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2017 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks

Offensive Philosophy

With Russell Wilson on a cheap rookie contract and a workhorse back in Marshawn Lynch behind him, Pete Carroll's Seahawks were one of the most run-heavy teams in recent history. But with Wilson paid like a franchise QB and Lynch injured, the 2016 Seahawks were much more reliant on the pass, a trend which should continue in 2017.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Russell Wilson
Backup(s): Austin Davis, Trevone Boykin, Jake Heaps, Skyler Howard [R]

Starting QB: Once again, Seattle reshuffled its offensive line and the unit allowed an average of 2.7 sacks per game-the sixth-highest total in the league last year. Even so, Wilson gutted through the season despite the punishment that resulted in an MCL sprain and high-ankle sprain early in the year and later, a pectoral injury. He didn't have complete mobility until season's end, but he still finished the year as the No. 10 fantasy quarterback, posting a career-high 4219 passing yards. For the third consecutive year, Wilson heated up down the stretch, throwing 10 touchdowns during his final 5 games. Wilson also posted a career-high 11 interceptions, but 5 of them came against Green Bay in Week 14 and at least 3 of them were odd-ball situations. The past three years have demonstrated that Wilson has potential to deliver elite fantasy quarterback production, but he needs a better offensive line to do it. Fantasy owners will likely be in wait-and-see mode with Wilson's upside, making him a mid-to-late-range QB1 in drafts.

Backup QB: Trevone Boykin performed well during his first preseason exposure. He's an athletic, big-armed prospect with developmental upside, but he violated his parole this spring and could face jail time. Heaps attended BYU, Kansas, and Miami. He was a UDFA of the Jets and had a brief stint with the Seahawks last year. He has been re-signed due to Boykin's legal troubles. Look for him to compete with rookie UDFA Skyler Howard, a good deep-ball thrower with mobility from West Virginia.

Running Backs

Starter: Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy
Backup(s): C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, Troymaine Pope, Kelvin Taylor, J.D. McKissic, George Farmer, Terence Magee, Chris Carson [R]
Fullback(s): Malcolm Johnson

Starting RB: The Seahawks expected Thomas Rawls to be ready for 2016 training camp after his rookie season was ended prematurely by a major injury, but that optimism didn't translate to reality. A lack of preseason playing time resulted in an early-season injury in Week 2 and it Rawls missed another nine weeks. Upon his return, he never got right. The quick, agile, and hard-running Rawls averaged less than four yards per carry and delivered just one 100-yard game against Carolina in Week 13. The offensive line was a major culprit, but Seattle opted for greater depth with the addition of Lacy. The former Packer signed an incentive-laden deal incumbent upon him maintaining a healthy playing weight. Lacy, whose season was cut short after Week 6 by an ankle injury, has 1 touchdown in his past 13 games. Even so, Lacy has four 100-yard games during that span. Expect Rawls and Lacy to share the load this year.

Backup RBs: Because Seattle has a history of open competition for every starting job, it's possible that second-year runner C.J. Prosise earns a significant role. The former Notre Dame receiver is a big, explosive back who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury after earning 234 yards from scrimmage and a score in Weeks 10-11. Alex Collins lacks Prosise's athletic upside, but he's a fundamentally sound runner with strength, quickness, and receiving skill. Pope, a rookie free agent last year, impressed during the preseason and rejoined the team after a brief stint with the Jets in the fall. Taylor couldn't make the 49ers roster as a late-round pick in 2016. He lacks his dad's speed and quickness, but he's a competent zone runner. McKissic is an explosive scat back who will compete for opportunities in the return game after impressing in that role with the Falcons during the 2016 preseason. Magee is a short but big (and slow) power back with balance who could earn a look at fullback. Farmer is a former wide receiver on the practice squad after a brief stint as a rookie with the Cowboys.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson
Backups: Amara Darboh, Tanner McEvoy, Kenny Lawler, Kasen Williams, Jamel Johnson, Rodney Smith, Cyril Grayson, David Moore [R]

Starting WRs: Baldwin proved the doubters wrong buy building on 2015's 100-yard, 14-touchdown campaign with a 94-catch, 1128-yard season in 2016. Although his touchdown total was cut in half, he once again produced as a top-10 fantasy receiver. The real question mark of the receiving corps starters is Kearse. Although he re-signed prior to the 2016 season, Kearse earned 21 more targets than the year prior but he caught 8 fewer passes for 174 fewer yards. The future of this corps should be Lockett and Richardson. After promising big-play moments as a rookie, Lockett didn't build on his production in 2016 and suffered a broken leg in Week 15 after his season-best effort the week prior. The most intriguing option on the depth chart could be Richardson. The former second-round pick suffered his second ACL tear of his football career at the end of his rookie year and then tore a hamstring in year two upon his return to the field. He made a full recovery and Russell Wilson lauded Richardson's ability to make big plays in practice early in the year as he discussed his hope that they could use Richardson more often in the rotation. That hope translated into a reality during the final four games of the year. Richardson earned 15 receptions for 213 yards and a touchdown, including two amazing playoff catches in tight coverage that he was known for making in college. Richardson and Lockett should challenge Kearse for playing time.

Backup WRs: Darboh, a rookie from Michigan, has good size and an excellent catch radius. He's an inconsistent receiver who makes both incredible grabs and untimely drops. He has starter potential, but it could take a year or two before he earns a real opportunity while the players ahead of him play out their contracts. McEvoy is a former safety at Wisconsin. He has terrific size (6'6", 230 pounds) and good speed, and he earned occasional playing time last year, including a high-pointed score against the Packers. Lawler was a late-round 2016 draft pick who is skilled on fade routes but must learn to run a refined route tree. Williams is a talented third-year player with strong hands and potential as a physical possession option and maybe more if his devastating leg injury in college has healed sufficiently. Rodney Smith is a smaller option from Fresno State who could compete for a reserve role as a slot receiver and return specialist. Grayson was a track star at LSU and has not played football since 2011. He wanted to play but could not earn a football scholarship opportunity and begged his way into the team's 2017 Pro Day. Grayson ran a 4.33-second 40 that he was reportedly disappointed with and didn't drop a single target during the workout. Seattle signed him for its upcoming rookie camp.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jimmy Graham
Backups: Luke Willson, Nick Vannett, Brad Cottom, Marcus Lucas, Chris Briggs

Graham's thigh injury was supposed to be a career-altering event, but he returned to the field Week 1 of 2016 and posted his best season in three years as fantasy football's No.2 tight end, including a career-best 14.2 yards per catch average. Almost as surprising as his return from injury has been his improvement as a blocker. He'll never be mistaken for Rob Gronkowski, but Graham has made enough strides that he could become a more versatile option. Willson has been an effective player even if he can't match Graham's production. Willson could see a serious challenge from second-year option Nick Vannett. Vannett has the prototypical size and athletic ability of an inline, every-down tight end. He must prove that he can win against tight coverage if he wants to prove he has starter upside. Lucas is a former receiver from Missouri who was too slow for the position in the NFL. This is Lucas' fifth stop in four years, including two stints with Carolina. Briggs is a 6'5" 230-pound option from Southeastern Louisiana by way of Southern Mississippi. He played receiver at both colleges. Cottom is a former blocking tight end from Tennessee. He's not a high-end athlete, but he has good size as an inline player.

Place Kicker

Blair Walsh, John Lunsford: The Seahawks lost Steven Hauschka to the Bills in free agency, so they were forced to look to the street for their 2017 kicker. They found an option in Blair Walsh, who famously missed a chip shot field goal to allow the Seahawks to advance in the 2015 playoffs. Walsh never seemed to completely get his confidence back after that miss and the Vikings released him last year. Walsh is a good sleeper kicker to track as he led the league in made field goals twice with Minnesota, and Hauschka was perennially among the top scoring kickers during his tenure with Seattle. The team did bring in former 49ers camp kicker John Lunsford to compete with Walsh, but Walsh should be considered the favorite and a good pickup or late round pick once he has locked up the job.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Tyler Lockett, JD McKissic

Seattle is blessed with a young two-way All Pro returner in Lockett and head coach Pete Carroll has never been shy about using even his best players on special teams. Lockett will get as many returns as his health will allow. McKissic is a fringe-of-the-roster player who bounced around in 2016, but if he sticks with the Seahawks his potential on special teams will be a big reason why.

Punt Returners: Tyler Lockett, Richard Sherman

Lockett has a lock on the lead job and, health permitting, should handle 90+% of punt returns. If anything should happen to him, head coach Pete Carroll has in the past turned to Richard Sherman as a short-term stopgap, although for a longer-term injury the team would likely bring someone in.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Luke Joeckel, LG Mark Glowinski, C Justin Britt, RG Germain Ifedi, RT Oday Aboushi
Key Backups: George Fant, Rees Odhiambo, Ethan Pocic [R], Joey Hunt, Justin Senior [R]

Trying to predict the Seahawks' offensive line has been a fool's errand in recent years. Offensive line coach Tom Cable is not afraid to take chances and players often end of playing out of their previously accepted positions. The team knew it needed more at tackle, and added Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi in free agency to win those jobs. Joeckel is a reclamation project and Aboushi has almost always played guard, but don't bet against these players having productive seasons in Seattle. Joeckel will almost certainly hold off George Fant at the left tackle spot while Aboushi will compete with rookie Ethan Pocic for right tackle. Pocic was a center at LSU but he is extremely tall (6'7") for that spot and might project decently as a right tackle. Center Justin Britt is the opposite, a college tackle who Cable converted to the pivot. Germain Ifedi is a rugged and talented player at right guard and he also could be in the right tackle mix. Rees Odiabmbo would start at guard if Ifedi slid outside. Overall the Seahawks' line has more talent than in recent years but the level of uncertainty is huge this preseason. Once these players settle into their positions, this could be an average line, which would be a huge improvement.

Team Defense

After a long run as an elite D/ST, the Seahawks fell back to earth in 2016. They finished around D/ST15 in most formats despite being in the top three in scoring defense and sacks. The loss of Earl Thomas was a massive factor and the team also lacked the return punch of a healthy Tyler Lockett for much of the season. Both of those have the potential to change this year, and ADP in 2017 drafts seems to reflect a belief that both will return to form, with the Seahawks still going off of the board in the top five D/ST's. The team added a plethora of talent in the secondary on the defensive line on the second day of the draft, including Malik McDowell, who could be similar to defensive line standout Michael Bennett. If Earl Thomas is healthy, the D/ST should deliver on the lofty ADP, but last year has reminded us just how fragile that elite status can be.

Defensive Line

Starters: Michael Bennett DE, Cliff Avril DE, Ahtyba Rubin DT, Jarran Reed DT
Backups: Frank Clark DE, Cassius Marsh DE, Dion Jordan DE, Quinton Jefferson DT, Malik McDowell DT [R], Nazair Jones DT [R]

Starting DL: The defensive line has a mix of starters who can anchor against the run like the massive Rubin and tough to move Reed, and quality pass rushers in Bennett and Avril. Rubin and Reed will likely give way to better pass rush options inside on passing downs, but both are very strong in their primary roles. Avril had a career high in sacks with 11.5 in 2016 and appears to be peaking after being put at #56 (matching his uniform number) in the NFL's top 100 players, which is voted on by players. Bennett missed five games with in-season knee surgery last year, but was a productive pass rusher again by the end of the season.

Backup DL: Few teams have the depth Seattle can boast of on the defensive line. Clark has panned out after being a controversial second-round pick in 2015. He would be a starter for a lot of teams and came on with ten sacks last year, giving the Seahawks a quality option when Bennett missed time last year. This year's first draft pick came in the second round after the Seahawks traded down multiple times. McDowell had some character questions, but he fits well in a role similar to Bennett. He can play as a five-technique end in base sets and move further inside in nickel sets. Jefferson projects similarly to McDowell after being taken in the fifth round last year and should be one of the top eight players kept on the defensive line on the final roster. Marsh had a strong finish to 2016 and could push for a roster spot, including perhaps getting the team to keep an extra defensive end instead of a linebacker. Jordan is the most intriguing name at the end of the list, with his #3 overall draft pedigree and Seattle's history of making the most out of reclamation projects.

Linebackers

Starters: Bobby Wagner MLB, K.J. Wright WLB, Michael Wilhoite/Terence Garvin SLB
Backups: Arthur Brown MLB, Kevin Pierre-Louis WLB, Dewey McDonald LB, Kache Palacio LB, Ronald Powell LB

Starting LBs: Two of the Seahawks starting spots are settled with quality productive players. Wagner and Wright were both strong IDP options and anchors in a defense that continues to be one of the best in the league. The team remained very strong against the run due in big part to Wagner and Wright, who were both Pro Bowlers. Since the team spends a lot of time in the nickel package, the third linebacker is not nearly as important as the fifth defensive back. Pete Carroll has said that former 49er Wilhoite and Garvin will compete for the strong side spot.

Backup LBs: The loser of the strong side battle will likely fill one of the three or four backup spots. Brown was once a darling of the draft world and expected to be a long term starter for the Ravens after they took him in the second round in 2013. He didn't even make it to end of his rookie contract. He spent time on the Jags and Jets rosters before Seattle picked him up this offseason to potentially be their backup middle linebacker. Pierre-Louis was drafted in the fourth round in 2014 to be a new breed light coverage linebacker but hasn't developed the way the team envisioned. McDonald was a core special teamer last year and could provide depth at linebacker after being converted from safety.

Defensive Backs

Starters: Kam Chancellor SS, Earl Thomas FS, Richard Sherman CB, Jeremy Lane CB
Backups: Bradley McDougald SS, Delano Hill S [R], Deshawn Shead CB (inj), Shaquill Griffin CB [R], S Tedric Thompson [R], Neiko Thorpe CB, Mike Tyson DB [R], Perrish Cox CB, DeAndre Elliott CB

Starting DBs: The Seahawks enter 2017 with a banged up secondary. Earl Thomas is recovering from a broken leg, Kam Chancellor had clean up surgery on both ankles, and DeShawn Shead is likely to begin the season on the PUP list. Richard Sherman is the stalwart starter at corner after an offsesason that saw some discontent coming from both him and the team. Trade rumors swirled for a short time and the team surprisingly did not deny the possibility of Sherman getting traded, but he remained on the roster after the draft. The whole secondary and even defense should benefit from the return of Thomas, including the second starting corner, which should be Lane, although the team wants to push him with competition after an up and down 2016.

Backup DBs: The Seahawks need to be developing new options in the secondary with Sherman appearing to be on the outs with the team at the end of his contract next year, Chancellor only under contract for one more year, and Thomas only under contract through 2018 after the specter of retirement was raised when he went down with a broken tibia. McDougald should be a top backup at safety, with third-round pick Hill a classic box safety who can be groomed to replace Chancellor after playing with Browns first-round pick Jabrill Peppers at Michigan. Thompson will be developed as more of a centerfielder with his ballhawking ability and instincts. Griffin is another third-round pick this year with the ideal long-frame aggressive game profile of a Seattle corner. He could contend for playing time right away. Thorpe will likely be the outside corner in the nickel package with Lane moving inside. The team also drafted Tyson this year in the sixth round. Although was a listed as a safety, the Seahawks will try to move him to corner. Elliott made the team as an undrafted free agent last year and is in the mix to get some of the snaps up for grabs at corner after being mainly a special teams contributor last year.

Last modified: 2017-06-05 15:02:58