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Five Seahawks who have the most to prove in 2018

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s another football-free weekend. We’re in that little lull between the free agent frenzy and the NFL Draft (or the NFL schedule release before that, I suppose), so this is one of the few quiet times of the offseason.

Listicles are good content any time of the year, and I figured I’d put forth my two cents on which Seahawks players have the most to prove in 2018. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve played poorly, it’s all about the context of the situation combined with their overall productivity (or lack thereof). It’s not in order, it’s just the top five that came to mind. Besides, I save proper rankings for food takes.

C.J. Prosise

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that Prosise’s spot on the roster is not guaranteed. Seattle may very well look at revamping the running back position (again), and Prosise hasn’t been able to contribute much because of his laundry list of injury problems.

There was so much excitement when he was unleashed against the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, then you know what happened after that. The 2017 season saw him touch the ball 17 times and get placed on IR with an ankle problem.

Running backs have short shelf lives, and Prosise has essentially wasted two years on the shelf. “Always Compete” means another competition will commence at that position, and Prosise has to stay healthy first and foremost, then shine on the field to keep himself on the 53-man roster. The last refuge is to switch him back to wide receiver, the position he originally played at Notre Dame as a freshman and sophomore.

Tyler Lockett

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a contract year for Lockett, who dazzled in 2015 as a #3 receiving option and a special teams weapon. Tyler was largely a non-factor in 2016 (41 catches for 597 yards and 1 touchdown) and sadly broke his leg on Christmas Eve, and posted strikingly similar numbers in 2017 (45 catches for 555 yards and 2 touchdowns). There’s reason to be encouraged that Lockett’s speed is back, as evidenced by his kick return touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, but his lack of chemistry with Russell Wilson is a concern.

The inclination is to place most of the blame on Wilson, and it may be correct. However, Lockett doesn’t feel like the type of wide receiver that suits Wilson, if that makes sense. Unlike Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, or even Jermaine Kearse, I can hardly recall Lockett being able to high-point a ball, which is damn near a requirement for many of Russell’s throws. Lockett’s catch radius is just too limited for my liking.

None of that means he’s a lost cause, of course. He’s got a new offensive coordinator, this should be his first healthy season since 2015, and like I said earlier, this is a contract year. He has a lot to prove not just for the Seahawks, but for other suitors in free agency. Please remember that under John Schneider, Seattle has only given two (!!) of its offensive draft picks (UDFAs don’t count) contract extensions before their rookie deal expired: Russell Wilson and Justin Britt.

Germain Ifedi

NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I’m definitely guilty of picking on Ifedi for anything and everything. He’ll presumably stay at right tackle in 2018, and most importantly, he’ll be free of Tom Cable. His pass protection has been under intense scrutiny, and deservedly so, but his league-leading 16 accepted penalties really hampered Seattle’s already unsteady offense.

Want a jarring statistic? Of all NFL teams dating back to 2009, the 2017 Seahawks ranked 10th in lost Expected Points Added (EPA) through offensive penalties.

That’s ruinously bad. Seattle had numerous drives killed because of just one penalty, and Ifedi was the culprit on many occasions. This can’t continue in 2018, and that’s one of the areas where Ifedi must improve, or else there will be more reason to justify calling him a bust.

Dion Jordan

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan turned his career (and life) around when he signed with the Seahawks last offseason. He quietly racked up four sacks in just five games played, placing him third among all Seahawks defenders.

If you want a “yeah, but...” then I’ll give you this - three of Jordan’s sacks came against backup tackles, and the other one was Rob Havenstein in the middle of the Los Angeles Rams crushing Seattle on that dreadful December day. Still, he contributed in ways I imagine most fans would not have expected, and that earned him a first-round tender. With Michael Bennett gone and Cliff Avril’s career in limbo, Jordan will surely assume more responsibilities on the defensive line.

I’m hopeful that the 28-year-old can continue his comeback story by performing more closely to what was expected out of him heading into the 2013 NFL Draft.

Jason Myers (or whoever winds up kicking field goals)

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

We do need to acknowledge that Seattle has had it pretty damn good as far as placekickers over the years. Josh Brown essentially put a mediocre 2006 side into the playoffs by making clutch field goal after clutch field goal. Olindo Mare went 73/83 on FGs from 2008-2010, but his two misses against the Chicago Bears gave us the much-needed early sign that Jim Mora was not the man to lead Seattle anywhere but to the toilet. Stephen Hauschka was mostly excellent whenever he wasn’t kicking against the Arizona Cardinals, and then things slowly unraveled when he struggled to adjust to the new extra point distance. Eleven misses from 2015-2016 was way too many... and of course he went 100% in 2017 with the Buffalo Bills, but I digress.

Then there’s Blair Walsh.

Now that I think about it, Walsh’s 2017 was basically the opposite of Brown’s 2006. This move backfired spectacularly and I literally laughed when he missed the game-winner against Arizona to end the season.

Ex-Jaguars kicker Jason Myers is the current option for 2018, and I assume there will be a competition for that roster spot. Myers is just 76/88 on PATs, all of which were under the current rules, and Jacksonville cut him midseason last year. He’s been totally unreliable from 50+ yards, only making 10 of 19 kicks. On kickoffs, he struggles to get good hang time.

I don’t want to endure a third straight year worrying about Seattle’s kicker on field goals, extra points, or possibly both. It’s those little things that contributed to last year’s failure to make the playoffs, and if Myers is the guy in 2018, all eyes will be on him to see if he can turn his career around, or if he’s Blair Walsh 2.0.