The Seattle Seahawks have to make some of their toughest roster decisions in the John Schneider/Pete Carroll-era this off-season after arguably their most disappointing season yet since joining forces in 2010. Seattle will have some big shoes to fill at multiple positions due to injury-uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball and inconsistency that led to more poor play on offense during the 2017 season. The Seahawks do not know if they will ever see two former All-Pros in defensive end Cliff Avril or safety Kam Chancellor after scary neck injuries that ended their 2017 seasons. They also have cornerback Richard Sherman coming off a serious Achilles injury that he may not recover to be the same player. On offense, the franchise still struggles to find the replacement for Marshawn Lynch after he left the team in 2015. The offensive line is still a mess since the failed Jimmy Graham-for-Max Unger trade and cannot protect Russell Wilson, who runs for his life every week. The Seahawks could use some play-makers on both sides of the ball to help restore their aging roster. Here are some of their position needs for the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft in April:
The post-Beast Mode era still has yet to find a running back who can stay healthy and play all three downs to take pressure off the Seahawks’ passing attack. Thomas Rawls looked promising in 2015 but has since dealt with nagging injuries and poor performances that should lead him to not be back in Seattle for 2018. The Eddie Lacy experiment never worked and he will be gone leaving the Seahawks with Mike Davis, Chris Carson, J.D. McKissic, and C.J. Prosise as the only running back options on their roster. Carson looked promising in his rookie season after winning the starting job from Rawls and Lacy, rushing for 208 yards on 49 carries and scoring a receiving touchdown in his three starts before suffering a broken leg week four against the Indianapolis Colts. While Carson could be the answer, Seattle cannot rely on him coming off a major injury after seeing limited action as a rookie. Davis is a good option for a reserve role as McKissic and Prosise will battle for the third down back position. Look for the Seahawks to target a power runner who can control the line of scrimmage between the tackles along with the ability to bounce it to the outside with their speed.
Luckily for the Seahawks, the 2018 draft class is loaded with running backs that could make a big difference in changing their one-dimensional offense back to the run first team we saw from 2011-2015. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is out of reach for Seattle but I really like LSU’s Derrius Guice as the Seahawks’ first round pick, as he runs with anger and power between the tackles along with the ability to break to the outside and have the speed to out-run defenders. Guice has run for more than 1,250 yards and 10 touchdowns his final two seasons in college, showing he’s more than capable of handling an every down role with an NFL team. However, Seattle may elect to go with an offensive lineman or pass rusher in the first round as those positions really need help too. Seattle does not own a second or third round pick so they would have to look to later-round help or to trade up. If the Seahawks do this, look for them to be interested in players like Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, Notre Dame’s Josh Adams, Alabama’s Bo Scarborough, or either of Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel could all fit the Seahawks’ offensive scheme. All of these players are power runners who can control the line of scrimmage and have to ability to break runs for big plays on the outside using their speed.
This has been no secret the past few seasons, the Seahawks offensive line is not good enough to be a real contender and needs serious upgrades before they can return to consistent offensive success. The mid-season trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown did not help as much as the team originally thought, as he and center Justin Britt are the only locked-in starters along Seattle’s line for 2018. The team improved their pass blocking with Brown on Wilson’s blindside but really could use someone at either guard position to replace Luke Joeckel and help Ethan Pocic continue to develop along with help at right tackle to replace the struggling Germain Ifedi who led the league in penalties during 2017. Seattle has lacked a true run blocking mauler at guard for years and its time for them to upgrade that position via free agency or the draft. Seattle must find a run game next season to return to success so it all starts up front. I see them doing both to improve maybe the weakest position on this team.
The Seahawks could use their first round pick on a lineman, but I see them picking Guice so long as he is still available at their pick. If not, we could see Seattle be interested in Texas’ Connor Williams , Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, or Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown as the team’s left tackle of the future with the ability to start their career at right tackle with strengths run blocking. Although, I see Seattle being more interested in upgrading at guard first. Some options for them at that position are Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson if they are lucky he falls, Ohio State’s Billy Price, UTEP’s Will Hernandez, or Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn as early round options. I think Seattle will trade a couple of picks in order to move back into the second or third round to select one of these players who could make a big impact from day one.
The Seahawks have a lot of question marks on their defensive line. They know that defensive end Frank Clark and nose tackle Jarran Reed will be back for sure, but outside of that is a murky situation. Defensive end Michael Bennett is under contract but has hinted at that he believes the team will move on from him in an effort to get younger. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is a free agent, but I expect Seattle to use the franchise tag to retain him. Avril is a huge question mark following his neck injury and could be on his way to retirement. Seattle does have good depth with defensive tackle Nazair Jones along with the likelihood the team re-signs defensive ends Marcus Smith and Dion Jordan, but I don’t see any of those players being capable of being a every down player. Last season’s second-round pick Malik McDowell is a mystery too after not even taking a snap his rookie year. It’s possible that the Seahawks will look to find a play-maker that can help this aging unit.
This year’s class has some good pass rushing talent with NC State’s Bradley Chubb and LSU’s Arden Key, but those players will be selected too early for Seattle to get their hands on them. If they decide to select a defensive end in the first round, look at options like UTSA’s Marcus Davenport, Boston College’s Harold Landry, or Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard. However, I see the Seahawks using a later-round pick to address this need. Like I said before, I could see Seattle trading some later-round picks they have to get back into the second or third round. Later-round options could include Kansas’ Dorance Armstrong Jr., USC’s Rasheem Green, Miami’s Chad Thomas, Florida State’s Josh Sweat, Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis, Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand, or Texas A&M’s Jarrett Johnson as all of these players have the ability to play all downs if needed.
The Legion of Boom’s end is coming closer and Seattle must address that issue. With Sherman, Chancellor, and free safety Earl Thomas all entering their 30’s, this group has to find some youth to eventually replace some of the franchise’s best defensive players in history. Seattle used multiple picks and signed a couple of free agents last off-season to add some depth behind these guys. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin has some promise to turn into a good corner and the team got some strong play from safety Bradley McDougald when Chancellor was out but he is a free agent. Cornerback Justin Coleman locked down the nickel back role with Byron Maxwell, DeShawn Shead, and Jeremy Lane adding depth behind the starters. Safeties Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson are not quite ready to play many snaps either. Seattle cannot fully trust any of these guys to perform at a high level so a play-maker could be needed to help be a difference maker on this aging defense. The uncertainty around the returns of Chancellor, Sherman, and Thomas could lead the Seahawks to make a draft pick at either corner or safety.
Some early round options could include Iowa’s Joshua Jackson, Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver, or Auburn’s Carlton Davis but I see the Seahawks upgrading the offense or defensive line first and using later rounds to improve the secondary. Seattle loves big, physical, lengthy corners who are able to grasp the kick-step technique that the team requires their corners to play with. I see options in later rounds like Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden, LSU’s Kevin Toliver II, Texas’ Holton Hill, Illinois’ Jaylen Dunlap, and San Diego State’s Kameron Kelly who all fit the typcial prototype of Seahawks’ corners. At safety, I expect Seattle to re-sign McDougald so strong safety would be the main need in the secondary with the question mark around Chancellor’s injury. If Seattle plans to address this need in the first round, they could fall in love with Florida State’s Derwin James if he falls to them, with similar body size and style of play as Chancellor. Some later-round options could include Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds, West Virginia’s Kyzir White, Auburn’s Tray Matthews, Penn State’s Marcus Allen, and Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram who can play down in the box, phyiscal, and play in coverage.
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