I believe we all assume that some of the guys projected to make the 53 might not for one of many different reasons. There will likely be injuries during camp and in the preseason. Maybe some guys we didn’t know much about show up big and earn a roster spot. Or maybe some guys we thought were ahead of the competition and were likely to win their job end up getting cut. Obviously there is a lot of information we don’t know, but I figured I’d take a shot at projecting the 53-man roster anyways.
(2 ) Quarterbacks: Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin
Going off of what we know so far, I just have a gut feeling that Boykin will be our QB2 going forward. And I don’t just mean for the 2016 season. Obviously I am getting way ahead of myself but I don’t care. I watched his tape, his highlights, read his stats and heard thoughts about him from camp and I feel like Seattle got the ideal backup for Russell.
(5) Running Backs: Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, Christine Michael, Brandon Cottom
I believe Michael will make the roster because of how he responded to being traded, cut, and cut again before being picked up by the Seahawks again. His play on the field as a Hawk in 2015 impressed me and his humbled mentality and maturity seemed to really impress his teammates and coaches. Praise from mini-camp that he is continuing where he left off has me believing in him, plus he has the most NFL experience of any back on the roster.
I believe Cottom has the clear lead in the fullback competition given his tenure as a Hawk. At 6'2, 262 pounds he’s got that Will Tukuafu-type size but unlike Tukuafu he was a college running back, fullback and tight end. That means he has years of offensive experience rushing the ball, catching the ball, and blocking as a TE and FB. That is some very attractive versatility in my opinion.
(3) Tight Ends: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett
Barring injury or a Jimmy setback these three are most definitely locks to make the roster. I predict that Vannett will be our Y-TE (blocker) for the significant majority of the time which will free up Graham and Willson to run routes as receivers significantly more than they have in the past for Seattle. That will play to both of their strengths which can only be a good thing. I do believe Vannett will surprise a lot of people by showing up in the passing game in surprising ways. The coaching staff seems pleasantly surprised by how good of a receiver he is.
(5) Wide Receivers: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Kasen Williams
The fifth spot will be determined by special teams, and it will likely come down to Williams, Kevin Smith and Kenny Lawler. I doubt Lawler with his unimpressive size, strength and speed will be a big impact-maker on ST. While Kenny’s red zone ability is enticing it doesn’t mean he will be ready to make an impact as a rookie. Red zone work requires being in sync with the QB and that takes reps and experience. If he can make the practice squad he’d benefit in a major way from getting in the team's strength and conditioning program and having a year to learn in the class room and on the practice field.
Why just five wide-outs? Well in my opinion Russell was hot like the sun with just three wide-outs in 2015. He has proven he doesn’t need a full six-to-seven player deep wide receiver corp. During that same timeframe Russell only really had four targets: Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett and Willson. Well, now he should have ten targets: Baldwin, Lockett, Kearse, Richardson, Williams, Graham, Willson, Vannett, Prosise, and Cottom. And as I stated earlier I believe Jimmy and Luke will have significantly larger roles as receiving tight ends in 2016.
However, I won’t be shocked to see the Seahawks carry six, maybe even seven wide-outs only because in the past their wide receiving corp has played such a huge role in the special teams game.
(10) Offensive Line: Garry Gilliam, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, J’Marcus Webb, Patrick Lewis, Rees Odhiambo, Bradley Sowell, Terry Poole, Joey Hunt
Love it or hate it but it just seems more and more likely that they will at least try to have Britt be the center this season. At least Lewis is around to fill the same role as last season, which would be stepping in after six or seven games to play adequately should the presumptive new starter fail. As for the rest of the backups, it's extremely difficult to make predictions here, but they seemed so high on Odhiambo and Hunt following the draft that it's worth a shot to project them making the team since we aren't even in July yet.
(8) Defensive Line: Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Jarran Reed, Ahtyba Rubin, Frank Clark, Quinton Jefferson, Jordan Hill, Ryan Robinson
Chris Clemons versus Robinson is a really interesting competition. On one hand you have Clemons, who the players seem high on; I think with proper snap management and utilization in obvious passing downs he could be a 5+ sack guy. On the other hand, Robinson could be a hot commodity at 25 with room to grow and get better with long-term upside.
(7) Linebackers: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mike Morgan, Cassius Marsh, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Eric Pinkins, Brock Coyle
I would be pretty surprised to see one of the UDFAs we have supplant Coyle as our backup MLB. Mike, Kevin, Eric and Cassius are all competing for the SAM job but here is why I think we keep them all: Brock is Bobby’s backup, Kevin is K.J.’s backup and Eric is Mike’s backup, while Marsh is an impact player on special teams and has flashed some quality play on the field. The coaches seem to be attempting to have him learn to be our new Bruce Irvin (SSLB & DE.) To me that all makes him worth keeping.
(5) Corner Backs: Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, Tharold Simon, Tye Smith
I think they will carry just five cornerbacks. I think with Sherman, Lane, Shead and Smith's versatility inside and outside, Seattle won’t need Burley. I'd rather they carry a priority UDFA player (Tyvis Powell) who if he were cut would not likely pass through waivers. There is just so much versatility at CB and they'd have two or three corners on the practice squad hopefully, that hopefully that would be enough to get them through the season with just these five.
(5) Defensive Backs: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Kelcie McCray, Brandon Browner, Tyvis Powell
First of all, I'd like to keep Powell. He looks fantastic physically and there is just so much hype regarding his play and ability that I admit I got sucked into it and would just be so disappointed at this point to not see him play for Seattle. I really really like McCray but as a young, cheap, Kam like player it seems key to keep Tyvis as the backup at strong safety. Shead and McCray have the versatility to play both FS & SS so the Hawks would be good in both spots if an injury happened to a starter this season.
(3) Specialists: Jon Ryan, Steven Hauschka, Drew Ferris
Nothing needs to be said here.
A dream Practice Squad for me:
1. Zac Brooks (RB)
2. Douglas McNeil (WR)
3. Kevin Smith (WR)
4. Kenny Lawler (WR)
5. Kristjan Sokoli (G/C)
6. George Fant (OT)
7. Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB)
8. George Farmer (CB)
9. Tanner McEvoy (FS/CB/SS/QB/WR/TE)
10. ??? (Will Pericak? DeAndre Elliott? Trovon Reed? Montese Overton?)