As the Seahawks enter the 2020 season, there is growing optimism in Renton that the team has assembled one of its best overall rosters of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era.
Time, of course, will tell.
But with the season now close at hand, it’s time for our annual review of the roster, ranking the position groups from strongest to those with still the most to prove.
There’s nothing to worry about here as Russell Wilson enters his ninth NFL season as one of the best in the league. Geno Smith returns for his second year as the backup, the first time Seattle has had the same backup in consecutive years since Tarvaris Jackson’s tenure ended in 2015.
Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs give Seattle its best tandem since the last year of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas in 2017. It’s too early to say if they can approach that level, but there’s zero question that the back end should be a lot better than it has been the past two seasons. Marquise Blair now is playing mostly nickel but is available if needed and Lano Hill — who the coaches think more highly of than fans probably do — also is available as depth and for use in specialty packages.
3. Running back
Chris Carson is healthy and entering his contract year coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and backed up by veteran free agent signee Carlos Hyde, also coming off a 1,000-yard season. And the Seahawks couldn’t stop raving about rookie DeeJay Dallas in camp. When Rashaad Penny comes back at midseason, the Seahawks could have some tough calls. Nick Bellore is back for another season at fullback.
4. Tight end
Adding future Hall of Famer Greg Olsen to a healthy Will Dissly gives the Seahawks one of the best one-two tight end combos in the league. Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson are back as proven depth, Willson having had a solid camp compelling the Seahawks to keep four tight ends.
Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright return to man the two inside spots for the eighth consecutive year. Each is now 30 or older but motivated to prove they haven’t lost a step. Bruce Irvin is back to fill the strongside linebacker spot and the Seahawks have promising young depth in first-round draft choice Jordyn Brooks and second-year players Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. It also will be interesting to see where waiver wire pickup D’Andre Walker fits in. He’ll likely be a backup to Irvin and a rush end.
That this position is this low — and granted, others might place it higher — seems to speak to how the Seahawks appear to be improved this year. The only reason I don’t have it higher is because Quinton Dunbar had a delayed entry to camp and then missed a few days along the way. But if he can hit the ground running, playing at the level he was last year with Washington, then the duo of Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin should be one of the better ones in the NFL with third-year player Tre Flowers available for dependable depth.
This might seem too low given the presence of one of the best one-two punches in the NFL in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, but the rest of the corps remains a little unsettled as the season begins. David Moore is the presumptive No. 3 receiver with Phillip Dorsett battling a sore foot through camp, and the fifth and sixth receivers are rookie Freddie Swain and Penny Hart, promoted off the practice squad. As this was written, it was unclear when Josh Gordon will be available, but his return would obviously strengthen this group.
8. Special teams
The Seahawks have a reliable and potentially very good kicking battery but need a little more consistency from kicker Jason Myers and for punter Michael Dickson to avoid the early-season slump he had a year ago. The Seahawks also need a little more dynamism in the return games. And if a lot of the rookies who got forced into the fire in coverage teams last year (such as Barton, Burr-Kirven, Blair and Ugo Amadi) play a little more consistently from the start then this unit could be a lot better than this ranking.
9. Offensive line
All the new parts make this a really hard group to read. There’s reason for optimism that the two newcomers — right tackle Brandon Shell and right guard Damien Lewis — can be upgrades, but until that’s proven against an opponent it’s a big unknown. Ditto Ethan Pocic taking over at center. No one doubts how good left tackle Duane Brown and left guard Mike Iupati are when healthy, but they are 35 and 33 years old, respectively. And the depth on paper should be better. But again, that’s hard to say definitely until they show it. And then there’s the question of if the line got enough work in camp to integrate two new players and three new starters.
10. Defensive line
Here remains the big question mark on the team, especially with Jadeveon Clowney now officially off to Tennessee. The tackle tandem of Jarran Reed and Poona Ford is solid, but Bryan Mone is the only other listed tackle. The team has high hopes Benson Mayowa can replicate the seven sacks he had last year with the Raiders and team with Irvin to revive the rush end spot, and Alton Robinson was a pleasant surprise in camp. But it all has a little of a feel of “believe it once you see it.’’ The other end spot, where Clowney would have played, now belongs to Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier, with Damontre Moore also fitting in to both spots, and maybe playing more than you’d think. Expect the Seahawks to keep looking for available veterans as the season progresses.