The Seahawks released a early season depth chart yesterday via a Preseason Week One press release, and though it probably means nothing on several levels, it's fun to speculate. Big tip of the cap to Brandon Adams over at the excellent Seahawks blog 17Power for the initial find and article on it -- make sure to check out 17Power for that and more great Seahawks' coverage.
Just to start out, I don't think this depth chart is necessarily official and it's definitely set to change pretty much daily as we go forward. I wouldn't read too much into these ruminations, but it's more just a good conversation starter and a chance to look at the roster in toto. I've always wanted to say 'in toto' here but this is the first chance I had. Don't I sound like a lawyer?
Anyway, here is how the Seahawks set their roster depth. FIrst up, the offense:
• QB: Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Portis
• FB: Michael Robinson, Ryan Travis, Dorson Boyce
• RB: Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Chase Reynolds, Thomas Clayton
• LT: Russell Okung, Tyler Polumbus, Will Robinson
• LG: Robert Gallery, Paul McQuistan, Lemuel Jeanpierre
• C: Max Unger, Mike Gibson, Brent Osborne
• RG: John Moffitt, Paul Fanaika, Zach Hurd
• RT: James Carpenter, Breno Giacomini, Caz Piurowski
• TE: Zach Miller, John Carlson, Anthony McCoy, Dominique Byrd
• WR: Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Kris Durham, Isaiah Stanback, Chris Carter
• WR: Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Ricardo Lockette, Pat Williams
The first thing that you may notice here is the wide receiver group. Obviously, Mike Williams and Sidney Rice sit atop the depth chart at the two WR positions, but then as you go down you get a chance to see how the battle for that 5th and 6th spot is going. Right now, it looks like Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate are firmly entrenched in their spots, but past that you have Kris Durham, Doug Baldwin, Isaiah Stanback, Ricardo Lockette, Chris Carter, and Pat Williams all vying for a roster spot.
Not surprisingly, it looks like Doug Baldwin has the edge over Lockette, as Baldwin has had a very good camp (by all accounts) and the Seahawks really lack a true slot receiver. Kris Durham is ahead of Stanback and Carter, also not much of a surprise. While I'd love to see Stanback make the team, it's doubtful he'll leapfrog the Seahawks' 4th round draft choice in Durham, meaning he'll have to show the coaching staff more than Baldwin and Lockette are able to. Honestly, it's going to be tough, as both Baldwin and Lockette have impressed thus far.
Another position of note is the TE spot. Miller and Carlson are the top two, of course, but according to this depth chart Anthony McCoy still sits ahead of Dominique Byrd, despite Byrd's strong showing in camp and McCoy's case of the dropsies. Because Cameron Morrah is on the PUP, he doesn't appear in this group but I'd have to think he'd sit in front of Byrd and possibly McCoy too. Will be a positional group to watch tomorrow night, for sure.
The fullback group is of interest to me as well, as TE/FB Ryan Travis has been having a pretty decent camp, from what I've heard. As I mentioned before, he set all kinds of records at Division Two West Liberty State catching the ball (140+ yards receiving a game) so he satisfies my desire to have a pass-catching fullback a la Leonard Weaver or Marcel Reese. Since neither of those guys are available, I'm pulling for Travis to back up and complement Michael Robinson, though it's more likely he's a practice squad candidate. There's just too few spots, and I doubt we'll carry three RBs, two fullbacks, and four+ tight ends. Either way, it's not surprising he's ahead of Dorson Boyce, as Boyce has been pretty quiet in camp.
Past that, for me, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with the offensive line depth at the moment. They're young yes, but the way the depth chart sits, Polumbus, McQuiston, Gibson, Fanaika, and Giacomini are all serviceable - solid options. Polumbus and Gibson, in particular, are great to have as depth, and both played respectably in starting roles last season.
Color me impressed with what the Seahawks have done with their offense in only one year. It's a big improvement from what John Schneider and Pete Carroll inherited, and when I look at each position I don't feel a sinking feeling of despair, which is a nice change.
• LDE: Chris Clemons, Raheem Brock, Dexter Davis, A.J. Schable, Jameson Konz
• LDT: Alan Branch, Kentwan Balmer, Ryan Sims
• RDT: Brandon Mebane, Junior Siavii, Jay Alford, Pep Levingston
• RDE: Red Bryant, Jimmy Wilkerson, Pierre Allen
• OLB: Leroy Hill, Malcolm Smith, Neal Howey
• MLB: David Hawthorne, K.J. Wright, Michael Johnson
• OLB: Aaron Curry, Matt McCoy, Mike Morgan
• LCB: Marcus Trufant, Richard Sherman, Kennard Cox, Jesse Hoffman
• RCB: Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, Kelly Jennings, Byron Maxwell, Ron Parker, Marcus Brown
• SS: Kam Chancellor, Josh Pinkard, Jeron Johnson
• FS: Earl Thomas, Mark LeGree, Rickey Thenarse, Brett Johnson
The defense has some interesting player placements. Starting out at the LDE, or Leo position, you have Clemons, Brock and Davis, which is no surprise, and then past them sit AJ Schable and Jameson Konz. I wouldn't have guessed that Schable would be a Leo, but I kind of feel like he might just be a camp body anyway. Konz has more upside and athleticism (not to mention was drafted by the team last year), so I wouldn't be surprised to see him leapfrog from his position at the end of the line. In all reality though, he's a very long shot to make the team, unless he can do something spectacular on special teams. Perhaps they'll use him on punt blocking teams or as a gunner, but he'll need to find a niche.
At the other defensive end position, RDE, also known as the 5-tech, Big Red Bryant is, of course, the presumptive starter after playing well last season, but the surprise 2nd stringer is DE Jimmy Wilkerson. I think most people assumed he'd be playing, or competing at the Leo spot but if he can catch on as depth at the 5-tech he'll have a better chance of sticking. At 6'2, 270 it might be a fit, though he's a bit light for the hybrid look the Seahawks were playing last season.
The depth at RDE is pretty tenuous, at best. Behind Wilkerson is Pierre Allen, and again, sticking him at the 5-tech makes sense. Some people believe, perhaps correctly, that he doesn't really fit the defense we run here because he's a little undersized for a 5-tech in Bryant's mold, but he's not fast enough to be a Leo.
Apparently he's got something that they like though, as they pursued him pretty hard in rookie free agency. I did a piece on Allen here and predicted that he'd be playing the 5-tech role, so he'll be one player to watch closely on Thursday night. He doesn't get a lot of jump off the snap, but he's been known as an effective 2-gap containment player, and that's essentially what the team asks for in the RDE position. He's a little more fleet-afoot than Bryant as well, so perhaps could be used in some zone blitzes, utilizing his abilities in zone coverage while a linebacker or safety attempts to get to the passer. My guess is that Red Bryant isn't going to be doing much of this, so Allen could possibly find his niche there as a situational DE.
The LDT position, AKA the 3-tech, undertackle, is manned currently by Alan Branch, which comes as no surprise. Behind him, sits Kentwan Balmer. I think this is another position to watch -- from what I've heard, Balmer has gained some weight from last season so perhaps that will help him generate some push into the pocket. He didn't excel at the 5-tech spot last year, but perhaps he can harness some of the potential that got him drafted in the first round and do some good on the interior.
Ryan Sims sits behind Balmer on the depth chart at the LDT spot. Recently acquired in free agency, he's likely to be depth and if he surprises in the preseason, could overtake the backup role from Balmer.
The RDT, or nose tackle (overtackle) position looks good. Brandon Mebane moves back to his natural position and is backed up by dependable and respectable Junior Siavii. Siavii quietly had a pretty decent season last year before getting hurt, and from what I understand has gained about 25 pounds or so. He should be quality depth at nose.
Behind them sit Jay Alford and, surprisingly, Pep Levingston. Pep was supposed to have been depth at the 5-tech spot, from what I remember, but it looks like they've moved him to the interior on the depth chart anyway. They may just be trying it out, but either way it's something to pay attention to. I've heard some good reviews of Levingston's play in camp, indicating he's been getting good penetration on the d-line, so let's hope he can play multiple spots on the line and secure a roster spot.
Notable linebacker positions: K.J. Wright at the Mike. Looks weird because he's so tall, but he's good in zone coverage so might be a fit. Matt McCoy at the Sam? Seems pretty small at 6'0, 230, especially for this defense (compare that to Aaron Curry at 6'2, 255), but we'll see. Malcolm Smith at the weakside spot. That makes sense. The linebackers will be fun to watch tomorrow.
Cornerbacks: Starters are Trufant and Thurmond, not really a surprise. Backing them up are Browner and Sherman, not a huge surprise there either. Jennings sits above Maxwell on this depth chart, and Kennard Cox, Ron Parker, Marcus Brown, and Jesse Hoffman will be fighting and scratching for those final few spots. Should be interesting to see how that shakes out.
The safety position is looking strong. Chancellor, Thomas and LeGree are locks. Pinkard has a chance to inherit the Jordan Babineaux role. I'd say Jeron Johnson could have a chance of sticking if he can play special teams. Past that, it's anyone's guess how Thenarse and Brett Johnson make the roster.
• K Jeff Reed, Brandon Coutu
• P Jon Ryan, John Gold
• H Jon Ryan, John Gold
• PR Leon Washington, Golden Tate, Justin Forsett
• KR Leon Washington, Golden Tate, Justin Forsett
• LS Clint Gresham, Zach Miller
Not much of a surprise here. Zach Miller is the backup long-snapper? I would have thought it was Jay Alford but whatever works.
Looks like Reed has the edge on Coutu but that could change.
Man, I can't wait for tomorrow!!