Breaking Down Seattle Seahawks Roster After the 2014 Draft
The NFL draft is completed. Undrafted free agents have been signed. NFL rosters for the start of 2014 training camp have, at least for the most part, been set.
The Seattle Seahawks have seen plenty of talented players leave this offseason. This is an unfortunate side effect of winning a Super Bowl championship. Luckily, the Seahawks have been able to restock their talent pool at most positions and look to be in good shape as they head into their offseason workout program.
With that in mind, it is time to examine the current state of the roster and depth chart for the Seattle Seahawks.
There is zero doubt as to who will be under center for the Seahawks but a battle is brewing for the right to be the backup to Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks brought back 2013 backup, and 2011 starter, Tarvaris Jackson this offseason, as well as 2013 practice squad member B.J. Daniels. They then traded away a seventh-round pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, and signed Keith Price as an undrafted free agent.
Complicating things further is the fact that the Seahawks have carried just two quarterbacks on the roster during most of head coach Pete Carroll's tenure with the Seahawks. Seattle will have plenty of talented options to choose from but ultimately at least two of these players wont make the final roster.
The Seahawks made only one minor change to their backfield depth chart during this offseason, replacing veteran fullback Michael Robinson with rookie Kiero Small. Small will battle with Derrick Coleman for a spot on the roster.
The Seahawks are still four-deep at the running back position. Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, Spencer Ware and Robert Turbin all return from the 2013 Super Bowl team, though Ware is still technically listed as a fullback.
Seattle kept five combined players on the roster from these two positions for most of last season, which was a bit unexpected at the time. Unless there is a significant injury in the preseason, the Seahawks will face some very difficult roster decisions in their offensive backfield.
Going into the 2013 season, the Seahawks appeared to have an extremely talented group of wide receivers, at least on paper. Unfortunately, the two players expected to be at the top of the depth chart both missed the majority of the season with injuries. The result was that wide receiver ended up being one of the weakest areas on the roster.
The Seahawks knew they needed to upgrade the position heading into 2014, and they made sure to do so by picking up two receivers in the draft. Kevin Norwood and Paul Richardson both figure to make major impacts this year on the outside for the Seahawks.
Joining them are Doug Baldwin and a finally-healthy Percy Harvin. Those two, along with the rookies, appear locks to make the roster barring a major injury. That leaves just one or two rosters spots left to be claimed, with plenty of players trying to claim them.
Sidney Rice continues to rehab his knee following an ACL tear last season. If he can return to play at the same level to did earlier in his career, then he'll certainly be worthy of playing time. Jermaine Kearse played a major role in Seattle run to a Super Bowl championship last year, and he would also be a favorite win a roster spot.
Also in the mix are Phil Bates, Arceto Clark, Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters, all of whom spent at least part of 2013 with Seattle. Joining them are Taylor Price and CFL star Chris Matthews.
The Seahawks made no major changes to the roster at tight end this offseason, and yet it is possible to make the argument that the position group should be better than it was a year ago.
Zach Miller and Luke Willson return after being the primary players at the position in 2013. Willson is entering just his second year in the NFL, meaning he should be better as he continues to develop his game.
Kellen Davis is gone, but Anthony McCoy returns after missing 2013 due to injury. McCoy had developed into a nice roster piece before his injury, and there's no reason to believe that he cannot return to that level now.
Also on the roster are Cooper Helfet, Travis Beckham and undrafted signee Chase Dixon. All three appear to be capable players and will challenge McCoy for the final roster spot at the position.
It is also possible that the Seahawks could still land former Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley before the start of training camp. The Seahawks looked to be on the verge of signing him earlier in the offseason, but he wasn't able to pass his physical prior to any deal being completed. If Finley can get medically cleared to play, there will likely still be interest by both sides.
Of all the position groups, this one is likely where the most turnover is going to happen. Two players who played major roles last season are already gone and others could be following them out the door before the start of the season.
Left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger will be back. Right guard J.R. Sweezy is unlikely to be removed from his spot as well, and he is expected to be greatly improved as he enters his third season as an offensive player.
Right tackle and left guard would both appear to be up for grabs at this point. Michael Bowie and rookie Justin Britt are the two names that are pencilled in those two spots, but it is unknown which player will end up where.
James Carpenter isn't out of the mix for the starting left guard job yet. Seattle recently declined the fifth-year option, making him a free agent after this year. He'll need to come to camp in shape and with his weight under control if he wants to remain with the team. If he does though, it certainly isn't out of the question for him to earn back his job as a starter.
As for the backups, the key to making the roster in Seattle is versatility. Alvin Bailey can play four positions, which will make it tough for the team to leave him off the roster. Lemuel Jeanpierre is the only true backup center, and he can also play guard. Just like Bailey, it is tough to imagine that Jeanpierre won't be on the team in the end.
Players with longer odds to make the roster include Stephen Shilling, Jared Smith, Greg Van Roten, Caylin Hauptmann, Garry Gilliam, Bronson Irwin, and Garrett Scott. From this group of players, somewhere between two to four are likely to make the final roster.
Seattle lost both starters at defensive end this offseason but did a good job of mitigating the losses. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril both return after playing major roles on the Super Bowl team last season, and they are the likely starters in 2014.
Behind them will certainly be fourth-round selection Cassius Marsh, who should see plenty of action in the situational pass-rusher role that Avril played in a year ago.
After that, it is difficult to project the rest of the depth chart since it is still unknown how Seattle's defensive scheme is going to change as it evolves away from having Red Bryant at the 5-technique position. If they stay big at the position, Gregg Scruggs and Jesse Williams figure to both be given the chance to earn playing time there.
On the lighter side of the spectrum are Benson Mayowa, Kenneth Boatright and Jackson Jeffcoat, all of whom have potential to be productive situational pass-rushers.
The situation at defensive end gets even murkier once the linebackers are added into the mix. Bruce Irvin, O'Brien Schofield and Mike Morgan are all capable pass-rushers who have been used at defensive end at times over the last two seasons.
Defensive tackle is setting up to be an intense roster battle as well. Starters Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel return, and defensive end Michael Bennett is certain to play plenty of snaps at the position. Behind those three, though, there is a large group of players that are all vying for two roster spots.
Michael Brooks, Dewayne Cherrington, Jordan Hill and D'Anthony Smith each spent at least part of last season will Seattle. Williams and Scruggs were with the team as well, though both missed the entire year with injuries.
Recently added to the mix are sixth-round pick Jimmy Staten and undrafted signee Andru Pulu. These two will be given every chance to try and make the team over those listed above because of their low cap numbers and remaining years of team control.
Overall, Seattle's defensive line appears to have a great combination of both talent and depth.
While it doesn't always get the respect of those from other teams, Seattle's linebacking corps is among the best and deepest in the NFL. It also appears to be even stronger now than it was a year ago.
All four of Seattle's primary contributors at the position return for 2014 as well as all of the key backups. This includes starters Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, K.J. Wright and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, as well as backups Mike Morgan, O'Brien Schofield and Heath Farwell.
Added to the mix at linebacker are fourth-round pick Kevin Pierre-Louis, undrafted signee Brock Coyle and second year linebacker Mike Taylor, all of whom have great speed. The Seahawks also get back speedy 2012 draft pick Korey Toomer, who missed all of last season with an injury.
With all of those players, this is a loaded position group with more quality players than available regular-season roster spots.
The Seahawks return both starters from last season's Super Bowl team, but the depth behind Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell is not as strong as it was last season.
Jeremy Lane was fifth on the depth chart a year ago, but he played well when pressed into action because of injuries and suspensions. After Lane, there appears to be a solid competition brewing for the remaining spots on the roster.
Tharold Simon was drafted in 2013, but he missed his entire rookie campaign due to injuries. The Seahawks have yet to be able to determine if he can play well enough to contribute in the NFL. The same is true for 2014 draft pick Eric Pinkins, who played safety in college.
Another option at the position is Phillip Adams. Adams was a surprise cut at the end of training camp in 2012, and he spent the last two seasons with the Raiders. Adams is smaller than the other corners on the roster and is arguably the best at covering the league's quick slot receivers.
Also battling for a roster spot at the position are A.J. Jefferson, Chandler Fenner and undrafted free agent Jimmy Legree. With so many players and only five or six rosters spots available, this is going to be one of the more interesting roster battles in Seattle's training camp.
Safety is arguably the thinnest position on Seattle's roster at the moment. There is an extremely high level of talent at the top of the depth chart but few players behind them.
Earl Thomas is the only player on the roster that is officially listed as a free safety. DeShawn Shead, who appears to be Thomas' backup, is listed generically as a defensive back because he is also a cornerback.
Strong safety appears to be in slightly better shape with two players on the depth chart below starter Kam Chancellor. The problem is that both Jeron Johnson and undrafted free agent Dion Bailey are undersized for the position, making them a substantially different type of player than Chancellor is.
Other players listed generically as "defensive back" on the roster include Akeem Auguste and Terrance Parks, and it remains unclear what position the coaches view them playing for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks will return the same three specialists they had a year ago. Kicker Steven Hauschka, punter Jon Ryan and long snapper Clint Gresham will all come into camp without any significant challenge to their playing time.
Receivers Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin are likely to resume their roles as the team's kick returners as well.
The one place where there will be a significant change on special teams will be at punt returner. Golden Tate, who was excellent at the job a year ago, is now with the Detroit Lions. Rookie Paul Richardson is expected to take over there, but Harvin, Baldwin and fellow rookie Kevin Norwood are all possibilities as well.