and Dissly have replaced them as the Hawks go with more complete tight ends to help their running game. Expect a lot of two-TE formations under Schottenheimer. Vannett was stuck behind Graham and Willson his first two years, so this is his chance to emerge and make the 2016 third-round pick finally pay off. Unless Swoopes plays well enough to make the team consider keeping four tight ends, this is probably the most settled position on the team.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Roster: Duane Brown, Ethan Pocic, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jamarco Jones, Rees Odhiambo, Jordan Roos, Joey Hunt, Isaiah Battle, Skyler Phillips, Marcus Henry, Avery Young, Willie Beavers
Keep: 9-10
As camp starts: The Hawks have a good left tackle (Brown) as camp begins for the first time in three years. They also have three starters returning, with only the guard spots changing. And, maybe most important, they have a new line coach (Solari). Of course, there are plenty of questions. Ifedi must prove he can play right tackle. Fluker must stay healthy. Pocic, 20 pounds heavier, must prove he can handle left guard. And the backups need to get better. After the last two years, there is nowhere for this unit to go but up, and Solari should take it there.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Roster: Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Nazair Jones, Rasheem Green, Dion Jordan, Tom Johnson, Marcus Smith, Shamar Stephen, Branden Jackson, Quinton Jefferson, Poona Ford, Eddy Wilson
Keep: 8-9
As camp starts: This unit looks so much different than it did at this time last year, with no Bennett or Avril (or, after the trade, Sheldon Richardson). The strength of this unit is the tackles — Reed, Jones, Johnson, Stephen. The pass rush will depend largely on whether Clark comes to play and Jordan stays healthy; linebackers surely will be counted on a lot to help supply pressure. Assuming Jordan is able to play, the top six D-linemen are locked in, with just two or three spots up for grabs. Smith could be much improved after offseason foot surgery, and Jackson seems like a strong bet to make the roster, too. That could leave maybe one spot for Jefferson or UDFAs Ford or Wilson. Malik McDowell was waived, meaning the Seahawks apparently got the guidance they needed on the cap/cash implications of getting rid of him.

LINEBACKER
Roster: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Barkevious Mingo, D.J. Alexander, Shaquem Griffin, Jake Martin, Josh Perry, Jacob Pugh, Austin Calitro, Emmanuel Beal, Warren Long
Keep: 5-6
As camp starts: Wagner and Wright are the uncontested leaders of the defense now, and they have yet another new batch of backups behind them — a seemingly annual scenario. Griffin might be the most-watched rookie due to his one-handed handicap, but he should easily prove he belongs. The bigger questions are whether Alexander (acquired in a trade from KC last year) can stay healthy and whether Mingo can help out the pass rush (Martin and Pugh are outside shots at LEO). This unit should provide Brian Schneider some great special-teamers, but can the new guys help out on defense, too?

SECONDARY
Cornerbacks: Shaquill Griffin, Justin Coleman, Byron Maxwell, Neiko Thorpe, Dontae Johnson, Mike Tyson, Tre Flowers, Alex Carter, Akeem King
Safeties: Earl Thomas, Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson, Maurice Alexander, T.J. Mutcherson
Keep: 10-11
As camp starts: The Hawks have to assume Thomas will not be with them until the season begins, if even then. The starting four seem likely to be McDougald, Hill, Griffin and Maxwell, with Coleman factoring often (he started five times last season). Thorpe’s special-teams acumen makes him a keeper, meaning there are about four or five spots remaining. DeAndre Elliott failed his physical and was released. Thompson and Alexander seem like good backup bets, if one does not emerge as a starter, leaving a couple of spots. Kam Chancellor was placed on reserve/PUP — his $6.8 million salary is already guaranteed.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Roster: P Michael Dickson, P Jon Ryan, K Sebastian Janikowski, K Jason Myers, LS Tyler Ott, LS Tanner Carew
Keep: 3
As camp starts: The Hawks figure to have new kickers all around. Fifth-round punter Dickson is expected to replace Ryan, the longest-tenured Seahawk who already knows he faces an uphill battle to keep the spot he has held since 2008. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Myers beat out the 40-year-old Janikowski to replace Blair Walsh, whose failures last season helped cost Seattle three wins. Ott is a steady snapper who could be the only holdover among this group.

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One thought on “A look at the roster as camp opens”

  1. There sure are a lot of questions. When I look at it in terms of mortal locks to break camp, I have 16 on offense and 17-18 on defense:

    Offense: Wilson, Carson, Penny, Prosise, Baldwin, Lockett, Darboh, J. Brown, Dickson, Vannett, Dissley, D. Brown, Pocic, Britt, Fluker, Ifedi. And I could be talked out of Darboh and Vannett.

    Defense: Clark, Reed, Jones, Jordan, Johnson, Stephen, Green, Wagner, Wright, Shaquem Griffin, Shaquille Griffin, Coleman, Maxwell, Flowers, Macdougald, Hill, Thompson (plus Earl if he reports; I could be talked out of Maxwell and into Mingo)

    Like

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