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28 questions about the Seahawks headed into training camp

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks start their 2018 training camp on Thursday. There will be a lot of questions surrounding the team as they head into an era sans many of their 2011-2017 stars. The number of questions ranges into the infinite, but I’ve narrowed it down to 28. That’s just a start, so feel free to add your own in the comments.

These are just a few.

Backup at QB: Alex McGough, Austin Davis, or other?

Fans are likely rooting for McGough because he’s a rookie and only the second quarterback ever drafted by GM John Schneider after Russell Wilson, but little is really known about his abilities at the pro level or his potential. Seattle may yet end up signing someone else, they don’t have a player in that position who seems a lock to make the roster.

Who gets the ball first, Rashaad Penny or Chris Carson?

The Seahawks drafted Penny to play, not to sit or develop, but Carson was fantastic with his opportunities last season so it’s not like they’re going to hold him back either. Ideally it becomes a partnership but even without injuries interfering, will one of them step up ahead of the other?

Can J.D. McKissic be the finishing move for C.J. Prosise?

Let’s say that Prosise stays healthy all fall ... that would be incredible and welcome, but what if McKissic is just better? I’m ready to accept that as a possibility, but I also acknowledge that Prosise was special when he was healthy. I just believe that both players could be worthy of snaps.

Fullback: Jalston Fowler or Tre Madden?

Fans know Madden, but don’t underestimate Fowler, the former Alabama running back.

Is Brandon Marshall going to make the team?

There’s been a lot of debate about the value of signing Marshall. Some like it, some hate it. In reality, it may have little long-term impact, but Marshall is not too old to have another life in the NFL.

How big of a role will Jaron Brown have?

Not that he’s a lock to make the roster, but Seattle’s signing of Brown to a two-year deal is somewhat significant. Can he fill Paul Richardson’s shoes? Brown’s never really played consistently with a quarterback of Russell Wilson’s caliber, so could he be one of the most underrated and underutilized receivers in the NFC West?

Or is it Amara Darboh?

Brown or Darboh or Marshall? Or David Moore? Darboh was a third round pick just a year ago, a high selection for a receiver in Seattle, but he didn’t break through very often last season. The opportunity is there but will Darboh be a consistent number three target for Wilson in training camp and other quarterbacks during the preseason?

Is there a tight end on the roster worth throwing to?

After Zach Miller, Luke Willson, and Jimmy Graham, where does Wilson turn to next for targets at the tight end position? Ed Dickson had 48 targets for the Panthers last season after Greg Olsen got hurt and he wasn’t bad but how much is really expected of him? Will Dissly is a rookie known for his blocking. Nick Vannett has not taken advantage of opportunities over the last two years. Tyrone Swoopes ... Don’t try to convince me you know what he is. This is a position in flux and the near future will be determined by Brian Schottenheimer it seems. That likely means the tight end focuses on blocking, which is what this group seems more capable of doing.

How much better is the offensive outlook with Duane Brown?

This is perhaps the most underrated storyline of 2018 for the Seahawks. Do we talk about it enough? Seattle went from the disaster of 2016 to George Fant to Rees Odhiambo to making a move for Brown at midseason, when things got quite obviously better. How much better will they be with Brown at left tackle from late July and on?

Is Ethan Pocic good?

It’s too early to say he’s not! It wasn’t nearly good enough last season to say that he will be!

Is Mike Solari actually going to make a difference?

My favorite thing next season will be watching Seattle block better and hear about how it’s because the Seahawks fired Tom Cable and no mention of 16 games from Duane Brown or expected progression from Pocic and Germain Ifedi. Solari could be a positive change, it could be his work that is the difference, and certainly major improvement from the young players or a surprising season from Jamarco Jones would go a long ways towards proving that to be true. Or maybe it’ll be the same.

Anyone besides D.J. Fluker at right guard and Ifedi at right tackle?

Some will be rooting for one of Fant, Jordan Roos, or Jones to win a job on the line. Odhiambo’s still around. Willie Beavers could be a dark horse.

Can Dion Jordan get back on the field before Week 1 and prove himself to be 100%?

It was a bummer that Jordan underwent knee surgery during the offseason but maybe no big deal if he’s able to get at least one preseason game under his belt. After losing Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, it’ll be critical for Frank Clark to have a disruptive player opposite of him and nobody on the roster besides Jordan jumps out as being capable of doing that yet. If Jordan isn’t a go, who is next? Is Rasheem Green a starter at 20? Is Marcus Smith a starting defensive end? Quinton Jefferson? We aren’t far away from that reality.

Is Frank Clark elite?

I mean, let’s be honest, it’s a question we should be asking. It’s a question we should not know the answer to yet. Clark is now “the guy.” After Bobby Wagner, he could be the most important player on the defense. After Wagner and Wilson, he could be the third-most important player on the entire roster. Clark could be a 15+ sack player or the responsibility of being a number one pass rusher could prove to be above his actual abilities. We simply can’t know that yet. As far as what to do next with a person like Clark, who knows, but the question of how good he really is will likely be answered in the coming months.

So what should we expect out of Rasheem Green this year?

Probably very little, but he’s here, he’s not going anywhere, he was a fairly high pick, and the opportunity for snaps is there. Maybe he surprises.

Remember Nazair Jones?

He looked so good at times last season. How would he do as a healthy, starting defensive tackle? Perhaps very, very good. Perhaps we’ll never know if he’s not healthy.

Is Jarran Reed a Pro Bowl defensive tackle?

It’s pretty hard to be a Pro Bowl player at this position if you’re not getting sacks. Reed has always had sack potential but not quite broken through to being that kind of player. Does it really matter? Not the accolades, no. But can he be a tackle who is as good in pass rush as he is in run stopping? That would make him an entirely different type of player and an elite one at that.

Has Barkevious Mingo already reached his potential and is that actually pretty good?

Mingo is not going to be a player as valuable as “the sixth overall pick” but as a strong side linebacker he could be Seattle’s best option since Bruce Irvin. The Seahawks signed him to a two-year deal, meaning that they think he’ll probably outperform his contract in year one.

Is Shaquem Griffin good?

Let’s let the fun part of Shaquem being on the Seahawks right now be the fun part, and then let’s accept that a reality of Shaquem being on the Seahawks could be completely different than our hopeful expectations. Maybe Griffin is an awesome defensive player. Maybe. I want that and I believe it is possible. But let’s also accept that so many fifth round picks do not work out. Many don’t make final rosters. Many do. I think Shaquem will. But for now he looks to be a special teams player with unknown potential at linebacker. That’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. Griffin has overcome a lot of doubt to make it this far as is. I only doubt Griffin for the same reasons I doubt all rookies: they’re rookies. Being a fifth rounder makes him a lower-percentage option than a first rounder. That’s just a fact. We’re all eagerly anticipating camp and preseason for this reason, awaiting Griffin’s debut on the field against NFL players. Is Shaquem good? Will he one day start on the same defense as his brother? Clues, if not answers, will be coming soon.

Remember Jacob Martin?

I mean, he was a sixth round pick. What’s his deal? Let’s not forget or overlook him.

Can Justin Coleman start outside?

There’s some thought that Coleman could do what Jeremy Lane couldn’t, starting outside when there’s two corners and moving inside when there’s three. He looked excellent as a slot cornerback last season, he’d be a huge asset if he could even be above-average on the outside opposite of Shaquill Griffin and remain a top defensive player in the nickel. If he does that, Coleman will get a big contract in 2019, perhaps in the range of the three-year, $30 million deal that Logan Ryan got from the Tennessee Titans.

Any other cornerbacks stepping up?

It’s Griffin’s responsibility to be the team’s top cornerback in the wake of Richard Sherman’s release, and Coleman/Byron Maxwell to be a starting veteran presence, but we’ve seen how quickly the depth becomes important because of injuries or poor play. Dontae Johnson is the only notable free agent signing and he did start all 16 games last season for the 49ers. Tre Flowers could be a steal in the fifth round if he successfully converts from safety to corner. DeAndre Elliott showed promise in 2016 before missing all of 2017. Neiko Thorpe has been a key special teams contributor but can he develop more on defense? Alex Carter was a third round pick in 2015 by the Detroit Lions, but has bounced around since. Maybe one of these players will show they deserve more playing time this season, but the Seahawks have also been known to add secondary help after training camp/preseason shakes out just before final cuts. Including Coleman and Thorpe.

Bradley McDougald, key member of the L.O.B.

Note that if Earl Thomas isn’t on the field in Week 1, there will be no original L.O.B. except for maybe Byron Maxwell, if you want to give Maxwell that credit. We’d be talking about a secondary of maybe Griffin, Coleman, McDougald, and Delano Hill. Note that a year ago it was still Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Sherman. This did change a lot. And Seattle re-signed McDougald for three more years, so they were quite happy with his nine starts last season spread over strong and free safety. He’ll be starting at one of the safety spots either way and McDougald needs to be one of the unit’s best players potentially for them to remain a top defense.

Something about Earl Thomas

There’s a question in there somewhere.

Are either of Delano Hill or Tedric Thompson going to turn out to be good selections?

Now is the time for the 2017 third and fourth round picks to show their worth. No Kam. No Earl. All the opportunities in the world in camp. No excuses. And it’s not too late either. Rookie seasons are developmental and can’t be judged too harshly or too positively. A big camp and preseason from either of these players would go a long way to giving the team comfort that everything will be alright at safety.

Jon Ryan or Michael Dickson?

We probably know.

Sebastian Janikowski or Jason Myers?

We probably know.

Is the energy different this time around?

A lot of the players who left, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, have given negative accounts of playing in Seattle over the last few years since the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. Maybe the absence of that negativity won’t be a bad thing for the Seahawks this year. Maybe that’s why Bennett and Sherman aren’t here anymore. Pete Carroll wants to be able to get through to the young players, get them on board with his system and his philosophies, and having veterans who say, “Not this again” probably wasn’t helping. Carroll’s philosophies may be tired to them, but they also each have a Super Bowl ring because of Carroll. They may have forgotten that. Not that a Super Bowl is necessarily coming back right away, but if the Seahawks can play like the 2012 team — and not like the 2011 team that a lot of people are predicting they could be like — then positive momentum will be back in the Seattle franchise again.

In mere hours, at least football (practice) will be back in Seattle again.