With an ever-so-brief lull in the league’s offseason, here are five things we learned in Indianapolis.
The stopwatches are put away and the notebooks closed — for at least a few hours, anyway — as the NFL combine wrapped up Monday.
The Seahawks and other teams soon will hit the road to watch draft prospects at pro days across the country, and the free-agency period begins next week, kicking the offseason into a higher gear.
But with an ever-so-brief lull in activity, here are five things we learned in Indianapolis:
1. Michael Bennett might get a new deal before the season
Combine at a glance
What happened: On-field workouts were conducted for the defensive backs — safeties and cornerbacks — concluding the combine.
The big story: Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey said he wants to be the top pick in the draft. That seems unlikely. But he was impressive in drills Monday. The 6-foot-1, 209-pounder, who played safety and cornerback in college, ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and had a 41.5-inch vertical leap, among other standout numbers.
Those who follow Washington recruiting closely might recall that the Huskies made a serious run at Ramsey, a native of Smyrna, Tenn., in the fall of 2012. Ramsey, who initially committed to USC, took an official visit to UW in December 2012.
One player who could be available when the Seahawks pick at No. 26 overall — cornerback William Jackson III of Houston — also was a standout in the 40 with a 4.37 time. Cornerback could be more of a need for the Seahawks than might be perceived depending on how free agency develops, and especially if Jeremy Lane is not re-signed.
This was a pretty quiet combine regarding Seahawks news (or maybe the notoriously tight-lipped Seahawks were just able to keep a lid on things).
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Bennett has hired a new agent, with Doug Hendrickson (who also represented Marshawn Lynch) replacing Drew Rosenhaus. That and the possible implications were pretty much the biggest Seahawks news of the week.
Bennett’s new agent and the Seahawks have met, according to a report. The Pro Bowl defensive lineman wants to renegotiate his contract, which runs through the 2017 season.
Still, that doesn’t mean a deal is imminent. Coach Pete Carroll likely was sending a pretty loud message on what to expect when he said redoing current contracts wasn’t the team’s priority at the moment, with the draft and free agency taking precedent.
Hendrickson has a good relationship with the Seahawks and a record of success in working with the team on some sensitive contracts with Lynch. But if and when something gets done remains unclear.
2. Expect a Carroll contract extension before the season
Though Carroll and general manager John Schneider skillfully evaded the topic of Carroll’s contract at the combine, an NFL.com report said Carroll and the team are talking. That’s no surprise, though it’s unclear how far along the sides are, which is the more critical variable.
But no real snags are expected. Recall that Carroll also had just one year left on his deal following the 2013 season and then signed a new contract in April 2014 that carried through 2016. The timeline could be similar again.
3. The Seahawks might look first at a deep defensive-line class
Many consider the offensive line to be the Seahawks’ greatest need in the draft. But that might not be where the best value is early, as the group of defensive linemen, especially tackles, is considered deep and almost historically good. The Seahawks could need to reload there depending on what happens in free agency with tackles Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin and linebacker/rush end Bruce Irvin.
Of course, it could be argued that the draft’s defensive-line depth means the Seahawks could wait a round or two and still get a good tackle. But the talent at tackle where the Seahawks pick first (No. 26 overall) could be too good to pass up, especially if they have holes to fill.
4, Running-back help available in draft, but not so much at receiver
The assessment of the running-back corps leaving Indianapolis is that it is good, and possibly great. But should the Seahawks want to use a mid-round pick, or maybe even a little earlier, on a tailback to complement Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael (a restricted free agent who is expected to re-sign), they should have options.
The Seahawks have taken receivers relatively early each of the past two drafts — Paul Richardson in the second round in 2014 and Tyler Lockett in the third in 2015. And the Seahawks might have a need to beef up the receiving corps this year if unrestricted free agent Jermaine Kearse gets away.
The bad news is that this is regarded as a weak class of receivers, especially in comparison with the past two years (especially 2014). The slow 40-yard dash times at the combine have reinforced that perception.
One possible implication of the weakness of the receiving class is that it could increase the urgency to re-sign Kearse, because an immediate replacement might not be available in the draft.
5, Offensive-line prospects are stronger in the middle
Though it’s impossible to know if the Seahawks will use a first-round pick on an offensive lineman (and it might surprise some to recall the Seahawks have twice taken offensive linemen in the first round under Carroll and Schneider), they undoubtedly will selected a few offensive linemen at some point.
And the consensus at the combine seemed to be that the strength of the draft among offensive linemen starts in the middle at center and decreases going to guard, and then tackle. That’s not uncommon, as offensive tackles, especially left tackles, are hard to find.
What the Seahawks need on the offensive line could change greatly between now and the draft. Left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R.Sweezy will become unrestricted free agents next week. Sweezy is considered much more likely to stay put than Okung.