In review of preseason game two in Denver, let's take a look at a few veterans and UDFAs on the fringes of making the Seahawks roster. We'll go position-by-position, and rank each bubble player, starting with the offense. Again, these rankings are reflective of the cumulative showing of each guy, from the first two preseason games combined, although the analysis is primarily delivered in consideration of the most recent game.
1. Tarvaris Jackson - Nothing new here from last week. He hasn't seen a single snap in preseason action this year, and won't unless one of the other QBs go down to injury. It would be highly recommended that unless the ‘Hawks can garner a draft pick for him immediately, they hold onto him until the end of the last preseason game, for insurance purposes. If you can get even a 7th round pick for him, you take it and run. After all, Seattle's 7th-round pull of Sweezy and Scruggs this year aren't looking too bad right now.
2. Josh Portis - Portis got limited action in PS Week 2, to close out the 4th quarter. Considering the urgency to offload Jackson between now and the beginning of the season, and taking into account that there really aren't any notable depth QBs on the market who would be clear cut upgrades to Portis, I think he has a lock on the 3rd string job heading into the season. That said, we'll be keeping a close eye on other QBs cut by other teams throughout the preseason, as it's entirely possible that there could be a better fit out there.
1. Tyrell Sutton - I was a lot more impressed this week with Sutton's performance than in week 1. He struggled with his footing against Tennessee, but against Denver, looked a lot better - particularly in getting to the outside on the run and turning the corner, as well as on coming out of the backfield in the passing game and making things happen after the catch. He runs low to the ground, is a short-stepper who can change direction with suddenness, and isn't afraid to run hard on contact. What he lacks is pull-away speed.
As I mentioned last week, he reminds me a lot of Justin Forsett, but probably runs a bit more physical, and possesses better initial burst and first-step from behind the line. I have him as the 5th RB at this point (behind Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Leon Washington and Michael Robinson), and slightly ahead of Vai Taua based on what he can do in the return game, along with his contributions in the passing game. I still see it as a stretch for him to make the team, simply due to numbers. The ‘Hawks broke camp with four RBs last season, and I think they may lean toward keeping more WRs if they have any extra numbers to use.
2. Vai Taua - Taua got the start at fullback and looked good as a lead blocker. What's nice about the former Nevada ‘back is that he's been in the system for over a year now, and possesses the single-cut nature to fit the blocking scheme. Thus, he can double as a fullback or halfback, as well as contribute on special teams. He's not far behind Sutton on my depth chart, but doesn't give the ‘Hawks the same threat on 3rd downs, that they'd have with a guy like Sutton, which is more in line with what they would need outside of the top 4 ‘backs, if anything.
Versatility does go a long way with Carroll though, and Taua laid some nice blocks leading for Lynch against Denver. He hit the hole quickly, was decisive in targeting defenders, and squared up nicely at the 2nd level, adjusting his body on the fly to establish position. Would like to see him get a few more carries before the preseason is over as well. He did have the one short-yardage, 3rd down conversion against Denver, to extend a drive.
DK note: Michael Robinson has a toe injury, and as Carroll noted in his presser yesterday, it wasn't responding how they had hoped. Toe injuries can be problematic and chronic, so monitor this development.
3. Kregg Lumpkin - Lumpkin had another good showing, both from a power/inside running perspective, as well as in flashing some ability to bounce it to the outside and turn the corner (see his TD run). Lumpkin clearly has some potential in a scheme like this, and could be a potential insurance policy between now and the beginning of the season if Turbin or Lynch have to sit out at all. I see Lumpkin lasting through at least one cut.
Off The Bubble This Week: Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington
1. Deon Butler - Butler picked up where he left of in PS week 1 with three more catches. The plays were nothing too special, but in breaking down the replay, I continue to be encouraged by his suddenness and quickness in and out of his breaks. He rarely telegraphs a stop or cut in his route and comes back to the football. We know he has some wiggle after the catch as well.
What I'd like to see, though, is the vertical acceleration that he showed before the broken leg. If he has that back, and can exhibit it to a degree that indicates he can provide a consistent vertical threat, he's probably a shoe-in to make the roster. He's certainly establishing himself well from the slot, in Doug Baldwin's absence.
2. Ben Obomanu - Obomanu sat out this week, and as a result, probably lost some ground to Deon Butler, who continues to get open and make catches. The rust that T.O. showed might have helped Obo's case a bit, but if Owens gets warmed up and on the same page with both QBs, that could all change very quickly. At this point, I'd put Obo behind T.O., Braylon Edwards, Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice and Deon Butler, but ahead of Ricardo Lockette, Kris Durham, Charly Martin, Phil Bates and Lavasier Tuinei.
If the ‘Hawks were to make final cuts today and keep six WRs, I believe Obomanu makes the team. He needs to get back into action though, and make some plays, particularly now that I'm hearing he'll no longer be a special teams player (where he has created a lot of value for himself in the past).
3. Kris Durham - In the second game, Durham didn't see a single pass thrown his way. I watched pretty close, and did see him getting some separation down field. Early on, Flynn was targeting T.O. excessively and for good reason, so he may not have even been considering Durham on some of those early snaps that the second-year wideout got. Later in the game, Wilson appeared to look Durham's direction a couple of times but opted to go another direction.
This doesn't mean Durham wasn't open, and on second look, he actually was, considering the type of receiver he is - long, rangy possession guy who's length and catching radius are key. He's not expected to pull away from defenders on speed alone, but he is expected to sink his hips, accelerate out of cuts, and go up for the ball when it's in the air. I'm not ruling him out just yet. We need to see him get some more opportunities. A few drops in camp, as well as one in PS week 1 may be causing QBs to be a bit trigger-shy with him at this point. He'll need to establish confidence with his QBs in practices, if he wants to get more balls in the games.
4. Ricardo Lockette - Lockette again didn't show anything in PS week 2 to indicate that he's settling into a role with this offense. I saw some separation on deep routes, but QBs just aren't looking his way. Like Durham, drops in camp have really hurt Lockette's stock, and at this point the odds are against him to make the roster.
He does have another year of Practice Squad eligibility though, and could be worth keeping around to see if he can get better at catching the ball. He has made some plays (last season) that would indicate he's fully capable of catching some tough balls, so it's most likely a concentration/pshych issue that only he can really fix.
Other WRs to consider:
5. Lavasier Tuinei (UDFA) - Tuinei got better separation this week, crossing the field and displayed his range when he grabbed an off-balance, wild Russell Wilson toss, falling out of bounds. The dude is long. Based on some of the routes I saw on the replay, Tuinei may be worth a look in some packages with the high-2nd team, or even with the 1st team in red zone situations. He's coordinated and well-timed on high balls, and could establish himself as a go-to guy in short yardage and goal line situations, with the way he can use his length and leaping ability.
I wasn't as impressed last week as he came off the line a bit sluggish, but this week, he didn't struggle as much to get a release off the line. That said, he wasn't facing first-line press corners, which is why I'd be curious to see him in some early-game situations. That's more for my own evaluation though, and may very well not be in the plans that the coaching staff has.
6. Phil Bates (UDFA) - Bates made one short catch over the middle this week, and just missed another that would've been a game-breaker. I was encouraged by the separation he was able to get down the sideline on the missed go-route toss from Russell Wilson, but I was discouraged by his mid-route let-up which was the main reason for the incomplete pass.
Physically, Bates has all the tools to separate with either speed or strength, but he has some development left from a route-running standpoint. He's definitely a guy I'd put on the Practice Squad, as fearless over-the-middle guys who play with a physical nature are tough to find, and he has "plus" athleticism to be more than just a possession guy.
7. Charly Martin - Martin didn't look quite as sharp this week as he did in week one, as he struggled to separate out of his breaks, and simply didn't get the targets. He made a couple of solid blocks on running plays, and clearly gives a good effort on every down. There just isn't a place for him here. I could see him catching on with a team like Cleveland who could use a veteran guy to help from the slot in 3rd down situations.
8. Jermaine Kearse - It was good to see Kearse get into the action this week, with a spectacular seam route catch, going up for the ball and securing it at the high point, in traffic. He badly needed to show something or risk being out with the first round of cuts (which is still possible). He also showed up around the ball on special teams (kick coverage) and made a couple of nice blocks for the run.
It's still an uphill climb for Kearse, who most certainly won't make the roster but could be one of 3 or 4 Practice Squad candidates at the position. He's more polished as a receiver than Bates, but hasn't shown the same knack for making plays, so at this point, I have him behind Tuinei and Bates in the group's 3rd tier.
1. Anthony McCoy - McCoy had a great game. He sprung a key block on the Kregg Lumpkin run, and made a great, leaping catch down the seam, showing off his ability to separate at the 2nd level, and athleticism and ball skills to go up and secure the rock. Now, if he could learn to catch the easy ones, he'd be set. He's certainly doing what he needs to, to secure the 3rd TE spot on this roster, and unless he completely blows it these last 2 games, he's a lock to make the roster.
2. Cameron Morrah - Morrah came through for one catch this week, and looked good coming off the line, and out of his breaks. He's behind McCoy on my depth chart, due more to the availability, blocking and big-play flashes from McCoy and less to any "poor" play from Morrah. He's still definitely in the race here and holds higher depth-chart position at the moment than Sean McGrath, but questions around his health, and continued solid performance from McGrath both as a blocker and catcher, could lead coaches to consider shaking things up and potentially leaving Morrah off the roster. Ability to stay healthy is viewed by many coaches and FOs as a ‘skill'. Keep that in mind with this unit.
3. Sean McGrath (UDFA) - McGrath did what I said he had to do last week to stay in contention for a roster spot - he continued to catch the ball and block for the run. He did both really well again in week two, and showed both fearlessness and concentration on the 22-yard reception from Wilson over the middle. My favorite UDFA in camp, and a guy I think has a legitimate shot of beating out Cameron Morrah for a roster spot. He's not as athletic, and that may be where he ends up the odd-man out, considering the fragility of Winslow and experience of Morrah - both more the athletic, play-making types, which are essential to this offense.
4. Cooper Helfet (UDFA) - Helfet had the late-4th quarter touchdown pass, where he ran a nice corner post, looked the ball in, and dragged the feet to stay in bounds. What I liked early in the play was his release. He got off the line quick, and displayed some WR-type qualities in terms of how quickly he got up to speed. He's a pass-catching TE with some upside who would be a nice addition to the Practice Squad. No chance of making the final-53 in my view, barring multiple injuries at the position.
Off The Bubble This Week: Zach Miller, Kellen Winslow Jr.
1. Alex Barron - Well, the worse Frank Omiyale looks, the better Alex Barron looks. Barron can mirror and stay with some pretty quick ends, and did so relatively well in Denver. He's not false-starting as much as his reputation coming in might have led us to assume he would, and he clearly still has the athleticism to be an impact RT in the NFL.
He's patient in pass protection, to sit back and extend his arms, and possesses good natural power to steer or toss his man out of the play. Where he needs to show a bit more effort is in down field blocking on run plays - just from an overall effort standpoint. I'd be surprised though if he doesn't make the final-53 man roster as the rotational reserve tackle behind Giacomini and Russell Okung.
2. Rishaw Johnson - Johnson was effective again as a run blocker in Denver, and continues to be adequate in pass-protection. What I really like about this kid is his natural power as a drive blocker. He's violent, and tough to escape once he gets his hands on you, and he possesses better anchoring strength than a guy like Sweezy, in that he can dig in at the line and hold position without having to adjust his feet too much.
Not that the latter is good technique, but it just shows the type of natural strength this guy possesses. He's not as quick laterally, and is a bit sluggish in his kick-slide when attempting to mirror a rusher or pick up a blitzer. After two weeks, I have him higher on the depth chart than Paul Fanaika or Allen Barbre at the guard spot.
3. Paul Fanaika - Fanaika didn't really stick out against Denver, and that's probably a good thing. He knows the scheme, having been in it for a year now, and although he isn't a quick lateral mover in pass-protection, he can be devastating at the point of attack when clearing the way for the run. He's versatile enough to play either guard position as well. The emergence of guys like Sweezy and Johnson, however, could make it tough for Fanaika to secure a roster spot, as they're both upgrades over him, athletically.
4. Allen Barbre - Barbre was responsible for a couple of pass-protection leaks again in Denver, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see Barbre gone with the first round of cuts. That said - and I keep going back to this, because there's value in it - he does have a handful of starts under his belt, and has experience at both tackle and guard, so the experience/versatility combination may keep him around for a bit longer. Don't be surprised if you see him taking reps at left tackle, considering how awful Omiyale has been there. Or, I guess he could take reps at RT with Barron moving over. There are a few possibilities there.
5. Frank Omiyale - This was another bad week for Omiyale. The guy just doesn't look right at left tackle. He stops moving his feet, overextends, bends his arms and gets knocked aside way too easily, by 2nd and 3rd unit linemen. I've highlighted a potential replacement for Omiyale in Stephon Heyer (among a few others on our FA list), a 6 year NFL vet with 60-plus starts at tackle, who was recently released by the Jets in what many fans thought was a controversial move. Something has to be done about the backup LT spot, and although moving McQuistain over could work, and did work last year, you don't want to start pulling from your depth at other spots along the line, especially if you're pulling a starter. Russell Okung has yet to put a full healthy season together, so this is a pretty big deal.
Others To Consider: Edawn Coughman, Kristofer O'Dowd
DK Note -- Derek has transitioned from doing league-wide NFL Draft analysis at his blog to a more focused and specific, Seahawks-centric draft - free agency - pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." It's now up - and it's definitely a site you must bookmark. Derek also maintains a really great free agent trackerthat is much more in-depth than most places because of his background doing deep scouting of NFL Draft prospects. It's updated daily.