4 Takeaways from Seattle Seahawks' OTAs
The Seattle Seahawks are looking pretty good as we near the 2014 regular season. They're coming off a strong draft and have really filled out their roster well. Weaknesses have been strengthened, and we've seen some rookies step up in the process.
One of the most impressive first-year players has been Justin Britt, who is seemingly playing his way into the starting right tackle position. Britt's nasty attitude as a blocker and ability to pick up the system will be his greatest assets as we inch toward the starting line of the season, and there's a great chance he becomes the "yin" to Russell Okung's "yang."
On the other side of the ball is former UCLA Bruin Cassius Marsh, who has stepped into the spotlight a bit after a good showing at the team's rookie minicamp and now in OTAs.
It will be hard for him to come by many snaps given the depth of the team's defense, but I'm sure Dan Quinn (Seattle's defensive coordinator) will find a good spot for him in its front seven rotation.
While the rookies have been doing well, it's been Doug Baldwin who's stolen the show thus far. He had an OK career before really stepping up last season, but it's becoming more and more clear that Baldwin is a legitimate weapon and will be a huge contributor in 2014 for the Seahawks.
This team is really coming together and is becoming better as an overall unit with each passing day, as we are seeing through these organized team activities.
The Seahawks Draft Really, Really Well
The Seahawks have a well-documented track record of drafting very well (especially late in the draft), and it's already evident their 2014 class will be a good one. While none of them have taken an actual snap in the regular season yet, a number of the nine draftees are in a position to earn some serious playing time in this upcoming season.
Besides the impressive early rounders like Paul Richardson and Justin Britt, the Seahawks have some other players who are looking like they'll be contributors right away.
Kevin Norwood is one guy specifically who looks like he will get some reps sooner than later. He adds some good depth to their receiving corps and is a strong threat vertically.
On the defensive side of the ball, Cassius Marsh is starting to stand out amongst the guys on the front seven. He has the versatility to play a couple different positions and will definitely be utilized in a number of ways by the team.
Kevin Pierre-Louis is another prospect who could add to Seattle's vaunted front seven—he's an athletic linebacker who will learn a lot from being around guys like Bobby Wagner and Malcolm Smith. Even if his role in the defense isn't too big right away, Pierre-Louis will more than likely be a contributor on special teams.
This is an overall strong class that looks to have a few players who'll last for the Seahawks.
Justin Britt Could Be Leading the Race for Right Tackle
Justin Britt has been one of the most talked about rookies that Seattle has, largely because of the fact he's picked up the system so quickly. Britt's impressed many thus far and is in a prime position to become the team's right tackle.
He took some reps at right tackle with the first-team offense, via SeattlePI.com, which comes after receiving much praise from Pete Carroll during Seattle's rookie minicamp. Carroll had this to say about Britt, via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times:
He picked everything up, he’s very well prepared technique wise, he has real good footwork, his base is real good, his balance is real good for a big man, he moved well off of the line of scrimmage, he won’t have any trouble learning, it’s going to take some time of course, but he won’t any trouble picking stuff up. He’s a real serious, mature kid and I think he would jump right into the competition exactly like we had planned.
It's not like Bowie isn't a solid option as a right tackle, but he may be better suited as an interior lineman—a position he took a number of reps at last season. Given Britt's competence at right tackle thus far, it might be prudent of Seattle to start him at right tackle and kick Bowie inside.
Earl Thomas: Punt Returner?
Golden Tate was a very dependable punt returner during his time with the Seahawks, but now that he's gone they have to look elsewhere—though it doesn't look like they'll have to go far.
According to Brady Henderson of MyNorthwest.com, Earl Thomas—the one of the team's best (and most expensive) defenders—is the leading candidate to land the starting job.
I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting on this opportunity. This is what I do. I’m an athlete. I’ve been trying to tell coach Carroll to put me back there for the longest. I always try to go back there during walkthroughs. Just try to sneak a punt return, just to show them who I am.
Thomas has yet to return anything during his NFL career, but he has displayed the speed and quickness necessary to succeed. It's not far-fetched to think that Thomas' athleticism would positively translate as a returner, but it looks like we'll find out for sure soon.
Doug Baldwin Is Ready to Lead This Offense
Doug Baldwin came up big for Seattle when it needed him to last season, and it's obvious his confidence has been boosted because of it. Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com notes that Baldwin has been quite eye-catching during OTAs, reeling in big catches over the likes of Byron Maxwell and Richard Sherman during seven-on-seven drills.
His emergence is quite timely, as no one knows how well Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin will do in 2014, and given their injury history, Baldwin's reliability makes him invaluable to the team.
He totaled 50 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns in 2013, but those numbers are sure to inflate as his role in the offense will undoubtedly be maximized. Baldwin's a balanced receiver who can move the chains while also stretching the field, and that versatility will come in handy as one of the team's leading receivers.
The Seahawks could definitely use some more leadership on this young offense, and Baldwin will be a good source of that going forward.