NFL1000: Seattle Seahawks' 2017 NFL Draft Preview

NFL1000 ScoutsFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2017

NFL1000: Seattle Seahawks' 2017 NFL Draft Preview

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    After appearing in two straight Super Bowls and winning one, Pete Carroll's Seahawks have found themselves unable to get past the divisional round in each of the last two seasons. It's a team with a legitimate franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson, good targets, potential in the run game and one of the NFL's best defenses.

    The clear and obvious reason for the franchise's recent relative downfall? Seattle has the worst offensive line in the league, and that appears to be by design. Assistant head coach Tom Cable seems to believe that a line can be constructed with defensive linemen, spot starters from college, high picks based on potential over performance, and castoffs from other teams. To say it hasn't worked is a graphic understatement. If Wilson wasn't as mobile and able to create downfield plays out of chaos as he is, this team wouldn't even sniff the playoffs.

    At this year's scouting combine, Carroll and general manager John Schneider seemed to be at odds over the future of this line. Carroll is very upbeat about the potential of guys like left tackle George Fant and right guard Germain Ifedi. Schneider said the line might have been too young.

    To solve the latter issue, Seattle signed former Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel to a one-year contract, and he could fit in at left tackle or left guard. To solve the running back issue that has been present since Marshawn Lynch retired, the team also signed former Packers back Eddie Lacy to a one-year deal with weight and performance clauses installed.

    Whether the Seahawks select one lineman or several in the 2017 draft is the smaller issue—the larger issue is how the team evaluates and develops linemen, and how many Super Bowl appearances hang in the balance in the future. The key players on defense are aging, and the pass defense fell off a cliff when safety Earl Thomas was hurt late in the season.

    If the Seahawks want to paint themselves as a dynasty, there's little time to waste. The window, as it's currently constructed, is starting to close.


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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The NFL1000 team of scouts received a series of important attributes to grade for every player in their positional review. Using a scale starting at 0 and going up to anywhere from five to 50 based on the position and the attribute, our scouts graded each player based on their own expertise and countless hours of tape review over the years. Our evaluators had specific positional assignments based on their proven fields of expertise.

    Each corresponding position slide was written by the assigned scout.


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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Scheme: West Coast/Zone

    Starter: Russell Wilson

    NFL1000 Score: 72.3/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 16/38

    Wilson's numbers under pressure last season—105 completions in 197 attempts for 1,560 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions per Pro Football Focus—are very important because few quarterbacks were under more pressure than he was. Only Andrew Luck had more dropbacks under pressure, and that wasn't by much. Wilson's mobility is both a blessing and a curse in a normal offense with a league-average offensive line, but with several turnstiles in front of him, Wilson is forced to bail out of the pocket and create plays out of chaos.

    That he's able to do so at such a high volume and with great efficiency makes him invaluable to Seattle's franchise. It's safe to say a normal pocket passer wouldn't survive behind this line, and Wilson's abilities have allowed Seattle's coaches to believe they can be "creative" with their line evaluations.

    Wilson played through most of the 2016 season with an MCL sprain, and it's quite possible his superhuman endurance in the face of so many hits has reached its breaking point. The Seahawks need to address their protection issues accordingly if they want Wilson to last into his 30s.

    Backup: Trevone Boykin

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    Boykin was arrested on marijuana possession and public intoxication charges Monday in Dallas after a car he was a passenger in crashed into a bar and injured multiple people. It's his second arrest—he was suspended for the 2016 Alamo Bowl after assaulting a police officer during a bar fight. The pattern may cost Boykin his job, depending on the circumstances, as he hasn't shown transcendent ability in his brief professional career. He's a good, mobile quarterback with potential who obviously needs to get it together off the field.

    Team Need: 7/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee), Jerod Evans (Virginia Tech)

Running Back

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    Scheme: Zone

    Starter: Eddie Lacy

    NFL1000 Scores: 73.8/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 10/82

    Eddie Lacy signed a one-year deal with Seattle after spending his first four years in Green Bay. After a terrible season in 2015, Lacy looked to be bouncing back in 2016 before an ankle injury in Week 5 derailed his year. Prior to the injury he was averaging 5.1 yards per carry and looked to be playing some of the best football of his career. However, he reportedly weighed in at 267 pounds during one of his free-agent visits, which should give the Seahawks a little pause.

    When healthy and in shape, Lacy is one of the better inside runners in the NFL. He is a powerful back with great feet and patience. He will hammer it up between the tackles. He can break soft arm tackles with ease and is a force for defenders to tackle. He can run the outside zone very well and is an excellent one-cut runner who should transition well into the Seattle scheme. Lacy is also an underrated player in the passing game because he has good hands and is so physical in space. He is very nimble for a big running back.

    Lacy could be an offseason steal if Seattle can get him healthy and motivated.

    Backup: Thomas Rawls

    NFL1000 Scores: 71/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 33/82

    Thomas Rawls was a standout as an undrafted free agent in 2015, taking over for Marshawn Lynch down the stretch of the season. However, 2016 was a different story—he battled injuries and wasn't productive as the lead guy. Now with Eddie Lacy on board after free agency, expect Rawls to take a back seat.

    When healthy, there might not be a more violent runner in the NFL. Rawls hangs his hat on toughness and a downhill style in Seattle's zone run game. When healthy, he does have the quickness to run outside the tackles and is a playmaker in space. He can go around defenders while also having no problem lowering his shoulder to go through them. Rawls has flashed the ability to catch the ball but has never done it consistently.

    He will be much better suited splitting carries with Lacy than to be the true starter, so expect a bounce-back year in 2017 from Rawls.

    Backup: C.J. Prosise

    NFL1000 Scores: 69.8/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 46/82

    C.J. Prosise, a 2016 third-round draft choice, showed major flashes in limited action last season. Prosise is an explosive player who should give Seattle's run game a much-needed speed dimension. He's a perfect change-of-pace back behind two power runners and could really develop as the go-to checkdown option for Russell Wilson. He is a major threat once in space and someone who can excel in the passing game.

    Prosise has the top-end speed to score from anywhere and the athletic ability to get open on any linebacker or safety. He should take a massive step forward in 2017 and could become one of the better young pass-catching backs in the league.

    Team Need: 2/10

    Potential Draft Fits: None.


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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Scheme: Zone

    Starter: Malcolm Johnson

    NFL1000 Scores: 72.7/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 4/20

    Seattle might have found a gem in signing Malcolm Johnson to the practice squad late in the season. Johnson was a solid starter for the Browns before being released in October. He's an old-school fullback who is very physical on contact and had no issues hitting defenders. He is able to locate would-be tacklers in space and is solid at adjusting on the fly. He is not a threat to run the ball but can function in short-yardage situations.

    Johnson does not bring much in the passing game, but don't expect Seattle to ask him to excel in this area. He will strictly be a lead blocker in a revamped power run game.

    Team Need: 1/10

    Potential Draft Fits: None

Wide Receiver

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Scheme: West Coast

    Starter: Doug Baldwin

    NFL1000 Scores: 70.1/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 15/155

    For the fourth consecutive year, Baldwin set career highs in receptions and yards despite playing on one of the most inconsistent offenses in the NFL. Baldwin is one of the best route-runners in the NFL and has a ruthless mentality that allows him to play much bigger than his listed size of 5'10", 192 pounds. Much like Steve Smith, Baldwin can be tough to tackle in the open field as he fights for every inch.

    Baldwin can make plays all over the field and is an ideal fit with Russell Wilson, as he has a knack for getting open quickly. He's emerged as one of the top 20 receivers in the league. With better play opposite of him in 2017, Baldwin should be able to improve on his 2016 totals once again.

    Starter: Tyler Lockett

    NFL1000 Scores: 64.3/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 80/155

    Before breaking his fibula and tibia in Week 16, Lockett was having somewhat of a sophomore slump. He saw his yardage total fall to 597 yards, and his receiving touchdown total dropped from six to one in 2016. Lockett is a deep threat who never managed to get on the same page with Russell Wilson. With Paul Richardson's emergence in the playoffs, Lockett will be in a battle for a starting role in training camp in 2017.

    Backup: Jermaine Kearse

    NFL1000 Scores: 63.3/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 93/155

    Despite playing in every game in 2016, Kearse had his lowest yardage total since 2013. At 27, he's nothing more than a role player who can make the occasional play down the field and who can contribute in the run game with his blocking. It's likely both Lockett and Paul Richardson will pass him on the depth chart heading into 2017, meaning his roster spot could be in jeopardy.

    Backup: Paul Richardson

    NFL1000 Scores: 59.5/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 137/155

    Richardson was basically a non-factor in the regular season, only catching 21 passes for 288 yards. But everything seemed to click in his last four games with the Seahawks. He was spectacular in the Wild Card matchup against the Lions, catching three passes for 48 yards and one of the most amazing touchdown grabs of the season. He climbed over a defender's back in the end zone to make a magnificent catch for a score.

    He was able to flash some of the talent in the last month of the season that helped him get selected in the second round out of Colorado. If Richardson can pick up where he left off in 2016, he will have a chance to surpass Kearse and Lockett on the depth chart in 2017.

    Backup: Tanner McEvoy

    NFL1000 Scores: 58.4/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 147/155

    McEvoy is a former college quarterback who was able to make the active 53-man roster after going undrafted in 2016. He's a massive target at 6'6", 230 pounds, and was able to make enough plays to warrant a roster spot in 2017.

    Team Need: 4/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Chris Godwin (Penn State), Zay Jones (East Carolina), Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington)

Tight End

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Scheme: West Coast

    Starter: Jimmy Graham

    NFL1000 Scores: 70.9/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 4/96

    Graham tore his patellar tendon in 2015, and it hampered him all season long as he admitted that he "barely practiced" in 2016. Despite his injury, he finally started to look like his former self by the end of the season. At 30, Graham is still one of the best receiving tight ends in the league. He's a mismatch all over the field and a terror to game-plan against.

    His size and his basketball background allow him to play "above the rim." He's fantastic in contested areas where he can play the ball in the air and use his size to box out defenders. He's at his best when he's detached from the line of scrimmage as a slot receiver. There aren't many players in the NFL who can cover him one-on-one.

    Graham's injury history and his weakness in the run game will likely keep him from reaching elite status again in the NFL. But his ability to dominate in the red zone and down the seam will still make him one of the better tight ends in the league for the next few seasons. The Seahawks were wise to protect their investment by adding quality players behind him, but when he's healthy, he's still a force.

    Backup: Luke Willson

    NFL1000 Scores: 62.4/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 42/96

    After hitting the free-agent market, Luke Willson decided to rejoin Seattle's crowded tight end room. He has incredible athleticism, but he has always been an enigma. He can make incredible plays in both the passing and running game, and his athletic ability is easy to see. But in four years in Seattle, Wilson was never able to top 400 receiving yards. 2016 was his worst statistical season as he only caught 15 passes for 129 yards. He will likely compete with second-year tight end Nick Vannett for snaps on offense.

    Backup: Nick Vannett

    NFL1000 Scores: 59/100
    NFL1000 Rank: 77/96

    A third-round pick in the 2016 draft, Vannett missed seven games with a high-ankle sprain that limited him all year. He was unable to surpass Luke Willson in snaps as a rookie. Vannett's best skill is his ability to make plays down the seam in the receiving game. He projects to be Graham's primary backup in 2017.

    Team Need: 1/10

    Potential Draft Fits: None. Could bring in some competition after the draft.

Left Tackle

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Scheme: Zone

    Starter: Luke Joeckel

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    The Seattle Seahawks have taken a very unusual approach in assembling their offensive line. Whether it is extreme belief in Tom Cable's ability to develop offensive linemen or pure stubbornness, Seattle has not wavered in its habits, and that is not necessarily a good thing.

    There is no question that a non-functional offensive line was the Achilles' heel for the Seahawks in 2016, specifically at the tackle positions. Bradley Sowell, an NFL journeyman, found himself starting for Seattle for a large portion of the year before he was replaced by developmental rookie George Fant, who had never played offensive line before.

    Seattle signed former first-round draft pick Luke Joeckel in free agency. Joeckel figures to be the immediate starter at left tackle for the Seahawks, perpetuating their unusual approach.

    Joeckel struggled to find any consistency at left tackle during his time in Jacksonville. There were flashes of what he could be, but there was always more bad than good. Jacksonville signed Kelvin Beachum from the 2015 free-agent pool, which forced Joeckel to move to left guard. Before being placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL during Week 4, Joeckel showed flashes of being serviceable on the interior offensive line but still lacked the hand usage and power at the point of attack needed to consistently have success.

    How Joeckel rebounds from his knee injury and embraces his second chance at having a starting left tackle role remains to be seen.

    Backup: George Fant

    NFL1000 Scores: 66.1/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 38/40

    George Fant was a 2016 undrafted free agent rookie out of Western Kentucky. He's perhaps best known for starting at forward for the Hilltoppers basketball team, while also seeing reserve action as a defensive end and tight end for the WKU football team.

    Fant started 10 games in 2016 at left tackle for the Seattle Seahawks. It was his first time playing offensive line in his life. In 14 games total, Fant surrendered eight sacks, five hits on the quarterback, 44 pressures and many more close calls that Russell Wilson bailed him out of.

    Without question, Fant has many of the physical traits you'd want a starting left tackle to possesses. As expected, though, he lacked many of the nuances of offensive line play that NFL players need to have, especially at the most difficult position on the unit, left tackle.

    Team Need: 10/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin), Garett Bolles (Utah), Dion Dawkins (Temple)

Right Tackle

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Scheme: Zone

    Starter: Garry Gilliam

    NFL1000 Scores: 68.2/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 32/38

    Garry Gilliam is another former tight end convert who has made the switch to offensive tackle and has struggled to find consistency in the nuances of pass protection. Gilliam had been the full-time starter at right tackle since 2015 and has been adequate at best.

    Gilliam struggles with his punch timing and also to transition his kick to anchor, which has made him susceptible to getting bull-rushed back into the quarterback. Gilliam shows promise as a run-blocker and is highly effective in executing what Seattle wants him to do for the most part.

    Seattle can live with Gilliam as its starter at right tackle, as he seems to keep progressing. But if Seattle is looking to upgrade the right tackle position, it doesn't have to look any further than to right guard Germain Ifedi, whose best position may be right tackle.

    Backup: Oday Aboushi

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    Oday Aboushi was signed as a free agent from Houston, where he saw his game action at guard. Aboushi played offensive tackle in college and also was a reserve tackle early in his career while with the New York Jets. The addition of Aboushi seems to be strictly for depth, as he has position flexibility as a reserve.

    Team Need: 1/10

    Potential Draft Fits: None

Offensive Guard

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Scheme: Zone

    Starter: Mark Glowinski

    NFL1000 Scores: 68.9/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 45/78

    I thought Mark Glowinski was going to take a really big step next year, but it didn't come to fruition after a dominant preseason in which he flashed an impressive blend of power and movement ability. His performance ended up grading below average, but the Seahawks clearly have bigger fish to fry up front (both tackle spots and right guard).

    With Germain Ifedi's high draft status and its being his first year inside, it would be understandable that the Seahawks would give him another year to develop. Between that and Glowinski's still tantalizing upside, it wouldn't surprise me if Seattle didn't address the guard position at all, barring a prospect it loves falling.

    Starter: Germain Ifedi

    NFL1000 Scores: 65.2/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 76/78

    Germain Ifedi had a rough season, grading out as one of the worst guards in the NFL in 2016. Ifedi does flash dominant levels of straight-line play strength, but get him in space and he fails to set any sort of base. He's a stereotypical phone booth player right now, and until he stops overextending and cleans up his footwork in pass protection, he will be a liability there.

    Backup: Oday Aboushi

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    I like the Seahawks' signing of Aboushi for only $975,000, a relatively cheap contract for a reserve offensive lineman. Not a lot of 25-year-old guards have as much NFL experience as Aboushi, and new bodies are needed to revamp this line from the top down. He shouldn't be asked to be a starter, but a baseline-level player to push Ifedi in camp was needed.

    Backup: Rees Odhiambo

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    With his lengthy medical history, stiffness out of his stance and clunky feet, it's safe to say I am not a fan of what Odhiambo offers, from his time at Boise State all the way to the tape he put up in 2016. I wouldn't feel comfortable having him as my top interior reserve lineman, so the Aboushi move is even better in that regard.

    Team Need: 4/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky), Nico Siragusa (San Diego State)


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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Scheme: Zone

    Starter: Justin Britt

    NFL1000 Scores: 69.9
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 21/38

    Justin Britt was easily Seattle's best OL last year (though obviously that isn't saying much), as a move inside to center really seemed to click for him. Britt's tackle background serves him well as a pass protector, as his ability to control defenders outside his frame isn't something many other interior players have.

    Backup: Joey Hunt

    NFL1000 ScoresDid not have enough snaps to qualify

    We don't know much about Hunt yet given his injuries in college and through the predraft process and limited reps in the league. What we do know isn't promising, as Hunt laid an egg in his Week 12 debut last year. That said, center depth could probably better addressed with a veteran free agent than a drafted player.

    Team Need: 2/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Riley Sorenson (Washington State), Cam Keizur (Portland State)

Defensive End

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Scheme: 4-3

    Starter: Cliff Avril

    NFL1000 Scores: 72.0/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 4/68

    Heading into the 2016 regular season, you could make the case that the two most underrated pass-rushers in the NFL, in terms of consistent pass rush, were Seattle's Cliff Avril and Washington's Ryan Kerrigan. Together, they made the Pro Bowl after posting 22.5 combined sacks.

    Avril is Seattle's best pure pass-rusher, and his fourth year with the Seahawks may be the climax of his career, as he posted a career high in sacks and recorded league-wide honors for the first time. He's a 30-year-old, but the team has him under contract for two years and at a price of just $13.5 million. For reference, a player like Vinny Curry has a cap hit of $20 million over the next two seasons. Avril had 11 sacks last year in a league that values a sack to roughly $2 million. He has a cap hit of $5.5 million, $16.5 million less than the estimated market value if you think he can repeat in 2017. He's not going anywhere.

    Starter: Michael Bennett

    NFL1000 Scores: 72.0/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 5/68

    Statistically, Michael Bennett didn't have a great 2016 regular season, but that didn't show on the field. Bennett struggled with health a bit, but he was still the same snap-jumping producer he's been during his whole career. A five-sack season didn't prevent him from earning a Pro Bowl nod.

    He's the poster boy for the hybrid "big end/nickel tackle" position in the NFL, and with more and more "Seahawk-style" defensive coordinators spreading across the league, several teams are molding their defenses around what he does on Sundays with Seattle. He's the starting end for the team and will play defensive tackle and stunt around in long and late downs.

    At this moment, Bennett is locked into a deal with the Seahawks until 2021, so they shouldn't be looking for his replacement just yet.

    Backup: Frank Clark

    NFL1000 Scores: 71.0/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 6/68

    You read that right: The third-best defensive end in Seattle is the sixth-best 4-3 defensive end in the NFL according to our grading system. If not for character concerns, Frank Clark likely would have been a first-round pick coming out of Michigan in 2015. Clark recorded 10 sacks coming off the bench last year and will be an interesting free agent in 2019 if the team lets him walk.

    The Seahawks will have to decide if they can pay starting money to three starting-caliber ends, but until then, they have Clark for two years at the cost of $2.2 million in cap space. He's one of the better values in this league. The team could draft a first-round pass-rusher, and it wouldn't change how often its top three defensive ends play in the rotation.

    Backup: Cassius Marsh

    NFL1000 Scores: 65.7/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 34/68

    Cassius Marsh may be a starting "Sam" linebacker for the team in 2017, but he was a fourth defensive end with the Seattle Seahawks last season. As a reserve and a stunt rusher in four defensive end sets in long and late downs, Marsh did well for the role. He may not be Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett or Frank Clark, but he's a functional body who could be a starter in certain situations around the league.

    If the Seahawks add a defensive end on Day 3, which is likely the only way they'd add a defensive end via the draft, he'd likely have to contribute on special teams to make the active roster. Marsh, in today's pass-rushing market, is probably worth north of $4 million per year. If Marsh were in Indianapolis or with the New York Jets, for example, he would be a projected starter. He's nowhere close to being on the roster bubble with a cap hit less than $1 million in 2017.

    Team Need: 1/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Ejuan Price (Pittsburgh), Vince Biegel (Wisconsin), Tarell Basham (Ohio)

Defensive Tackle

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Scheme: 4-3


    Starter: Jarran Reed

    NFL1000 Scores: 65.8/100
    Defensive Tackle Rank: 33/99

    Jarran Reed was one of the standouts in the strong rookie defensive tackle class. He was immediately one of the better run defenders in the league. Reed's pass rush has a ton of room for improvement, but he was still able to provide big plays in that department from time to time. Championship-caliber franchises like the Seahawks are able to get their early-round picks to be immediate producers for them; Reed was a home run pick in the second round of the 2016 class. Can the Seahawks find him an explosive running mate in this year's draft?

    Backup: Ahtyba Rubin

    NFL1000 Scores: 63.3/100
    Defensive Tackle Rank: 49/99

    Ahtyba Rubin is a solid, all-around defensive tackle. He's not a curator of big splash plays in the pass or run game, but he's not a liability in either of those areas. If the Seahawks decide to spend resources elsewhere (protect Russell Wilson) in the draft this year, going into 2017 with Rubin as the No. 2 defensive tackle next to Reed won't be an issue.

    Team Need: 4/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Caleb Brantley (Florida), Chris Wormley (Michigan), Jaleel Johnson (Iowa)

Outside Linebacker

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Scheme: 4-3

    Starter: K.J. Wright

    NFL1000 Scores: 71.3/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 6/46

    Though he is not the celebrity his counterpart Bobby Wagner is, K.J. Wright is one of the league's best linebackers. He has a thick, athletic build that gives him the tools to carry out any assignment that the Seahawks ask of him. Wright is a more than capable pass defender and has impressive flashes as a blitzer, but he does his best work as a run defender. Bruce Irvin (Raiders) and Telvin Smith (Jaguars) were the only two players to score higher in the run defense category than Wright.

    With his blend of athletic ability, strength and confident, controlled aggression, Wright is a tormenting run defender who constantly forces plays elsewhere. He's not a special gap shooter, but he is a roadblock.

    Backup: Kevin Pierre-Louis

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    Kevin Pierre-Louis contributed for the Seahawks last season, but he was not the favored player at his position. Pierre-Louis most commonly played the strong-side linebacker role for the Seahawks, which is down closer to the line of scrimmage than a traditional linebacker spot, though Michael Morgan was the starter at that spot. Pierre-Louis went back and forth with Brock Coyle at the strong-side spot while Morgan was injured during the middle stretch of the season.

    In his reserve role, Pierre-Louis proved to be a capable run defender. He understood how and when to flow to the perimeter and showed enough strength to eat blocks at the line of scrimmage. He did not show great value as a third-down player, but it was rare for the Seahawks to have three linebackers on the field for third down.

    Pierre-Louis is a fine replacement-level player. That being said, he only has one year remaining on his contract, and Seattle may want to put a rookie behind him on the depth chart as security and leverage in the near future.

    Backup: Ronald Powell

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    Ronald Powell is an odd position fit for any scheme. In a 3-4, he doesn't have true pass-rushing ability, but in a 4-3, he doesn't have great run-and-hit traits. Seattle's 4-3 Under scheme may be best for him. As a strong-side 'backer in this scheme, Powell would align more like a 3-4 OLB on the line of scrimmage but have more responsibilities as a run defender than a pass-rusher. He has enough strength and aggression for the position.

    That being said, Powell has failed to stick to a team throughout his career. Considering the Seahawks also have Cassius Marsh on the roster as a defensive end who could play the strong-side linebacker spot, there is no guarantee Powell stays.

    Team Need: 5/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Tyus Bowser (Houston), T.J. Watt (Wisconsin), Matt Milano (Boston College)

Inside Linebacker

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Scheme: 4-3

    Starter: Bobby Wagner

    NFL1000 Scores: 75.2/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 4/65

    Bobby Wagner may be one of the most consistent players in the NFL. Fortunately for the Seattle Seahawks, Wagner's consistent level of play is often at a top-notch level. Wagner doesn't garner the recognition the Legion of Boom did, but he's one of the reasons the Seattle defensive backfield was able to be so dominant for a stretch of years. What Wagner offers the defensive backs in terms of protection underneath is something few teams can boast.

    As a run defender, Wagner is violent in his assignments, rarely out of place and routinely shoots gaps for tackles for losses. Crossing routes rarely go undisrupted, as Wagner has the balance and power to redirect routes and rally to tackles underneath. In turn, the Seattle defensive backs are able to play physically with receivers on the boundaries knowing Wagner is often in place to deal with running backs and screen games.

    Seattle won't draft an inside linebacker with anything other than a late pick for as long as Wagner is around. Wagner's stats and play are consistent, but so is his availability, having started all 16 games in 2016 and been named a First-Team All-Pro. The Seahawks can comfortably look at inside 'backer knowing Wagner erases any need to draft a player now.

    Backup: Arthur Brown

    NFL1000 Scores: Did not have enough snaps to qualify

    Arthur Brown played for the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars last season, failing to make any sort of impact with either team. Seattle brought him in as a depth piece and will likely challenge him to learn all three positions at linebacker if he expects to stay on the roster. After signing Brown, the team continued to look for linebacker depth, pointing to the level of comfort or expectation for Brown in the upcoming season. He's a third-string player and core special teamer who has an outside chance of staying on the roster if he shows he can fill in at any spot for Seattle.

    Backup: Michael Wilhoite

    NFL1000 Scores: 65.1/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 61/65

    Michael Wilhoite is plenty familiar with the Seahawks, having played for the rival San Francisco 49ers for the last five years. Wilhoite signed last week as an unrestricted free agent and will likely begin the season as the immediate backup to Wagner. Wilhoite does everything at an adequate level but lacks the overall technique to be a high-level starter. Fortunately for the Seahawks, Wilhoite has plenty of starting experience and should be able to play in a pinch. He's an ideal backup in the NFL who will excel on special teams.

    Team Need: 1/10

    Potential Draft Fits: UDFAs with special teams potential


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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Scheme: Press Cover 3

    Starter: Richard Sherman

    NFL1000 Scores: 72.9/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 6/133

    Richard Sherman's dominant run in Seattle continued in 2016, as he was responsible for lifting a secondary that withstood some difficult personnel losses due to injuries. The 29-year-old is still among the NFL's elite, but he did begin to show signs of aging last year. Seattle had him play off the line of scrimmage more than ever before, surely correlating with Sherman's losing a touch of his athleticism. But barring a sudden, sharper decline, there's no reason to think his spot as the No. 1 corner is in any jeopardy this coming season.

    Starter: DeShawn Shead

    NFL1000 Scores: 62.8/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 65/133

    The Seahawks eventually re-signed DeShawn Shead, which helped fill what would've been a massive immediate need for them had they moved Jeremy Lane into the starting lineup. Shead is an average corner, excelling in only run defense. His length and size are impressive but also a limitation as soon as offenses try to stretch the field vertically or isolate a quick receiver on him. If the Seahawks can land a sliding cornerback to supplant Shead as a starter, they shouldn't hesitate to upgrade.

    Slot: Jeremy Lane

    NFL1000 Scores: 58.5/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 108/133

    Jeremy Lane primarily played the slot last year and was not good. His average slot grade of 14.8 finished 96th in the NFL, which is replacement-level. The Seahawks can likely stomach that again, but unless a young player like Pierre Desir or Stanley Jean-Baptiste can step in, they must add a draft pick to push Lane for the slot corner position. Lane's lack of twitch and burst in short areas makes him a difficult matchup for the defense, as offenses rely more on shifty receivers than anything else in the slot.

    Team Need: 6/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Kevin King (Washington), Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson), Ahkello Witherspoon (Colorado), Jourdan Lewis (Michigan)

Free Safety

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    RICK SCUTERI/Associated Press

    Scheme: Cover 3

    Starter: Earl Thomas

    NFL1000 Scores: 75.5/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 3/50

    Thomas is elite at what he does. No other free safety has the same combination of range and instincts that Thomas brings to the Seahawks secondary. As a result, he can afford to line up closer to the line of scrimmage and break more aggressively on underneath and intermediate routes than any other free safety. His range gives him recovery ability that can make up for any mistakes and still get back on top of deep routes.

    The Seahawks defense suffered greatly when Thomas broke his leg in Week 13 and missed the rest of the season. He mulled the idea of retirement but is set to be back next year and should still be one of the top free safeties in the NFL.

    Backup: Bradley McDougald

    NFL1000 Scores: 69.5/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 34/50

    McDougald is an intriguing free-agent acquisition for the Seahawks. In Thomas and Chancellor, they have two very different, very defined roles with the strong and free safety positions. McDougald played in a base Cover 2/Tampa 2 scheme with the Buccaneers and doesn't fit fully into either role as purely the deep safety or purely in the box. He's adequate in either role, meaning he's likely the backup for both Thomas and Chancellor should either get hurt, but he doesn't excel in either spot. Still, McDougald is a solid pickup with plenty of starter experience, meaning he should be capable of filling in when needed.

    Team Need: 2/10

    Potential Draft Fits: UDFA for competition, but no significant need

Strong Safety

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Scheme: Cover 3

    Starter: Kam Chancellor

    NFL1000 Scores: 76.5/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 2/53

    Chancellor has become the new prototype for NFL strong safeties. At 6'3", 225 pounds, he packs a punch and acts as an extra linebacker in the run game, which is a big part of why the Seahawks run defense is always strong. His coverage responsibilities are often limited to just underneath zones, where he excels at reading the quarterback and breaking quickly on anything underneath. This role has been so successful that teams around the league have attempted to copy it. Keanu Neal with the Falcons, Johnathan Cyprien with the Jaguars and Landon Collins with the Giants have all benefited from similar roles.

    The only concern with Chancellor is health. He hasn't managed to stay healthy for a full 16-game season since 2013.

    Team Need: 5/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Josh Harvey-Clemons (Louisville), Lorenzo Jerome (St. Francis), Delano Hill (Michigan)


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    James Kenney/Associated Press

    Starter: Blair Walsh

    NFL1000 Scores: 62.1/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 37/38

    It was not entirely surprising that Seattle moved on from Stephen Hauschka, simply because its cap situation dictated that it would likely be unable to pay him what he commanded on the open market. Hauschka was one of the top five kickers in the league over the past three years and deserves every penny he got in his new deal. However, he was still prone to one-week bouts of inconsistency that seemed to creep up every year.

    That said, the move to Blair Walsh is surprising but also suggests Seattle is likely to either draft a kicker in the later rounds or grab one or more camp legs from the ranks of the undrafted free agents. Walsh's 2016 was not up to NFL standards, as he showed an inability to bounce back from a critical playoff miss against the Seahawks the year before.

    My take on Walsh after that miss was to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to prove himself in 2016, but with that having gone so poorly, he is likely here to provide a veteran presence to challenge one or more rookies, rather than be the long-term solution.

    Team Need: 8/10

    Potential Draft Fits: Jake Elliott (Memphis), Nick Weiler (North Carolina), Andy Phillips (Utah)


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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Punter: Jon Ryan

    NFL1000 Scores: 66/100
    NFL1000 Position Rank: 20/38

    Jon Ryan had somewhat of a disappointing season in 2016, logging a grade in the middle of the pack for the season. While Ryan has never had the elite leg strength nor the varied game of the elite punters in the NFL, he had proved to be an above-average punter capable of carrying out the Seahawks' game plan on a weekly basis. It would not be surprising to find out Ryan was battling injury over the course of 2016, as the inconsistency he displayed last year was out of character for someone who had been so consistent previously.

    Ryan is likely to show improvement back to his baseline in 2017, which would put him in the top 12 punters in the NFL. Do not be surprised if Seattle brings in a camp leg to challenge him, but Ryan's job should be safe through this year before bigger salaries start to kick in for the 2018 season.

    Team Need: 4/10

    Potential Draft Fits: None

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