The Seattle Seahawks have a very good roster, but what's especially nice and hopeful about their team is that the vast majority of current Seahawks are young and signed through 2017, at least. This series leading up to the regular season opener on September 11 will take a closer look at 30 such players, all of whom won't be turning 30 this year.
Player: Thomas Rawls, RB
How acquired: Undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in 2015
Free agent: RFA in 2018
Some people may say that Rawls is overrated to be valued this highly on the 30 under 30. Many others would say, “What is 30 under 30?” Most, in fact. By in large, everyone, actually. But I say nay. Rawls is the greatest NFL player in history and the 30 under 30 series was a good idea and is popular.
Undrafted in 2015 out of Central Michigan, Rawls stood little chance of making the team last year. It’s not only because he was undrafted, the Seahawks have had their way with the league thanks to undrafted players, but he’s a running back. The team had nothing if not a solid group of running backs: Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, Robert Turbin, and Derrick Coleman. It turned out that not only would Rawls outplay Michael for a job, but that the team also deemed it necessary to replace Turbin with Fred Jackson.
Even still, Rawls had just two carries over the first two weeks of the season. He wasn’t on the team to play, he was there just in case. Well, that case was opened in Week 3 when Lynch exited after five carries and Rawls came in to gain 104 yards on 16 carries in a 26-0 win over the Chicago Bears. He reverted to 17 carries for 48 yards in a Monday night win over the Detroit Lions, but the following week he had 169 yards and a touchdown in a heartbreaking loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Unfortunately, none of it earned him much of a chance at increased playing time when Lynch returned the next week and Rawls had just 13 carries in the following four games; Seattle went just 2-2 in those games. Then Lynch again went out and Rawls started against the San Francisco 49ers.
He gained 209 yards on the ground, 46 in the air, and scored twice.
Rawls season was cut short after breaking his ankle against the Baltimore Ravens, but he still led all qualified running backs with 5.6 yards per carry. Side-by-side with Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley, I don’t think you see much difference in how bright their futures could be, injuries aside. If anything, I had to temper my expectations for Rawls careers due to the amount of time he’s missed in 2016 while recovering, plus the mere fact that modern day running backs will rarely be the workhorses that they were even a couple years ago. As we’ve seen this summer by the performances of Michael, plus the additions of CJ Prosise, Alex Collins, Zac Brooks, and suddenly Troymaine Pope, the team isn’t taking any chances this season at the RB spot. And they’ve got a lot of really interesting backs to show for it.
I am really not sure what Rawls season totals will look like, but I know what he looked like as a rookie: A seriously talented player who has excellent vision, knows where to run on the field, where his lanes are, and how to get there quickly. Even if he’s limited to 150 carries this year, we’ve already seen that he can make the most of that and have a real impact on the game. Hopefully he’s able to stay healthy and contribute in every game this season.
The best player of all-time.