The Seattle Seahawks will begin their preseason campaign on Thursday night. Up to this point, training camp has provided some answers, but the next three weeks will help us gain a much clearer picture of the final 53. Here’s our best projection for what it’ll look like, ahead of Seahawks-Broncos:
QB: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
Smith and Paxton Lynch began camp in a competition, however one that Smith should win with ease. Early on, Smith has seemingly been better—though neither has been a disaster. Ultimately, it’s simple: Smith has proven to be an NFL quarterback, Lynch has not.
Cut: Paxton Lynch
RB: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, J.D. McKissic
C.J. Prosise’s inability to stay healthy again in training camp makes it impossible to project him onto the roster. Carson and Penny as the 1-2 punch, and McKissic and Homer as the pass catchers, shake out sensibly. Nick Bellore misses out as Seattle’s forced to carry four tight ends to begin the season, as a result of Ed Dickson’s injury. In 2018, fullback Tre Madden played just eight percent of the offense’s snaps—the Seahawks can get by without a fullback in 2019.
Cut: Bo Scarbrough, C.J. Prosise, Nick Bellore, Xavier Turner
WR: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings, Keenan Reynolds
The top-5 wide receivers could be considered locks; realistically, only Jennings is even a little threatened by those behind him, and preseason would need to be a disaster for that to occur. Reynolds rounds out the group, as his main challengers in Jazz Ferguson, Terry Wright and John Ursua all have practice squad eligibility, while Reynolds does not.
Cut: Malik Turner, Amara Darboh, Jazz Ferguson, Terry Wright, John Ursua
TE: Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, Jacob Hollister, Nick Vannett
As previously mentioned, Dickson’s injury could necessitate Seattle to carry four tight ends to begin the season. Once Dickson’s healthy, it’s possible Vannett gets cut, if/when they need the numbers elsewhere. Since camp begun, the bottom part of the tight end group has completely changed, as the injured Tyrone Swoopes and Justin Johnson have been replaced by Jackson Harris and Wes Saxton.
Cut: Jackson Harris, Wes Saxton
T: Duane Brown, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jamarco Jones
The tackle group has remained healthy and thus, remained quite simple. Nkansah would be a strong practice squad candidate, should the Seahawks not find anyone more desirable during roster cuts.
Cut: Elijah Nkansah
iOL: Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Mike Iupati, Jordan Simmons, Phil Haynes
Health permitting, the interior will be Iupati-Britt-Fluker in Week 1. There’s a possibility Phil Haynes could start the season on the PUP list, however his sports hernia surgery came in June—a surgery with a six week recovery time, according to David J. Chao. If Haynes’ recovery is longer for a reason currently unknown, then Ethan Pocic would likely stick on the roster, as a backup G/C. As it stands, Seattle’s backup center isn’t yet on the roster.
Cut: Ethan Pocic, Joey Hunt, Jordan Roos, Marcus Martin, Demetrius Knox
DT: Poona Ford, Jamie Meder, Al Woods, Earl Mitchell
It still seems likely the Seahawks will make an addition to this group before Week 1, but the addition of Mitchell makes it less pressing—they should be okay through Jarran Reed’s suspension with that group (and Rasheem Green, Nazair Jones and Quinton Jefferson’s ability to play inside, too). Demarcus Christmas seems headed for the practice squad, unless he shows absolutely nothing in the preseason and is let loose.
Cut: Demarcus Christmas, Bryan Mone, Jay-Tee Tiuli
EDGE: Rasheem Green, Ezekiel Ansah, Jacob Martin, L.J. Collier, Nazair Jones, Quinton Jefferson
The biggest thing to happen to this group since camp opened is the injury to Collier, which will likely erase his entire preseason. Also notable is the confidence that Ansah will be healthy for Week 1. An argument could be made for Cassius Marsh over Jones or Jefferson, but their outside-in versatility is valuable with the defensive tackle group so thin. Barkevious Mingo confirmed on Tuesday that he was now a full-time EDGE, a move that doesn’t move the needle as it relates to his roster spot.
Cut: Branden Jackson, Cassius Marsh, Barkevious Mingo
LB: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks, Shaquem Griffin, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven
Though Wagner will miss a bit of time in August, the linebacker group remains simple with Wright, Wagner and Kendricks starting. Burr-Kirven is healthy and projects as a backup WILL, Barton the backup MIKE (and really, the fourth LB should any of the starters get hurt), and Griffin the backup SAM. It would take a great preseason from an LB on the bubble to change this group.
(A note: Regardless of how Griffin looks on defense this preseason, his release would be a huge shock. He is a plus-special teamer on a team that values it highly. This is in reaction to the seemingly over-correction by those trying to cut him after one season, for not lighting the league alight.)
Cut: Austin Calitro, Justin Currie, Jawuan Johnson, Chris Worley
CB: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Neiko Thorpe, Akeem King
After Ugo Amadi featured quite a bit at nickel in the spring, I had hopes he would get the chance to compete there in camp. It hasn’t really happened, and so he’s listed as a safety. However, both he and King’s versatility allows Seattle to carry just four cornerbacks (with King beating out Jamar Taylor for the nickel spot). In a pinch, Amadi could come down into the slot with King pushed outside.
Cut: Jamar Taylor, Kalan Reed, Jeremy Boykins, Simeon Thomas
S: Bradley McDougald, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi, Lano Hill, Tedric Thompson
With Blair and Hill healthy and practicing, the safety group seems pretty easy to sort out. There’s a chance Hill or Thompson run out of time with the Seahawks, but it’s difficult to project; Hill’s newfound role as a matchup-based defender towards the end of the season has value, and Thompson remains a strong special teams player.
Obviously, the biggest news is the return of DeShawn Shead. Shead left Seattle last spring as a cornerback to sign a one-year deal with the Lions. He returns to the Seahawks as a safety (his former position). A source told me Shead’s struggles in Detroit were for a lack of effort in learning a new system, not because of health. It is worth noting the Lions brought him back after his initial release, and he featured in 12 games, though. If he still has something in his legs, perhaps he can push for a roster spot in Seattle. (He would give them similar versatility to Amadi and King, too.)
Cut: Shalom Luani, Marwin Evans, Jalen Harvey, DeShawn Shead
Specialists: Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott
Pretty confident in this one.