Super Bowl XLVIII: A Full Guide to the Seattle Seahawks' Roster
If you're not a fan of the Seahawks, you might be asking yourself "who exactly are these guys?"
While Russell Wilson, Percy Harvin, Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch are now household names, the rest of Seattle's roster is filled with players who most people outside of the Pacific Northwest may have never heard of. They are a collection of late-round draft picks and castoffs from other teams.
Due to some great scouting and drafting, as well as a coaching staff that has been able to develop talent and turn it into on-field production, the Seahawks have been able to turn this band of nobodies into what is arguably one of the deepest rosters the league has seen in the salary-cap era.
So, for everyone outside of the Pacific Northwest, here is your guide to the roster of the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle's franchise quarterback finished 16th in passing yards this season, but that was mostly due to a team philosophy that restricts the passing game. Wilson had just 407 passing attempts, the lowest of all full-time starters in the league this year.
Wilson's yards per pass attempt was fourth in the NFL, and his passer rating was seventh. The Seahawks may not pass much, but when they do, it leads to positive results.
Wilson is also known as a running quarterback, but he does not run in the same way as San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick or Carolina's Cam Newton. The Seahawks no longer call designed running plays for their quarterback. Wilson runs mostly to buy time for his receivers, and he throws on the run much more often than he pulls the ball down and tries to pick up yards with his legs.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), 752.5 of Lynch's 1,257 yards this season came after contact with a defender. Lynch also led the NFL in broken tackles with 75, well ahead of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, who was second with 58. Clearly, Seattle's running back is as strong and powerful as they come.
The Seahawks don't use Lynch much as a receiver. He had just 36 receptions all season, although he did have a six reception performance against the Giants in Week 15.
Lynch's backup is Robert Turbin. Turbin is built like a power back, but he's much more of a straight-line runner with speed. He isn't going to run over tacklers or make them miss the way Lynch does.
While Turbin gets a handful of carries each game, he is typically inserted in passing situations. The Seahawks like Turbin's ability to pick up the blitz, and he is an asset as a receiver out of the backfield.
In an era where the fullback position is dying off around the NFL, the Seahawks currently have two on their roster. Michael Robinson has been receiving most of the playing time in recent weeks, but his playing time has been reduced as the team has moved to more single-back sets.
Derrick Coleman still sees the field from time to time. His story is one that is likely to be told many times as the Super Bowl gets closer. Coleman is the NFL's first deaf player, and his recent commercial for Duracell has been known to bring a tear to the eye of many who watch it.
Percy Harvin is one of the NFL's most explosive playmakers, but he's generated more articles about his health this season than statistics for Seattle's offense. Harvin has played just five quarters worth of football this season for Seattle, but he is healthy now and is expected to play in the Super Bowl.
With so little tape on Harvin from this season, it is difficult to guess how the Seahawks will use him against the Broncos. One thing is clear, though, Seattle's entire offense was more efficient and dynamic with Harvin on the field.
Doug Baldwin is a precise route-runner with good hands and a knack for making the circus catches near the sideline or in the end zone. If Baldwin played on a team that threw the ball more, he would likely put up stats similar to those of some better known receivers from around the league.
Golden Tate is very much the opposite of Baldwin. Tate does not run great routes, and thus he can have difficulty getting separation from defenders—this leads to his tendency to disappear from Seattle's offense for long stretches of a game.
However, get the ball into Tate's hands, and he can be electric. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Tate led all NFL receivers in missed tackles and was second in the NFL in yards after the catch per reception.
Jermaine Kearse is a former undrafted free agent who does two things well: He is a fantastic blocker downfield for his teammates, and he out-jumps defenders for touchdowns.
You will almost never see Kearse get separation from the defender covering him, but that doesn't stop Russell Wilson from throwing the ball up and trusting that Kearse will come down with it.
Zach Miller is a veteran starter and former Pro Bowler. He also might be the most under-utilized weapon on Seattle's offense. Miller finished the season with just 33 receptions, in large part because the Seahawks use him more like an offensive tackle than a typical tight end.
Rookie Luke Willson has been hobbled recently by a high-ankle sprain suffered against the Rams in Week 17. When healthy, he's faster and more athletic than Miller, and he creates difficult matchups for defenders in the passing game. With the injury robbing him of some of his natural athleticism, the Seahawks have used Willson sparingly in the playoffs.
At left tackle is Russell Okung. When healthy, he's an elite left tackle in today's NFL. The problem is that he's rarely healthy. Okung missed eight games to a toe injury earlier this season, and then he re-injured his toe in the Week 16 game against the Cardinals. He is playing through the injury now, but he lacks some of the speed and power he usually has.
On the opposite side of the line is Breno Giacomini. The "Big Russian" is still prone to penalties, but he has greatly improved his pass blocking this season.
The right guard is J.R Sweezy. Sweezy was a defensive tackle in college and was converted to guard by the Seahawks even though he'd never played on offense at any level before reaching the NFL. His technique still has a lot of developing to do, but his superior athleticism is noticeable on the field. When the Seahawks need yards on the ground, they typically run right behind Sweezy and Giacomini.
Center Max Unger was an All-Pro in 2012, but he hasn't played at that same level this season. He was still named to the Pro Bowl, but he just wasn't the dominant run blocker he was a year ago.
Whomever is going to play at left guard is still unknown. The rotation of James Carpenter and Paul McQuistan produced poor results all season, so the Seahawks used inserted rookie Michael Bowie at the spot against the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Bowie played relatively well, but the team went back to Carpenter and McQuistan against San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game. If the Seahawks have decided on who will play at the spot during the Super Bowl, they aren't telling anyone yet.
The 330-pound Red Bryant clearly isn't a typical defensive end. At that size, he's not a pass-rusher but a dominant run-stuffer who is often asked to control two gaps. Bryant's name isn't called often by the announcers on game day, but his presence is what makes Seattle's run defense work.
After a three-year stretch in which Chris Clemons compiled 33.5 sacks, his production slipped to just 4.5 sacks this year. Age and an ACL injury suffered in the playoffs a year ago have robbed Clemons of some of his quickness, and thus some of his ability to get after the quarterback.
Clemons is still a savvy veteran whom the Seahawks trust to get pressure on the QB and hold the edge against the run, but he simply is no longer the dominant pass-rusher he once was.
The Seahawks use Michael Bennett in a variety of ways. He'll replace Clemons on one side of the line in short-yardage situations. He'll replace Bryant on the other side of the line when the team wants more of a pass rush without taking all of their big bodies off the field. He'll also move inside to defensive tackle when the Seahawks bring in all their pass-rushers to attack the quarterback.
It is this last role that Bennett has truly excelled this season. Almost all of his 8.5 sacks have come as an inside pass-rusher. His ability to collapse the pocket up the middle has been a big part of the league's best pass defense.
Pass-rush specialist Cliff Avril comes in and replaces the run-stuffing Bryant whenever the Seahawks are expecting a pass. Avril actually played more snaps this season than Bryant and was incredibly effective at getting pressure on the quarterback, picking up eight sacks on the season.
Seattle's do-everything nose tackle had the best season of his career. He has been dominant each year in Pete Carroll's defensive scheme, but he didn't wear down at the end of this season.
At 6'1", Mebane is short for a defensive tackle, but he has turned it into a strength. Mebane uses his lack of height to help him get under the pads of the center and guard. This helps him hold his ground at the point of attack and dominate against the run.
If Mebane is short for a defensive tackle, Tony McDaniel is on the other end of the spectrum. The former Miami Dolphin is a mountain at 6'7" and is a physically imposing player.
McDaniel is a run-stuffing specialist who uses his strength at the point of attack to clog running lanes, eat up blocks and funnel ball-carriers to Seattle's linebackers.
Seattle's rotation at defensive tackle is only three players deep, with defensive end Michael Bennett also getting time at the inside. The third DT is pass-rushing specialist Clinton McDonald, who relieves both Mebane and McDaniel at times throughout the game.
McDonald is listed at 297 pounds, but he plays closer to 285. He is undersized, quick and has active hands. This makes him good at collapsing the pocket as a pass-rusher. It also makes him a liability against the run, where he lacks the strength to anchor at the point of attack.
Seattle's young middle linebacker is one of the more underrated players in the NFL. Bobby Wagner is very fast for his position and has a knack for attacking downhill and making tackles right at the line of scrimmage.
Despite missing two games with an ankle injury, Wagner still led the Seahawks with 120 tackles. He also added five sacks and two interceptions.
Seattle's 2012 first-round pick changed positions this year, moving from defensive end to linebacker. While it took him some time to adjust to his new role, the move has been a good one for the young defender. Irvin has exceptional speed and has been able to use it more at his new position, as opposed to being overpowered by offensive tackles like he did as a defensive end.
Malcolm Smith has spent this season as the team's utility linebacker. He started on the strong side when Irvin was suspended for the team's first four games. He played on the weak side, with K.J. Wright moving inside, when Wagner was injured around midseason. Smith has also played on the weak side with Wright missing time recently.
Smith has played very well in his two tenures as the team's weak-side linebacker this season, and it appears that he may have displaced Wright from that job for the Super Bowl.
K.J. Wright returned last week from a broken bone in his foot suffered in early December. Instead of returning to his regular weak-side position, Wright played sparingly on the strong side of the formation in Bruce Irvin's usual spot.
Wright is a versatile player who has spent time at all three linebacker spots this season, and he is known for his exceptional coverage skills. Where he will line up against Denver in the Super Bowl is still unknown.
Sherman is loud. He is aggressive. He is also very good.
Sherman was the least-targeted cornerback in the NFL this season, and he also led the league in interceptions. Sherman has become the most dominant performer at his position in the NFL, which is why he's now a two-time All-Pro.
Byron Maxwell has been a pleasant surprise for the Seahawks this season. The job opposite Sherman was supposed to be held down by Brandon Browner, but Browner was hurt and then later suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Maxwell stepped into the lineup and exceeded all expectations. Maxwell has put together a string of games in which his stats have been very similar to Sherman's.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), opposing QBs have a passer rating of 47.3 when targeting Sherman and 47.8 when targeting Maxwell. Those are first and second in the NFL for players who played at least 25 percent of a team's defensive snaps at cornerback.
Nickel and Dime Backs
The Seahawks have mixed and matched which of their other cornerbacks play in nickel situations over the past few weeks based on matchups. Jeremy Lane is the larger and more physical of the options, while Walter Thurmond is the smaller and quicker of the two.
Thurmond started the season as the team's primary nickel corner, and he even started opposite Sherman early in the season when Browner missed time due to injury.
When Thurmond was suspended for four games late in the season, Lane stepped in and performed well enough that Thurmond hasn't been able to reclaim all of his playing time.
Seattle's All-Pro free safety is the key to everything the Seahawks do defensively. His speed allows the team to play with just one safety in the middle of the field on every play. This gives the Seahawks an extra defender to use up near the line of scrimmage, even in third-and-long situations.
Thomas has been so good this season that opposing teams often completely avoided the center of the field. This led the Seahawks to name his part of the field "Area 29."
Strong safety Kam Chancellor is the enforcer of the Legion of Boom. He's huge for a safety at 6'3" and 232 pounds and is known for his devastating hits on receivers who come across the center of the field.
Chancellor has greatly improved his coverage skills this season, and he was a huge part of the reason that the Seahawks were able to shut down Saints tight end Jimmy Graham in both of Seattle's games against New Orleans.
Seattle's punter had what was statistically one of the worse seasons of his career, but it was by design. Ryan stopped trying to crush the ball 60+ yards and occasionally out-kicking the coverage. Instead, he focused on getting extra hang time and making opposing returners call for a fair catch.
For most of the season, Ryan was chasing a record for the least punt-return yards allowed. After 14 games, Ryan had surrendered a total of just 21 punt-return yards.
Seattle's kicker has been remarkably consistent all season. He made 33 of his 35 field goal attempts in the regular season, and one of the two misses was blocked. Hauschka also has made all six of his attempts in the playoffs. This includes three kicks in strong winds in the divisional round of the playoffs; the same winds that caused New Orleans kicker Shayne Graham to miss both of his attempts.
Wide receiver Golden Tate is Seattle's punt returner, and he is a good one. He averaged 11.5 yards per punt return this season even though he very rarely called for a fair catch. Tate will try to return just about any punt and is always dangerous to break one for a big gain.
For a team that has been so good in all other phases of their special teams, they have been incredibly ordinary at kick returns for most of this season. That changed with the insertion of wide receiver Doug Baldwin as the returner late in the season. Of course, Percy Harvin is finally healthy and could be returning kicks in the Super Bowl as well.