The Seattle Seahawks made the playoffs last season, despite the fact that they ended the season with a losing record. Despite the losing record, they came into the playoffs on a mission and knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the wild card round. Yet they won’t get into the playoffs next season if they put up another losing record, so they’ve got a lot of areas to improve upon.
Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent this offseason and he may not be back next season. Even if he does return, he doesn’t have many years left in the NFL and I’m not sure if Charlie Whitehurst is the long term solution. The Seahawks may want to give Whitehurst some playing time to see what he can bring to the table. Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, and Leon Washington provide a lot of depth at the running back position. The combination of those three guys give Seattle a solid running game to rely on in case the passing game isn’t up to par. Mike Williams broke out last season and he looks like he might have finally gotten his career on track. Golden Tate was drafted in the second round but didn’t have as big of an impact as many thought he would. He will probably get an opportunity to start next year if another receiver isn’t brought in. John Carlson had a down year in 2010, but I expect him to bounce back for next season. Seattle’s offensive line struggled with injuries a lot of the year, and now Chris Spencer and Sean Locklear are free agents. Whether they are back or not remains to be seen, but the Seahawks could use some help at this position regardless.
The defensive line actually performed pretty well next season but they may have questions heading into 2011. Brandon Mebane and Raheem Brock are free agents and it remains to be seen if they are brought back. If they aren’t back, the Seahawks may need to look into bringing some players in from the draft to improve the depth. The linebacker unit has a lot of talent, but the unit has underperformed in the past season or two. Aaron Curry, Lofa Tatupu, and David Hawthorne need to improve this season for the defense to be a more effective unit. Marcus Trufant is still a very strong cornerback, but Kelly Jennings is a free agent and he might not return. Walter Thurmond played well as a rookie, and he should be able to step into the starting role if Jennings leaves. Earl Thomas looked very good as a rookie, and I think he’ll see a few pro bowl nods before his career is over. Lawyer Milloy could retire, but another 2010 rookie, Kam Chancellor, should be able to step in right away after a pretty successful rookie season.
1. (6) OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma State: Injuries slowed him down in his rookie year, but he looks capable of filling Walter Jones’s gigantic shoes at left tackle. 10 GP/ 10 GS
1. (14) S Earl Thomas, Texas: Thomas looked excellent in his rookie season, and he is the future leader of the Seahawk defense. 16 GP/ 16 GS
2. (60) WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame: Tate has a lot of potential, but he didn’t really impress much in his rookie season. 11 GP/ 0 GS
4. (111) CB Walter Thurmond, Oregon: Thurmond has talent, and he looks to be a steal that could earn a starting spot in 2011. 14 GP/ 1 GS
4. (127) DE E.J. Wilson, North Carolina: He had injury problems that really held him back before he was released towards the end of the season. 2 GP/ 0 GS
5. (133) S Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech: He looks like the third player from the 2010 draft class who could be starting in the secondary in 2011. 16 GP/ 0 GS
6. (185) TE Anthony McCoy, USC: McCoy didn’t get much of a chance to play in 2010, but if he develops his raw talent, he could be a very good player. 2 GP/ 0 GS
7. (236) OLB Dexter Davis, Arizona State: He flashed some ability last year, and he should get even more opportunities in his second season. 15 GP/ 0 GS
7. (245) WR Jameson Konz, Kent State: He spent the entire season on injured reserve, but he may get the chance to make the roster in 2011. 0 GP/ 0 GS
Summary: This draft has produced a lot of early returns, specifically on the defensive side. Thomas, Chancellor, and Thurmond all look like the will be long time starter in the secondary. The ultimate success of this draft will hinge on Okung’s ability to replace Walter Jones, and Tate’s ability to develop into a starting receiver.
Matt Hasselbeck has been a reliable starter for many years now, but he is nearing the end of his career. He is also a free agent and it is a possibility that he isn’t back for next season, in which case Charlie Whitehurst will most likely take over at the starting quarterback position. Whitehurst looked solid in the last game of the regular season, but it remains to be seen if he can perform well throughout an entire season as the starting quarterback.
If Whitehurst does become the starter next season, the Seahawks will have to bring in someone to be the backup. The Seahawks could very well draft a quarterback, but I think they’ll at least give Whitehurst an opportunity to start after giving up a 2010 third round pick to get him.
Round One: Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett
Round Two: Colin Kaepernick
Round Three: Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder
Round Four: Nate Enderle
Round Five: Pat Devlin
The feeling of a lot of people is that if local product Jake Locker is available in round one, the Seahawks will most likely take him. While I believe that is a possibility, it’s far from a certainty as I think the Seahawks may still like Whitehurst as their long term solution at the quarterback position. A mid round quarterback could be taken for depth.
Marcus Trufant is still firmly entrenched at one starting cornerback position, but the other starting spot isn’t set in stone. Kelly Jennings is a free agent who might not be brought back, but if isn’t back, it looks like Walter Thurmond is ready to step into the starting spot. He showed a lot of promise as a rookie, and I think that he could take over the starting position even if Jennings is back in Seattle for next season.
One potential problem with this group is the lack of depth, as there is basically nothing of note after
Trufant, Jennings, and Thurmond. I expect that the Seahawks will take at least one cornerback in this draft, and possibly even two if they really feel that the depth at this position is poor.
Round One: Brandon Harris, Aaron Williams
Round Two: Curtis Brown, Ras-I Dowling, Brandon Burton
Round Three: Curtis Marsh, Kendric Burney
Round Four: Chimdi Chekwa, Marcus Gilchrist
The Seahawks may not use a high pick on a cornerback if they think that Thurmond is the future starter, but I expect them to take one in the first four rounds. I think guys like Curtis Brown and Dowling would be good fits on the defense, and they’d be able to contribute right away in nickel packages.
Mike Williams really surprised a lot of people with the season he had last year. He looks like he will be a starter for the next few years in Seattle. However, I’m not exactly sold on the fact that he is a number one target. Golden Tate could be the answer for a number one target, but he didn’t exactly look very impressive last year. He has the potential to be a big time threat, but I’m not sure how long it’ll take him to develop into that role.
There is a serious lack of depth at this position, and it is something that needs to be addressed in this offseason. Brandon Stokely, Deon Butler, and Ruvell Martin don’t really strike fear into opponents, so look for the Seahawks to take at least one receiver in this year’s draft.
Round One: Jon Baldwin
Round Two: Torrey Smith, Greg Little
Round Three: Jerrel Jernigan, Dwayne Harris, Vincent Brown
Round Four: Austin Pettis, Edmund Gates, Jeremy Kerley
I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Seahawks take two wide receivers in this draft. Torrey Smith and Greg Little are two players who have a lot of potential to develop into a top receiver. Guys like Pettis or Kerley would provide extra depth for this unit.
This unit was surprisingly impressive in 2010 and this could be a minor need if pass rush specialist Raheem Brock is brought back. He had nine sacks last year, but he is a free agent and it’s possible that he won’t be back. Chris Clemons and Kentwan Balmer also put up respectable seasons last year, but the long term potential of those two could be limited.
If Brock leaves, the Seahawks will need to bring in another pass rusher to help make up for his production. I don’t expect them to use a top pick on this position, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be shocked if they did take a defensive end in round one or two due to the amount of talent in this year’s draft class.
Round One: Ryan Kerrigan
Round Two: Jabaal Sheard, Jeremy Beal, Brooks Reed
Round Three: Sam Acho
Round Four: Greg Romeus, Cliff Matthews
Kerrigan would be hard to pass up if he is still available as he would give the Seahawks a top young pass rusher. Reed or Sheard could also have a big impact right away, as they could fill Brock’s role as the pass rush specialist.
Russell Okung looks like a future pro bowler at left tackle, and I think he’s going to be a long time blindside protector for the Seahawks. Sean Locklear isn’t terrible on the other side, but he is a free agent and he might not be brought back. The Seahawks may decide that they want an upgrade over Locklear, and they may go with an offensive tackle early on in the draft.
The depth is also a concern for this position moving forward. Okung had some injury problems in his rookie season, and the Seahawks will want to prepare themselves in case his injury issues continue into the 2011 season.
Round One: Anthony Castonzo, Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi
Round Two: James Brewer
Round Three: James Carpenter, Orlando Franklin, Marcus Gilbert
Round Four: Joseph Barksdale, Jason Pinkston
I highly doubt that they use a first rounder on a right tackle, especially considering that they took Okung in round one last year. A guy like Carpenter in round three or Barksdale in round four could be intriguing options, who they could develop into starters for the next year or two.
Offensive Guard: The starters at this position could use an upgrade, and the depth isn’t very strong with the current group that they have on the roster.
Linebacker: The current group has a lot of talent but they didn’t play well in 2010. If the Seahawks are concerned about whether or not this group can bounce back, they may turn to the draft to add some depth.
Kicker: Olindo Mare is at the tail end of his career and he could not be back as he is a free agent. The Seahawks need to consider bringing a young guy for the future.
The Seahawks should not be fooled by their spot in the playoffs last year, as they have a lot of areas on the team that they could improve upon. The main issue that they need to figure out is who will be their long term solution at quarterback. The offense in general could use a lot of upgrades, and decisions on free agents could greatly affect the overall talent level of the offense. They need to look for some upgrades on the offensive line and they need to find a true number one target at wide receiver.
The defense is actually a solid unit, especially if the three starting linebackers bounce back from an off 2010 season. Overall, I think that Pete Carroll did a solid job in his first season, and he needs to continue to develop the young talent on this roster. The NFC west will be weak yet again in 2011, but the Seahawks will have a good shot at making it back to the playoffs. I expect to see a majority of offensive players taken in the 2011 draft, as that is the unit that needs the most help currently.