The measure of a good NFL football team isn’t just its starting lineup, or its 53-man roster.
Just as important, the way the Seahawks have always viewed it, anyway, is assembling the best-possible 90-man roster to enter training camp.
When the Seahawks won the 2013 Super Bowl, they took great pride in how many players they had to waive or release that season who not only were picked up by other teams but then played in regular season games — 23.
Seattle has been trying to get back to that same level of 1-90 strength ever since.
But following the 2019 draft — when Seattle wheeled-and-dealed its way to 11 picks, eight inside the top 142 — coach Pete Carroll said he thought the Seahawks might finally be back to having a top-to-bottom roster to rival those of the Super Bowl years.
“This feels like one of those rosters that we had four or five years ago, maybe about five years ago, when I really felt like there are guys on our team that other people want,’’ Carroll said. “And, that’s a good spot to be in. It’s taken some time to get back to that. We’ve seen the cycle of the roster movement. This is a really exciting spot right now.”
Carroll, of course, has never seen a hurricane he didn’t think would turn into a sunny day in a minute or two. So whether the Seahawks really have a roster that compares to the 2013-14 era is something we’ll all have to wait and see over the next few months.
But to give a sense of the team’s 90-man roster as training camp approaches on July 25, it’s time for our annual ranking of the team’s entire roster, from top to bottom.
The countdown will cover the next week, initially in groups of 15 for the first four sets, then 10 for the last three to cover all 90 players on the team’s current roster.
As much as anything, the countdown is designed to give a sense of the players on the roster and their situation heading into camp as it appears from here.
90. Running back Marcelias Sutton
Potential role in 2019: Backup running back.
Main competition: Bo Scarbrough, J.D. McKissic, Travis Homer.
Why he’s ranked here: Sutton, who played at Oklahoma, was signed in the spring after an injury to Adam Choice, who had earlier signed as an undrafted free agent. Given Seattle’s depth at running back, Sutton has as tough of a road as anyone to earn a roster spot. But he figures to get a lot of carries in the preseason.
89. Guard Demetrius Knox
Potential role in 2019: Backup guard.
Main competition: Jordan Roos, Jordan Simmons, Marcus Martin, Phil Haynes
Why he’s ranked here: The team is thought high on the potential of Knox, a two-year starter at Ohio State where he played with 2018 draft pick Jamarco Jones. But it has yet to see any of it as Knox has been sidelined so far with an injury — he suffered a Lisfranc injury late last season that required surgery at Ohio State (he didn’t play in the Rose Bowl win over UW). Carroll said at the end of minicamp that Knox likely won’t be ready for the start of training camp, which makes it hard to read what this season holds for him.
88. Tight end Justin Johnson
Potential role in 2019: Backup tight end.
Main competition: Tyrone Swoopes, Jacob Hollister.
Why he’s ranked here: An undrafted rookie free agent from Mississippi State, Johnson faces a long road to break into what appears a pretty strong tight end corps (especially when including George Fant). But as a former highly touted high school receiver and now measuring 6 feet 3 inches, 235 pounds, he offers a somewhat different skill set than some of the other TEs, having run a 4.56 40 before the draft. Might be interesting to see if Seahawks would look at him as a “big receiver’’ instead.
87. Receiver Caleb Scott
Potential role in 2019: Backup and rotational receiver.
Main competition: The other 11 receivers on the roster.
Why he’s ranked here: Scott is a second-year player from Vanderbilt, and it may be easy to forget he was tied as the fourth-leading receiver for the Seahawks in the preseason with five receptions for 91 yards though 55 came on one freak play — a Hail Mary at the end of a game at Minnesota that came up just short of the end zone. He was sidelined during much of the offseason program that the media was allowed to watch. But the team remains enamored of his athleticism — he recorded a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical coming out of college.
86. Linebacker Justin Currie
Potential role in 2019: Backup weakside linebacker, special teamer.
Main competition: Ben Burr-Kirven, Cody Barton, Shaquem Griffin.
Why he’s ranked here: A college safety, Currie has been on and off NFL rosters since 2015 and played in three games with the Browns in 2017, making seven tackles. He’s been used mostly at WLB in practices, a spot that is one of the most competitive on Seattle’s roster.
85. Cornerback Jeremy Boykins
Potential role in 2019: Nickel corner.
Main competition: Akeem King, Kalan Reed, Ugo Amadi.
Why he’s ranked here: The Seahawks liked what they saw out of Boykins in the preseason last year and brought him back to the practice squad for the last two months of 2018. Carroll mentioned him in March as a potential fit at the nickel corner spot, open after the departure of Justin Coleman. King appears the leader of that group entering camp, with Amadi expected to get a long look, as well.
84. Defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli
Potential role in 2019: Backup, rotational tackle.
Main competition: Al Woods, Demarcus Christmas, Jamie Meder, Bryan Mone.
Why he’s ranked here: Tiuli, a Federal Way graduate who played at Eastern Washington, is listed at 340 pounds, and Seattle is looking for some heft in the middle after struggling mightily with its run defense last season. Jarran Reed and Poona Ford are set as two tackles, and veteran Al Woods also seems likely to make it (though a heavily incentive-laden deal means he’s no lock). But Seattle will be looking for one or two others to play in the interior.
83. Safety Jalen Harvey
Potential role in 2019: Backup strong safety and special teamer.
Main competition: Marwin Evans, Shalom Luani
Why he’s ranked here: Harvey is an undrafted rookie free agent and former receiver at Arizona State who switched to strong safety for the final year of his career, and the Seahawks will look for signs of a diamond in the rough.
82. Cornerback Derrek Thomas
Potential role in 2019: Backup outside cornerback.
Main competition: Simeon Thomas, Davante Davis, Neiko Thorpe.
Why he’s ranked here: An undrafted free agent out of Baylor, Thomas has an intriguing 6-foot-3 frame and a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and 33-3/4-inch arms — Carroll has compared him to Tre Flowers. And the back end of the cornerback position is far from set. But as one of two rookie cornerbacks, he’ll have to make an impression early to have a chance.
81. Offensive lineman Marcus Martin
Potential role in 2019: Backup guard, maybe center.
Main competition: Jordan Roos, Joey Hunt, Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons.
Why he’s ranked here: Martin is one of the bigger wild cards on the roster. A 49ers third-round pick in 2014, when current Seattle OL coach Mike Solari was there, Martin started 24 games for San Francisco at center, guard and tackle from 2014-2016. And he was in line to earn a spot with Dallas last season. But he then suffered a toe injury that cost him the season, and he hasn’t played in a game since December 2016. Seattle lists him solely as a guard but his center history is intriguing as Seattle’s backup situation is a little unsettled. Worth watching to see if Seattle tries him some at center this year.
80. Safety Marwin Evans
Potential role in 2019: Backup strong safety and special teams player.
Main competition: Shalom Luani, Lano Hill, Marquise Blair.
Why he’s ranked here: Evans played two years for the Packers and signed with Seattle last January following an injury to Hill. He seems a longshot, especially after the Seahawks drafted Blair. But the safety spot is so uncertain that this is as good of a year as any for a dark horse to make a bid for a roster spot.
79. Tight end Tyrone Swoopes
Potential role in 2019: Third tight end.
Main competition: Jacob Hollister, Nick Vannett, Ed Dickson.
Why he’s ranked here: Swoopes has been on and off the roster for two seasons, playing in two games, but might have a tough time to stick around this year with the additions made at the spot over the last two years as well as Fant’s new role, which makes it likely Seattle will keep just three listed tight ends.
78. Quarterback Paxton Lynch
Potential role in 2019: Backup to Russell Wilson.
Main competition: Geno Smith.
Why he’s ranked here: In one of the more intriguing straight-up position battles looming, it’s gonna be either Lynch or Geno Smith as the backup to Wilson. Signs point to Smith, though, due to his experience, and that Lynch has practice squad eligibility, which would allow Seattle to keep both.
77. Defensive tackle Bryan Mone
Potential role in 2019: Backup and rotational tackle.
Main competition: Jay-Tee Tiuli, Jamie Meder, Al Woods, Demarcus Christmas.
Why he’s ranked here: Mone and Tiuli are basically in the same spot as undrafted free agents trying to prove their worth as potential run-stuffing — and inside-of-the-line clogging — tackles. At 345 pounds, he’s officially the heaviest Seahawk entering camp, though D.J. Fluker, listed at 342, will give him a run for that title depending on what day of the week it is.
76. Offensive tackle Elijah Nkansah
Potential role in 2019: Backup swing (able to play both sides) tackle.
Main competition: Jamarco Jones.
Why he’s ranked here: Seattle lists just five players as tackles and three are sure to make it — Fant, Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi. Jones and Nkansah are the other two, and one of them seems a good bet to make the 53-man roster. But it might be hard for Nkansah to beat out Jones, a fifth-round pick in 2018, if Jones shows the promise he did last year before suffering an ankle injury.