The Seahawks are slotted in a rather surprising spot in the annual rankings of every roster in the NFL by Pro Football Focus: 13th. Seven other NFC teams are rated ahead of Seattle.
Is the overall talent base of the Seattle Seahawks starting to slip?
The answer that question is a resounding yes in the eyes of the football analytic site Pro Football Focus, which released its annual rankings of the roster of each NFL team on Monday and has Seattle in a somewhat surprising spot — 13th.
The Seahawks are seventh among NFC teams, and among the franchises rated ahead of Seattle are Philadelphia (5), Oakland (7), Arizona (8), Kansas City (9), Minnesota (10) and Dallas (12).
PFF says it devises the ratings this way:
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“To determine the rankings, we took the past two years of PFF data and, giving the 2015 season more weight, averaged out the grades for each roster. Then we added a closer evaluation for added context, which allowed us, for example, to reward teams that have an excellent quarterback situation but a relative hole along the defensive line when it came to run defense.”
And here is what PFF says about the Seahawks:
“Two-straight seasons leading this ranking have given way to a significant drop for the Seahawks, who now find themselves with a roster with a few cracks and weak spots.
Despite a major turnover, somehow Seattle’s offensive line looks worse on paper than the unit that was its Achilles’ heel all 2015. Wilson and Marshawn Lynch hid a lot of problems in the blocking, and while Wilson is back, Lynch has retired. Rookie Thomas Rawls performed an able imitation of Lynch, but the Seahawks’ backfield is a committee of rookies and Rawls and will have its work cut out to find running room.
Seattle’s once-spectacular defense is starting to show some cracks, especially when it comes to depth. Even studs such as Bobby Wagner have not played at their best for a while, and as talented as this team is, it looks like a unit that is slipping, at least until another wave of young players fully emerges to replace those who have faded.”
It’s an eye-catching assessment, to be sure, and one that likely won’t escape the notice of the Seattle locker room.
The reaction of most, if not all, Seahawks fans would likely be to completely dismiss this ranking, and certainly the team’s play on the field last season seemed to warrant a much-higher slotting than 13th (even if the team fell short of its ultimate goals).
But it can’t be completely overlooked that Seattle has yet to receive a huge contribution from its draft classes of 2013 and 2014, and while there was a notable uptick in production from the 2015 class due to Tyler Lockett and Rawls, it’s not unfair to question the offensive line and whether the Seahawks’ overall depth is to the level it was in the 2012-14 seasons.
That’s what will make the 2016 draft class particularly pivotal. While Seattle’s 2015 season wasn’t bad, it was just enough of a falloff to give evidence to those who say they see some slippage in the Seahawks’ overall roster (even those who would say 13th is way too low to rank Seattle might still say the Seahawks show a little vulnerability now than they did two or three years ago).
Seattle is counting heavily on the 2016 draft — which really is the only additions the team made to the roster other than a few fairly inexpensive free agents — to pump things back up, with players such as OL Germain Ifedi, DT Jarran Reed and RB C.J. Prosise already ticketed for significant roles immediately, and with players such as OL Rees Odhiambo, DT Quinton Jefferson and RB Alex Collins being given every chance to also get on the field a lot in 2016.
If the Seahawks get all that, as well as some bounceback seasons from the likes of Kam Chancellor, a few answers on the offensive line and the return to health of Rawls and Jimmy Graham, then this ranking might end up being lumped along with all those 2012 draft class grades someday.