Where Can The Seahawks Still Improve
By CASEY MABBOTT, OREGON SPORTS NEWS
The Seattle Seahawks are building towards something big, maybe even another Super Bowl victory. But before they get to that point, they still have some holes on the roster.
They made the right moves at QB, signing Geno Smith to a three-year deal and bringing back Drew Lock on a one-year deal. That gives them the same QB room they had last season, which means if they bring in a rookie, they will have at least two guys that can show them the ropes from a player’s perspective. Learning a new system is tough enough, but it’s even tougher when you don’t have anyone close by that has played in that system at the same position.
Running back is solid, but there isn’t reliable depth if starter Kenneth Walker III. Walker III is about as durable a young runner as you will find, but Pete Carroll likes to use a rotation, and his current depth is DeeJay Dallas and Darwin Thompson. If Walker III has to miss any time, even one game, that is not acceptable depth. They need at least one more RB. Guys like Kenyan Drake and JD McKissic are unrestricted free agents that have a few years of experience can play on third downs or fill in on early downs to spell the starter, or fill in as the starter in a pinch.
Wide receiver is pretty well set up for starters but goes downhill fast if there are any injuries. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are as solid a duo as you can find, but the depth behind them is questionable. D’Wayne Eskridge is still finding a role as the third receiver, and behind him, you have some projects in Cade Johnson, Easop Winston, Connor Wedington, and Dareke Young. A couple of these guys might make the final roster, but don’t be surprised if any of them are cut or moved to the practice squad.
Tight end is decent as they are returning Noah Fant, Will Dissly, and Colby Parkinson, so they can run two tight end sets to run or pass out of without sacrificing talent or blocking. Geno and Noah Fant started to get into a rhythm late last season, so if they can continue to gel and still involve the other two guys, this offense could break wide-open.
Offensive line is good but not great. They have two high-upside tackles in Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, who were both rookies last year and now have a full year under their belts. They played San Francisco three times last season, and if that’s not enough breaking in for a young pass blocker, I don’t know what will be. Going into their second seasons, they should be able to take a giant leap forward and not require as much help. Guard Gabe Jackson is a free agent and probably won’t be called back; he never panned out after being traded to Seattle and won’t be worth the money to bring back for another tour. Guard Damien Lewis was solid his first two seasons but had some issues playing consistently last year; we’ll see what he does now that he’s officially a veteran. No one wants to see him wander into Germain Ifedi territory. The Seahawks don’t have a proven center on their roster, the only two players being Evan Brown and Joey Hunt. Brown started the majority of games for Detroit the last two years and may be the best option, but Hunt hasn’t started a game since 2019. Seattle will definitely want to add help somewhere on the line.
Defensive line is improving but hasn’t returned to the fearless unit they had in 2013 and 2014 – although that may change this year. Jarran Reed was brought home after spending time in Kansas City and Green Bay, and newly signed edge rusher Dre’Mont Jones could be the next big thing the Seahawks have been looking for. Darrell Taylor and Uchenna Nwosu really took it to the next level late in the season last year, and if they can get help from Jones and Reed, they could be elite. But that still leaves them vulnerable up the middle, where they had trouble pressuring the QB or stopping the run in recent years. There have been talks about bringing back Frank Clark, but he probably won’t be cheap, and they need to find a nose tackle before they look for another rusher. With only $7M left in salary cap space, they won’t be able to find more than one marquee player, most likely.
Linebackers are solid once again, with Bobby Wagner returning for one more year and Jordyn Brooks making his return from injury. Cody Barton signed with the other Washington team, so he won’t be returning. Devin Bush Jr was signed as a free agent after spending the last few years in Pittsburgh, so that gives you a three-man rotation at arguably the most important position on defense.
The secondary could be a strength for the defense, something that has not been true in Seattle since 2017 – the final year Richard Sherman played in a Seattle uniform. Strong safety Jamal Adams was brought to Seattle via trade to reinforce a position that had turned into a weakness, and Adams responded with some great play as well as a lot of time lost to injuries. If healthy this year, we might finally see Seattle’s secondary at full strength. Free safety Quandre Diggs was brought in to be the new Earl Thomas, and while he has played well, he has struggled to reach his full potential, constantly having to play with a reserve player at the other safety spot. Without any veteran depth behind them, Seattle signed Julian Love as the third safety.
Cornerback Tariq Woolen narrowly lost out on defensive rookie of the year, and his ball-hawking skills were the best the team had seen from a rookie since Sherman in 2011. Their size and talent weren’t the only things that forced comparisons between them; it was also their aggressive style of play and ability to shadow receivers as a former receivers. Woolen will need to take a big step forward to improve on his rookie year, but a full season of confidence as a starter should only help.
If Woolen is the next Sherman, then Cobe Bryant has to be the next Byron Maxwell, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maxwell was a fixture of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl years in 2013-14, starting 17 games in those two seasons and more than living up to the hype of being the best corner opposite Sherman. If Adams can stay healthy and the two young corners can continue their ascent, this secondary could just be the second coming of the Legion of Boom. There aren’t many great options on the free agent market if any of them get hurt, so this will have to be their year to stay on the field.
This is all before the draft; it’s possible Seattle will pick up at least one player in the early rounds that can make an immediate impact. They have an outstanding roster with a lot of talent where the starters are concerned, but they need to add some quality depth so they can stay on course if someone has to miss time. Plenty of teams look great on paper when everyone is healthy, but you can’t throw the season down the drain if the injury bug bites.