Following the conclusion of their 10th and final OTA last Thursday, the Seahawks will now enter the final important phase of their offseason program with mandatory minicamp from June 11 to 13.
While Seattle remains without a plethora of key players still working their way back from surgeries, including safety Bradley McDougald and running back Chris Carson, next week will be a critical one for rookies still adapting to life in the NFL and reserves who may be firmly planted on the roster bubble.
With training camp a little less than two months away, here’s my latest Seahawks 53-man roster projection.
Keep: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
Cut: Paxton Lynch
Verdict: There’s no surprise about who will be starting under center for Seattle after Wilson received a record-breaking extension in mid-April. But the ensuing battle behind him could be an epic one, at least by backup quarterback standards. Though the 6-foot-7 Lynch has a rocket arm and possesses surprising athleticism for his size, Smith’s overall skill set seems better suited to run the Seahawks offense in the event Wilson suffered an injury and needed spelled in the lineup. This could go down to the final week of the preseason, but give Smith the edge to a roster spot due to his ample starting experience.
Keep: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, Bo Scarbrough
Cut: J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise, Nick Bellore, Marcelias Sutton
Verdict: As Carson works his way back from knee surgery, a leaner, better-prepared Penny continues to impress this offseason and should take on greater responsibility out of the backfield in his second NFL season. Behind those two workhorses, Homer’s ability to run between the tackles as well as catch the ball out of the backfield and provide adequate pass protection will give him an advantage over Prosise and McKissic. Given how much Seattle loves to run the football and the fragility of the running back position, keeping extra insurance on the depth chart may be necessary and having another hammer like Scarbrough available would be wise. Bellore remains a player to keep an eye on if he performs well on special teams, but fullbacks simply aren’t a necessity these days.
Keep: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings, David Moore, John Ursua
Cut: Malik Turner, Caleb Scott, Keenan Reynolds, Amara Darboh, Jazz Ferguson, Terry Wright
Verdict: Minus Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s receiving corps faces plenty of uncertainly away from Lockett, Moore, and Brown, but it doesn’t appear to be a group lacking talent. Metcalf continues to draw rave reviews from coaches and teammates and will have a great chance to start as the “X” receiver, while Jennings recently started practicing after battling through hamstring issues and will compete for snaps both in the slot and on the outside. Ursua also returned from his own hamstring injury and may be the most natural slot receiver on the roster, giving him a strong chance to make the team if healthy. Several other players, including Darboh, Reynolds, and Wright, could be in the mix in what should be the most intriguing positional battle to play out this summer.
Keep: Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Jacob Hollister
Cut: Tyrone Swoopes, Justin Johnson
Verdict: There’s still a chance Dissly could be limited to start training camp, but recent reports suggest he’s ahead of schedule and it’s looking probable he’ll be ready to go for the start of the regular season. Behind him, Dickson played well as a red zone target and blocker once he returned midway through the 2018 season and Vannett set career-highs in receptions and receiving yards, giving the team quality depth. Hollister, who was acquired from New England shortly after the draft, should also have a strong case for making the team due to a vastly different skill set from his tight end brethren and could add another dimension to Seattle’s passing game.
Keep: Duane Brown, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jamarco Jones
Cut: Elijah Nkansah
Verdict: There’s little drama at tackle, as the Seahawks have more stability at the position than they’ve had at any other time during the Pete Carroll era. Brown and Ifedi remain entrenched as starters, while Fant and Jones should be capable of stepping in on either side of the line in a pinch if necessary. Nkansah played a few meaningful snaps last year and should be a practice squad candidate.
Keep: D.J. Fluker, Mike Iupati, Phil Haynes
Cut: Jordan Simmons, Jordan Roos, Demetrius Knox, Marcus Martin
Verdict: While Fluker and Iupati are clear-cut starters at both guard spots, an intense battle for a reserve role behind them awaits. Simmons played well in three spot starts for Fluker during the second half last season, but he’s struggled to stay healthy throughout his football career dating back to his time at USC and the addition of Haynes as a fourth-round pick makes him expendable. Knox may have a future with the team and should start his career on practice squad, while Roos and Martin will have to hope to latch on elsewhere.
Keep: Justin Britt, Ethan Pocic
Cut: Joey Hunt
Verdict: Check off another box for continuity, as Britt returns as the unquestioned starter at center for a fourth straight season. While Pocic struggled in minimal play time at guard during his second season, he’s a natural center and being a former second-round pick, his best chance to stick in the league may be as a reserve at the position. Hunt has endeared himself to coaches and teammates for his toughness, but his lack of size ultimately limits his upside and his time in Seattle could be coming to an end.
Keep: Ezekiel Ansah, L.J. Collier, Cassius Marsh, Jacob Martin, Rasheem Green
Cut: Nazair Jones, Branden Jackson
Verdict: Ansah hasn’t returned to football-related activities yet, but he’s been doing some work on the field and appears to be making adequate progress as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. Assuming he’s back to 100 percent by August, he’ll be a starter at the LEO defensive end spot in Week 1, while Collier should be the favorite to start opposite him as a rookie. Marsh and Martin will rotate at the LEO spot as situational pass rushers and Green will be looking to make a big leap in his second year seeing snaps both as a base defensive end and defensive tackle. Seattle moved Jones to defensive end hoping it’d improve his odds of contributing in his third season, but there’s simply too many bodies in front of him on the depth chart.
Keep: Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson, Al Woods
Cut: Jamie Meder, Demarcus Christmas, Bryan Mone, Jay-Tee Tiuli
Verdict: Reed hasn’t participated in on-field work to this point as he recovers from sports hernia surgery, but he should be ready to roll for training camp. Next to him, Ford will be looking to build off of a stellar second half and vault into the starting lineup, giving Seattle an exciting young tandem in the defensive interior. Jefferson started 12 games as a defensive end last year, but at over 290 pounds, he’s also capable of playing extensive snaps at defensive tackle and should rotate in behind Reed and Ford. The 340-pound Woods arrived as a late free agent signing to help slow down opposing run games and will narrowly beat out Christmas and Meder for one of the final roster spots.
Keep: Bobby Wagner, Cody Barton
Cut: Emmanuel Ellerbee, Justin Currie
Verdict: Don’t worry about Wagner, who currently is in the midst of a passive “hold out” seeking a new contract. The perennial All-Pro linebacker will get his new deal soon and be back in action for training camp as the undisputed leader of Seattle’s defense. The Seahawks didn’t draft Barton in the third round to turn around and cut him, as he’ll learn from the best in the business and serve as a key cog on the team’s special teams units to start his career. Ellerbee, who joined the team during the middle of last season, might be retained on the practice squad for continued development.
Keep: K.J. Wright, Shaquem Griffin, Ben Burr-Kirven, Mychal Kendricks
Cut: Barkevious Mingo, Austin Calitro
Verdict: There’s an awfully big domino that has yet to fall in one direction or another here, as Kendricks’ status remains uncertain going into 2019. With his sentencing for insider trading still on hold, the Seahawks intelligently used a fifth-round pick on Burr-Kirven, who has been working at weakside linebacker and could eventually start there down the road. Along with continuing to work at linebacker, Seattle has been utilizing Griffin as a pass rusher this offseason, looking to take better advantage of his speed off the edge. With the ability to play multiple spots and excel on special teams, his spot should be safe, but Calitro and Mingo could be in big trouble if Kendricks is eligible to return.
Keep: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Derrek Thomas, Neiko Thorpe
Cut: Jamar Taylor, Devante Davis, Kalan Reed, Jeremy Boykins, Simeon Thomas
Verdict: Entering their third and second seasons respectively, Griffin and Flowers should be locked in as starters on the outside. But the slot position lingers as a major question mark for Seattle defensively after Justin Coleman bolted for Detroit in free agency. King, who played well during the second half as a sub-package safety, looks the be the front-runner to replace Coleman heading towards training camp. While Reed and Taylor should push him, King offers better athletic traits than advertised and has a great chance to maintain the job into the regular season. Filling out the depth chart, the 6-foot-3 Thomas offers far too much intrigue as an undrafted free agent to risk losing on waivers and Thorpe will once again secure a roster spot due to his special teams prowess.
Keep: Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi
Cut: Shalom Luani, Marwin Evans, Jalen Harvey
Verdict: As the NFL transitions into a “position-less” league defensively to combat pass-heavy offenses, the Seahawks will adjust accordingly with the times, keeping five safeties who offer enough versatility to line up at different positions. McDougald will be a starter at either free or strong safety, depending on who emerges as the starter next to him. Thompson will be given the first crack to keep his free safety gig, but Blair and possibly Amadi will be pushing him for playing time right away. As for Hill, his ability to impact games near the line of scrimmage and defend tight ends in coverage should provide value as a third safety in some of Seattle’s sub-packages.
Keep: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers, Tyler Ott
Verdict: Nothing to see here. Dickson and Myers are undisputed starters and Ott signed his exclusive rights tender, so unlike a year ago, there won’t be intense special teams competitions taking place at Seahawks camp.