Here's a post-draft review of the Seahawks' defensive depth chart.
After earlier taking a look at the offensive depth chart following the draft, it’s time to review the defense.
And as noted in the offensive story, for now I am not including any of the reported UDFAs (undrafted free agents) as the team has yet to officially announce those signings. When the team does announce those signings — which might not be until late next week with rookie mini-camp set for May 12-14 — that may may result in some players on the current roster being cut.
For now, I’m simply going with the players on the roster as of Friday.
Starters: Athyba Rubin/Jarran Reed
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Backups: Nazair Jones, Garrison Smith, Shaneil Jenkins, Rodney Coe.
Comment: It’s worth remembering that defensive line designations can blur quite a bit — for instance, the team lists Malik McDowell and Quinton Jefferson as tackles. But each projects as more of a 5-technique end on base downs and a tackle in the nickel. So I’m going to list them at end since that may be their more prominent position in terms of roster construction. The six listed above, meanwhile, appear the most “true’’ tackle types, playing the 1- and 3-technique spots. The Seahawks have typically kept four true tackles. For now, Rubin, Reed and Jones would seem locks on the initial 53-man roster. It’s easy to forget Smith was impressive before being hurt and he could have an inside track on the other spot. But how the roles of the likes of McDowell and Jefferson will also be a factor in how many tackles the team keeps.
Starters: Michael Bennett/Cliff Avril.
Backups: Frank Clark, Malik McDowell, Quinton Jefferson, Dion Jordan, Tylor Harris, Cassius Marsh.
Comment: The Seahawks typically keep eight or nine DLs overall. Keeping Bennett, Avril, Clark, McDowell and Jefferson along with the three tackles above adds up to eight total DLs, with the rest maybe battling for one spot. Jordan is a huge since it’s impossible to really gauge how he’ll fit in having not played since 2014 and now weighing 30 pounds more than he did then and playing a new position. The battle for a final end spot could well come down to Jefferson and Jordan. But also a factor is how the LEO spots develop, specifically if Clark maybe bumps outside a little more in the nickel. WWhat will also play a role in roster construction is now many linebackers the Seahawks keep — Seattle had eight at the end of last season, which included Marsh, who was listed as an LB even though he basically just played defensive end last season, which is his designation now.
Starters: Bobby Wagner (MLB), K.J. Wright (WLB), Michael Wilhoite/Terence Garvin (SLB).
Backups: Arthur Brown, Dewey McDonald, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Kache Palacio, Ronald Powell.
Comment: The Seahawks typically keep six or seven LBs. After Wagner and Wright, though, no roster spot in 2017 seems completely certain. Wilhoite’s contract includes $500,000 guaranteed, so he’s obviously being primed to be the starting SLB. But that’s also not so much as to assure him a roster spot. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week that Wilhoite and Garvin will battle for the strongside spot, which is vacant with Mike Morgan having not been re-signed (he remains a free agent). Garvin, Brown and McDonald, though, also all project as key special teams players, with Brown also considered a likely backup at MLB. So that could leave Pierre-Louis, Palacio and Powell battling for one spot if the Seahawks decided to keep seven linebackers — or Seattle could just keep six, allowing for more flexibility in who they keep up front.
Starters: Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane/Neiko Thorpe.
Backups: Shaquill Griffin, DeAndre Elliott, Perrish Cox, Demetrius McCray, Mike Tyson, DeShawn Shead.
Comment: For now, I’ll go with the tandem of Lane and Thorpe as the other starting CBs heading into OTAs — Lane as the starter in the base and then moving inside in the nickel with Thorpe coming in as the other outside corner (that’s what the Seahawks did last year when Shead was injured). But Griffin will obviously make a huge run at a starting spot and is basically assured a spot on the 53-man roster, as well. Shead, meanwhile, seems almost certain to start the year on the PUP list. That would mean that if the Seahawks keep their usual five cornerbacks on the 53-man roster that the rest could be competing for one spot. Intriguingly, GM John Schneider mentioned this week that the Seahawks could bring in another veteran, which would obviously shake up the competition. Tyson is listed as a safety but is expected to get his first look with the Seahawks at cornerback. Given the transition he’ll be asked to make as a sixth-round pick, it’s hard to yet assure him a spot on the initial 53.
Starters: Earl Thomas/Kam Chancellor.
Backups: Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson, Pierre Desir.
Comment: The Seahawks have almost always kept just four safeties in recent years. But McDougald and Hill seem almost guaranteed roster spots and Thompson as a fourth-rounder seems pretty close, as well. A key for Thompson could be if the team feels comfortable enough in his coverage skills to view him as a possible backup at both corner and safety, similar to the role Shead had early in his career (same could also be said for Tyson).