On Sunday morning, a day after rosters are officially cut from 80 to 53, teams can begin to construct their practice squads ahead of the 2020 season. An extension of their active roster, the Seahawks consistently churn their practice squad to find developmental pieces or add players at a particular position of need. Though we didn’t get to see them in preseason action this year, Seattle’s not short on intriguing young players who could be worth keeping around on the practice squad.
As a refresher, here are the changes to practice squad rules for 2020:
- Increased in size from 10 to 16.
- Two players can be promoted to the game-day roster, which expanded to 55.
- Six players can have any number of accrued seasons.
Who could land on the Seahawks’ practice squad after spending camp in Seattle?
Perhaps the most obvious candidate to be added to the team’s practice squad, Gordon struggled to grasp the offense in camp in what was difficult circumstances. However, he is a talented passer with an intriguing upside. With 16 spots available this year, it’s a no-brainer to use one on Gordon and attempt to develop Russell Wilson’s next backup.
Hobbled by injuries and eventually crowded out by the players around him, the Seahawks’ sixth-round pick could benefit from time on the practice squad. Though he is dynamic after the catch, Swain’s route running lacks polish at this stage. Long-term, Swain could become a valuable gadget player and potentially even a slot option.
Similar to Swain, Hart is a dynamic threat over the middle and deep, with the potential to grow into a viable slot receiver. Unfortunately, like Swain, Hart found himself up against a lot of numbers at receiver in camp. A return to the practice squad, where he ended last season, would be beneficial for the team and the player.
One of the breakout players of training camp, Thompson drew constant praise as a contested-catch threat. Between Paul Richardson’s addition and a late camp injury suffered by Thompson, however, it’s difficult to see Thompson cracking the 53 barring David Moore or Richardson’s departure. Thankfully, without any preseason action to raise his stock, Thompson should safely land back on Seattle’s practice squad.
One of two UDFA tight ends signed by the Seahawks after the draft, Mabry outlasted Dom Wood-Anderson and then went on to have a positive camp. There was simply no way for Mabry to breakthrough a deep and talented position group, but he will certainly be considered for one of the practice squad spots, depending on how they allocate the numbers.
Seattle’s seventh-round pick, Sullivan is still in the midst of transitioning to full-time tight end after slowly making the switch at the end of his time at LSU. Already beloved by Pete Carroll, Sullivan will take time to develop but for the time being, he isn’t going anywhere.
One of the most interesting UDFA signings this past spring, Champion started just six games in college yet received one of the largest signing bonuses from the Seahawks among rookie free agents. There was little word of Champion standing out at camp and he had several players ahead of him, however, a year on the practice squad could be coming.
A natural 3-tech with quick feet, Lattimore only started for a trench-friendly Iowa program in 2019 and is still developing as a player. Demarcus Christmas’s ability to play both 1- and 3-tech gives the sophomore the edge to make the 53, but Lattimore should head to the practice squad and could appear for Seattle as early as this season.
Despite serving as a key special teamer as a rookie, the former Husky is squeezed off the 53 due to the numbers and depth at linebacker. The Seahawks should safely be able to get him onto the practice squad and continue his development, with a potential future as a valuable backup linebacker and core special teamer.
A lanky 6’, 197-pound corner from Stony Brook, Heslop made all the sense in the world for Seattle to target and they did, signing Heslop as a UDFA after the draft. Heslop checks all the boxes the Seahawks want from their cornerbacks and has had some positive moments at camp. A year of developing on the practice squad will have great benefit for Heslop, who could push for a roster spot in 2021.
After spending 2019 between Seattle’s practice squad and active roster, Neal made an admirable roster push in camp. At 6’2” and 200 pounds Neal is an outside corner for the Seahawks but also saw time at safety and in the slot over the last month. His versatility could translate to a spot on the 53 but more likely ends in a return to the practice squad. Neal appears to be one of the players most likely to benefit from the two additional game-day roster spots, though.
One of the gems of Seattle’s UDFA class this year, Miller could have made a strong roster push with the benefit of preseason action. Instead, the Seahawks will likely play it safe with Lano Hill earning the nod (though there’s a chance both players are kept, with Marquise Blair now a part of the nickel picture). Miller projects as a long-term backup for Quandre Diggs at free safety at a very cheap rate. After a year on the practice squad, learning the defense’s most important position, he should be ready for that role in 2021.