Here's a quick progress report on the Seahawks' 10 2016 draft picks as cutdown dates draw near.
In the weeks following the 2016 draft, a buzz built in Renton that the Seahawks had put together a group that would turn out to be the best since the famous 2012 class, if not potentially rivaling it someday.
With the preseason almost complete, it’s hard to say it’s yet to the level of that class, which included quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, each starters from day one at particularly pivotal positions, as well as three others who became key rotational pieces immediately — end/linebacker Bruce Irvin, guard J.R. Sweezy and cornerback Jeremy Lane.
The 2012 class, in fact, saw nine of the 10 players taken that year make the initial 53-man roster.
Seattle likewise drafted 10 players in 2016.
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Two would be starters if the season began today (which it almost does) — guard Germain Ifedi and defensive tackle Jarran Reed. And at least three others, if healthy, would project to at least having rotational roles — RB C.J. Prosise, TE Nick Vannett and DL Quinton Jefferson. OL Rees Odhiambo is also basically a lock to make the team, though what his immediate role would be seems a little unclear (if the Seahawks keep Jahri Evans and with J’Marcus Webb again healthy, Odhiambo might have a Kristjan Sokoli-type role at the moment of being on the 53-man but usually being inactive).
Cases can be made for each of the other four to either make the roster and be factors, or not make it all.
As noted above, health has been a factor in making the immediate outlook for this class a little harder to read.
Reed missed the last game with toe/ankle injuries, Vannett is sidelined indefinitely with a high ankle sprain, Prosise has played just one game and Zac Brooks has also battled injuries and missed a game. Alex Collins also has battled a sore ankle that might have contributed to stunting his progress after a nice start to camp.
With the first cutdown looming — teams have to trim rosters from 90 to 75 by Tuesday — here’s an update on each of Seattle’s 2016 draft picks.
RG Germain Ifedi: Ifedi, the team’s first-round pick out of Texas A&M at No. 31 overall, is entrenched as the team’s starting right guard. While there was some conjecture the team might try him at right tackle at some point, that hasn’t happened yet and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said for now, right guard is where the team wants him.
DT Jarran Reed: Reed, taken in the second round after the team traded a fourth-round pick to move up seven spots to get him, was drafted with the intent that he would replace the departed Brandon Mebane at nose tackle. Reed has played more than well enough to earn that role and if not the official starter (the team has listed Jordan Hill there on the depth chart) will undoubtedly have a significant role in the rotation (which is more important than any official designation). Reed, though, is battling ankle and toe injuries and sat out against Dallas and it’s unclear when he’ll be back.
RB C.J. Prosise: The third-rounder from Notre Dame is being groomed for an immediate role as a third-down back (the job of Fred Jackson and Robert Turbin in past seasons). After first missing much of OTAs with a hip flexor and then much of camp with a hamstring, he is back and saw his first action Thursday. He didn’t have a pass thrown his way but rushed for 23 yards on four carries and gives the appearance of being ready to take on both the third-down role as well as being a good complement as an early-down back.
TE Nick Vannett: The third-rounder from Ohio State appeared set for a role as at least a third tight end (if not higher in the rotation until Jimmy Graham returns) before suffering a high ankle sprain last week against Minnesota. It’s unclear when he will be back and the team this week moved Tanner McEvoy to tight end to add some immediate depth.
LG Rees Odhiambo: The third-rounder from Boise State has played four spots on the line during camp — everywhere but center. His most common spot is as the backup left guard behind Mark Glowinski. Odhiambo projects this year to most likely be a rotational backup.
DL Quinton Jefferson: The fifth-rounder from Maryland was drafted with the thought that he could add depth all along the defensive line and most specifically fill a Michael Bennett-type role (meaning outside on running downs and inside on passing downs). So far, that’s what he’s done, starting in Bennett’s place at Kansas City and and playing end and tackle liberally in the preseason.
RB Alex Collins: The fifth-rounder from Arkansas had a nice start to camp, scoring two touchdowns in the team’s lone scrimmage. But he then sat out a few days with a sore ankle and seemed to need some time to get back into stride. He still seems a more better bet than not to make the roster as a fourth tailback behind Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael and Prosise.
C Joey Hunt: The sixth-rounder from TCU has generally been the number three center behind Justin Britt and Patrick Lewis. But he played after Britt and before Lewis Thursday against Dallas. Has he passed Lewis or was the team just wanting to see how he would fare against second-teamers rather than a third-string defense? Whether Hunt or Lewis makes the roster — it’s hard to see them both making it — remains one of the tougher calls. Regardless, Hunt would undoubtedly be a practice team player and equally undoubtedly is in the team’s long-range plans.
WR Kenny Lawler: The seventh-rounder from Cal has been one of the tougher reads throughout the preseason — after seeming like a pretty sure thing a week ago, he wasn’t much of a factor in the Dallas game. But Lawler is another the Seahawks would undoubtedly want to keep on the practice squad and develop for the future.
RB Zac Brooks: A seventh-round pick out of Clemson, Brooks was sidelined early in camp with a hamstring issue. He has played the last two games but hasn’t been a huge factor with 17 yards on six carries and four yards on one reception. Given the depth at tailback that has emerged of late, he’s probably the least likely player on this list to make the 53-man roster.
So the final tally? As of now, seven appear to have a really good shot to make it — basically, the first seven on the list — and it would be no surprise if at least one other (most likely, Hunt) also makes it. If so, it would be the most draft picks to make the 53-man roster since the 2012 class. Five made it last season when the Seahawks had just eight draft picks.