We’re still making our way through the potential impact of the players on the 2021 roster. Last time out involved some roster-making guesswork from 53 up to 46, and this time around we’ll see more of the front line of backups, with one surprise appearance.
Up today we’ve got 45-36, and it’s a heavy defensive showing this time.
Most Impactful Seattle Seahawks, 2021-2022
45. Kyle Fuller, center
Ethan Pocic started 11 games in 2017. He started 14 last year. In between, he started five games total. Fuller is here because Pocic has not been given significant time at his original position of center, and because he’s never been able to show if he can hold up an entire season. If Pocic were to get hurt for any reason, Seattle will be moving down the depth chart at its weakest offensive line position. Fuller has the chance to be very impactful if he can prove himself a trustworthy backup, because sliding Damien Lewis back to an emergency center position is very unpreferred. By me - I have no idea if the coaches prefer it, but one would assume a center at center and guard at guard is better for the team overall.
44. Robert Nkemdiche, defensive line
Quite literally the only thing Nkemdiche has to do is prove he wants to play football - which he apparently does now - and he’ll make the roster. He’s a first-round pick from an NFC West rival, at a DT position that’s not excessively deep. He’s an athletic monster - he scored in the 94th percentile or better in his combine 40 yard, 10 yard, vertical, and broad jump scores.
That being said, he’s one of the hardest guys to rank on this roster. It just seems like the two most likely scenarios are either off this list entirely, or he approaches first-round talent and lands far higher in his 2021 impact. If he’s motivated, I can’t imagine it would take much for him to push up to next in line behind Poona Ford and Bryan Mone.
This is what the Seahawks do so often, as Nkemdiche hasn’t really played since 2018. Low risk, big reward. Hope it works out.
43. DeeJay Dallas, Alex Collins, but possibly not Travis Homer
This is third down back territory. Fans around the universe hope that for once both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny finish a season healthy, and that this role is simply that.
Deejay Dallas is the youngest draft pick, Alex Collins is the most proven (sort of?). If either of them win the job because of injury to Homer, their ceiling is the most limited. I’d put their impact somewhere in the mid 40’s, and that’s a net positive for the team because a true one-two combo up front is far more ideal.
If Homer wins the job - consider Shane Waldron’s new offense - as the best pass catcher and blocker of the three, his impact could be much higher. I am fully prepared to be flayed for this, but I’ve seen Homer look like the fastest guy in Renton at multiple training camp practices. He’d be up higher on this list.
42. Colby Parkinson, tight end
Prepare for two examples in a row of where talent does not necessarily dictate someone’s ranking. Colby Parkinson might not be better than a Dallas or Collins, we have no idea. He certainly hasn’t gained more experience; the guy hasn’t really played at all.
But a TE3 in this offense > a RB3/4 by a mile in 2021. Consider Parkinson behind Gerald Everett who has only split time, and Will Dissly who hasn’t ever finished a healthy season as starter. Russell Wilson loves his tight ends, and if Parkinson becomes second string at any point, his impact on the team will skyrocket above third option at running back. Not expecting or really hoping him to do so, but the potential in that spot would be meaningful pass-catching opportunities throughout the season.
41. Nick Bellore, fullback
He’s great at special teams, he’s a Pro Bowler, he’s a fullback. Go Hawks.
40. Cody Barton, linebacker
Basically everything we said about Ben Burr-Kirven applies here, only Barton was taken in the third round and is slightly faster. By draft default he’s higher on the depth chart, and if say Jordyn Brooks goes down, we’re going to see Barton in the game not BBK.
Part of why Barton is here is because the above scenario is not enviable.
39. Al Woods, defensive tackle
To be honest this is probably too high for Woods. I just have this gut feeling he’ll see real playing time this year. If he does, he has shown for about five seasons that he really is pretty...fine in the middle of the defense.
For another comp that still might not be a great argument, if you said “X” is injured and Cody Barton is going to start and play the whole game at linebacker, or “X” is injured and Woods is going to start and play the whole game at DT, I would simply feel less nervous if it were Woods.
38. Ryan Neal, safety
The man lucky enough to get coached by Kam Chancellor himself is undeniably a playmaker. Neal turned in two interceptions in his first two games, and a safety in a game in which he played two snaps.
Problem is, the former practice squad hero is behind Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Marquise Blair. The team will play him over none of those guys. If there’s more injuries, however, Neal proved himself as one of the best backups on this team, and safety is by far one of the strongest position groups for the Seahawks.
37. Ken Norton Jr., defensive coordinator
This offense has some limitations, and I’m not entirely sure what they are. Or rather, I’m not sure what they are going to be. Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron will undoubtedly bring some change, but the combination of Pete Carroll + Russell Wilson + Any running back not named (and sometimes named) Marshawn Lynch has always equalled some bizarre stretch of offensive malfunction. Whether it’s Wilson throwing too much, not enough, being the lead rusher, or deciding to throw to his wide receivers only every other game, something always seems to fall short in crunch time against good defensive lines.
All that to say, this will be a playoff-beating offense. But it will not be good enough to carry a questionable defense, and Ken Norton has to prove last year, in part, came from him. He needs to show that the turnaround from the famed defensive “meeting” that catapulted Seattle out of the basement is something he can instill into another team. This time, it won’t be able to coincide with trading for Carlos Dunlap. This time, he has to deal with logjams at some positions, and an amusing experiment at cornerback.
This team could go the distance, but they certainly need some ferocity from the defense this year.
36. Freddie Swain, wide receiver
For no particular reason, when Steve Raible accidentally called Tyler Lockett on the Freddie Swain touchdown in Week 2 I chuckled for a couple minutes. It was totally justified; he was running that short cross just like the other little guy.
Swain averaged almost a catch per game last year, and for a sixth year rookie that was perfect, especially considering some of the names on that roster. What’s more is he converted first downs on three of his first four catches as a pro. Wilson found Swain in a couple of meaningful situations right out of the gate.
I’ve already advocated that Swain will be far down the priority list this season, but I don’t expect D’Wayne Eskridge to completely nullify Swain’s impact, with the carryover trust from last year.
Next week: 35-25.