2011 NFL Draft Results: Major Changes to the Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart?
Now that the 2011 NFL Draft has passed, it's time to take a closer look at what the Seattle Seahawks depth chart may look like in 2011.
Last week as part of my pre-draft board, I took a look at 10 thoughts to note from the Carroll-Schneider presser to take into the draft; one of those thoughts was the idea of Carroll using the word “complementary,” multiple times, to describe the Seahawks' draft process.
It was clear with the selections of Carpenter and Moffitt, both left-side players in college who are projected to move to the right side for Seattle, this complementary theme would run through Day 3; Seattle’s bevy of defensive back selections hints change is in order.
Seattle took clumps of players that complement both each others skill sets, and the skill sets of the players they plan to have on the 2011 roster.
While the depth chart is a long way from finalized, with undrafted free agency and free agency to come, the 2011 draft will certainly be apparent in the 22 players, plus special teams, starting on opening day, and throughout the depth chart for Seattle.
Let’s take a position-by-position look at the 2011 depth chart as it may currently stand.
1. All roster information was taken from the Seattle Seahawks official website.
2. Italicized players in the "free agent" category are players I believe have a chance of being brought back in 2011.
3. Some practice-squad players are signed to "futures/reserve" contracts, while others are signed to one/multi-year deals or rookie contracts. Seattle retains the rights to sign "futures/reserve" players when that contract expires, and if not, then release them to the free-agent pool. To be activated, a "futures/reserve" player must be officially signed. I will spare making the distinctions of who has what type of contract, but it's a minor detail to keep in mind.
Quarterback: And Then There Was One
The Seahawks have one starting quarterback on the roster for 2011 at this point.
John Schneider endorsed Charlie Whitehurst in the post-draft presser, saying the organization believes he can compete to start in 2011.
However, Schneider also said the team has a plan going forward into free agency and they intend to execute when free agency begins.
Charlie Whitehurst, 6'5", 225, Clemson: Whitehurst is going into the second year of a two-year deal signed in 2010, this season being his first legitimate chance to prove he can be a starting NFL quarterback.
Whitehurst has two starts under his belt, both in 2010; a 41-7 bludgeoning hosting the Giants in Week 9 and 16-6 victory hosting St. Louis in Week 17 to win the NFC West.
He has the arm and athleticism, but needs to work on his mechanics and progressions.
Free agents: Matt Hasselbeck, J.P. Losman
Running Back, Fullback: Looking for More Room in 2011
The Seahawks' backfield is pretty solidified going into 2011.
Marshawn Lynch is likely to remain the battering ram of a starter, with Justin Forsett as an elusive, quick complement and Leon Washington as a sub-package, third-down back.
Things are much less decided at the fullback position. Michael Robinson, the lone fullback on the roster, is a free agent. The former college quarterback is a versatile, tough player, but he had a down year in 2010. I forsee Seattle wanting to add size and more dynamic receiving capabilities from the fullback position.
Marshawn Lynch, 5'11", 215, California: The beast-mode originator and a solid reciever out of the backfield, he needs to improve pass protection and ball security to remain the starter in 2011.
Justin Forsett, 5'8",198, California: I think Forsett is one of the most underrated players in the league, and has a chance to over take Lynch with a hot start to 2011.
Leon Washington, 5'8", 203, Florida State: A dynamic kick returner and sub-package player, I believe he will be involved in all aspects of the offense in a dynamic role.
Chris Henry 5'11", 234, Arizona: Veteran Chris Henry is a very solid practice-squad player who could be elevated in the case of an injury to any above.
Free agent: Michael Robinson
Wide Receiver: Who Emerges from an Unheralded Unit?
The wide receiver position will be competitive into the 2011 season. Seattle has a versatile, athletic, young group that complement each other well.
There is a chance for contributions from some surprise players in 2011, as Seattle can lose a quarter of its 2010 receiver squad.
Note: To avoid too much football terminology, I will list the players by projected size of role for 2011 instead of 'X', Y', etc.
Benjamin Obomanu, 6'1", 204, Auburn: Obomanu is a blossming all-around receiver who contributes toughness, intelligence, sneaky athleticism and play-making ability on all downs.
Mike Williams, 6'5", 235, USC: A bounce-back season in 2010 still had its rough patches; Williams has the potential to become a 1,000-yard receiver in 2011, the main possession receiver due to his suction-cup like hands. The early-game drops and frequent injuries must be eliminated for his game to reach the next level in 2011.
Golden Tate, 5'10", 202, Notre Dame: Tate had a disappointing year in 2010, but then again, it's difficult to succeed as a rookie receiver in the NFL. Look for his 22 catches to increase in a "successful" 2011. Does Darrell Bevell decide to use Tate in a Percy Harvin-like role?
Isaiah Stanback, 6'2", 208, Washington: A former college quarterback, ace special teamer and budding receiver. Stanback has played for the Cowboys and Patriots, and competed his way into Seattle. John Schneider has continually sung praise towards Stanback's character, intelligence and run-after-the-catch abilities. Stanback could be called upon to assume the role of Brandon Stokley in 2011.
Deon Butler,5'10",182, Penn State: The wild card on this list, as he is rehabbing from a compound fracture in his right leg. A receiver who can sneak underneath and has great deep speed, he struggled with finding the ball and finishing in 2010. However, Butler began to come on strong to finish 2010 and was finding his role in the offense. If he can get back on the field for 2011, and there is optimism that he in fact will, he could shake up the depth chart. If he doesn't return to form, expect the man below to take Butler's snaps.
Kris Durham, 6'5", 216, Georgia (Rookie): The 2011 draftee was brought in to backup Mike Williams and play a role as a sub-package receiver in the slot. Durham has good straight-line speed, ball skills, a good catching radius and solid agility for a player his height. If he can add bulk, he could turn into a full-field threat.
Practice squad: Patrick Williams, Dominique Edison, Chris Carter.
Free agent: Brandon Stokely, Ruvell Martin
Tight End: A Strong, Versatile Group
The Seahawks released Chris Baker before the collective bargaing agreement expired, but are left with a young, versatile group of tight ends that will be relied upon in 2011.
John Carlson, 6'5", 251, Notre Dame: Carlson's numbers took a hit in 2010, as he often played a fullback/h-back role due to injuries. Carlson is expected to produce more in 2011.
Cameron Morrah, 6'3", 251, California: A recieving threat with the versatility to line up anywhere, he has the potential to be a consistent contributor in 2011.
Anthony Mccoy, 6'5", 259, USC: Soft hands and a strong in-line blocking presence, look for him to assume Chris Baker's role in 2011.
Jameson Konz, 6'3", 234, Kent State: Konz is an athletic freak, he posted a 4.41 and 46" vertical at his pro day in 2010. He can play h-back, fullback, special teams and linebacker. If he can overcome consistent injuries the past few years, he could play a dynamic role as both a blocker and receiver.
Practice squad: Dominique Byrd
Free agent: Nick Tow-Arnett
Offensive Line: Four Down, One to Go
Offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable said in his post-draft comments: "If training camp started today it would be Carpenter at right tackle, Moffitt at right guard, Unger at center, to-be-determined at right guard, Okung at left tackle."
Simple enough. But as for that left guard spot, it's anyone's guess. Mike Gibson unseated Stacy Andrews at right guard and there are a plethora of possibilities looking at the players who remained with the franchise in 2010. And, of course, there is always free agency.
James Carpenter, 6'5", 321, Alabama: The right tackle of the future, an anchor in pass protection.
Stacy Andrews, 6'7", 340, Mississippi: With the hefty salary and addition of Carpenter, does he even remain a Seahawk for 2011?
Practice squad: William Robinson, Breno Giacomini
John Moffitt, 6'4", 319, Wisconsin: A complement to Carpenter, a road-paver in the running game.
Practice squad: Lemuel Jeanpierre
Max Unger, 6'5", 305, Oregon: Can play guard, but is primed to be the center of the future.
Chris White, 6'2", 295: Versatile lineman, saw time as an extra lineman on occasion in 2010.
Mike Gibson, 6'3", 298, California: Not ideal size for a Cable guard, but has the intelligence, nastiness and run-blocking ability to fit in. Until further notice, I think Gibson is an underrated player that may keep the job.
Paul Fanaika, 6'5", 327, Arizona St.: A practice-squad player, unless he makes an impact as possible starter at guard.
Chris White: Above.
Practice squad: Paul McQuistan
Russell Okung, 6'5", 310, Oklahoma State: The left tackle of the future.
James Carpenter: above.
Free agents: Tyler Polumbus, Sean Locklear, Chris Spencer, Ray Willis, Chester Pitts, Ben Hamilton
Defensive Line: Room for Rotation
The Seahawks have five restricted free agents and a restricted free-agency tender on Brandon Mebane; there is the potential for change on the 2011 defensive line.
Seattle has three of its four starters in place, if Red Bryant is healthy, and will look to add depth to a line that suffered through injuries in 2010. Seattle is still two-to-four players short of being ready for opening day at the position. There are unknown options in undrafted free agency I expect the Seahawks to explore.
Left Defensive End (Leo)
Chris Clemons, 6’3”, 254, Georgia: Most productive season of his career in 2010, expected to produce near the same level in 2011.
Dexter Davis, 6’1”, 244, Arizona State: At the combine, John Schneider praised his "god-given pass-rush ability," but Davis needs to keep developing. If Raheem Brock doesn't return in 2011, Davis will be thrown into the fire.
Left Defensive Tackle
Brandon Mebane, 6'1", 311, California: Does Seattle find a way to use Mebane's size, opposed to hoping for pass-rush production? That is, if he returns in 2011.
Barrett Moen, 6’4”, 282, Minnesota: Moen will compete if he can provide situational pass-rush inside for Seattle. Jay Alford (below) could also compete for this spot.
Right Defensive Tackle
Colin Cole, 6’2”, 328, Iowa: A veteran run plugger who must remain healthy in 2011.
Kentwan Balmer, 6’5”, 315, North Carolina: Balmer filled in for Byrant after his injury, but is likely a better fit inside.
Right Defensive End
Red Bryant, 6’4”, 323, Texas A&M: The center of a defensive scheme that was second against the run with him in the lineup in 2010.
Lazarius Levingston, 6’4”, 292, LSU (rookie): Has the versatility to play across the line, projects as an effort lineman who can rotate in as run stopper.
Practice squad: Jay Alford, A.J. Schable
Free agents: Raheem Brock, Craig Terrill, Jay Richardson, Junior Siavii, Amon Gordon
Linebackers: A Fight for Playing Time
The Seahawks drafted two linebackers in the 2011 draft, paving the way for change in 2011.
Seattle's linebacker corp entered the 2010 season primed for a breakout season, but struggled as the defensive line fell apart midseason.
Lofa Tatupu played the majority of the season with injures and Aaron Curry was inconsistent at the strong side linebacker position. If restricted free agent Will Herring returns, the Seahawks will have major competition for playing time at linebacker.
Note: I dont think Seattle will necessarily have three top, distinct linebackers in 2011. I see all six of the players below being involved.
David Hawthorne, 6'0", 246, Texan Christian (MLB/WLB): "The Heater" has out-produced Lofa Tatupu the past two seasons and brings more athleticism and youth to the position. I think Hawthorne takes advantage of the chance to move back to the middle, and is the opening day starter in 2011.
Will Herring, 6'3", 241, Auburn (WLB): If Herring remains with the team in 2011, I think he gets a chance to start; linebacker coach Ken Norton is reportedly a proponent for Herring to get that opportunity. He has been a leader and tremendous hitter on special teams, and his play really emerged towards the end of last season. He will have to hold off the young competition below to keep his job, but I think Herring has earned a chance to compete for the starting spot given his consistency and leadership in 2010.
Lofa Tatupu, 6'0", 250, USC (LB): He was not healthy in 2010, or in 2009. I believe the captain of the defense will be on the field if healthy in a variety of new capacities, but on the bottom of this list if he is not. Innocent until proven guilty.
Aaron Curry,6'2", 255, Wake Forest (SLB/Leo ): I think Curry's role is reduced in 2011, but more specialized. After the Week 10 victory in Arizona, Pete Carroll praised Curry's potential to be a dominant player on the line of scrimmage. I think he will be used to primarily rushing the quarterback and pursuing along the line of scrimmage in 2011; let his athleticism be accentuated.
K.J. Wright, 6'4", 246, Mississippi State (rookie, SLB/Leo/ILB /WLB): Wright has great versatility and athleticism. I see his usage on the field increasing as the season progresses, starting with a secondary role; a variety of secondary roles.
Malcom Smith, 6'0", 226, USC (rookie, WLB 2): Smith is a natural third-down player, but needs to bulk up and adjust to the speed of the NFL to be a starter. If he can quickly, Herring will be challenged for his starting spot.
Practice Squad: Anthony Heygood, Joe Pawelek
Free Agents: Matt McCoy, Leroy Hill
Defensive Backs: Younger, Faster, Improved?
The Seahawks took three defensive backs in the 2011 draft and have a group of talent rising within the program; the secondary could have the most fresh faces of any unit on the team in 2011.
Marcus Trufant, 5'11", 197, Washington St.: Will need to regain his form to keep his starting job in 2011, especially with his hefty salary. Seattle brought in physical speed and depth to challenge for the starting corner spots.
Richard Sherman, 6'3", 195, Stanford: Sherman is a sleeper for 2011. If he can have a solid offseason continuing his transition from receiver to corner, playing in a more suited-for-him press scheme will help. He could challenge for this position by the end of the season, but that's more likely in 2012.
Byron Maxwell, 6'1", 207, Clemson: Maxwell is the wild card with his athleticism, physicality and work ethic. This isn't the last time you'll see him on this list. Kennard Cox could compete for this spot.
Walter Thurmond, 5'11", 190,Oregon: Primed to bounce back in Year 2 of his recovery from knee surgery as the No. 2 corner.
Marcus Brown, 6'0", 190, Arkansas State: Was in line to step in with an injury to a starter in 2010, and with Jennings unlikely to be back, Thurmond jumps ahead. Brown will continue to keep the competition high at this position. Josh Pinkard is next in line.
Earl Thomas, 5'10", 202, Texas: Second-year ball hawk will be all over the field and in the box in 2011. If he keeps maturing and learning the game, reining in his aggressiveness, he could be a Pro Bowler in 2011.
Mark LeGree, 6'0", 211, Appalachian State (Rookie): LeGree was an all-time D-II ball hawk. He is a solid tackler and very good backup center fielder, and was drafted to move Thomas around. He will see the field in a variety of roles in 2011, including paired with Thomas in sub-packages.
Byron Maxwell: His agility and speed are superior to Kam Chancellor, and Maxwell has the physicality to play in the box. As a converted corner, he could fit more packages for Seattle. I'd consider this the biggest reach of all, but who knows what Carroll has up his sleeve. Maxwell is somewhat of an unknown, but I think he has potential as a combo defensive back.
Kam Chancellor, 6"3, 232, Virginia Tech: Conventional wisdom places Chancellor as the starter, but with the speed and athleticism brought to this roster through the draft, practice squad and undrafted free agency, Chancellor will have to be 100-percent ready to compete in 2011, as he's more suited to be an "in the box" safety. I think Brandon Browner will be an "active" strong safety at some point in 2011, possibly even on opening day.
Roy Lewis, 5'10",190, Washington: Special teams captain, very solid nickel corner. His locker room presence will keep him be a contributor in 2011 if he can bounce back from injury.
Practice squad: Brandon Browner, Josh Pinkard, Kennard Cox, James Brindley.
Free Agents: Jordan Babineaux, Lawyer Milloy (Carroll said during his postseason presser this decision would be as "man to man" as possible. Hard to predict, but Seattle seemed to draft for his possible departure), Kelly Jennings
Special Teams: We Need a Kicker!
Olindo Mare was the kicker in 2010, and he remains unsigned.
He has previously said this offseason he's willing to return to Seattle for a hometown discount.
Punter and Holder
Jon Ryan, 6'0", 217, Regina: One of the league's most consistent punters.
Long Snappers: Clint Gresham, Caz Piurowski (practice squad, also OT/TE)
Kick Return: Leon Washington, Golden Tate, Justin Forsett
Punt Return: Leon Washington, Golden Tate, Justin Forsett
The 2011 Shuffle
There is a lot of room for change on the 2011 roster. I believe there are two-to-four players who are not currently on this list who will make an impact next season.
The offense should have attitude and a more complete running game.
I expect to see some changes on defense, as I believe the Seahawks are evolving their defensive scheme to involve new wrinkles of some old-school ideas; I'll build on some defensive-scheme ideas I introduced before the draft and discuss possible 2011 changes to the defense in an article to be released soon.
But overall, I expect the Seahawks to be faster, more disciplined, tougher and more competitive—not all eight regular-season losses being by 15-plus points as in 2010—fighting to remain on top of the division and continuing to build the roster the unique Seahawks way.