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The clues from past Seahawks training camp rosters for the 2021 NFL draft

Seattle Seahawks v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Just days remain until Thursday night when pro football fans will flock to televisions for several hours of primetime coverage of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. These fans will get overly excited and hyped for the potential and immediate impact they believe these new additions will bring, in spite of the fact that none of them have ever set foot on a professional football field.

For the Seattle Seahawks, the first day of the draft will be a waiting game, as the team traded away its first round pick in the draft this year in exchange for safety Jamal Adams. Thus, for Seattle fans the true fun of the draft won’t start until Day 2 on Friday evening. However, in spite of the fact that the Seahawks hold just three selections heading into the draft, there will be no shortage of speculation regarding the players the team could add next week.

There has been, and certainly will continue to be, a lot of discussion regarding what positions the Seahawks will target in the draft. Fans have proposed using the team’s lone Day 2 pick on a center to solidify the interior of the offensive line, on a cornerback to compete for a starting spot or a wide receiver that can complement DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. What exactly the team will do will, as usual, likely be a surprise to most fans when it is announced.

However, regardless of what the team is planning, it is possible to turn to the past training camp rosters of the team in order to attempt to gain an understanding of the positions the team could be looking to target. So, with that said, here is how the team’s opening training camp rosters have broken down by position since the league expanded camp rosters from 80 players to 90 players in 2012.

Past Seahawks training camp roster breakdowns by position compared to present roster

Position 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 4/24/2021
Position 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 4/24/2021
QB 4 3 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 4
RB 5 4 5 5 8 8 5 6 6 5
FB 1 2 2 3 2 2 3 1 1 1
TE 5 6 6 5 6 6 7 6 7 4
WR 12 13 12 12 13 12 14 13 9 8
C/G 8 9 9 10 8 9 9 10 8 7
T 7 6 6 5 6 4 6 5 6 5
DE 7 7 7 9 7 7 5 6 7 8
DT 8 7 9 8 8 9 7 9 6 5
LB 12 12 11 10 10 10 10 11 8 4
CB 10 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 10 7
S 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 8 6 4
P 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1
K 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1
LS 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1
Total 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 80 65

One caveat to note is that due to the COVID Amendment to the CBA that was adopted by the league and the union last summer, camp rosters were reduced to 80 players for 2020, which is why the numbers are slightly different for last season. That said, the table is a whole lot of numbers and where the current roster stands relative to past averages is not the easiest thing to eyeball.

So, for ease of reading, here is a simplified look at the above data broken down into an average of the roster constructions for 2012 through 2019, along with a modified average for 2012 through 2020. This modified average takes the number of players at each position in 2020 and multiplies by (9/8) and used that adjusted number to calculate the average for each position for the 2012 through 2020 seasons.

Averages for past offseason roster breakdowns since 2012

Position Average 2012-2019 Average 2012-2020* 4/24/2021 Difference from Usual
Position Average 2012-2019 Average 2012-2020* 4/24/2021 Difference from Usual
QB 3.3 3.3 4 -0.7
RB 5.8 5.9 5 0.9
FB 2.0 1.9 1 0.9
TE 5.9 6.1 4 2.1
WR 12.6 12.3 8 4.3
C/G 9.0 9.0 7 2.0
T 5.6 5.8 5 0.8
DE 6.9 7.0 8 -1.0
DT 8.1 8.0 5 3.0
LB 10.8 10.6 4 6.6
CB 9.6 9.8 7 2.8
S 6.5 6.5 4 2.5
P 1.1 1.1 1 0.1
K 1.4 1.3 1 0.3
LS 1.5 1.5 1 0.5
Total 90.0 90.0 65 25.0

The next step is to then compare the current roster as of April 24, 2021 to that average in order to try to gain an understanding of the positions that could be most and least targeted by the team in both the draft and while pursuing undrafted free agents. For the Difference from Usual column, a negative number means the team is carrying more players at the position than typical, while a positive number means the team is carrying fewer players at the position than they traditionally have. Thus, positions for which there is a larger number, such as linebacker and wide receiver, would tend to be positions the team may target, while the two positions with negative numbers would seem to be less likely to be targeted.

This analysis leads to an interesting discussion when it comes to the two positions that carry the largest difference from past seasons: linebacker and wide receiver. The team has the talent it needs at the top of the depth chart in each of these groups. Lockett and Metcalf are, obviously, the unquestioned starters at receiver, with Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks atop the linebacker group. However, behind those starters there is little to no proven experience. Which direction the Hawks will go at the third wide receiver spot, and how they will fill out the linebacker depth will be key questions to keep in mind during both the draft and in the undrafted free agent frenzy afterwards.

Linebacker, in particular, is intriguing because of the possibility that the Seahawks could turn to a couple of veterans who were with the team last season to help address the lack of depth. Specifically, with K.J. Wright and Bruce Irvin both unsigned in free agency, the Hawks could be in position to add one or both at a position that doesn’t have an immediate need, but at which the team is in need of depth. Whether that happens or not will obviously depend on how things continue to play out with Wright’s market in free agency and Irvin’s recovery from knee surgery. However, even if the team were to bring back both Wright and Irvin, the position would remain a need, as half of the group would be over 30 and the other half would have a combined 646 defensive snaps between them over their five combined seasons in the NFL.

In short, there are a whole lot of moving parts when it comes to how the Seahawks will finish building out their roster in the coming months, and the draft and undrafted free agency period should help bring some clarity to how everything will eventually play out.