We’re getting close to the beginning of Seahawks’ training camp on Thursday as well as to the end of our countdown of the Seahawks players as a new season gets underway.
Here are players 20-11.
20. Running back Rashaad Penny
Potential role in 2019: Part of 1-2 punch at tailback with Chris Carson.
Main competition: Himself.
Why he’s ranked here: The Seahawks invested a lot in Penny and can be expected to try to do everything possible to get the most out of him. Carson is likely to be the starter, but the team hopes to carve out a big role for Penny complementing Carson and maybe also playing some in two-minute/third-down roles, and as a returner. Penny was sort of a boom or bust player last year — he averaged a 4.9 yards per carry last year, best of any Seahawks running back. But as Football Outsiders noted, he was stopped for no gain or a loss on 21.1 percent of his carries. That needs to smooth out some this year.
19. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks
Potential role in 2019: Starting strongside linebacker and situational use elsewhere.
Main competition: Barkevious Mingo, Shaquem Griffin.
Why he’s ranked here: The team expects Kendricks to be available this season though he still awaits sentencing on an insider trading charge (no date has yet been set), and with a one-year deal paying him up to $4.5 million, if he’s available he’s going to play, likely as the strongside linebacker, which allows K.J. Wright to fill the weakside role alongside Bobby Wagner. Kendricks played just 183 snaps last year due to suspension and injury but his two sacks were more than any other linebacker and he also had good grades in pass coverage.
18. Defensive tackle Poona Ford
Potential role in 2019: Starting defensive tackle.
Main competition: A starting job appears his.
Why he’s ranked here: Ford’s only grew after Monday’s news that Jarran Reed has been suspended for the first six games of the season. The team wanted to pair Ford with Reed as starting tackles but will now have to wait to do that. Ford earned the job with some impressive performances down the stretch last season. A run defense grade of 91.5 from Pro Football Focus was the highest the web site had given to any rookie interior defender since 2006, even higher than that of Aaron Donald of the Rams in 2014.
17. Offensive lineman/tight end George Fant
Potential role in 2019: Continued significant role as an extra lineman and tight end.
Main competition: None.
Why he’s ranked here: The Seahawks crafted a role for Fant as a sixth OL and tight end last year following the injury to Will Dissly, and when Ed Dickson was still not ready to play. And he did it so well they decided to keep it for the rest of the season and want to continue it this year. Fant played 229 snaps at tackle last season but another 156 as an sixth OL and/or tight end and that could expand this season. Seattle played almost 20 percent of its snaps with a sixth OL last year, more than twice as many as any team in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders, averaging 5.3 yards per play. Fant may also push Germain Ifedi at right tackle.. But the team’s best-case scenario is Ifedi playing well at RT and Fant able to fulfill his hybrid role.
16. Offensive tackle Germain Ifedi
Potential role in 2019: Starting right tackle.
Main competition: The job appears his, but should he stumble, George Fant and Jamarco Jones could be options.
Why he’s ranked here: Ifedi is facing a pivotal season, the fourth in his career, with Seattle declining last spring to pick up an option for the 2020 season. A big season could set Ifedi up for a long-term deal in Seattle or somewhere else. But a down year could mean he never gets a huge payday. Seattle saw signs of improvement last year, especially in cutting his penalties essentially in half. And the team ran better than might be thought behind him. But he still needs to cut down on the inconsistency.
15. Kicker Jason Myers
Potential role in 2019: Starting placekicker.
Main competition: None.
Why he’s ranked here: Myers was given a four-year contract with $5.5 million guaranteed to solidify Seattle’s kicking position after the Blair Walsh and Sebastian Janikowski mixed-results forays of the past two seasons. Myers, in camp with Seattle a year ago before the team went with Janikowski, made it to the Pro Bowl last year with the Jets hitting 33-36 field goals, including 17-19 from 40 yards or beyond. But kickers can be notoriously fickle. As Football Outsiders wrote: “It seems unlikely that he will hit nearly 90 percent of his field goals from further than 40 yards again when his career high prior to last year was only 75 percent.’’ Seattle, though, is counting on Myers proving that assessment wrong.
14. Cornerback Tre Flowers
Potential role in 2019: Starter at right cornerback.
Main competition: Nothing serious.
Why he’s ranked here: After ranking as one of the bright spots of the 2018 season, Flowers is secure as the starter at right corner with the Seahawks hoping he goes from solid to elite in year two. Football Outsiders judged Flowers as being more effective than Shaquill Griffin a year ago, giving him a 47 percent “success rating’’ — meaning, forcing an incompletion, interception or minimal gain — on 73 targets last year compared to Grifffin’s 44 percent on 70 targets.
13. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah
Potential role in 2019: Starter at the LEO, or weakside end pass rushing position.
Main competition: Cassius Marsh, Jacob Martin, Barkevious Mingo.
Why he’s ranked here: Ansah has been one of the better pass rushers in the NFL since being taken by the Lions in 2013 when he’s been healthy. Seattle got him on a one-year deal worth up to $9 million — with $3 million in incentives for being available to play — since he’s coming off shoulder surgery which leaves it unclear when he’ll be ready. At this point, there may be nothing more important for the Seahawks than Ansah being ready as soon as possible.
12. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin
Potential role in 2019: Starting left cornerback.
Main competition: The job is his.
Why he’s ranked here: Griffin’s job is secure heading into the 2019 season. But now in his third season, the expectations have ratcheted up, especially in light of the legacy left by those he is replacing. It’s unfair to expect him to be Richard Sherman, but for better or worse, that’s going to be a common comparison since it is Sherman he is replacing. Not that interception stats show everything, but through his first 26 games as a starter, Sherman had 12 picks, indicating the kind of playmaking ability that was an LOB trademark. In 27 games as a starter (and 31 overall), Griffin has three.
11. Offensive lineman D.J. Fluker
Potential role in 2019: Starting right guard.
Main competition: There is no serious threat for his job.
Why he’s ranked here: It was no coincidence that the Seahawks deciding to reconfigure their offense after two games last season coincided with Fluker finally entering the lineup. Fluker proved to be the kind of prototypical “road grading’’ guard Seattle hadn’t had much of in recent seasons, and Seattle’s running game flourished with him at guard last season. But injuries also limited him to 10 games and he has played 12 or fewer games in three of the last four seasons, so Seattle has to make sure it has depth behind him, if needed. Seattle re-signed Fluker to a two-year, $6 million deal, but he’s really only assured of the 2019 season as the Seahawks could save $3 million against the cap if he is released in 2020 while taking just a $500,000 dead cap hit.