NFL Cuts: Projecting the Final 53 for the Seahawks

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 30: Travionte Session #87 of the Oakland Raiders makes a catch against Byron Maxwell #41 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 30, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

After the fourth and final preseason game, I've updated the final-53 projection with a few replacements/additions. Again, this is strictly my perspective as a scout/analyst and is not a prediction as to what the team will do.

Let's go through each position group, and note some observations from tonight's game:

Quarterbacks (3) - Russell Wilson, Matt Flynn, Josh Portis

Game 4 notes: Wilson looked good, with the exception of one or two accuracy checks. He stayed in the pocket, utilized play-action, and checked down when he needed to. I was looking for a change in decisiveness, or any hesitation to let go of the football, and saw none. I have very few concerns about Wilson's ability to lead this team to wins, this year. Flynn was Flynn - efficient and conservative - although he was locking on to his primary target (see two Lockette catches in 3rd Quarter) more than I'd have liked to see, and again was not as decisive as Wilson to let the ball go. And finally, remember how good Josh Portis looked last preseason? Those were good times.

Running Backs (5) - Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington, Vai Taua

Game 4 notes: Both Taua and Lumpkin made roster cases here, but the wildcard is Washington (did not suit tonight), who remains the top return man on the team, and who possesses an element of explosiveness - both as a pass-catcher and runner - that sets him apart from the rest of the group here and makes him the most natural 3rd-down ‘back of the bunch. Taua is a more versatile ‘back than Lumpkin, in that he can contribute as a featured runner, lead blocker and pass-catcher, and proved it tonight with his impressive performance in all three areas. I don't see any scenario whereby the Seahawks don't keep at least 5 RBs. Tonight, Taua and Lumpkin both pushed coaches to consider cutting Washington.

Tight Ends (4) - Zach Miller, Kellen Winslow, Anthony McCoy, Sean McGrath

Game 4 notes: McGrath was once again solid tonight with an impressive catch on a tipped pass down the seam, and solid blocking up front. Helfet showed up again with a couple of nice grabs in the flat, one of which he manufactured a TD out of by maintaining balance on contact and extending to the pylon for the finish. The other was a tough, low catch that required him to adjust his body back toward the QB while breaking toward the sideline, extend his arms below his knees and secure the ball with his hands before getting his head around and turning up field for a few extra yards.

Good display of coordination and awareness, as well as quickness off the line. These are two completely different TEs, but I still think the ‘Hawks go with McGrath as the 4th here, due to better blocking. The lack of an emerging 6th WR could potentially leave the door open for all 5 TEs to stay, especially considering that Helfet can line up in the slot.

Wide Receivers (6) - Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Deon Butler, Kris Durham

Game 4 notes: Between Durham, Martin, Tuinei and Kearse, it was Durham that looked the best tonight. Nobody stole the show by any means, but Durham got separation on some routes and made a nice sideline catch on a deep out pattern from Flynn. If I had to pick a 6th, it would be Durham at this point.

Martin has been good, but he's really nothing more than a slot receiver if he does make the roster, and both Baldwin and Butler run better routes underneath. Very possible that the team goes with 5 here, and keeps an extra TE or RB. Golden Tate appeared to injure his knee on a 2nd-half punt return, but I haven't heard anything in terms of how serious it is.

Offensive Linemen (8) - Russell Okung, Paul McQuistain, Max Unger, John Moffitt, Breno Giacomini, J.R. Sweezy, Lemuel Jeanpeirre, Paul Fanaika

Game 4 notes: With Alex Barron gone, Fanaika moved to RT tonight and surprisingly, looked good there. He bolsters his value a lot by doing so, and moves ahead of Rishaw Johnson, who struggled to stay engaged at the point of attack tonight, and isn't out-playing Lemuel Jeanpierre, who's simply more polished at center, and can play either guard position.

Defensive Linemen (9) - Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch, Jason Jones, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, Clinton McDonald, Greg Scruggs, Jaye Howard

Game 4 notes: Nothing changes here, from my pre-game analysis. Cordarro Law and Pierre Allen are the cuts. Howard locked his spot tonight, displaying incredible get-off and a wicked swim to notch a safety, and got consistent penetration to disrupt the pocket throughout the night. Scruggs did not suit but loses no ground.

Linebackers (6) - Bobby Wagner, Leroy Hill, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, Mike Morgan, Korey Toomer

Game 4 notes: Mike Morgan probably secured a spot tonight, and once again, Toomer was a factor both on special teams and as a disruptive force in the backfield. There's something about Toomer that bothers me though. He doesn't fly around with the same fire as Morgan or even Allen Bradford. He's a bit more of a "glider". I think it's more his running style than his effort, but it does impact how visible he is.

I have a feeling that Toomer and Bradford may be closer in their overall grades than some might think. Personally, I still grade Toomer higher for the value he brings to the pass-rush, and one-on-one coverage ability, but Bradford lined up in a few different spots tonight (MLB, WLB) and displayed big-time explosion to the hole, making a couple of key stops against the run. If coaches become convinced that Bradford can play the middle, he could potentially steal a spot from either Morgan or Toomer.

Cornerbacks (5) - Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Phillip Adams, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane

Game 4 note: Trufant, Maxwell and Lane all had good games tonight, and Adams didn't do anything to lose ground. The cut here will probably come down to a decision between Trufant and Lane. While Trufant is probably the more reliable cover guy of the two, and is certainly better in the slot at the moment, Lane shows some real promise on the outside. This decision comes down to a question of "future vs. present". If it's me, I see enough good play out of both Adams and Maxwell to justify letting Trufant go, and giving Lane the 5th spot. Both Maxwell and Adams can play inside or out, so you don't necessarily need that same versatility out of Lane. He can be brought along and developed, and be an immediate special teams contributor (much like Maxwell was last year).

Safeties (4) - Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Jeron Johnson, Winston Guy

Game 4 note: Chancellor and Maragos sat out tonight. Johnson played like a Pro Bowl-caliber safety, particularly against the run, and further confirmed that he's ready to be the 3rd man in the rotation. Winston Guy got several shots at rushing the QB with the "Bandit" package, and took several reps in pass coverage as well, looking impressive in how quickly he closed on plays in front of him. All of Thomas, Chancellor, Johnson and Guy are locks to make the team, so Maragos is the odd man out here. The team has kept 5 safeties before, so I don't consider that to be out of the realms of possibility, considering how well Maragos has played both at safety and on special teams.

Long Snapper (1) - Clint Gresham

Kicker (1) - Steven Hauschka

Punter (1) - Jon Ryan

PUP or IR - James Carpenter, Walter Thurmond III, Matt McCoy

Practice Squad: Cooper Helfet, Kyle Knox, Jermaine Kearse, Lavasier Tuinei, Cordarro Law, Desean Shead, Kris O'Dowd, Rishaw Johnson (it's unlikely that all of these players will end up on the practice squad, but any one of them could, so we list them all here).

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.

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