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2015 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks

Quarterbacks

Starter: Russell Wilson
Backup(s): B.J. Daniels

Starting QB: Russell Wilson threw for more yards last year than he did during the previous regular season, but he regressed on the whole as a passer. Wilson played with a hesitation that made many believe that his receivers couldn't separate and cost him chances for big plays down the field. Instead of throwing the ball effectively, he relied heavily on his running ability to help carry the offense. While his elusiveness and explosiveness was effective, he will need to return to throwing the ball well to sustain success moving forward. As Wilson works to reclaim his consistency and effectiveness throwing the ball, he will at least be able to avoid any distractions with his contract situation. The Seahawks and Wilson agreed on a four-year contract extension just before the beginning of training camp.

Backup QB: B.J. Daniels is the only quarterback of note behind Wilson at this stage of the off-season as Tarvaris Jackson remains a free agent. Jackson should sign somewhere before the season starts and it makes sense for him to return to the Seahawks where he has been a reliable backup and starter in previous years.

Running Backs

Starter: Marshawn Lynch
Backup(s): Robert Turbin, Christine Michael
Fullback(s): Derrick Coleman, Will Tukuafu

Starting RB: Despite the almost annual speculation about Marshawn Lynch's future this off-season, he remains the Seahawks starter for the 2015 season. Lynch is old, but he doesn't take as much punishment as most backs who make their living between the tackles because of how he runs. Lynch is one of the few backs in the league who can expect to be a feature back and three-down player at the position. His fantasy value remains as high as anyone's until signs of physical decline can be seen in his play. The only concern with Lynch is the state of his offensive line.

Backup RBs: Christine Michael remains a fan favorite for many, but his career continues to be non-existent on the field. Michael enters another training camp as the Seahawks' third option, with the ever reliable and effective Robert Turbin slated to be Lynch's primary backup again. Michael has the physical talent to take Turbin's job from him and the Seahawks may be more willing to give him some of Lynch's snaps as their starter ages, but right now it's difficult to expect anything from a player who has done so little over his career.

Fullback: Will Tukuafu and Derrick Coleman both played fullback for the Seahawks last year, but neither player carried a prominent role in the offense. With Russell Wilson gaining more and more experience, it makes sense for the Seahawks to continue to surround him with more weapons by neglecting the fullback position.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse
Backups: Chris Matthews, Kevin Norwood, Paul Richardson, Ricardo Lockette, Tyler Lockett

Starting WRs: The Seahawks have had very little luck at the wide receiver position in recent years. Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin were supposed to be the starters two seasons ago, but now neither player is even on the roster. Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin were the starting options last year because neither rookie Paul Richardson or Kevin Norwood could supplant them. Richardson eventually tore his ACL at a time when he was emerging into a potentials starter. Kearse and Baldwin are listed as the starters, but there should be a true competition for every spot around Doug Baldwin.

Backup WRs: Chris Matthews could have been the Super Bowl MVP as he enjoyed his breakout game on the biggest stage of them all. Matthews offers the Seahawks something they don't have, a big athletic receiver with impressive ball skills. He has been getting opportunities with the first-team offense at the beginning of training camp. Ricardo Lockette played much more than Matthews last year, but he is a limited player, limitations that were highlighted on the Patriots' championship-sealing interception. Richardson's recovery from his second ACL tear will likely land him on the PUP list to start the season, while Norwood needs to show major development into his second season. Norwood wasn't fully healthy last year. With his health entering camp this season, he is taking advantage of his opportunities to impress the coaching staff. One non-starter who is assured of his roster spot this year is Tyler Lockett, a receiver the Seahawks traded up for in the draft. Lockett was talked about at the time as primarily a special teams player, but has made an early impression in training camp as part of the second-team offense.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jimmy Graham
Backups: Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy, Cooper Helfet

It could be argued that Luke Willson will be the Seahawks starting tight end and Jimmy Graham will be used more as a receiver. Graham was the highlight addition for the Seahawks this off-season and he should be Russell Wilson's primary deep threat. Wilson understands how to put the ball in a spot for his receivers to go and get, so Graham should excel in an offense that will likely be more aggressive in getting him the football. Willson's snaps may be hurt if Graham lines up inside more, while Anthony McCoy is just hoping to make the roster after missing the past two seasons with injuries. McCoy and Cooper Helfet will likely be the only training camp competition at this spot, with Helfet being the early favorite.

Place Kicker

Steve Hauschka: Hauschka had another standout fantasy kicking season, finishing in a tie for fourth in total points on the strength of 37 field goal attempts for an offense that only middle of the road in touchdown scoring. While he only made 2 of 4 50+ yard attempts, the Seahawks defense and running game should keep Hauschka among the league leaders in scoring. Fantasy drafters seem to expect that, as Hauschka is going inside of the top 8 in most drafts.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Tyler Lockett [R], Doug Baldwin, B.J. Daniels, Paul Richardson

Seattle saw rookie receiver Tyler Lockett as the best returner in the draft and traded up to get him. Coach Pete Carrol said he imagines Lockett will handle the first kickoff of the season. Lockett had a 28.5 yard average on kickoff returns in college, including 4 touchdowns, and looked so good in preseason he may already be moving into the elite tier of returners in the NFL.

Punt Returners: Tyler Lockett [R], Doug Baldwin, B.J. Daniels, Paul Richardson

Tyler Lockett had a phenomenal senior season in college as a punt returner, with 21 returns at a 19.1 yard average and 2 touchdowns. Lockett moves into Seattle's primary punt returner position left vacant when Bryan Walters moved to the Jaguars in free agency.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Russell Okung, LG Alvin Bailey, C Lemuel Jeanpierre, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Justin Britt
Key Backups: T Terry Poole [R], G Mark Glowinski [R], C C.J. Davis, G Kristjan Sokoli, T Justin Britt, T Garry Gilliam, G Drew Nowak, C Patrick Lewis

Although he historically has problems staying healthy, the best player on the Seahawks' line is left tackle Russell Okung. Okung is long and does a decent job pushing pass rushers past the pocket. On the interior, the team lost two starters from last season, center Max Unger and left guard James Carpenter. Unger especially will be a loss to this unit. In their place will be super-sub Alvin Bailey at left guard and Lemuel Jeanpierre at center. Bailey is a rugged run blocker who has upside to be a Pro Bowl player while Jeanpierre is a solid contributor who appeared in all 16 regular season games last season. The center position is still upgradable and Patrick Lewis could compete for that spot. At right guard, converted defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy is a quality run blocker and fan favorite but is very beatable in pass protection. Right tackle Justin Britt had a rough rookie season and if he doesn't improve, the team could look to another player. Garry Gilliam is likely the swing tackle and the team did draft three players on day three of the draft to replenish the competition pool. In general the Seahawks organization has different grades on these prospects than the majority of the draft community so just because no one's ever heard of Terry Poole, Mark Glowinski and Kristhan Sokoli, doesn't mean they won't see significant snaps early in their career. This line can rise in the rankings if the new starters gel quickly and some of the rookies perform better than advertised.

Team Defense

The Seahawks D/ST was the no brainer #1 pick in 2014 fantasy drafts, but if they go #1 in 2015 drafts, it's on reputation only. They started slow and finished in the middle of the pack on the strength of a consistent second half that still lacked the feeding frenzy games we had become accustomed to in 2013. The team did still finish #1 in points and yards allowed, and by a good margin in both categories, so in leagues that weight those categories, they are still elite. The personnel of the Legion of Boom is still mostly intact, so the Seahawks could actually be a bit of a bargain if you can land them outside of the top 6-8 D/STs drafted.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE/DT Michael Bennett, DE Cliff Avril, DT Brandon Mebane, DT Tony McDaniel
Backups: DE Frank Clark [R], DE Greg Scruggs, DE Obum Gwacham [R], DE Cassius Marsh, DT Ahtyba Rubin, DT Jordan Hill, DT D’Anthony Smith, DT Landon Cohen, DT Jesse Williams, DT Jimmy Staten

Starting DL: Bennett started every game in 2014, after just three in 2013. He has had a slight down tick in sack numbers, from 9 in 2012 (last year in Tampa Bay) to 8.5 in 2013 (first year in Seattle) to 7 in 2014, and wasn't as disruptive in the FF department, either, dropping from 7 combined in 2012-2013 to just 1 last year. Bennett was more active in run support, raising his tackle number from 18 in 2013 to 31 in 2014, which was more in line with his last two years with the Bucs, when he had 35 ('11) and 34 ('12), respectively. The high energy, high motor brother of TE Martellus turns 30 in 2015, but still shows every sign of having a lot of gas left in the tank, as he enters year two of a four year, $28.5 million contract. His ability to make plays whether deployed on the edge or from the inside, and win with speed, power and athleticism, make him the Seahawk’s most indispensable defensive lineman. Avril turned 29 in the offseason, and is a key piece of the defensive line puzzle for Seattle, and therefore the defense as a whole. He also had a reduction of sacks (5) and big plays (1 FF) in 2014, after compiling 37 sacks from 2010 and his last three seasons in Detroit, to 2013 and his first in Seattle, as well as 14 FFs from 2011-2013. A testament to his importance for the Seahawks scheme is that his absence after being forced from the Super Bowl with a concussion was a turning point in the game, after which Patriots QB Tom Brady was much more productive. Bennett and Avril both came up huge in the previous Super Bowl annihilation of the Broncos. Mebane has good agility and quickness for his size. He isn't a sack artist, but his interior pressure is disruptive to opposing offenses and creates playmaking opportunities for his teammates. McDaniel is a journeyman run stuffer with nice length at 6'7" 305 lbs. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts with the Seattle pass rush. Scheme, athletic DL with flexible skill sets and positional versatility enabling multiple fronts, as well as the wave rotations keeping the DL fresh, all contributed to the aim of generating relentless, intense, withering pressure for 60 minutes, and a #1 finish in both scoring defense (15.9 points per game) and passing yards allowed (185.6 yards - no other team was below 200 yards), as well as #3 in rushing yards allowed (81.5 yards).

Backup DL: The second round selection of Clark caused a firestorm of controversy to erupt, due to serious character red flags and multiple off-field incidents, including a recent domestic violence allegation. He does have "SPARQ-ling" measurables for his position. Clark has the size, power and skill versatility and position flexibility to both play the run and get after the QB from the outside and inside, and could have the talent to be an heir apparent and groomed as the eventual successor to Bennett, but in the interim can provide vital DL depth and be a rotational pass rusher. Rookie Obum Gwacham not only makes the class of 2015 "All Name" team, but is a typically (for Seattle) intriguing athlete, a former WR that converted to defense and only played DE one season. Marsh is a 2014 fourth rounder with de rigueur gifted athleticism and well rounded skill set to fit the multi-tasking DE/DT template. He began his career at UCLA as a 300 lb. DT, and after re-purposing his body, finished as a 254 lb. defensive end. Marsh has NFL bloodlines (his father played WR for the Jaguars and Steelers in the mid-90s). After seven seasons with the Browns, Rubin made the trek to the Pacific Northwest on a free agent DL trail blazed by former free agent signing Chris Clemons, Bennett and Avril. His size is reminiscent of the departed, hulking DT/DE Red Bryant, and he can similarly clog lanes and represents a stout, physical presence in run support. Former star Alabama DT Williams had reportedly moved past balky knees that prevented taking any rookie snaps, before recently being diagnosed with kidney cancer. The league's only indigenous Australian is in the thoughts of Seahawk nation, his extended NFL family and fans, hoping for a speedy recovery.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Bobby Wagner MLB, WLB K.J. Wright, SLB/DE Bruce Irvin
Backups: WLB Mike Morgan, WLB Eric Pinkins, SLB Luke Ingram, WLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, SLB Brendan Kelly, MLB/SLB Brock Coyle

Starting LBs: The Seahawks didn’t have the #1 defense for nothing, and that includes talent at every level of the defense. Wagner has been a spectacular second round pick from the 2012 draft. A gifted athlete (well put together 6'1" 240 lbs.), he has the speed, range, athleticism, coverage ability and instincts to be a factor in the pass as well as the run game. Wagner has played an integral role in the Seattle defense, and instrumental in the vaunted stop unit's #1 ranking in scoring defense all three years he has been with the team. He received First team All-Pro recognition for the first time in 2014, despite missing about a third of the regular season (the defense allowed 20+ points per game in his absence, and less than 7 in the month and a half after he returned). He had 12 tackles and an INT in the losing cause against the Patriots, and is already the leading tackler in Super Bowl history, with just two appearances (turns just 25 in 2015). Wagner is a core player, like Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Okung on offense, and Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas on defense. The Seahawks just extended him for four years at $43 million, locking up his rights through 2019. Wright is another young rising star at LB (turns 26 in 2015). The 2011 fourth rounder is one of many signature day three revelations for GM John Schneider and HC Pete Carroll. Taller and nearly as big as DE Avril (6'4" 245 lbs.), Wright has nice length for a LB. Like Wagner, he is also a fast, athletic, instinctive second level Swiss Army knife that can run, hit and cover, and play in any down and distance situation. Last December, he was rewarded for his outstanding play with a four year, $27 million extension, effectively locking him up through 2018, and making him the highest paid 4-3 OLB in the league at the time. Former first rounder Irvin has been in the news recently expressing disappointment via social media over the decision of the Seahawks to not pick up his fifth year option, but that is an inevitable corollary of having so much star power on both sides of the ball, it isn't possible to pay everybody. In addition to Wright, Lynch, Sherman, Chancellor and Thomas have all recently been extended, Wilson and Wagner are due soon, plus the Seahawks took on the contract of Jimmy Graham after acquiring him in a pre-draft trade, the highest paid TE in the NFL. Irvin is somewhat of a tweener, small for a DE (6'3", 245 lbs.) and limited in coverage as a LB, which requires him to be used situationally. He also had a four game suspension in 2013.

Backup LBs: Super sub Malcolm Smith traded on his Super Bowl MVP cache and signed with the Raiders, leaving some unproven options next in line on the depth chart. Pierre-Louis (6'1" 232 lbs.), like DL Cassius Marsh, was also a 2014 fourth rounder and has some freakish athletic traits, too. He had one of the most impressive combines from the LB position group (a blazing 4.51 was the top 40 time for a LB, and he also launched a 39" VJ). Ticketed for special teams initially, Pierre-Louis could be in the mix to replace Irvin if they opt to not re-sign him in 2016, so this season could be an audition for a potentially expanded role in the future. Pinkins is yet another freakish athlete with positional flexibility from the class of '14. The former SDSU safety was tried at CB initially because he was 6'2", 220 lbs., and the Seahawks love CBs with size. After missing his rookie season on IR with a Lisfranc foot fracture, they have since converted Pinkins to strong side LB after getting up to a Kam Chancellor-like 230 lbs. (where he will have some similar responsibilities to a box safety role he filled in college), because Seattle also covets speed merchant LBs, and he ran a sub-4.5 last year. A big part of the success on defense for Seattle, in addition to the relentless pressure of the DL and smothering coverage of the secondary, is the LBs might be the fastest positional group in the NFL, all fly to the ball and are strong, swarming tacklers.

Defensive Backs

Starters: FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor, CB Richard Sherman, CB Cary Williams
Backups: SS Steven Terrell, SS Dion Bailey, FS Ryan Smith-Murphy [R], CB Jeremy Lane, CB Marcus Burley, CB Will Blackmon, DeShawn Shead, CB Tharold Simon, CB Tye Smith [R]

Starting DBs: Historically, there have been front fours with the talent and notoriety to justify a nickname, such as the Fearsome Foursome, Purple People Eaters and Steel Curtain. But how many secondaries, such as the Legion of Boom? While they earned their moniker by hitting like a fist loaded with a roll of quarters, they are a historically talented group in pass coverage. Thomas earned his fourth straight All-Pro nod, and has emerged as not only the top free safety in the game, but a strong case could be made he is the best overall safety, period. He missed a tie for top 10 at his position by one tackle, and flashed explosive striking ability by tying for first among safeties with 3 FFs. The 14th overall pick of the 2010 draft compensates for his lack of height (5'10" 202 lbs.) with an unsurpassed combination of speed and instincts. Like Ed Reed, Thomas is a film junkie that takes football and his preparation seriously. He is the most singular and irreplaceable player on the defense, with the range and optimal blend of skills to perform the critically important function of keeping plays in front of him while providing single high coverage over the top so the CBs can play aggressive press man coverage. Last year, Seattle locked him up to a richly deserved four year extension worth $40 million ($27+ million guaranteed), making him the highest paid safety in the NFL. Tough, resilient and durable, Thomas hasn’t missed a game in a half decade since entering the league, and he avoided the PUP list after offseason shoulder surgery. Chancellor, ominously designated the Deathbacker (named for a roaming hybrid safety/LB used in his alma mater Virginia Tech's defensive scheme), may be the top strong safety in the game. The 3 X Pro Bowler and 2 X Second-team All-Pro has the size of a LB (6'3" 232 lbs.), the athleticism and movement skills of a safety and is a physical, punishing, intimidating tackler and tone setter for the defense. Chancellor signed a four year extension in 2013 that runs through 2017, for $28 million ($17 million guaranteed), though he is already unhappy and holding out for a new contract. After just extending Russell Wilson and Wagner to big money extensions and with three years remaining on his current deal, a raise isn't likely forthcoming or on the horizon any time soon. Sherman (3 X First-team All-Pro) is a true shut down CB, arguably the best in the NFL at his respective position and signed a four year, $57+ million contract extension ($40 million guaranteed) last year, making him the highest paid DB in the league at the time. He had 8 INTs in both 2012 and 2013, and was the top Pro Bowl vote getter among defensive players for the latter season. Sherman is very bright (Dominguez High School, CA salutarian and Stanford graduate), has great length at 6'3" and is a gifted athlete, a former California state champion in the triple jump with a personal best 10.7 100 meters and 38" VJ. He led Stanford in receiving as a Freshman All American, before making the position switch and CB conversion his final two seasons, following a knee injury. In addition to his physical tools and athletic gifts, it is his off-the-charts instincts and football IQ that separates him from most of his peers. All three All-Pro DBs could be the best in the game at their respective positions, and have field tilting talent with skill sets that dovetail and mesh together very well. On the bonus plan, Chancellor and Sherman were fifth round picks. They are just 27 (Thomas is only 26). Williams was signed in free agency to take over opposite Sherman with the departure of Byron Maxwell.

Backup DBs: Rookie strong safety Smith-Murphy has the obligatory good size, fits the template for a Seattle defensive back (6'3", 215 lbs.) and started nearly 40 games for Oregon State. He has the versatility to play up top and near the LOS in the nickel, and was a productive tackler, averaging 70+ per season (he could potentially backup both Chancellor and Thomas, like the departed Jeron Johnson). Bailey is a former USC Trojan, a multi-position star and has nice size for a DB (6'0", 210 lbs.), so is a natural for Pete Carroll on all three counts. He played LB his first two seasons (was Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year), before converting to safety his junior, and final season, where he had 5 INTs. After going undrafted, Bailey was signed to the Seahawks practice squad, released in December and re-signed as a free agent in the offseason. Nickel CB Lane, Simon and rookie Tye Smith, like Sherman, were all drafted in the fifth round or later and are at least 6'0". The 26 year old former UFA, reserve DB Shead was re-signed in the off-season.

Last modified: 2015-09-06 21:59:23