The Seattle Seahawks have a 90-man active roster full of players with plenty of talent but light on experience, as well as veterans just trying to hold on.
Yes, there are many sure things on the roster, such as the All-Pro players and quarterback Russell Wilson, but for many, training camp is their opportunity to shine, to not just make the team but perhaps to earn a starting job.
Cutting the roster down to 70 or 75 is simple enough, but when you get to those final few players, training camp makes all the difference in the world. Here is the projected final 53-man roster based on what is known right now.
(2): Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson
Analysis: Russell Wilson is a no-brainer to be the starting quarterback next year, but the backup battle between Tarvaris Jackson and Brady Quinn is one that will last throughout training camp.
Both have solid NFL experience, and both have been starters in the past. In the end, it's going to be less about who looked better in the preseason and more about who fits the offense and can be counted on to support Wilson.
Jackson has the advantage on both ends, so it would take a great camp by Quinn to unseat him, which I do not see happening. Unless the Seahawks pick up a rookie quarterback late, they will stick with just the two to begin the season.
(3): Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael
Analysis: The four running backs on the active roster are quite easy to figure out. Marshawn Lynch will enter 2013 as the starter after a career year that included 315 carries.
Robert Turbin and Christine Michael will be in a battle for the backup running back spot, but both are going to see playing time, and there is no doubt both will make the team.
Derrick Coleman is a long shot, but he was on the practice squad a bit of last season, so he knows the playbook. Nonetheless, it would be surprising if they kept four running backs given that all three should receive their fair share of playing time.
(2): Michael Robinson, Spencer Ware
Analysis: Are the Seahawks really going to keep two fullbacks on the roster? On the surface, this sounds silly, but there's a reason.
Michael Robinson has been a great fullback for the Seahawks, and they're going to want to keep him for at least another year. Spencer Ware is projected to be the future fullback, but it could take some grooming.
In the meantime, Ware could be a special teams ace along with Robinson, so even if the stats do not show it, both will be valuable to the team. It's possible only one makes it, but don't be surprised if both do.
(6): Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Chris Harper, Jermaine Kearse
Analysis: Why Seattle has 13 wide receivers on the roster is beyond me. Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are all locks. That leaves one or two spots for the other nine.
Chris Harper is a rookie who was drafted high enough that he should easily make the roster.
Phil Bates, Arceto Clark, Greg Herd, Brett Swain, Justin Veltung, Bryan Walters and Stephen Williams are all long shots to make the roster. Unless one or two make the practice squad, they are otherwise out.
That leaves Jermaine Kearse as the wild card. He showed some promise in the latter half of 2012, and I think he'll surprise everyone and make the team.
Six spots is a lot to use for wide receivers, but depending on the health of Harvin and Rice, the Seahawks may need them.
(3): Zach Miller, Luke Willson, Sean McGrath
Analysis: Given the issues with the tight end position—one of the only weaknesses on the roster—the Seahawks will be keeping at least three, and four may not be out of the question.
Of the six on the roster, Miller is the only lock as the seasoned veteran. Rookie Luke Willson is a safe bet to be the backup as long as he doesn't bomb in training camp.
Sean McGrath made the active roster at the end of last season, and he is the clear favorite to lock up the last spot. If Cooper Helfet, Darren Fells or Victor Marshall show enough, then it's possible one of them gets it instead.
Heading into training camp, however, these are the clear three.
(4): Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini, Mike Person, Michael Bowie
Analysis: Okung is a no-brainer at the blind side, and while I'm not a fan of Giacomini's playing ability, the Seahawks don't have much at tackle behind him right now, so he's more likely to be a midseason replacement if he struggles rather than a camp cut.
Mike Person and Michael Bowie do not provide much in the way of depth, but they have the opportunity to showcase themselves. If they do well enough, one could very well be the starter at right tackle next season.
As for Jake Bscherer, unless he has a great camp he's an easy cut. Same with Alvin Bailey, though his versatility (he can play at tackle and guard) makes him a compelling option, and he could be a surprise.
Paul McQuistan could be a backup tackle option, but I see the Seahawks wanting a look at their young guy, so if he makes the team, it will be at guard.
(5): Max Unger, James Carpenter, J.R. Sweezy, John Moffitt, Rishaw Johnson
Analysis: While the offensive tackles are simple enough to figure out, the guards and centers pose the most muddled group of players and will be the hardest for the Seahawks to figure out.
Max Unger is a lock at center, and the team is hoping that James Carpenter can stay healthy and be one of the starting guards throughout the year. After those two, it gets difficult, particularly since many of the remaining players were on the roster last year.
J.R. Sweezy showed enough promise last year that he will make the team. John Moffitt is solid when healthy, so he will make it. That leaves one spot between Lemuel Jeanpierre, Rishaw Johnson, Paul McQuistan, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith and possibly Alvin Bailey
Smith is transitioning to guard, so he's a practice squad guy. Moffitt can play center if needed, so I see Jeanpierre as a perhaps surprising cut, since he's more of a center and less of a guard. Bailey shows versatility—and he could be a surprise late in training camp—but right now there is not room for him.
That last spot will come down to Johnson, Seymour and McQuistan. If either Johnson or Seymour look great in training camp, then McQuistan will be a camp cut to save money, since he's set to make over $3 million this year.
I'm going to go out on a limb and put Johnson in the final spot, since he has the motor and ability, and Seahawks management seems to be high on him, even if Seymour would fit well in Seattle.
Of all the positions, I have the least amount of confidence in this one, since training camp could completely turn those last three spots around, especially since the starters at guard are still up in the air.
(9): Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Tony McDaniel, Chris Clemons, Jesse Williams, Jordan Hill, Clinton McDonald
Analysis: Since the defensive line is going to be versatile and modified depending on who starts and will be changed again when Bruce Irvin comes back after missing the first four games, noting the linemen together makes sense.
Avril, Bennett and McDaniel are all new faces who give the defensive line a new look, while Bryant, Clemons and Mebane remain strong pieces. Those six are no-brainers, but there are 14 total linemen fighting for nine total spots.
Rookies Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill should be able to earn spots on the roster easily enough, while Kenneth Boatright, Michael Brooks and Benson Mayowa are long shots—Boatright less so than the other two.
Between Jaye Howard, Clinton McDonald and Greg Scruggs, Scruggs has shown the most in his career so far, but he will likely spend the year on injured reserve after ACL surgery.
Because the team needs more help at the edge than the middle, it will keep the more experienced Clinton McDonald, though Howard or even one of the long shots could grab that final spot.
Furthermore, if Chris Clemons is on the PUP list to start the year, then suddenly Howard has little to worry about, and Boatright could be a surprise roster addition, at least to start the year.
(7): Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, Michael Morgan, Korey Toomer, John Lotulelei, Ty Powell
Analysis: I combined the linebackers into one group since the players mostly have versatility, and it makes it clearer who will and won't be cut.
First things first, Bruce Irvin will miss the first four games of the season. So while he will be on the 53-man roster when he returns, he will not be to start the season, allowing some borderline players to make their mark.
Bobby Wagner is a no-brainer at middle linebacker, and K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith will likely be the starters to get the season going. Michael Morgan will be a primary backup as well, and I believe the Seahawks are high enough on Korey Toomer to give him a shot.
Kyle Knox and Craig Wilkins are the only two clear cuts; of the 12 active linebackers, the other two to cut will be much tougher to determine. Allen Bradford has been great at making the transition to linebacker, but I don't see him holding on.
Perhaps surprisingly, Heath Farwell could easily be the other one cut. It would save the Seahawks some money, and if Ty Powell and John Lotulelei play as well in training camp as I think they will, then it's a move that makes sense for Seattle to make.
(5): Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Antoine Winfield, Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon
Analysis: The top of the cornerback group is easy to figure out. Richard Sherman is the shutdown cornerback, Browner is the No. 2 guy, Antoine Winfield is the nickel cornerback and Jeremy Lane will be the primary backup.
The Seahawks will likely keep a fifth cornerback, but the question is who. Will Blackmon and Ron Parker are long shots, and while Byron Maxwell and DeShawn Shead have shown promise, they would have to be great in camp to be considered.
That leaves Walter Thurmond and Tharold Simon battling for that final spot. Thurmond is injury-riddled, and while Simon had other baggage when Seattle drafted him, he has plenty of ability, and the Seahawks are going to look at him for the long term.
This is a position where, despite the cuts, there are players who will be in the NFL this season, whether it's a late-season call-up on special teams or getting a bit of playing time with another team.
(4): Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos
Analysis: The safety position is relatively easy to figure out. Ray Polk is a huge long shot, and Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are locks at the starting spots. That leaves three for two spots.
Chris Maragos, Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy are all players who could feasibly make the roster. Johnson and Maragos have a bit more experience on the roster and have played in some games, so I see Guy as being the odd man out.
(3): Steven Hauschka, Jon Ryan, Clint Gresham
Analysis: All three of these are no-brainers. Punter Jon Ryan has no competition for his spot, and Kyle Nelson was signed in early July to compete against Clint Gresham, making him the longest of long shots.
Carson Wiggs signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent last year, but Steven Hauschka's field-goal percentage last year was nearly 90 percent. That leaves Wiggs out of the picture pretty quickly.