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4 familiar Seahawk faces who could be surprising cuts

You’d expect to see some of these guys on the final 53, but what if they all miss the cut?

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Every preseason brings its share of surprising cuts. Last-minute transactions by other teams have a ripple effect, or the way a player practices elevates his standing in ways we don’t observe, or the team is thinking ahead to 2019 and beyond, when the fan is thinking of the immediate future.

Four young and returning Seattle Seahawks, who are penciled in to the final 53 by many, grounded in feelings of familiarity and unrealized potential, are featured here today as possible camp casualties. Not for injury reasons, either. Just for on-field performance reasons.

Amara Darboh

One camp ago. Darboh was the highly touted, highly drafted Michigan product who was going to provide size (6-2, 215) and reasonable WR speed (4.45) to the Seahawks pass offense.

One camp later, he’s hanging around with eight career catches for 71 yards and a hip issue that’s kept him out of some practices. With several expensive players on the roster, the Seahawks need players on their rookie contract to produce. Bargains such as the 2013 version of Doug Baldwin ($561k), Russell Wilson ($682k) and Byron Maxwell ($583k) would be useful. Yes, there were more Seahawks who outplayed their deals en route to Super Bowl XLVIII. But you get the picture.

Of course, the other career path for Darboh would be to break out in his sophomore season, like so many receivers before him. Randall Cobb went 25-375-1 his rookie year, then exploded for 80 catches and eight TDs. Antonio Brown had all of 16 receptions in nine games his rookie year, then hit 69-1108-2 his second season. Closer to home, Golden Tate rose from 21 catches his first season to 99 in his fifth.

There are paths to stardom that begin with humble steps. But those same steps are more often the ones away from stardom.

Austin Davis

Alex McGough, the seventh-round draft pick, didn’t give observers much reason to celebrate in his first live pro performance. Davis, a veteran who’s already won the backup job here once, has started 10 career games and hasn’t completely shat the bed, with 13 TDs to 12 interceptions and a completion rate north of 60 percent.

So why might the Seahawks go with the far more unproven option?

The cap savings of a rookie seventh-rounder over Davis would be $205,000. It’s negligible but we’ve seen the Seahawks take small cap savings where they can get them, a la Nolan Frese over Clint Gresham in 2016, a move that saved $395,000 at the time (but didn’t pan out the way the team envisioned).

But mainly, McGough is also the second quarterback John Schnieder has ever — ever! — drafted for Seattle. In eight seasons he’s only found it in him to spend draft capital on a QB twice. It’s hard to believe, but there it is. There’s reason to believe the team might want to look at McGough for longer than four preseason games, which would mean carrying him on the 53. And if they elect to allocate a roster spot to him, Davis is probably headed elsewhere.

Delano Hill

Ideally you’d like the 95th overall pick of a draft to survive multiple seasons with hs original team, but it’s pretty clear that Hill is below Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, and Maurice Alexander on the safety depth chart. If (when) Earl Thomas returns to his college navy and action green threads, Hill is Seattle’s fifth safety. And third at SS behind McDougald and Alexander. The fifth or sixth safety doesn’t make the team every year.

In the first game of preseason, Hill made two tackles for loss but was also caught somewhat out of position at the edge on this play —

— and missed a crucial third-down tackle to extend a Colts drive.

Hill found his way into 15 games last year. There’s a chance it won’t be any this year.

Neiko Thorpe

Who doesn’t love the Thorpedo? He’s the first to arrive on the scene when a fake punt goes awry.

He tackles with all the subtlety of a famished bear.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

But he’s 28 and played only 119 defensive snaps the past two seasons combined. Other guys can be gunners; other Seahawks can be special teams aces. They might not look as cool as Thorpe doing it, but on Pete Carroll’s squads, it helps for fringe roster members to have two roles. Either Thorpe will finally carve out some time as a defensive back or he’ll probably move on, to be remembered fondly in the northwest corner of the country.