We’ll continue our Seahawks pre-draft position reviews with a look at the running back spot.
PLAYERS CURRENTLY ON ROSTER
Starter: Marshawn Lynch.
Seahawks 2015 Draft
- Seattle Times NFL mock draft
- Seahawks' 10 best draft picks of all time
- Seahawks' 10 worst draft picks of all time
- Position review: Defensive line
- Position review: Offensive line
- Position review: Quarterback
- Position review: Running back
- Position review: Wide receiver
- Position review: Tight end
- Position review: Linebacker
- Position review: Defensive Backs
- Position review: Special Teams
Backups: Christine Michael, Robert Turbin, Demitrius Bronson.
OVERVIEW: The Seahawks finally gave Marshawn Lynch his long-desired raise and extension and with a salary of $12 million in 2015, Lynch will be the third-highest paid tailback in the NFL behind LeSean McCoy ($16 million) and Adrian Peterson ($13 million).
The Seahawks aren’t paying Lynch that much money this year to decrease his role and try to get more touches for Turbin and Michael. Instead, the message was clearly sent that Lynch will be the focal point of the Seattle running game — and offense — again in 2015.
And that means Turbin and Michael are likely headed to the same roles as a year ago. Turbin has carved out a decent niche as the team’s primary running back in its two-minute offense (particularly at the end of the first half, something that continues to catch the TV networks off guard, though). Michael hasn’t had much of a role yet other than being the No. 3 tailback and ready if needed, which he really hasn’t been.
This looms as a key season for each, though, with Lynch best viewed as a year-to-year proposition at this point. In the playing time the two backups do get, they’ll need to state their case for a larger role if/when Lynch does depart.
Bronson spent last year on the practice squad (and then on IR) and the fact the team has kept him around this long indicates they see something they like in the former UW and Eastern Washington running back.
DRAFT NEED (on scale of 1-10): 4. With Lynch safely in tow for another season and Turbin and Michael also back, Seattle has no immediate need for a tailback.
But with Lynch’s long-term future unpredictable, the Seahawks could well decide they’d like to add a body to that position to develop, especially with the 2015 draft viewed as particularly deep at tailback, and especially with 11 draft picks with which to work (something we can obviously say when assessing every position where the Seahawks have even the faintest of needs). The fact that neither Turbin nor Michael has yet established themselves as a sure-thing heir apparent also could compel Seattle to take a dip into the tailback waters this draft.
POSSIBLE DRAFT FITS: The consensus is that this is as good of a class of running backs as has been seen in some time with many analysts thinking teams could get a starting-caliber back in the fifth round, and maybe even later.
Seattle not drafting until 63 and not having an immediate need at the spot would seem to point to the Seahawks using only a late-round pick on a running back.
All of that might also mean the Seahawks would look for someone who could play special teams or maybe help out in some other way immediately.
Seattle is so far reported to have brought in one running back for a visit — South Carolina’s Mike Davis, regarded as a mid-round pick. The 5-9, 217-pound Davis was reported to run a 4.38 40 at his Pro Day earlier this month, though he ran a 4.61 at the NFL Combine (and it’s really common for Pro Day times to be faster than those at the Combine).
One small-school player who fits the bill of being versatile and possibly a good special teamer is South Dakota State’s John Crockett, a good receiver and power runner also regarded as a good blocker (here’s more on Crockett). That Crockett played at an FCS school likely w0n’t matter to teams, though it doesn’t hurt that Terrance West, who played at fellow FCS school Towson, had the success he did last season with the Browns.
PLAYERS CURRENTLY ON ROSTER
Starter: Derrick Coleman.
Backups: Will Tukuafu, Mike Zimmer.
OVERVIEW: Coleman is expected to be fully recovered by the start of training camp from the broken foot he suffered in pre-game warmups in the sixth game of the season at St. Louis which then held him out for the rest of the year.
Seattle also recently re-signed Tukuafu, who it signed after Coleman’s injury and who essentially the starting fullback the rest of the year. Zimmer was a practice squader last year that the team also likes.
DRAFT NEED (on a scale of 1-10): 1. The return of Coleman and Tukuafu seems to have Seattle pretty well set at fullback. The Seahawks have talked about continuing to use Tukuafu on defense and also expanding his offensive role to play some blocking tight end, which would be an avenue to keeping both on the 53-man roster. If so, then fullback would seem to be one of the least immediate needs for the Seahawks, who pulled off a bit of a surprise last year in using a seventh-round pick last year on a fullback in Kiero Small, who was released before the season began.
POSSIBLE DRAFT FITS: There are never that many fullbacks available — in fact, with the rise of spread offenses which don’t use fullbacks, the position seems to be becoming a little thinner with each season.
If Seattle were to look for a fullback, one who might make sense is Yale’s Tyler Varga, who was a tailback in college but at 5-11, 222 pounds is generally viewed as a fullback at the NFL level (here’s his NFL.com profile). The Seahawks were among the 28 teams at Yale’s Pro Day (details here). Added bonus — Varga is from Kitchener, Ontario and could join fellow countrymen Jon Ryan and Luke Willson to enhance the Seahawks’ standing as Canada’s Team.