The Seattle Seahawks are looking to improve on a pair of 7-9 seasons under head coach Pete Carroll. Their roster has shown significant improvement since he took over player operations, making it difficult for newcomers to find roster spots in 2012.
Some players will need to make a change this season if they are going to make the final 53 and contribute on the field.
The NFL isn't usually the best location to learn a new position, but there are advantages. They have the best coaches in the game and the practice squad gives players more than one season to learn before being forced into game action.
Seattle is gambling that their coaching staff will be able to transform Bruce Irvin into an every-down defensive end. There are five other players that may also be looking at a transition this season.
This change won't come as a surprise. The Seahawks drafted J.R. Sweezy with the plan to transfer him to offensive guard.
However, this does provide a good example of the front office not being afraid to take a chance on a prospect. They should be able to work him out at the position this offseason and stash him on the practice squad during 2012 if he shows promise.
The guard position is a bit deep in front of him. Seattle has four players on the roster that started games at guard last season in John Moffitt, James Carpenter, Paul McQuistan and Lemuel Jeanpierre.
It is still uncertain if Carpenter will be healthy enough to play this season and if he'll stay at his normal spot of right tackle or move inside.
Seattle also signed Deuce Lutui away from the Arizona Cardinals in free agency. He has missed just two games in the last five seasons.
Sweezy has a rough road ahead of him, but will also be working with one of the best offensive line coaches in football.
While this wouldn't be a significant change, Barrett Ruud could be looking at a move to outside linebacker in Seattle.
He played inside linebacker when Gus Bradley was his position coach in Tampa Bay. He excelled in that role, but struggled in 2011.
Injuries slowed him last season and are keeping him out of summer workouts. His absence is giving Bobby Wagner the opportunity to secure the starting role in the middle.
Ruud can battle Leroy Hill for the starting spot and playing time. He'll still provide veteran leadership to the group and ensure they have adequate depth.
Seattle may be looking at Ruud for situational snaps.
It is hard to specify what position Jameson Konz has been relegated to. He was drafted as a tight end, but played several positions on both offense and defense at Kent State.
There are a few things that are known about Konz. He is strong, very athletic and a solid football player.
The Seahawks need to find a place where Konz can contribute in addition to special teams.
Konz could be a reserve option at defensive end, but the addition of Bruce Irvin clouds that possibility. Still, the Seahawks will need a second speed rusher to replace Chris Clemons when his time is done in Seattle. That could happen in 2013 or well into the future, though.
Konz may get an opportunity at linebacker as well. The unit seemed thin just a few weeks ago, but looks like it will turn into one of the more competitive camp battles.
While not exactly a need on the field, there are quite a few female fans that would be hurt if Konz doesn't make the final roster. The departure of Charlie Whitehurst apparently moves Konz to the top of the eye-candy roster.
The Seahawks were excited about signing Josh Portis after he went undrafted in 2011. He is an athletic quarterback with a good arm, but he was also seen as a project.
The free-agent signing of Matt Flynn and drafting of Russell Wilson makes it appear that Portis' work at quarterback could be done—at least in Seattle.
Pete Carroll has declared a three-way race for the starting quarterback position. That leaves Portis on the outside looking in.
Portis has three options in front of him.
The least likely possibility is the Seahawks release him so he can try to catch on with a different team. Seattle will want four quarterbacks in camp and Portis could still be seen as the No. 3 quarterback this season or next.
It is much more realistic to expect Seattle to use him sparingly at quarterback over the summer and then put him on the practice squad. There is a slim possibility that the Seahawks opt to part ways with Tarvaris Jackson, making Portis their third quarterback this season.
If Portis wants to find a roster spot, let alone playing time in Seattle, he needs to demonstrate he has unique ways of opening up Seattle's offense.
Seneca Wallace made a good receiving option and added trick play potential while in Seattle. Perhaps it is time to see if Portis can do the same.
Tarvaris Jackson was Seattle's starting quarterback in 2011, a role that many fans and analysts questioned early in the season. There was speculation and musing that Charlie Whitehurst would have been better suited and earned a chance with the starting duties.
Jackson was also called the worst starting quarterback in the NFL last season.
Those were two stances this writer never took. I supported making Jackson the starter and consistently stated he was merely a slightly below-average quarterback. He did not belong being listed in the bottom 10 starting quarterbacks, even if he was in the bottom 11 or 12.
However, if the Seahawks are going to make a big step this season they will need better play from the quarterback position. While it is possible a healthy Jackson could lead the team to a comeback win or two next season, the Seahawks' fortunes likely lie elsewhere.
Seattle needs Matt Flynn to step in and dominate the competition for quarterback and show he is a clear and marked improvement at the position.
It is possible that Russell Wilson could also surpass Jackson on the depth chart, making Jackson expendable.
I don't anticipate that happening, but Jackson will make a position change.
The biggest factor to Seattle improving in 2012 is Jackson moving from quarterback to clipboard holder for Flynn.