Here are five Seahawks to watch as the team begins OTAs this week.
As the Seahawks get set to begin OTAs (Organized Team Activities) on Tuesday, here are five players to watch (in no particular order):
1. CB Cary Williams: Other than Jimmy Graham, Williams is Seattle’s most high-profile and expensive off-season acquisition. Williams was signed to a three-year contract worth $18 million total and $7 million guaranteed. That seemed like a lot of money to some given that Williams was ranked as the 49th best cornerback in the league last year by Pro Football Focus and played for a pass defense ranked 31st out of 32 teams. But the Seahawks — who have a pretty good track record for evaluating defensive backs — think he will fit well with their style of play and also like the fact that with seven years experience, he should be able to step right in to the spot that opened when Bryon Maxwell signed with the Eagles. His signing was also a hedge against the injuries that have hit the secondary. And it hardly needs repeating that they aren’t paying him that much to be a backup. As potentially the first veteran player from the outside who could become a fulltime starter in the Legion of Boom since it came into begin, though, Williams will have a lot to live up to.
2. OG Alvin Bailey: The Seahawks expect Bailey to be able to step right in for the departed James Carpenter at left guard. And Bailey has apparently taken the expectation to heart, losing more than 30 pounds in the off-season to get back down to his listed weight of 320 (he was at over 350 last season). Bailey played decently enough at times last season as it was. He started at left tackle in the win at Arizona late in the season and also started at right tackle in the NFC title game against Green Bay — admittedly a shakier performance but also good experience going forward. But while Bailey appears to have the inside track on that job, the Seahawks also drafted two guards in Terry Poole and Mark Glowinski helping give the Seahawks what offensive line coach Tom Cable said should be the most competition the team has had up front since he’s been here. The OTAs will mark Bailey’s first appearance at his slimmer weight and it’ll be interesting to see the resutls.
3. DL Cassius Marsh: The Seahawks need some of the many young players they have brought in the last few years to begin making a real impact up front. Marsh appeared on his way to becoming more of a factor when he suffered a broken foot in practice after the fifth game and was sidelined for the season. Seattle coach Pete Carroll had had a great off-season and that getting him back is like adding another draft pick for 2015. The Seahawks had Marsh playing multiple positions up front last year, sort of in a Michael Bennett-type of way, and we’ll see if that continues and also get a look at a healthy Marsh as OTAs open. Monitoring the progress of several other young DLs also coming off injury — such as Jordan Hill and Greg Scruggs — will also be worth watching throughout OTAs.
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4. QB R.J. Archer: We’re going to dig a little deeper into the roster for our last two players to watch, beginning with Archer, a 27-year-old veteran of four seasons in the Arena League who at the moment is one of just three quarterbacks on the Seattle roster behind Russell Wilson and B.J. Daniels, with Tarvaris Jackson still unsigned. The thought remains that the Seahawks want to re-sign Jackson as the backup to Wilson. But Archer was also impressive during the team’s rookie mini-camp, causing the team to think he could become a legitimate competitor for the backup job. OTAs, though, will mark a big jump in competition from rookie mini-camp and the next few weeks will give the Seahawks a much clearer idea of what they may really have in Archer. And remember that the Seahawks are talking about using Daniels in some non-quarterback roles (receiver, returner) so if Archer really did emerge as a viable backup candidate, it could give the team some more options in what it wants to do with Daniels.
5. RB Thomas Rawls: The 5-9, 215-pound Rawls, an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan (though also out of Michigan, which we’ll get to in a minute) was another of the players who impressed the coaching staff during rookie mini-camp. And with Robert Turbin expected out after having hip surgery and Marshawn Lynch likely to not get much work if he shows up (he has not attended many OTAs — which are voluntary — the last few years) Rawls could get a lot of work. (And also remember that Demitrius Bronson is on IR). Rawls left Michigan after barely playing in 2013, getting just 12 yards on three carries (also hampered late in the year with a knee injury). But he revived his career last season at Central Michigan with 1,103 yards. He also, though, had a little trouble, pleading guilty to misdemeanor attempted larceny after an incident in which Rawls and two other men were charged with stealing an unattended purse at a casino, and he also was academically ineligible for the team’s bowl game (and yes, it’s worth noting the Seahawks were checking in on Rawls when they were at Michigan also looking into Frank Clark prior to the draft). Many analysts considered him worthy of at least a late-round pick, due to his play, with the off-field stuff possibly moving him down (as may have ended up happening as he went undrafted). “A one-year wonder with off-the-field issues,” a scout was quoted as saying by Nolan Nawrocki. But his size and a listed 4.54 40 caught the Seahawks’ eye and they’ll be watching in OTAs to see if he can pick up where he left off in rookie mini-camp.