On Thursday, 90 players will report to training camp and begin an effort to be a part of the 2018 Seattle Seahawks. There will be changes to the group throughout the remainder of July and all of August ahead of final cut downs, of course. Players will be cut, lost for the year with injuries and traded away. Certain players will be placed on the PUP list to begin camp.
However, as of Wednesday morning, a day before camp opens, this is how the Seahawks roster looks:
With training camp set to open Thursday morning, here’s a projection for Seattle’s 53-man roster for the 2018 season:
QB (2): Russell Wilson, Alex McGough
Prior to camp opening, Austin Davis has everything going in his favor ahead of a battle with McGough for the backup quarterback job. He’s played under OC Brian Schottenheimer previously and he was the team’s backup last year. However, McGough is much closer to the type of quarterback Wilson is, and both Pete Carroll and John Schneider were infatuated with him following the 2018 NFL Draft. Like in 2016 with Trevone Boykin, the Seahawks roll with the rookie behind Wilson.
RB (5): Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic, Khalid Hill
This group of running backs offers balance and depth. Carson and Penny are both early down backs, capable of carrying the load throughout a game and contributing on passing downs. Prosise and McKissic, meanwhile, are versatile satellite backs who will make a living on passing downs.
Ultimately, McKissic is Prosise insurance and worthy of a roster spot even if Prosise makes it to Week 1 at full health. The UDFA Hill wins the fullback competition over Jalston Fowler and the incumbent Tre Madden.
WR (5): Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Amara Darboh, Marcus Johnson
Barring something unexpected, Seattle’s starting three receivers in 2018 should be Baldwin, Lockett and Brown. No matter the progress Darboh has or hasn’t made from year one to two, it would be stunning for him to not get a second season on the Seahawks’ roster.
Johnson’s inclusion in the Michael Bennett trade seems to mean they have a role in mind for him, and he should safely make the 53 unless he craters in the preseason. While they could keep six receivers, retaining one of David Moore, Tanner McEvoy, Damore’ea Stringfellow or Brandon Marshall as well, that would likely mean just four RBs.
TE (3): Ed Dickson, Will Dissly, Nick Vannett
Ultimately, the only real change that could happen at tight end is the Seahawks choosing the upside of Tyrone Swoopes or Clayton Wilson over the bang-average Vannett. Both players are better athletes than any of three players listed above, however we really won’t have an idea of whether they’re NFL-ready or not until the preseason begins. For now, the three safe choices make it.
T (4): Duane Brown, Jamarco Jones, Germain Ifedi, George Fant
The tackles shake out in a simple manner here: Brown and Jones on the left, Ifedi and Fant on the right. In a make-or-break season for Ifedi, Fant has switched to the right to push Ifedi and compete for the starting job. Even if Ifedi were to lose that camp battle, it would be a stunner for him to be cut.
iOL (6): Justin Britt, Ethan Pocic, D.J. Fluker, Skyler Phillips, Rees Odhiambo, Jordan Roos
Like the tackles, the starting interior shakes out quite simply: Pocic at left guard, Britt in the middle and Fluker on the right. Phillips can play anywhere across the line and had no business going undrafted this year, his versatility should earn him a roster spot. Like Phillips, Odhiambo offers Seattle flexibility along the line, freeing them up to keep just four natural tackles.
DT (5): Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Nazair Jones
The Seahawks are expected to start Reed and Stephen in their base defense, with Johnson being a key part of their rotation. Jones should build upon an extremely encouraging rookie season by being the primary 3-T defensive tackle in obvious passing situations. Keeping five defensive tackles is unusual for Seattle, but like Phillips, Ford had absolutely no business going undrafted; I would be more surprised to see Ford cut than Stephen.
EDGE (5): Frank Clark, Dion Jordan, Marcus Smith, Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin
Despite keeping five defensive tackles, the Seahawks maintain a balance between inside and outside. Clark and Jordan are your starters, with Green playing a rotational role and reducing inside on passing downs. Smith and rookie Jacob Martin round out a shallow rotation, however, Seattle will get EDGE snaps from elsewhere on the roster, too.
LB (5): Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Barkevious Mingo, Shaquem Griffin, Jacob Pugh
For the first time since Bruce Irvin’s departure, the Seahawks’ linebacker corps provides the versatility and different looks Carroll desires. Wagner and Wright are the starters in nickel (essentially base), while Mingo is the SAM ‘backer capable of coming down and rushing off the edge.
In case of injury, they’ll likely do some shuffling: If Wagner goes down, Wright slides inside and Griffin steps into Wright’s vacated WILL spot. If Wright goes down, it’s as simple as Griffin stepping into the starting role. Pugh replicates Mingo’s versatility, both as a stand up linebacker and an edge rusher.
CB (6): Shaquill Griffin, Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman, Neiko Thorpe, Tre Flowers, DeAndre Elliott
The post-Richard Sherman era officially begins with Griffin at Sherman’s old left cornerback spot, Maxwell returning to his familiar right cornerback spot, and Coleman in the slot for a second season. Behind the three starters, Thorpe is back for another year of special teams destruction; Flowers is too enticing of a prospect to risk on the practice squad, regardless of how raw he may be; and Elliott returns from a knee injury to fill out the group.
Mike Tyson could push Elliott for the final spot, however, like Swoopes, we won’t know how NFL-ready he really is until preseason begins. Any chance veteran Dontae Johnson had of making the final roster likely went out the window as he went down with a foot injury.
S (4): Earl Thomas, Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson
Thomas can make his message clear as much as he likes, but the reality remains: if Seattle doesn’t get the offer they want, he’s going to be a Seahawk in 2018. Thomas’s presence in Seattle for 2018 gives the safety group a logical lineup, with Thomas and McDougald starting, and Thompson and Hill backing up at their respective positions.
If the Seahawks were to be without Thomas for 2018 and beyond, we would would likely see Hill step into the lineup at strong safety and McDougald moving to free. Thompson would remain the backup at free safety, while veteran Maurice Alexander comes in as the backup strong safety.
Specialists (3): Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott
After eight seasons and a small country’s population worth of roster moves, the final holdover from the pre-Carroll and Schneider Seattle Seahawks will be departing. Dickson, barring something unexpected, should beat out Jon Ryan for the punter job.
Both Myers and Sebastian Janikowski are rather uninspiring choices at kicker, but Myers has a couple things going for him: Age, fitness and actually having been on an active roster last year (for six games).
Training camp begins Thursday, the Seahawks’ first preseason game is on August 9th and cut downs (just one this year, from 90 to 53) need to be made by September 1st. Football, for better or for worse, has arrived.