How might playing time be divvied out for the 2017 Seahawks' draft class? Here's one rating of how it could develop.
I’ve decided to take on an admittedly premature and impossible task — trying to project which of the Seahawks’ 11 draft picks will play the most in 2017.
But it’s also a fun one in the wake of last weekend’s draft, when hope and expectations for the class are as high as ever.
Before delving into the future, though, I also thought it would be interesting to look at how snaps for the draft class developed last season.
As it turned out, the top three picks – OL Germain Ifedi, DT Jarran Reed and RB C.J. Prosise — were also the top three in most snaps for the rookie class (and I’m talking just about the draft class and not UDFAs such as George Fant to keep the comparisons apples to apples).
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Here’s a look:
OL Germain Ifedi, 840 (snaps played).
DL Jarran Reed, 477.
RB C.J. Prosise, 147.
RB Alex Collins, 141.
TE Nick Vannett, 84.
C Joey Hunt, 66.
OL Rees Odhiambo, 33.
DL Quinton Jefferson, 20.
(WR Kenny Lawler and RB Zac Brooks were never on the active roster and did not play any snaps in 2016).
Obviously, injuries were an impact in limiting the snaps for many of the rookies, including Ifedi, Prosise, Vannett and Jefferson — the kind of thing that makes predictions a near impossibility.
But what the heck?
Knowing what we know today, here’s a rating of the 2017 draft picks in order of how I see their playing time in the 2017 season possibly evolving.
1, DL Malik McDowell: McDowell arrives in Seattle billed as having top 10 talent but a questionable work ethic. Combine that with being just 20 years old (he turns 21 on June 20) and some wonder if he’ll need some time to be groomed into a significant role. Seattle, though, has immediate needs on the defensive line, especially the interior and with the pass rush. As I wrote a few days ago, it’s worth remembering that Pete Carroll said one of his regrets about Frank Clark’s rookie year was that they didn’t play him enough. I think they’ll find ways to get McDowell on the field as much as he can handle.
2, CB Shaquill Griffin: Putting McDowell atop the list means I am not anticipating any of the rookies at the moment earning a full-time starting job — any DL position is always at most an 80 percent playing time spot due to the way any team rotates its players up front. If there’s a rookie who has the best chance to earn a full-time starting job it is Griffin, with the right cornerback spot wide open due to DeShawn Shead’s injury and questions about Jeremy Lane’s ability to handle the job after some struggles last season. Still, it’s worth remembering that even the best of Seattle’s cornerbacks in the Carroll era needed a little grooming time. Seattle also re-signed Neiko Thorpe to a two-year contract as insurance, and there is a thought the team will pursue a veteran cornerback to compete, as well — GM John Schneider said as much during an interview on KJR-AM with Mitch Levy on Tuesday. All that leads me to think Griffin could have a role as a fourth or fifth CB to start out this season, one that then could lead to him competing for a full-time starting job down the road – as soon as 2018 depending on what happens with Richard Sherman.
3, DT Nazair Jones: Jones appears set for a role as an early-down, run-stuffing tackle — essentially, the same job as Reed. The departure of Tony McDaniel and a few others leaves a lot of room for snaps available up front and the Seahawks have never been shy about letting rookies play a lot on the defensive line.
4, WR Amara Darboh: Aside from Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, nothing feels all that certain about the Seahawks’ receiving corps in 2017 and if Darboh shows he’s ready he could get on the field quite a bit, especially if he can play as big as his 6-1, 216-pound frame.
5, S Delano Hill: Hill projects as a strong safety with the ability to play some nickel, as well. But it probably hardly needs saying it’s difficult to see him beating out Kam Chancellor, and it’s worth remembering that Seattle also signed Bradley McDougald as a veteran insurance policy — if not more — at the safety spots. Still, if Hill emerges as the fourth active safety on gamedays — which right now would seem to be his most logical spot — that could still get him on the field some in sub packages.
6, OL Ethan Pocic: Maybe I should have Pocic higher here — it sounds like he’ll be thrown into the competition on the right side of the line and may the best man win. But with Ifedi expected to move to right tackle, it appears that Pocic would have to beat out free agent Oday Aboushi for the right guard spot to become a starter as a rookie — unless he were to beat out Ifedi, which given what that would say about Ifedi doesn’t seem like a best-case scenario for the Seahawks. My hunch is that Pocic emerges initially as a swing backup with the team at the beginning going with the experience of Aboushi.
7, S Tedric Thompson: Boy are there going to be some fun position battles to follow in training camp — maybe as many legit ones as I can remember in any camp since I started covering the team in 2013. The Seahawks usually keep four safeties on the 53 — and as of now you’d assume those would be Earl Thomas, Chancellor, McDougald and then one of Hill or Thompson. I’m leaning with Hill instead of Thompson maybe just due to his position. McDougald has been more of a free safety so a possible depth chart as of now at safety would seem to be Thomas/McDougald at FS — with Thompson behind those two — and Chancellor/Hill at SS. But Thompson, as a fourth-round pick who would have lots of appeal to other teams, would seem a risky one to not have on the 53 and try to get to the practice squad. That’s where it’s intriguing to hear Schneider say the safeties will all be tried as corners, as well. Thompson could project to have the kind of role Shead did earlier in his career as able to back up just about everywhere which could get him on the roster as an eighth or ninth DB in 2017.
8, CB Mike Tyson: If Tyson can show he can play press corner immediately than there could be a role for him in 2017. But a more realistic scenario could be that he needs some time to make that adjustment and is a practice squadder in 2017.
9, WR David Moore: Coming from D-II East Central (Okla.) paints Moore as the biggest unknown in this draft. Who knows? Maybe he’s the next Baldwin (if different in body type) and forges his way on the field as a rookie? But if the first seven draft picks all look like strong possibilities for the 53, the bottom four all look more likely like practice squad guys for now.
10, OL Justin Senior: It sounds like Seattle’s first task with Senior is to get him back in shape with Schneider saying he’s basically about 30 pounds over what was his optimal playing weight at Mississippi State. Sounds a lot like a year on the practice squad coming initially for Senior.
11, RB Chris Carson: Carson arrives in Seattle as a hand-picked choice by Carroll — and as we saw with Thomas Rawls in 2015, the Seahawks would have no problem giving a rookie running back all the work he has earned. But if Eddie Lacy, Rawls and Prosise stay healthy — and don’t forget Collins and Troymaine Pope — carries (and even a roster spot) will be hard to come by. Carson more logically projects as a developmental player in 2017 groomed for 2018 and beyond.