I wanted to do a broad snapshot of the Seahawks roster pre-draft so we can take that and compare post-draft and during free agency to see what holes will need to be addressed. This is based on the actual guys on the roster right now and starters will surely change after the draft and during the free-agency period, but I wanted to just take a minute and imagine a scenario based on if the season were to start tomorrow. After the draft, it will be interesting to see what holes have been filled and where the new draftees and free agent signings fit in. Also, let me have it if you think I've placed a guy too high on the depth chart or visa versa.
Starter: Charlie Whitehurst
Whitehurst demonstrated the ability to manage a big-time game when the game-plan was set around him. He used swing passes and the short game to open up a few deep shots and took care of the ball for the most part. He looked poised in a nationally televised game with it all on the line so in terms of his ability to show up for big games as far as I'm concerned he already proved himself there. Should be noted it was only his 2nd career start and most inexperienced QBs thrown into the fire in that position would struggle. Should also be noted that he was then benched again in favor of Matt Hasselbeck for the next game so I'm unsure if the Hawks view him as their best option. I'd like to see more competitive fire in him, but it's still very early in development in terms of real game action, so I've got tentative optimism for Charlie.
Backup: Isaiah Stanback
In reality, Stanback is the only other "QB" on the Seahawks roster. Though I know this will change, for the purpose of this exercise, he is currently the Hawks' 2nd string QB. He has not thrown a pass in the NFL, and was brought in more so for wildcatting and receiving/returning purposes. If he could get the playbook down, could come in and play in a pinch. Not a real option at QB though.
3rd String: None
Feature Back: Marshawn Lynch
A polarizing figure among Seahawks fans, Lynch comes into 2011 with a chip on his shoulder. After rushing for over 1000 yards in his first two seasons, he's yet to eclipse that in his last two campaigns. The Seahawks haven't had a 1000 yard rusher since 2005, and with the help of Tom Cable's coaching, hopefully that will change this season. Lynch is a bruising back, very hard to bring down. He does a good job of eluding would be tacklers in the backfield and rarely loses yardage on runs. He's deceptively fast, though doesn't possess elite speed, and runs with an unconventional gait that can only be described as 'going beastmode'. He's a solid running back in my mind with the potential to carry the load aptly for the Hawks.
Complimentary Back: Justin Forsett, Leon Washington
Justin Forsett is a shifty, quick runner that's effective on swing passes and screens. He's not overly hard to bring down but his elusiveness serves him well. He's good on draws and has good vision. He provides a good 1-2 punch with Lynch. Leon Washington is the x-factor in my mind, and has the ability to steal snaps away from Forsett. He was a very good running back for NY before he broke his leg, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the backfield a lot more for the Hawks in 2011. He, like Forsett, is very effective in the passing game as well, and brings an explosiveness and big play potential to our running back corps.
Fullback: Jameson Konz
Konz is the only player currently on the Seahawks roster outside of the tight ends that I could see as the Hawks' starting fullback in 2011. He's a freak athlete, 6-3, 235 or so, and can run a 4.4 40 and possess a 46 inch vertical jump. He played tight end at Kent State and showed promise catching passes there so could potentially serve as a versatile option at that H-Back hybrid fullback/tightend position, either lead blocking, lining up on the line, or motioning out to the wing. It should be noted that the Hawks have worked out several potential prospects in the Konz mold this offseason going into the draft, so don't be surprised to see this type of player used extensively in 2011. At this point in time, it's Konz's spot to lose.
Depth: Chris Henry
Henry is a former 2nd round pick with good size and excellent speed. He's 5-11 235 and ran something ridiculous like a 4.35 at the combine, the major reason he was selected so high. He's got a lot of raw potential because of his physical attributes but needs to refine his skills in order to see the field this year. Most likely on the practice squad, but if injuries happen, don't be surprised to hear his name on the active roster.
Starters: LT Russel Okung, RT Stacy Andrews
Okung looks to follow up a hit and miss first season by staying healthy and continuing to improve. He played very well in the games he appeared in, but battled ankle injuries which hampered his success. I expect that his 2nd year will be mostly injury free and he'll do well protecting the blind side.
Stacy Andrews will look to move back to his more natural position at right tackle in 2011. He performed well there for the Bengals and was even their franchise player in 2008 at that position. After an ACL tear that year, he had been moved to guard, a difficult transition for a player of his size and particularly of his height. I've got high hopes for him after a two year recovery period from his knee injury and a move to his natural position.
Backups: Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan, Caz Piurowski, Will Robinson
Breno Ciacomini is an interesting prospect as well - a former 5th round pick out of Louisville, at 6'7, 318, he is a John Schneider favorite, and JS plucked him from the Packers' practice squad last season in what could go down as a very good move. He was making strides at one point for the Packers, but just missed the cut for the 53 man roster. Keep your eye on Giacomini and I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing in the case of an injury on the line. Paul McQuistan is a new signee for the Tom Cable era and played for Cable and the Raiders last season. He's got a reputation for a nasty streak and physicality and could come in for depth at RT. Paul McQuistan, as John Morgan noted, is a potential 6th lineman in some sets and could release and catch an occasional pass. Originally a TE, he brings some versatility to the position as a hybrid TE/tackle. Will Robinson was signed off the Redskins' practice squad and figures to provide competition at the spot as well.
Starters: LG Chris White, RG Mike Gibson
The guard spot is very hard to guess because of the dearth of obvious starting talent there. No disrespect meant to the players competing for the job, but at this point only Gibson stands out due to his play in 2010. My presumptive starting LG at this point would be veteran Chris White, a versatile G/C that will be competing for the position in the last year of his contract. He got some playing time in the Hawks final 8 games in 2010, and will look to build on that into a starting position. My presumptive RG is Mike Gibson and he proved a serviceable option there, giving the Hawks some consistency while starting their final 10 games.
Backups: Paul Fainaka
Fainaka, going into his second year, has some potential and talent, and could battle for some playing time in 2011, depending on what happens at the guard position in the draft and free agency. As you can see, there is a great need for depth at the position.
Starter: Max Unger
Unger, a former 2nd rounder, is the presumed starting center for the Hawks in 2011 with Chris Spencer going into free agency. If Unger can live up to his 2nd round potential, it would be a huge boost for the Hawks. He missed all of 2010 with an injury but will look to bounce back this season and re-gain his starting position at either guard or center. Curiously, the Seahawks home page has him listed as a tackle but based on recent comments by John Schneider, Unger will see that the job at center is his to lose going into camp this season. If he is not traded and ends up losing the job at center, he could provide depth at guard.
Backups: Lemuel Jeanpierre
Jeanpierre was an undrafted free agent that signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. He failed to make their roster and the Hawks subsequently signed him to their practice squad. He's been moved back and forth a few times from the 53-man roster and the practice squad, but could compete for a roster spot in 2011.
Starters: Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate
Right now, the guys I see getting the most action are Mike Williams at wideout, Ben Obomanu on the other side, and Golden Tate in the slot. Williams should continue to improve on his 2010 numbers and is a solid possession receiver. He uses his size well, has good hands most of the time, and is a big first down playmaker. He needs to work on consistently seeing the ball into his hands to avoid drops, but is our most dangerous weapon at WR. Ben Obomanu should be lined up opposite BMW and will have to opportunity to get a lot of catches. He's got dependable hands and actually can stretch the field well. Right now, he's their best deep threat option. Golden Tate needs to get more involved in the offense. If he can improve his route running they'll get him the ball more and hope he can create yardage in space - his specialty. I'm hoping to see them incorporate Tate into more end-arounds and direct snaps to get him running with the ball more a la Dexter McCluster or Percy Harvin.
Backups: Isaiah Stanback, Deon Butler, Dominique Edison, Patrick Williams
Deon Butler is a question mark here because of his injury. If he bounces back and proves to be healthy, he could supplant either Obomanu or Tate as a starting WR. That's assuming a lot though, so I have him listed as depth. Isaiah Stanback is a big question mark as well, and although he was recently re-signed, it's unclear how they want to use him. I could see him in the slot if Tate can't get his head on straight and run the routes he's supposed to. Dominique Edison is an intriguing player to me - he's got good size at 6-2, 200 and he runs a 4.3 40. He could be that deep outside threat the Hawks are looking for if he can succeed at breaking jams at the line. I'll follow up soon with a more in depth look at Edison. Patrick Williams is another interesting prospect with good size and speed but has a very outside shot at making the roster.
Starters: John Carlson, Cameron Morrah
Carlson and Morrah have no where to go but up. They both have a lot of potential and hope to bounce back from an inconsistent 2010. Both are athletic, pass catching tight ends and my hope is that the offensive line woes will have sorted themselves out enough for them to release more down field as pass catching red zone threats. Carlson is in the last year of his rookie contract and will be looking to have a huge year catching the ball. We got a glimpse of Morrah's downfield ability later in the year but he should be another guy looking to make some big catches.
Backups: Anthony McCoy, Dominique Byrd
Anthony McCoy, if he can stay healthy, is one player that I think could have a breakout year in 2011. He's a really solid blocking tight end and should take the place of recently departed Chris Baker. He's also got the ability to release downfield and catch passes so he could be a very strong dual threat for the Seahawks. Dominique Byrd is signed to the practice squad but if we see any injuries he could earn his way onto the 53 man roster down the line. He's a good athlete, a former 3rd round pick that spent some time out of the league. He's now been given a 2nd chance by Pete and hopefully he pans out.