Seahawks Roster Analysis: Offensive Skill Position Players

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For the last few years, the Seahawks roster has been predictable enough to make most roster analyses borderline irrelevant. Seattle didn't invite a ton of players to camp and those they did usually broke into obvious strata: Starters and likely starters, recent draft picks, free agents signings and camp bodies. Most of the starters stayed starters. Most of the recent draft picks made the team. Most of the free agents were signed to be starters. Most of the camp bodies were discarded. The most controversial move I can remember was Seattle cutting Brian Russell and replacing him Jordan Babineaux. That says a lot.

This season is different. Personnel matters are in new hands. The team is no longer convinced it can stick to the plan and await a rebound. No one is penciling in Seattle as a playoff contender and so there's less of a "stay the course" attitude. Pete Carroll has emphasized competition and paired actions to words. There's upheaval, glorious, tumultuous, promising upheaval, and that not only bodes well for the Seahawks future, but for the first time in years, it means roster analysis is valid again.

Here's my first look. A couple quick notes: I don't use the traditional "lock" "bubble" whatever, but "possible starter" and "competing for a roster spot." I ordered player names by most likely to least likely. Finally, instead of broad definitions like "defensive line", I broke it into more specialized positions. Dexter Davis will not take a spot from Lawrence Jackson. Owen Schmitt will not take a spot from LenDale White.

Quarterback

Last season: 3

Currently: 4

Possible starters: Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst.

Competing for a roster spot: Mike Teel, Mike Reilly.

Apart from Hasselbeck, Whitehurst is the only quarterback Seattle would purposely start. Teel and Reilly are competing for emergency/developmental/clipboard quarterback. Reilly has practice-squad eligibility, but Teel was on Seattle's 53 man roster for the entirety of 2009. Seattle could stash Reilly, keeping all four, but I think emphasis on competition means the best quarterback will win the third-string spot regardless.

Running back

Last season: 3

Currently: 6

Possible starters: LenDale White, Leon Washington, Justin Forsett, Julius Jones.

Competing for a roster spot: Quinton Ganther, Louis Rankin.

Jones is likely the odd man out among starters. I suspect that Carroll saw much of what I saw last season, sound enough running by Jones and some very suspect run blocking by a transitioning and ever changing offensive line. Still, he didn't see holes, is not a special athlete, is nearing 29 and has expended numerous opportunities. Jones could be traded. Whatever the case, affordable contract + paradigm of competition + well-rounded if not exciting back = a chance to prove himself through camp and into the preseason. I think White is the most likely starter, Washington the most likely change of pace rusher, and that Forsett must again prove himself. It seems very unlikely that either Ganther or Rankin will make this team.

Fullback

Last season: 2

Currently: 2

Competing for a roster spot: Owen Schmitt, Ryan Powdrell

I think this is a total toss up with Schmitt having the talent advantage and Powdrell the advantage of knowing the system. I don't think Seattle will have a starting fullback and as such, I don't think Seattle will keep two fullbacks. Put up or shut up time for Schmitt. Powdrell should have practice squad eligibility.

Wide Receiver

Last season: 4

Currently: 9

Possible starters: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Golden Tate, Deion Branch, Mike Williams.

Competing for a roster spot: Deon Butler, Ruvell Martin, Reggie Williams, Jameson Konz, Mike Hass.

This looks a whole lot less cluttered when you filter out the players most likely to stick as gunners rather than receivers. Housh is pretty close to a lock, because he's expensive and reliable. Tate is a roster lock, but is competing for snaps. Branch and Mike Williams are competing both to start and to stick with the team. Martin, Butler and Reggie Williams could compete their way into starting, but first they must make the team. Hass is a long shot from a blunderbuss.

I figure the competition looks a little like this

WR1 (X): Housh v. M. Williams v. R. Williams v. Konz

WR2 (Z): Tate v. Branch v. Butler v. Hass

Slot: Tate v. Branch v. Butler v. Hass

Slot2: M. Williams v. Martin v. R. Williams v. Konz

Receiving Tight End

Last season: 2

Currently: 3

Possible starters: John Carlson, Anthony McCoy

Competing for a roster spot: Cameron Morrah

This seems elementary. Carlson will battle McCoy to start. Carlson is the better receiver but McCoy the better blocker, so don't count McCoy out. Morrah is battling for a roster spot. The best case scenario for Morrah is that he shows growth as a receiver and Seattle keeps him to back up Carlson and McCoy to back up Baker.

Blocking Tight End

Last season: 1

Currently: 3

Possible starter: Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy

Competing for a roster spot: Patrick Devenny, Jason Pociask

The good news is that Jeremy Bates' emphasis on two-tight end sets should shift a roster spot formerly dedicated to backup fullback to backup blocking tight end. The bad news is that Devenny and Pociask are still battling long odds. If I were to guess, I would say Seattle starts Carlson and Baker, Morrah backs up Carlson and McCoy backs up Baker. If Carlson is injured, McCoy might replace him regardless. If Baker is injured, McCoy could also replace him. Morrah is most threatened by McCoy seizing the second string receiving tight end position. If McCoy shows enough promise there, Seattle might opt for a pure blocking tight end like Devenny or Pociask to back up Baker. Devenny gets the edge because of youth, but it's close to a pick ‘em.

XFINITY from Comcast is a proud supporter of Field Gulls. You’ll get your Seahawks games as a part of over 120 NFL games XFINITY provides in HD, as well as On Demand game recaps from every NFL game every week, faster Internet speeds, and stunning HD. With XFINITY and NFL RedZone, you get every touchdown from every game every Sunday afternoon! Call 1-800-XFINITY or visit http://www.xfinity.com.

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