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2010 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks

Quarterbacks

Starter: Matt Hasselbeck
Backup(s): Charlie Whitehurst, J.P. Losman

Starting QB: Matt Hasselbeck has three top-six fantasy seasons on his résumé, but his last two seasons have been forgettable. He will be 35 years old this season, and is in the final year of his contract. At his best, Hasslebeck is an excellent decision-maker who will spread the ball around to a wide range of targets. Over the past two seasons, however, Hasselbeck has thrown just 22 touchdowns compared to 27 interceptions, and will have to play better in 2010 to hold onto the starting job. Hasselbeck will enter training camp as the team's starting QB, but his job security is no longer airtight. For that reason, and because of the team's below-average group of wide receivers, Hasselbeck should be considered a fantasy QB3 in twelve-team leagues.

Backup QB: The Seahawks acquired Charlie Whitehurst in an offseason trade. Whitehurst, a former third-round draft pick by the San Diego Chargers, will be groomed for a starting job down the line, but will enter 2010 training camp as the number two behind Matt Hasselbeck. Whitehurst has a strong arm and good mobility. He was a four-year college starter, but has yet to throw a pass in an NFL regular-season game. The Seahawks recently released both Mike Teel and Mike Reilly, and signed former Buffalo Bills starter J.P. Losman. Losman is a former first-round draft pick with a very strong arm, but has thus far failed to live up to his potential.

Running Backs

Starter: LenDale White
Backup(s): Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Julius Jones, Louis Rankin, Quinton Ganther, Tyler Roehl
Fullback(s): Owen Schmitt, Ryan Powdrell

Starting RB: LenDale White rushed for over 1,100 yards in 2007, and scored 15 touchdowns in 2008, but took a back seat to Chris Johnson in 2009, gaining just 222 yards and two scores on 64 carries. Looking to resurrect his career with the Seahawks under his former coach at USC, Pete Carroll, White is expected to enter the season as the Seahawks' starter, and should get most of the first- and second-down carries. White put on some excess weight early in his career, but has slimmed back down to his college playing weight. At his current weight, his stamina should be much improved, but he may lack the same power he ran with his first few seasons in the league. Because of his lack of effectiveness in limited opportunities last season, and because the Seahawks' depth chart at RB is so crowded, White should not be considered anything better than a fantasy RB3 -- and perhaps a RB4 or RB5.

Backup RBs: Leon Washington is coming off a compound leg fracture, and will play with a stabilizing rod in his surgically repaired right leg. If he completely recovers, he is a dynamic open-field runner who can also squeeze through a crack in the middle of the line. Justin Forsett proved surprisingly capable with the ball in his hands last season, but his role in the offense this season is uncertain. He could challenge LenDale White for the starting gig, or he could all but disappear from the rotation if White starts and Washington plays on third downs. Forsett led the Seahawks with an average of 5.4 yards per carry last season. Julius Jones, who started much of last season, will likely be relegated to the fourth RB spot, if he makes the final roster. Free agent pickup Quinton Ganther may challenge Jones for the final spot at RB.

Fullback: Owen Schmitt is an intense lead-blocker. The Seahawks have not re-signed Justin Griffith, so Schmitt becomes the starter at fullback, but that position will be de-emphasized in Jeremy Bates' offense, which features a lot of two-TE sets. Ryan Powdrell played under Pete Carroll at USC, but his best chance at making the roster will be his potential to contribute on special teams.

Wide Receivers

Starters: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Golden Tate [R]
Backups: Deion Branch, Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu, Ruvell Martin, Sean Morey, Mike Williams, Reggie Williams

Starting WRs: T.J. Houshmandzadeh had multiple productive seasons in Cincinnati where he was a reliable redzone target, and was known as a smart route-runner with excellent hands and toughness in a crowd. His first season in Seattle, however, was somewhat of a disappointment, especially over the second half of the season. Without a top-flight WR lining up across from him and occupying the defense's attention, Houshmandzadeh often struggled to get open. This year, the presence of Golden Tate may help open things up. Tate is a terrific runner after the catch, adept at turning short and intermediate catches into long gains. While Tate has the potential to make an immediate impact, a rookie can never be considered a sure thing. We expect him to contribute in the neighborhood of 600 yards and 4 TDs.

Backup WRs: Earlier in his career, Deion Branch was extremely quick, and was dangerous both on short passes and as a deep threat. Branch still has generally reliable hands, but is no longer much of a deep threat. He is primarily a slot receiver who runs a lot of short curls and bubble screens. Reggie Williams is a former top-ten draft pick who spent his first five seasons in Jacksonville, but has not lived up to his potential. Mike Williams, also a former top-ten pick, played under Pete Carroll at USC but has been out of the NFL since 2007. Both Williamses may be facing their last chances in the NFL, and both are difficult to project. They could end up anywhere from the starting lineup to being cut. Deon Butler had a quiet 2009 season; he didn't make many obvious mistakes, but didn't make many positive plays, either. He has the speed to get deep, but Hasselbeck didn't have time to look deep very often last season.

Tight Ends

Starters: John Carlson
Backups: Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy [R], Cameron Morrah, Jameson Konz

John Carlson was a second-round pick in 2008, and has caught 105 passes in his first two seasons. Carlson has the athleticism to run every route in the passing tree, but he is extremely limited as a blocker. The Seahawks expect to use more two-TE sets this season, using Chris Baker or Anthony McCoy as blocking tight ends, thus freeing up Carlson to be used to his strength more often as a pass-receiver. Chris Baker is a free-agent acquisition. He is a better blocker than Carlson, and should be a fixture in the Seahawks' two-TE formations. Anthony McCoy was the Seahawks sixth-round draft pick this season; he will battle last year's seventh-round pick, Cameron Morrah, for the third tight end spot. Jameson Konz, the team's seventh-round pick this year, is listed at tight end, but he is essentially an oversize WR who is as likely to line up in the slot as he is to line up in-line.

Place Kicker

Olindo Mare : For the first time in three years, Mare will not have to beat out Brandon Coutu for the Seahawks kicking job. On the verge of free agency, Mare received the franchise tag designation. After struggling towards the end of his Dolphins career and in a brief stint with the Saints, Mare has put together two solid seasons with the Seahawks. In 2008 he made 24 of 27 (88.9%) field goals, and in 2009 made 24 of 26 (92.3%). The two misses last year came early on, in a game in which he also made four FGs. As always, Mare remains one of the best on kickoffs. After ranking 6th in kicker scoring in 2007, the Seahawks have dropped to 26th and 19th the past two years.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Leon Washington, Golden Tate, Louis Rankin, Ben Obomanu, Josh Wilson, Walter Thurmond, Justin Forsett, Deon Butler, Cord Parks

The Seahawks have quite a few possibilities and questions on kickoff returns. Already returning punts, RB Leon Washington added kickoff returns to his duties in 2007 with the Jets and turned out to pretty darn good (47 returns, 27.5 avg., 3 TDs). In 2008 he averaged 25.6 yards on 48 returns and added another TD. A broken leg cut short his 2009. His role on returns in 2010 hinges on his recovery as well as his potential role on offense. How involved will second round draft pick WR Golden Tate be on special teams? He averaged 20.7 yards on 44 career kickoff returns for Notre Dame. RB Louis Rankin averaged 23.6 yards on kickoff returns and scored once during his college career at the University of Washington, and handled kickoffs for the Seahawks the latter part of 2009 (16 returns, 22.4 avg.). WR Ben Obomanu finally got some regular season kickoff returns for the Seahawks last year (11 returns, 26.6 avg.). CB Josh Wilson had the second most returns for the Seahawks in 2007 (14 returns, 27.5 avg., 1 TD). He was busy in 2008 taking over the lead role (69 returns, 25.4 avg., 1 TD). Last year he was one of four players with double-digit returns (11 returns, 19.3 avg.). Fourth round draft pick CB Walter Thurmond averaged 25.8 yards on kickoff returns during his junior year at Oregon. After being drafted by the Seahawks in 2008, RB Justin Forsett ended up with Indianapolis early in the regular season (11 returns, 22.5 avg.). He failed to keep the return specialist role or a job, and then wound up back in Seattle (7 returns, 24.9 avg.). He had the most returns last year (18 returns, 24.0 avg.), before becoming more involved on offense. CB Cord Parks averaged 21.0 yards on kickoff returns as a junior and 22.0 as a sophomore for Northeastern.

Punt Returners: Leon Washington, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, Justin Forsett, Deon Butler, T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Leon Washington took over on punt returns during the latter part of 2006. The following year Washington handled all 20 punt returns (9.2 avg.), and his combined numbers made him the second ranked fantasy returner for 2007. In 2008 he once again handled every punt return (29 returns, 10.4 avg.) and finished as the fifth ranked fantasy returner. Golden Tate averaged 5.1 yards on punt returns in college and scored once. Walter Thurmond averaged 15 yards on punt returns during his senior year in college and scored once. Justin Forsett eventually handled the bulk of the punt returns in 2008 (23 returns, 9.9 avg.) and was second behind Nate Burleson last year (16 returns, 5.8 avg.). WR Deon Butler did not handle any returns at Penn State; however he practiced in that role for the Seahawks. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh led the Bengals in punt returns in 2002, and then was pressed into duty for awhile in 2008 (8 returns, 9.9 avg.). After ranking in the top ten in fantasy returns for three straight years, the Seahawks dropped to 21st last year.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Russell Okung (R), LG Ray Willis, C Chris Spencer, RG Max Unger, RT Sean Locklear
Key Backups: G Ben Hamilton, C Steve Vallos, G Mike Gibson, Mansfield Wrotto

The Seahawks drafted Russell Okung from Oklahoma State in the first round this year and he'll - Willis started in all 16 games for first time in career and he'll start at left tackle. He will replace a legend in Walter Jones but certainly has the skill set to get it done at this level. Ray Willis started 16 games at right tackle this season and will be in the running for the position again this season. Expect a a battle between Sean Locklear and Willis for the starting right tackle position. It is also possible however that the Seahawks move Willis inside to left guard to cover the weakness in that position. He will compete with FA pickup Ben Hamilton for starting LG if this happens.. Max Unger started all sixteen games last year including time at center. He did a good job in pass protection but was a liability in the running game. Chris Spencer is a decent option at center and is the anchor of this unit. With the young talent along this offensive line, there is lots of potential for growth but that will likely take a season or two as they learn on the job.

Team Defense

Defensive Line

Starters: Lawrence Jackson DE, Chris Clemons DE, Brandon Mebane DT, Colin Cole DT
Backups: E.J. Wilson DE (R), Nick Reed DE, Dexter Davis DE (R), Rick Foley DE, Red Bryant DT, Kevin Vickerson DT

Starting DL: The Seahawks were tied for the NFL's fifth worst sack number (28), right behind the anemic pass rushes of the Lions, Rams and Chiefs. After an attrition-heavy offseason which saw the retirement of former Pro Bowl caliber DE Patrick Kerney, the trading away of former second rounder Darryl Tapp to the Eagles and the departure of DT/DE Cory Redding in free agency, on paper, Seattle has one of the worst DLs in the league. Jackson looks like he was overdrafted (1.28 - 2008). He did have an up-tick in solo tackles (28), sacks (4.5) and FFs (2), is just 24, and reunited with ex-USC HC Pete Carroll. Clemons (the compensation in the Tapp trade, along with a 2010 fourth round pick - DE E.J. Wilson) is a 29 year old, former UFA journeyman and situational pass rusher with his fourth team in six seasons, with very few starts on his resume. At a LB-like listed 240 lbs., he is one of the smaller DEs in the game, and could be a liability against the run, routinely giving up 70-80 lbs. to opposing OTs. Clemons had a career year with the Raiders in 2007 (8 sacks and 2 FFs), but has never had more than 15 solos in a season. He is slotted to fill the important "Elephant/Leo" role, a hybrid standup DE/LB (dating back to the 49ers Fred Dean and Charles Haley), giving a quasi 3-4 look in coverage. Mebane is a fourth year former third rounder who set a career high in 2009 with 40+ solos, but regressed in the big play department, with just 1.5 sacks (after a breakout soph campaign - 5.5 sacks and 2 FFs). He has surprising feet quickness and agility for an interior DL. Ex-Packer Cole is a 6'1" 330 lb. bridge troll, and strictly a designated run stuffer and block eater (four career sacks in six seasons).

Backup DL: Rookie fourth rounder Wilson is stouter than Lo Jack (listed 6'3" 285), could be a rotational complement and eventually directly compete with him for playing time. Reed (6'2" 255 lbs.) is a 2009 seventh round regional product from Oregon. Davis (6'2 250 lbs.) is a rookie seventh rounder from Arizona State, who Carroll also got to see up close in the Pac-10. Foley (6'2" 260 lbs.) is a 29 year old product of the Canadian Football League (led the CFL in sacks last year). Likely between Reed, Davis and Foley, a few will be in the mix as situational pass rushers and could be gunning for Clemons "Elephant/Leo" role. As with Clemons, they will have to beat bigger, stronger LTs with speed and quicks to the outside, and their lack of heft could make them vulnerable to being washed out in run support. Bryant could have the versatility to play inside and outside in shifting fronts and alignments based on different personnel groupings. Vickerson (6'5" 305 lbs. - another in a litany of seventh round DL) was attached to the ill-fated, short lived LenDale White Project, and could challenge Cole (a generally disappointing free agent signing).

Linebackers

Starters: David Hawthorne WLB, Lofa Tatupu MLB, Aaron Curry SLB
Backups: Leroy Hill WLB, Will Herring SLB, Matt McCoy OLB

Starting LBs: Seattle was tied for 8th worst in rushing TDs allowed (17), but could rebound with a potentially outstanding LB trio. Leroy Hill remains on the roster (barred by the team from OTAs), but legal entanglements have put his status for the season and future with the franchise in question. Starting about two thirds of a season, the radiant David "Heater" Hawthorne was blistering in relief of Tatupu, leading the team in tackles (90+), tying for the lead in INTs (3) and finishing third in sacks (3). Hill's off-field transgressions have cracked the door at WLB, and the 25 year old former UFA from TCU has the instincts, athleticism and talent to break it down. Three time Pro Bowler Tatupu is a poor man's Zach Thomas. A cerebral former prep QB, the ex-Trojan and son of the late USC/NE FB Mosi isn't very big (6'0" 240 lbs.) or fast, but his soaring football IQ enables him to play faster than he times by anticipating the play. Tatupu paced the team in tackles in his first four seasons, flashing playmaking ability (with 4 sacks as a rookie and a 4 INT/3 FF campaign in his third year) and missing just one game in that span, prior to missing 11 games in 2009 with a torn pect. Curry (Wake Forest) was the consensus most pro-ready prospect from the class of '09, and by his own admission didn't play up to the big expectations of being one of the highest pedigree LBs (1.4) in the past several decades. Internal improvement through a scheme redeployment better aligned with his skill set and game (playing in reverse less and attacking the QB more should boost a pass rush badly in need of a lift) could have as big an impact on the defense as the widely and deservedly praised addition of coveted rookie first round FS Earl Thomas.

Backup LBs: Hill's legal woes leave him in limbo. His status with the organization and league could be the least of his worries. LB coach Ken Norton, Jr. already stated in OTAs that he thought of Hawthorne as the starter until he was unseated. Herring had a nearly parallel career to Karlos Dansby, prior to the NFL. Both were Auburn safeties converted to LB (Herring has the school record for starts). McCoy was a bust with the Eagles, and would only see extended action through injury. There is a steep drop off in talent from Curry and Hawthorne to Herring and McCoy. If Tatupu were to become injured again, Hawthorne would be shunted back to the middle.

Defensive Backs

Starters: Lawyer Milloy SS, Earl Thomas FS (R), Marcus Trufant CB, Josh Wilson CB
Backups: Jordan Babineaux SS, Kam Chancellor SS (R), Jamar Adams FS, Kelly Jennings CB, Walter Thurmond CB (R)

Starting DBs: The pass defense was 30th in yardage and bottom ten in TDs (27) and INTs (13), leading to the release of safety Deon Grant. Milloy's career has come full circle, he returned last season to his collegiate origins of Washington. He turns 37 in 2010, and is an aging warrior (first seven years in New England, three year stints in Buffalo and Atlanta, entering his second year in Seattle) nearing his last battlefield. Thomas was called by Mike Mayock one the most instinctive safeties with among the best range he has ever scouted. That is a nice combination, as he has elite sub-4.4 speed covering the ground to where he has been pointed to by his uncanny anticipation. Thomas represents an instant upgrade in the big play department, and is expected to stop the bleeding in the deep secondary. The 2009 Texas third year soph was a first team All-American. His 24 PD led the nation and 8 INTs tied 2nd (most in school history - returned two for TDs), and he had 4 FFs in 2008. Perhaps the ONLY potential red flag is size (5'10" 205 lbs.). Pro Bowler Trufant (1.11 -2003) turns 30 this year and is reportedly healthy again. He was routinely incinerated after returning from the PUP list (disc) last season, and led the league in pass interference penalties despite playing in only 10 contests. What Wilson (2.23 - 2007) lacks in size (5'9" 190 lbs.), he makes up for in explosiveness... with a combined 2 sacks, 6 INTs (three returned for TDs) and 3 FFs since 2008.

Backup DBs: Babineaux (younger brother of Falcons DT Jonathan) is a former UFA from Southern Arkansas and turns 28 in 2010. He has been a Swiss Army knife for the Seahawks, with the skill diversity to have played both safety roles, as well as starting and nickel CB. Babineaux set a career high in solos (75) last season, and has flashed playmaking ability (career high campaigns of 3 INTs and 3 FFs). Chancellor is a rookie fifth rounder from Virginia Tech with LB-like size (6'2" 230) expected to back up Babineaux and serve on special teams initially. He could be the future starting SS, and has interlocking traits and attributes with Thomas. Former starter Jennings (5'11" 180 lbs.) was the second to last pick in the first round of the 2006 draft. He lacks ideal size, doesn't have an aggressive, physical game, and it's unclear how well he fits the CB profile of the incoming regime. Fourth round rookie Thurmond (5'11" 190) is another regional product from Oregon. He has better size and is stronger in run support than Jennings, and could push him for the nickel CB role. If not for tearing the ACL, MCL and PCL ligaments in his knee against Cal, he might have gone a round or two higher (three INTs returned for TDs on his resume).

Last modified: 2010-07-22 23:10:05