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Using Seahawks roster breakdowns of yesteryear to predict the 2017 edition

As we debate and argue how the Hawks will build their roster, here is a quick look at the roster breakdowns from years past.

NFL: Combine
John Schneider, roster chef extraordinaire.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With the first full week of training camp in the books and the Seattle Seahawks getting ready to take the field this Sunday against the LA Chargers, I wanted to take just a moment to look at past roster breakdowns by position under Pete Carroll and John Schneider for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is the obvious matter of the fact that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, and looking at how the team has built the roster in the past is likely to yield clues regarding how the team will build the roster this year. Secondly, as much as the names at the skill positions get the press and the attention of the fans, the team has not traditionally overloaded at these positions in years past, so as much as many fans may want the team to carry five running backs, a fullback and six wide receivers, it seems unlikely that the team would do so.

To improve upon the table I put together for last season, I have also included the total for the number of roster spots allocated to each of the offense and the defense, making it easier to understand how the team has allocated between the two sides.

When looking at the table for the 2016 roster breakdown there are a couple of things that jump right out. The first major item of note is that they had no fullback on the initial 53 man roster, after cutting both Tani Tupou and Will Tukuafu at the end of camp. If you recall, they did this because they did not want to fully guarantee Tukuafu’s salary, which as a vested veteran would have happened had Tukuafu been on the 53 man roster for week 1. In addition, the Hawks had seven safeties, six linebackers and only eight defensive linemen on the initial 53 man roster. As unusual as that may seem, because of the positional flexibility of many of the players on this roster, and due to a failed physical, the looked that way becomes readily apparent.

For starters, one of those seven safeties, L.J. McCray, failed his physical upon arriving from San Francisco as an end of camp trade, and thus adjusting the roster breakdown to reflect how it looked for week 1 versus the end of camp means there is one fewer safety. In addition, the team used the roster spot created when McCray failed his physical to resign Tani Tupou, giving them six safeties and a fullback.

The next matter is that Dewey McDonald was listed as a safety on the initial 53 man roster, just as he had been with the Raiders, but the Hawks moved him to linebacker, which made the breakdown seven linebackers and five safeties. Those are more in line with how the team had constructed its roster in the past, but it still involves the team carrying seven linebackers for only the second time in seven seasons under Pete and John. This is easily solved, however, when noting that Cassius Marsh, who in addition to his role as a linebacker also often played defensive end in passing situations. Thus, if one wants to consider Marsh a defensive end, that would make the breakdown nine defensive linemen, six linebackers and ten defensive backs, which is basically right in line with the way the team has done things in the past.

Accounting for all of that week-before-the-season shuffling, I have included a second column in the table for 2016 which breaks down the roster more in line with the way it looked for the opener against Miami as opposed to how it looked after final cuts the week prior.

Lastly, I have included a tow at bottom of the table which includes the positions of players who were on the field for 250 or more special teams snaps. Position groups which have a number in parentheses indicates that there were multiple players from that position group who contributed at least 250 special teams snaps during the season. I do not have access to snap count data for 2010 or 2011, so if anyone is aware of a resource with that information, feel free to leave a note in the comments and I will be happy to add that data to the table.

Hopefully this helps everyone as a template or guide as we make our roster projections in the coming weeks.

Past Roster Breakdowns under Pete and John by Position Group

Breakdown 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Initial 53 2016 Opener
Breakdown 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Initial 53 2016 Opener
QB 2 3 2 2 2 2 2 2
RB 3 3 4 4 3 3 4 4
FB 2 1 1 1 1 2 0 1
WR 5 6 6 5 7 6 5 5
TE 4 3 3 2 3 3 4 4
OL 10 10 9 10 9 9 9 9
Total Offense 26 26 25 24 25 25 24 25
DT 4 5 5 5 6 5 4 4
DE 5 4 4 5 5 4 4 5
LB 5 6 6 7 5 6 6 6
CB 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
S 5 4 5 4 4 5 7 5
Total Defense 24 24 25 26 25 25 26 25
P 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
K 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
LS 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
250+ Special Teams Snaps N/A N/A LB(3), DB, FB LB(2), DB(2) LB(3), DB(2) DB(2), LB(2), FB ----- DE, TE, LB(2), DB(2)