The Seattle Seahawks are at a crossroads in their recent ascent from perennial middle-of-the-pack finishers to one of the NFL’s most successful teams (five straight post-season trips, two Super Bowl appearances, one Lombardi trophy claimed). While the talent is clearly there, the team cannot continue to rest on its laurels. With the addition of two third-round compensatory picks due to roster losses last off-season, the Seahawks now hold five picks in the first 106 selections. Therefore, the opportunity exists to fix some big holes.
Seattle Seahawks 2017 Off-Season: Top Three Needs
Most noteworthy, everyone from from here to Pluto knows the Seahawks offensive line is … well, offensive. The real issues is at tackle. The interior (Pro Bowl center Justin Britt, left guard Mark Glowinski, right guard Germain Ifedi) has upside. The 2016 season was the first season at center for Britt. It was also Glowinski’s first season starting in the NFL, and it was Ifedi’s rookie campaign. While growing pains exist, there is also some potential.
The tackles? There isn’t much good to say. Left tackle George Fant, right tackle Garry Gilliam, and veteran back-ups J’Marcus Webb (since released) and Bradley Sowell did not give the fan base a lot of confidence. Because Sowell is an unrestricted free agent, he probably needs to put his Seattle-area residence on the market. Fant, who last played offensive line in eighth grade (he played tight end at Western Kentucky in college), was thrust into protecting quarterback Russell Wilson’s blind spot with zero experience playing at the NFL level.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable is well-regarded for his ability to mold lines, but acquiring the players to shape a great one continues to be elusive. Especially relevant; the team paid kicker Steven Hauschka as much as their entire line last season. Seriously.
— Paul Silvi (@paulsilvi) February 10, 2017
As a result, I expect the Seahawks will try to sign a veteran tackle in free agency, in addition to drafting one in the first three rounds. Probably the obvious net to cast is to bring back former Seahawks first-round pick, left tackle Russell Okung, who was one and done in Denver. Okung’s injury history is a problem, but he did manage to play in all 16 games in 2016. For the Seahawks front office, the question is has that ship sailed?
Former Baltimore Raven Ricky Wagner is a likely target, as is Riley Reiff, most recently a member of the Detroit Lions. Fant may relocate to right tackle if they sign a vet. Most of all, Wilson’s health and safety is far too important to keep applying Scotch tape and staples and hoping it will hold back a flood, so changes will be made.
Maybe the famous “Legion of Boom” needs a recharge? While most people on the outside would not think that cornerback is a position of need, the Seahawks must address some issues. First of all, starting corner DeShawn Shead tore his ACL in the Divisional Playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, is likely out until the last month of the regular season, and then will need to get back into playing shape. Furthermore, nickel corner Jeremy Lane has not been the same player since his devastating injury in that Super Bowl (that we don’t like to talk about) against New England following the 2014 season.
While the team is high on a few players, such as Mohammed Seisay and Stanley Jean-Baptiste, they have not been able to stay healthy to show their potential on the field. Under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, the team has not invested significant draft capital at the corner spot. All-Pro Richard Sherman is famously known for his fifth-round selection. Shead is an undrafted free agent, and Lane was a sixth-round selection. Finally, DeAndre Elliott, another undrafted prospect, is a player to watch.
Draft pundits seem to think corner is on the radar for a high draft pick, but that would buck the trend for Carroll and Schneider. Free safety Earl Thomas in 2010 (drafted 14th overall) is the only high draft pick in the secondary since Carroll took the reins.
Mel Kiper’s first mock has the Seahawks going CB in the first round at No. 26: https://t.co/jnCWZfwHzc
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 20, 2017
The Seahawks model, especially with Carroll’s defensive pedigree, has been to find the right player that they can mold for their system. Hence, the outcome of this draft will indicate how they truly feel about this position group.
This is almost a perennial need for the Seahawks defense. Due to the lack of an interior pocket collapsing defensive tackle, this continues to affect the overall defense. So, what is truly impressive about this defense (who have led the league in defensive scoring four out of the last five seasons), is that they have been successful without a force in the gap. Can you imagine this defense with an Aaron Donald anchoring the center? Defensive tackle Kawann Short was a player the team would have pursued (money dependent), but the Carolina Panthers wisely applied their franchise tag to him.
As much as defensive ends Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark are all excellent edge rushers, they could use some help up the gut. Bennett does move inside on obvious passing downs, but having a true penetrator in place would free up the defensive staff to get creative with rushing packages.
In addition, 2016 fifth-round pick Quinton Jefferson showed some promise in pre-season last summer, but he saw action in only three regular season games after suffering a knee injury. While these kinds of players are rarely available in free agency in the modern NFL, this is another area I expect the team to target in the draft.