Breaking Down Each Position as we Enter Free Agency and the Draft
With the much talked about roster churn we are seeing go down, now would be a good time to take a look at the roster, position by position, to look at needs and to paint an overall picture about what sort of shape this team is actually in. It’s very easy to panic when our shutdown All-Pro corner and leading sack leader aren’t in the 2018 and beyond plans.
This is obviously set with Russ but the backup spot isn’t. 2017 backup Austin Davis is set to become an UFA, however Seattle does currently have Trevone Boykin on a futures deal.
Running Back –
As it stands, the only RB’s on the roster are Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise & Tre Madden. I don’t believe Chris Carson will be RB1 next season, however there’s every chance he is still heavily involved in a double headed dragon type arrangement akin to the New Orleans Saints. I’m fully expecting for Seattle to add a running back in free agency as well as two in the draft, with one likely being selected before the end of day 2 (rounds 1 to 3).
Wide Receiver –
Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Amara Darboh, Tanner McEvoy, David Moore, Cyril Grayson and Marcus Johnson are the current crop of WR’s. I’m unsure if the team will bring back Paul Richardson in free agency, with a gun to my head I say they do (for around $6.25M APY) but I’d be far from shocked if they don’t. This unit relies heavily on the likes of Tyler Lockett gaining his pre-injury abilities back and Amara Darboh taking a big second year jump. A bit of uncertainty in the middle grounds so I’d expect Seattle to pick someone up in free agency to add to the competition as well as draft one of the taller bodies in the draft, maybe with one of their four 5th round picks.
Tight End –
Currently Nick Vannett and Tyrone Swoopes are the only players on the roster at tight end, you can guarantee that will change, though. I think with 100% certainty that Jimmy Graham won’t be back but I do believe UFA Luke Willson will be bought back on a long term deal (3 years or so) with either Willson or Vannett being the starter, that battle can be determined in camp and preseason. I’d also expect a pure blocking tight end to be signed either through free agency or the draft.
Left Tackle –
Totally set with Duane Brown. I’d expect him to be extended in the summer or early in the season. The current backup, Matt Tobin, is an UFA. I’m unsure if he will be back, though. If he is, it will be for a minimum type salary.
Left Guard –
With the 2017 starter Luke Joeckel being an UFA, I’d be very shocked to see the team bring him back. Ultimately, I’m expecting the team to draft one of Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez or Austin Corbett to be drafted early. Any one of those will be a plug and play starter at the position which is great. Jordan Roos will be there as a backup, too.
Justin Britt is all but guaranteed to be the starting center next season, with Ethan Pocic backing him up. Joey Hunt is also an exclusive rights free agent so could be bought back (costing $630,000 for 2018).
Right Guard –
This is where it gets interesting. Ethan Pocic was the starter at RG for the majority of last season but did get pushed around a bit. If new OL coach Mike Solari moves the lines away from the zone blocking scheme to more of a power run scheme Ethan Pocic may come a bit unstuck, even if he bulked up, I don’t think he is suited to a Solari guard in a power run offense. Pretty frustrating given the draft capital Seattle used on him but such is life. Ultimately, I’m more confident they will slide Germain Ifedi inside to RG or make a free agency signing to start here. Ethan Pocic would be a very strong and versatile backup to slot right in across the whole line as and when injuries occur, so all would not be lost on him.
Right Tackle –
Another interesting position. It’s possible that Ifedi isn’t moved to RG and starts where he played last season, it’s also possible Ifedi could find himself on the bench if they didn’t move him to RG and George Fant continues to develop and overtakes him on the depth chart. I’m cautiously optimistic that George Fant will be a starter next season, the question is where he will play. I guess there’s also the possibility that a free agent is bought in to compete, however, if they did go down that route I think it would only be as a backup slot.
Next up the defense –
Defensive End –
I’d bet my house that Dion Jordan receives a restricted free agent tender at the original round (costing $1,907,000) and starts at defensive end. I think Branden Jackson will also be bought back (costing $630,000) to add to the depth. Add in Frank Clark and also a mid round draft pick to add to the rotation and I don’t think this unit is in as bad shape as many will have you believe.
Defensive Tackle –
Quinton Jefferson and Garrison Smith may well be bought back (costing $630,000 each). It’s yet to be determined if the team manages to lock up Sheldon Richardson but assuming they don’t, that leaves Jarran Reed and Naz Jones as the starters which I’m completely fine with. Reed is an elite run stuffer and Jones showed flashes of utter greatness last season. I think he will become a star on this defense in the next 2 years and will become one of the ‘core’.
Outside Linebacker –
It’s fair to assume K.J. Wright will hold down one of the positions, but who plays on the weak side in the base formation? DJ Alexander is still on the roster, however he’s more of a special team’s guy than a starting WILL linebacker. If Seattle did draft Shaquem Griffin he would likely start, alternatively they could take the approach they did last season and sign a couple of cheap guys later in the year and slot them in on a rotation. Having the second OLB spot as an area of weakness isn’t necessarily the end of the world, especially with Seattle likely running a nickel defense even more thus taking a linebacker off the field.
Inside Linebacker –
Bobby Wagner will obviously be the starter. But if he goes down the team really will be up shit creek without a paddle. Realistically if that were to happen K.J. would slide into the middle but this team really needs depth at ILB this year. Paul Dawson could be resigned for $555,000 which is a possibility, or they may tap into some of the depth in this years draft at the position. Bobby Wagner is only under contract for two more seasons and I do expect the team will bring him back on a third contract, but now would be an ideal time to hedge their bets and draft someone that can learn from one of the best at his position.
Left Cornerback –
I don’t think we see a new face at this position. Either Byron Maxwell or DeShawn Shead will be bought back and start at Sherm’s old position (wipes tears). Most likely candidate is Maxwell in my opinion as I think Shead will be back as the starting strong safety. Beyond that, you have Neiko Thorpe, DeAndre Elliott and Alex Carter as backups. Plus there’s a chance they throw a late round pick at a player (Jordan Thomas in the 7th, shhh).
Right Cornerback –
It’s a given that second year player Shaquill Griffin starts here, beyond that, the depth players mention above will be his backups. I don’t think for a second Jeremy Lane will be on the roster, even given the Richard Sherman news.
Slot cornerback –
Justin Coleman was arguably one of 2017’s best pickups by this front office. He’s currently a restricted free agent so I’d expect the team to put a second round tender on him at a cost of $2,914,000 which is a bargain given his production and the likelihood Seattle will continue using heavy nickel formations so he will see plenty of snaps.
Free Safety –
Earl is obviously the starter as of right now, but if he is moved I’d expect the team to make Bradley McDougald (UFA) the number one priority signing to start at FS next season. I don’t think Earl is going anywhere, though.
Strong Safety –
With Kam very likely still on the roster but unable to play, there’s been talk about DeShawn Shead being bought back (UFA) to transition from corner to safety. I’d be on board with that. However, I’d also be on board with giving 2017 rookie 3rd round draft choice Delano Hill a shot. Hill has good speed and good arm length and should step into a starting role well.