We’re halfway through the 2017 preseason, also known as “The Kasen Williams and Chris Carson showcase!” The Seattle Seahawks have been running rampant over preseason competition - a Pete Carroll tradition - but specific players have overshadowed the games through two weeks.
Carson looks like the latest ridiculous find, running with every bit of intent that Thomas Rawls did to capture our hearts just two preseasons ago. Williams is diving and climbing his way off the practice squad, playing above the rim better than any wide receiver has during Russell Wilson’s time in Seattle. And, of course, George Fant had us all dreaming of a sturdy left tackle before he went down with injury.
With so much to talk about through two weeks of preseason football, the excitement of April’s draft class has taken a backseat. I’ve talked about my expectations for each player before the season, now let’s get a first impression of each draft pick through two games.
Round Two: Malik McDowell
Incomplete, non-applicable, whatever you want to call it: McDowell’s first impression is on hold for the foreseeable future.
Round Two: Ethan Pocic
Playing roughly 40 snaps in each game at right tackle, Pocic has been a positive from a rookie standpoint. He’s had drives and plays of really good protection - plays where you can see his pedigree and his potential - and based on play alone should be in line to be the starting right tackle come week one.
But there’s also been rookie moments. Laughable ones in an overall good performance against the L.A. Chargers.
And your standard growing pains against a stacked and deep Minnesota Vikings defensive line in week two, which included two penalties within four plays on one offensive drive. Overall a lot to like about Pocic so far; like how he might just keep Germain Ifedi on the bench.
Round Three: Shaquill Griffin
Nobody had more buzz around him from the time he was selected all the way through to training camp and the start of the preseason. Griffin was the highest selected cornerback since Carroll and John Schneider have been with the Seahawks, and for good reason.
Right away against the Chargers, Griffin’s comfort pre-snap in terms of both stance and technique were a welcome sight. He looks surprisingly natural in the kick-step, something even veterans have failed to learn.
Through two games, Griffin has three pass breakups and doesn’t look to be lacking confidence. He finds and attacks the ball, looking completely comfortable in Seattle’s secondary.
Round Three: Delano Hill
Delano Hill is made for Seahawks football: through two games he has been as physical as any defender on Seattle, he has been flying to the football, laying a couple heavy hits when he arrives.
When the regular season arrives, with his style of play, Hill will likely continue popping up on special teams - he played 16 snaps there against the Minnesota Vikings - but he’s been ever present in the box for the Seahawks in August. He’s been in on six tackles, making himself known to the pile on every single one of those, and has consistently looked like one of the fastest, most physical players on the field in the second half of both games.
Round Three: Nazair Jones
Jones’ role in 2017 with Seattle took a step forward before the preseason even began following news of McDowell’s injury. In the two games since then, Jones has done little to lose the increased playtime he presumably inherited.
Following a debut in which he played the most of any Seahawk defender and had a deflected pass leading to an interception and a quarterback hit, Jones earned praise from Pete Carroll. He even managed to track down a screen pass that had reached the third level, making the tackle; a play that was all hustle, and a trademark of Seattle’s defensive linemen.
His second game wasn’t as flashy as his preseason debut, but against the Vikings, Jones had a half sack and a quarterback hit on the same drive, with his playtime dropping to just 39-percent.
Within two games, a potentially forgotten draft pick has done a ton to make himself a big part of the team’s defensive line rotation in 2017.
Round Three: Amara Darboh
Darboh played his first two snaps of the preseason last Friday before being removed from the game to be evaluated for a concussion. This came a week after he had to miss the first preseason game with a sternum injury.
Although he was highly thought of following the draft and earned praise from Russell Wilson after the first day of training camp, Darboh’s lack of preseason play has seen him be passed by Kasen Williams as a roster lock. Despite his draft status, he’ll be battling Tanner McEvoy, David Moore and others for the sixth and final receiver spot on the roster.
Darboh hasn’t done nearly enough to have a first impression, and will have to have a massive two weeks to leave an impression on the team.
Round Four: Tedric Thompson
It was pretty much ugly from the start. With less than a minute to go in the first quarter against Los Angeles, linebacker Michael Wilhoite passed speedy receiver Travis Benjamin through his zone to what he thought was Thompson playing centerfield. He was not. A 74-yard touchdown was the result, and Thompson had his introduction to the responsibilities of a free safety in the Seahawks’ defense.
Although he grabbed an interception off a tipped ball against Minnesota, Thompson has been one of the team’s worst performers on defense through two weeks. A lot has to give for Thompson to avoid being the next in a line of mid-round picks that failed to make the team as a rookie; and with the newfound depth at the back-end, it may not even matter.
Round Six: Mike Tyson
Tyson, a cornerback conversion, hasn’t done much to change his practice squad trajectory. He got on the field for 22 snaps in week one of the preseason and did little of note, before not playing at all in week two.
Like Thompson, there is a solid number at cornerback and Tyson’s going to have to have a big impact in the next two weeks to avoid being part of the cutdown from 90 to 53.
Round Six: Justin Senior
Senior started camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list before ultimately being waived with an injury designation. He went unclaimed, so he’ll revert back to the team’s injured reserve and get another shot at the 53-man roster in 2018.
Round Seven: David Moore
Moore’s numbers don’t pop through two weeks of the preseason: targeted four times, with three receptions for 29 yards. But unlike most sixth and seventh receivers on teams in August, Moore’s body and athleticism are incredibly noticeable. He’s got good size for the position at 6’0” and 219-pounds, and he carries a ton of muscle in his upper body. He’s got the frame and shoulders of a 6’5” possession receiver, but he is an easy mover in the open field with the ball in his hands.
With Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson and likely Williams and McEvoy ahead of him, Moore will presumably miss out on this year’s initial 53-man roster but could absolutely be one for the practice squad, and the future.
Round Seven: Chris Carson
Carson was drafted in the seventh round to join Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins in an effort to maintain depth at the running back position, after ending the last two seasons with anything but. Two preseason games later, Carson has pushed at least one of those players (Collins) all but off of the roster.
His physical, hunting contact style of running immediately brought back memories of Rawls’ first preseason two years ago. Carson gets flying at full speed north-south almost before he hits the line of scrimmage, and has made defenders miss on more than one occasion with surprisingly effective lateral agility for a ‘back his size.
It’s no longer a question of whether or not Carson will have a role to play on this year’s Seahawks, it’s how big of a role it will be.
Another great draft class is something John Schneider and Seattle needed to bring more depth into the team, and bring in difference makers at key positions. With just two weeks to go until the season begins, it appears they accomplished just that, but not with the selections we thought.