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2012 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks

Quarterbacks

Starter: Russell Wilson [R]
Backup(s): Matt Flynn

Starting QB: Russell Wilson was a two-team captain at Maryland and Wisconsin where he displayed excellent command of two pro style offenses. He has the arm to make all the throws, the mobility to make plays on the move, and the vision and accuracy to find receivers under pressure and throw them open in coverage. Because he's 5'10" a lot of teams took Wilson off its draft boards, but the fears that he's too small to take punishment or make plays as passer in the pocket are overblown. Wilson is nearly 215 pounds and capable of taking hits and breaking tackles in the open field. He only had four passes deflected at the line of scrimmage last year behind a Wisconsin unit that is taller than all but four NFL units. His preseason performance was excellent and he'll earn the start. He's a strong, play action quarterback capable of buying time in teh pocket and generating big plays with his arm and his legs. He's a nice option as a late-round pick, capable of more upside than free agent Matt Flynn.

Backup QB: After Russell Wilson impressed the coaching staff with his skill and command of the offense in mini camp and the preseason, the rookie won the three-way competition for the starting job with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson. Flynn is the recent free agent signee and the Seahawks feel comfortable enough with Flynn's tools to produce as a starter. He has starter-caliber arm strength, good pocket mobility, and when he's making quick decisions, he's accurate. However his consistency has always been an issue back to the days where he frequently upstaged Jamarcus Russell at LSU. Flynn was the favorite to earn the starting job but Wilson's terrific preseason, including a fantastic performance against the Chiefs changed everything. If Flynn sees time, he'll have surrounding weapons with potential for big plays in deep threat Braylon Edwards, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, and tight ends Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow. However, it's wise to temper expectations because Seattle is a run-first team as long as Marshawn Lynch stays healthy.Josh Portis is a fine athlete with good arm strength, but entered the league as a raw passer. Even if he doesn't demonstrate substantial progress this summer, his contract is friendlier to keep him over Jackson if Wilson and Flynn perform to expectations.

Running Backs

Starter: Marshawn Lynch
Backup(s): Leon Washington, Robert Turbin, Kregg Lumpkin
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: In 2011, Marshawn Lynch looked like the player he was as a rookie in Buffalo and the star he was at California. Lynch's 4.2 yards per carry wasn't impressive, but considering the injuries to the offensive line, he had an excellent year. The fact he scored 12 touchdowns and produced a top-five fantasy season with this line and sub par complements in the passing game is a testament to the season he had. With a new contract signed, there will be doubters that he'll play to the same level. Those skeptics are counting Lynch stooping to his worst, but coach Pete Carroll is great at helping players bring out the best in themselves. If the passing game makes incremental improvement, Lynch is a solid fantasy starter capable of top-12 production once again. His recent DUI charge is still a concern, but not enough to drop him lower than rounds 2-3 in most fantasy drafts. After Rodger Goodell's discipline of Jonathan Vilma was rebuked in court, and the questions surrounding the disciplinary policy as it applies to Lynch, don't expect more than a 2-3 game suspension, and we're not expecting that action to be levied until 2013.

Backup RBs: Washington was a player that Pete Carroll seemed frustrated about not getting more involved in the offense last year. He has the talent to provide a sound, change of pace with some explosive plays. Robert Turbin has the build and some fundamental skill to develop into Lynch's most obvious back up and despite anup and down performances in preseason, he's the No.2 on the depth chart. He still has to learn to make better decisions between the tackles and run with his pads, but has made progress as recently as the Chiefs game. Kregg Lumpkin has feature back size, vision, and receiving skills, but injuries have kept him from earning more opportunities after flashing potential in two different camps.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin
Backups: Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, Charly Martin,

Starting WRs: Sidney Rice could not stay healthy for a second consecutive year. When he did, he could barely manage to convert 50 percent of his targets. A new quarterback could improve matters, but his fantasy status has fallen a long way since he was the No. 8 receiver with Brett Favre throwing him targets in 2009. The undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin was the team's best wide out last year and he's a natural as a slot receiver capable of big plays down field. There's good reason to expect Baldwin to reach top-40 production again in 2012 if healthy. However, Tate and Obomanu are the current starters at this point. Tate is a promising athlete with the skills to adjust to the football and running back style explosiveness in the open field. He has steadily improved since his rookie year. Obomanu continues to surprise the Seahawks as more than a straight-line deep threat. He's not as dynamic as Rice or as good of a route runner as Baldwin, but he's a solid, late-round pick if he maintains the starting job. The surprise of the group is Braylon Edwards, who is competing for the starting job at split end with Tate. He and Russell Wilson have demonstrated strong down field rapport in the preseason games and he's routinely impressing in practice.

Backup WRs: Pete Carroll courted cast-off Braylon Edwards. The former Browns stud Edwards is becoming a sound late-round pick due to his rapport with likely starter Russell Wilson on down field throws.

Tight Ends

Starters: Zach Miller
Backups: Anthony McCoy, Evan Moore

Zach Miller's fantasy production suffered in 2011 because he was needed more as a pass protector due to injuries along the offensive line. However, it's clear that the Seahawks see him as the clear-cut starter after letting former starter John Carlson leave for Minnesota. Miller was a consistent low-end fantasy starter in Oakland and as long as the Seahawks offensive line stays healthy this year, he might approach that production if the Seahawks don't grab a tight end of Chris Cooley's receiving skills. McCoy is a stiffer athlete than Morrah, but bigger and stronger. Neither is the same level of blocker as Miller, which is why the former Raider was brought to Seattle last year. Seattle picked Evan Moore off waivers before opening week. Moore is a quality receiver with good body control to make plays in tight coverage. He could become a nice red zone threat for the Seahawks once he learns the system.

Place Kicker

Steve Hauschka : Clint Gresham is back for a third season as the long snapper. Back for a fifth year is punter is Jon Ryan, who also serves as the holder. Kicker Steve Hauschka, acquired late last summer, had a solid outing in what became his first full season after three previous partial seasons. He hit 25 of 30 (83.3%) field goals and added 34 extra points. He'll very likely keep the job, although undrafted rookie Carson Wiggs (Purdue) could pull off an upset with a strong showing. The Seahawks have ranked in the bottom third of the league in attempted kicking points the past four years, including 21st each of the last two years.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Leon Washington, Doug Baldwin

In his six-year NFL career, RB Leon Washington has already amassed seven kickoff returns for touchdowns, the second most in NFL history behind Cleveland's Josh Cribbs who has 8. WR Doug Baldwin should be in the mix for some kickoff returns.

Punt Returners: Leon Washington, Golden Tate

Last season Washington was the return game equivalent of a workhorse back, handling 41 of 42 punts and 43 of 46 kickoffs. There's little reason to expect that to change this year. WR Golden Tate is the best bet to be the backup on punts

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Russell Okung, LG Paul McQuistan, C Max Unger, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Breno Giacomini
Key Backups: T Frank Omiyale, G John Moffitt, G/T James Carpenter, C Lemuel Jeanierre

PRESEASON OUTLOOK: Left tackle Russell Okung is the most talented player on the Seahawks line. Okung was an elite draft pick but has had injury problems that have kept him out of action. Should he stay healthy and the Seahawks win some games, Okung could feasibly receive Pro Bowl honors. Left guard Paul McQuistan is a coach's favorite and mostly solid. McQuistan is slated to start this year after playing admirably as an injury replacement. Center Max Unger is a good and productive player in the middle. Right guard John Moffitt is a run-blocking specialist who can be beaten in pass protection (Moffitt compares to fellow Wisconsin Badger Kevin Zeitler). Moffitt can open holes, as can right tackle Breno Giacomini. Giacomini is somewhat of a surprising fan favorite who played well last season. Swing tackle Frank Omiyale has some experience and will be called upon to replace Okung in case of injury. The cohesion score is excellent but was docked a half point for multi-week injuries of several players last season and the departure of Robert Gallery. Line coach Tom Cable washed out as a head coach, but he's still among the league's elite line coaches. Not many fans are aware, but the Seattle line could gel and be actually be excellent. Watch for a rise in the rankings if they stay healthy early in the season.

Team Defense

The Seahawks defense did a good job of generating turnovers, but not sacking the quarterback. Considering that most of their division has offensive line problems, that shouldn't have been the case. Clinton McDonald will make the team miss the departed Anthony Hargrove a little less and rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin next to veteran Chris Clemons at some point in the near future. The team had a lot of injuries at linebacker in 2011, but Leroy Hill emerged as a very good player and worked well with KJ Wright. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are a good duo at safety, and Brandon Browner covers the field well at the cornerback with Richard Sherman. This isn't a great defense, and it doesn't generate many sacks but it will provide fantasy owners with some good sacks.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Chris Clemons, DT Brandon Mebane, DT Alan Branch, DE Red Bryant
Backups: DE Bruce Irvin [R], DT Jason Jones, DT Clinton McDonald, DT Jaye Howard [R], DE Greg Scruggs

Starting DL: Seattle relies heavily on its front four to generate pressure, scheming ways to put "Leo" end Chris Clemons in the best matchups to reach the quarterback. Clemons has been very effective in his two years under Pete Carroll, tallying 12 sacks in 2011 and 22.5 total. Though he'll get help from first round pick Bruce Irvin and free agent acquisition Jason Jones on passing downs, Clemons will again be the team's primary every-down pass rusher. At 332 pounds, Red Bryant is the biggest 4-3 defensive end in the league. With Clemons playing the run on the way to the quarterback, Seattle likes the big-bodied Bryant setting the edge on the strong side. Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch start at defensive tackle. Branch was quietly very strong against the run inside last year. Mebane is more of a penetrating three-technique tackle and the team hopes he'll be able to regain the explosiveness he showed as a pass rusher early in his career.

Backup DL: The Seahawks were widely criticized for their selection of Bruce Irvin in the first round, with observers citing concerns about Irvin's one-dimensional game and questioning whether he was a first round talent. With defenses now in a subpackage defense more often than ever, Irvin will be a nominal 12th starter. If he lives up to his billing as an explosive rusher off the edge, he'll have a major impact for this defense. Jason Jones had issues with durability in Tennessee, but could provide a significant boost as an interior pass rusher for the Seahawks. Clinton McDonald and rookie Jaye Howard will be rotational bodies when needed.

Linebackers

Starters: OLB K.J. Wright, MLB Bobby Wagner, OLB LeRoy Hill
Backups: ILB Barrett Ruud, OLB Malcolm Smith, OLB Adrian Moten, OLB Allen Bradford, OLB Matt McCoy, LB Korey Toomer, LB Heath Farwell

Starting LBs: David Hawthorne, last year's starter at MLB, wasn't aggressively pursued and signed with New Orleans in free agency. The team added Barrett Ruud early in free agency, but rookie Bobby Wagner took advantages of Ruud's spring troubles with injury to cement himself as the starter inside. Wagner impressed defensive coaches with his solid, all-around play at the Senior Bowl and on film. The Seahawks would like him to be their long term answer at MLB, but there are questions as to whether he'll be dynamic enough between the tackles and in coverage to stick there. K.J. Wright was very impressive as a rookie and is expected to be the every-down starter at SLB. LeRoy Hill has had multiple off the field issues, but he's a good fit for the WLB in this scheme and should be the opening weekend starter.

Backup LBs: Ruud struggled through shoulder and groin injuries last season in Tennessee before formally losing his job to rookie Colin McCarthy. He has a history with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley when both were in Tampa Bay and the Seahawks scheme is similar to the Tampa-2 in which he had his best seasons. He'll likely backup Wagner. Korey Toomer, this year's fifth round pick, and Heath Farwell are likely to make the team as upside and special teams stalwarts, respectively, but will have to survive a deep camp battle. Malcolm Smith, Adrian Moten and Allen Bradford (a converted RB) are all quick, athletic outside linebacker candidates. Smith was impressive in camp last year, but will have to stay healthy to stick.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Brandon Browner, SS Kam Chancellor, FS Earl Thomas, CB Richard Sherman
Backups: CB Marcus Trufant, CB Walter Thurmond, S Jeron Johnson, S Winston Guy, CB Jeremy Lane, CB Byron Maxwell

Starting DBs: Earl Thomas followed up his breakout rookie season with another strong campaign, cementing himself as one of the league's best young all-around safeties. Meanwhile, Kam Chancellor exploded onto the scene as a dominant in-the-box defender with better than expected coverage skills, giving the Seahawks arguably the strongest safety tandem in the NFL. Though there were brief rumblings that the team might considering moving the 6-3, 232 pound Chancellor to OLB, Seattle will again line up with Chancellor as an in-the-box strong safety and nickel linebacker and Thomas -- who is no slouch as a run defender -- in a cover safety role. Brandon Browner, who spent four seasons in the CFL before joining the team last year, and Richard Sherman, a fifth round rookie pick, were revelations for the Seahawks by midseason. Both are tall, physical corners with a nose for the ball. They combined for ten interceptions last year.

Backup DBs: Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond are both capable of providing very strong depth at corner but both have significant durability concerns. Trufant's chronic back issues put him on injured reserve early in 2011, but the team brought him back in the hopes that 2012 will be a healthy season for him. Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy have promise as depth players, but both are green. If the Seahawks suffer an injury at any position in the secondary, their depth could become an issue.

Last modified: 2012-09-02 20:31:39

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