Seattle hasn't taken a running back in the first round since Shaun Alexander in 2000.
Just about everything that could go wrong for the Seahawks’ tailback corps in 2017 did.
Eddie Lacy became one of the bigger free-agent busts in the team’s recent history (179 yards).
Thomas Rawls, two years ago regarded as a rising star, couldn’t hold on to the starting job despite being handed it twice during the season and averaged just 2.7 yards per carry — less than half the 5.6 of his rookie season.
And Chris Carson, a rookie who surprisingly won the job heading into the season, played just four games before being lost for the season.
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That forced Seattle to turn to Mike Davis, who had been on the practice squad most of the season after being a waiver wire pickup last May, to start the final six games.
It added up to a group that set a dubious team record of just one rushing touchdown from the running back spot (that by J.D. McKissic, who plays more of a third-down, two-minute back role).
But as the 2018 draft approaches, the Seahawks have yet to make any additions to their running back corps, leading to the obvious conclusion that they’ll make a few either during the draft or shortly after.
Here’s a quick review of the running back position as we continue our annual review of each Seahawks position group heading into the draft.
Mike Davis/Chris Carson
C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic.
Key offseason departures: Rawls, the team’s leading rusher as a rookie in 2015 and presumed heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch, wasn’t tendered as a restricted free agent following two injury-filled years and Seattle, and Lacy also remains unsigned, with the only certainty that he won’t be back in Seattle.
Tre Madden, Jalston Fowler.
Key offseason departures: None.
OVERVIEW: Given the way coach Pete Carroll talked about reviving the running game being a key to getting the team back in track in 2018 it may be surprising Seattle has yet to add any tailbacks to the roster.
But this is regarded as a really good year for tailbacks in the NFL draft and there’s been plenty of speculation Seattle could even use its first-round pick on a tailback, something the Seahaws have only done twice in their history (Curt Warner at No. 3 overall in 1983 and Shaun Alexander at No. 19 in 2000).
Carroll also voiced a pretty big vote of confidence at the league meetings in Davis, saying that as of today he’d be the starter when training camp begins.
Carroll, though, also has made it clear what he thinks of Carson, and with Carson now at 100 percent (according to Carroll at the league meetings, anyway) he’ll be a huge factor in things, too.
Prosise, a third-round pick two years ago, remains an enigma, limited to just nine games his first two seasons due to injuries but showing unmistakable big-play ability when he has been healthy.
His injury history so far makes it clear the Seahawks can factor him into their plans only so much. But with two years remaining on his rookie contract — he has a salary cap charge this season of just $833,116 with $346,232 in dead money — there’s little to lose from bringing him back for another year and hoping it will work out.
The Seahawks continue to think Prosise could be an everydown back if he can stay healthy. But at this point they’d be happy if he could stay upright enough to be the primary two-minute, third-down back.
Seattle retained McKissic as an exclusive rights free agent and he figures to again serve as insurance for the third-down, two-minute back role if Prosise is again felled due to injury.
Seattle didn’t use a fullback much last season with Madden — the only fullback on the roster at any point last season — playing just 67 snaps before suffering a season-ending injury.
But with Carroll saying he wants to get back to being more of a physical, running team, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Seattle made fullback more of a priority this season.
Fowler, a fourth-round pick by Tennessee in 2015 out of Alabama who spent much of last season on the practice squad, more fits the traditional fullback mode at a listed 5-11, 254 than does Madden. Madden, though, can also play tailback and was a key special teams player before being injured.
DRAFT NEED (on scale of 1-10): 9.
POTENTIAL DRAFT FITS
Sony Michel, Georgia: Seattle would undoubtedly have to use its first-round pick (at the moment Seattle doesn’t have a second-rounder) to get Michel, who had a breakout season in 2017 with 1,227 yards and a whopping 7.9 yards per carry average. He also played under new Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer at Georgia in 2015.
Derrius Guice, LSU: Some wonder about the fact that Guice’s yards-per-carry slipped last season to 5.3 after he averaged 7.6 and 8.5 his first two seasons (though LSU’s overall struggles were undoubtedly a factor). Might be a player Seattle could trade down and get.
Royce Freeman, Oregon: At 5-11 and 235 pounds, might be one of the best options to add some physicality and size to Seattle’s running back corps, and he might he available in the middle rounds.
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State: Ballage was one of three players Carroll and general manager John Schneider each worked out at Arizona State last week. Ballage, who once scored eight touchdowns in one game for the Sun Devils, has all the physical tools (6-2, 222) but had overall erratic production at ASU. Likely a mid-to-late-round pick.