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Yet another 53-man roster prediction ... but with a few surprises

Spoiler alert: 2 UDFAs make the team

NFL: SEP 22 Saints at Seahawks

The first-ever 3-game preseason is in the books and final cuts are rapidly approaching. Naturally, that means that I am going to make a complete fool out of myself by (a) taking everything that I have seen, heard, and/or read up to this point, (b) completely misinterpreting at least half of it, and (c) coloring the other half with my own personal biases as I (d) mix all of it together into a tasty mush and make my predictions for who will still be on Seattle’s roster come Tuesday night.

Note: I’m putting the over/under on my predictions at 45 and boldly taking the OVER.



THE OFFENSE

I like symmetry and I so very much wanted to predict 25 players on offense and 25 on defense, but ... it wasn’t meant to be. C’est la vie.


Quarterback

For me, the backup role behind Russell Wilson comes down to a coin flip and ...

Geno Smith loses.

Here are the preseason stat lines:

  • Geno Smith: 2 games, 15/25 passing for 136 yards, 104.4 rating; 2 carries for 20 yards
  • Sean Mannion: 3 games, 33 of 49 for 229 with 1 TD, 105.7 rating; 2 carries for 2 yards

Edge to Mannion on games played, yards per game (76.3 vs. 68.0), touchdowns, and quarterback rating (barely). Edge to Geno on the ground.

The tiebreaker comes down to the question of which one Pete would want running Shane Waldron’s offense if RW3 had to miss any time.

Hopefully Geno is willing to go to the practice squad so the Hawks still get 90% of the benefit of having him on the roster (for about 20% of the cost).


Running back

I am taking Pete Carroll at his word when he says, “Nick Bellore is a linebacker now.” As a result, I think the Hawks will end up only carrying 4 running backs on the 53-man roster which means 2 of the 6 that are left have to go.

For me, the only “locks” are Chris Carson (Seattle’s bubble-wrapped RB1) and Travis Homer (RW3’s bodyguard on 3rd and long).

Penny sticks because I think JS/PC really, really, really want to see him put together a 16 17-game season that at least approaches his potential. Well, that and the fact that Penny has a little over $2M in dead money on his contract that I don’t think they want to just flush down the drain.

That leaves 3 players competing for the final spot: Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas, and Josh Johnson - but Johnson was a UDFA and Seattle should be willing to expose him to waivers before (hopefully) putting him on the practice squad.

Before I reveal my choice for the final RB on the 53-man roster, here are the preseason stat lines for Collins and Dallas:

  • Alex Collins: 3 games played; 19 carries for 58 yards and 1 TD - long of 9, average of 3.05; added 10 catches on 11 targets for 73 yards - long of 14, average of 7.3
  • DeeJay Dallas: 2 games played, but only had carries in 1; 5 carries for 24 yards - long of 9, average of 4.8; added 5 catches on 5 targets for 72 yards and 1 TD - long of 43, average of 14.4

Sort of close, right?

For me, DeeJay Dallas gets the last spot ... for a number of reasons:

  1. The stats - Collins had more carries for more yards and more catches for more yards, but both players scored a touchdown and Dallas had the higher averages. For me, that’s a push.
  2. Team control - Dallas is signed through 2023 with base salaries of $780,000 (2021), $895,000 (2022), and $1,010,000 (2023). Collins ($990,000 base salary; $850,000 cap hit) is a free agent after the season.
  3. Dead money - Dallas has $370,800 in dead money on his contract ($123,600 per season) whereas Collins has $0. The dead money is not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still a factor given the fact that Alex Collins’ cap hit this year is only $53,600 lower than Dallas’.
  4. Likelihood of clearing waivers - Alex Collins was a street free agent when Seattle signed him whereas Dallas was a 4th round pick last season. Thus, Collins is arguably more likely to clear waivers if released.
  5. Special teams play - DeeJay Dallas returns kicks and had 4 returns for 128 yards (32-yard average) during the preseason.

Note: For those that might be unconvinced, #6 would be the 6 fumbles Alex Collins has had in practice (per reports) which piggybacks with the reason Seattle released him in 2017 and the reason he didn’t last in Baltimore despite having nearly 1,000 yards rushing.


Tight End

Gerald Everett and Will Dissly are the givens. Colby Parkinson as well ... whenever he’s ready to take the field.

Cam Sutton and Ian Bunting are easy cuts and I think Tyler Mabry join them. The difference is that Mabry is destined for the practice squad whereas Sutton is headed out of town and Ian Bunting is ... a mystery.

If Parkinson gets moved to IR after final cuts, Mabry comes back (unless someone claims him). If Parkinson stays on the active roster but is unable to play Week 1 (and/or Week 2) then Mabry gets elevated. After that ... who knows?


Wide Receiver

At wide receiver, Seattle has what some, including myself, believe is the best 1-2 combo in the league with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf expected to combine for about 18,000 yards and 130 touchdowns this year in Shane Waldron’s “magic” offense.

Most people have Dee Eskridge, Freddie Swain, and Penny Hart written in for the next 3 WR spots with the order depending largely on when Eskridge is ready to start.

Me, I’m not so sure - at least not about Swain and Hart.

Here are the preseason totals for Seattle’s wide receivers, sans any context:

Note: Snap counts are courtesy of PFF; the rest is courtesy of ESPN’s box scores for each of the 3 preseason games.

Now for the context - or at least some of it.

  • Dee Eskridge and Penny Hart each only played in 1 game (PS3) because of injuries.
  • Freddie Swain played in all 3 games, but didn’t take any offensive snaps against Denver.
  • Every other receiver still on the roster took offensive snaps in all 3 games.
  • Cade Johnson, Connor Weddington, Darece Roberson, and Travis Toivonen mostly played in the second halves of each game.
  • The only receiver with a 100% catch rate was lost for the season due to injury.

Toivonen is my first cut, followed closely by Darece Roberson (despite his touchdown against the Chargers) and the local kid some of us were pulling for - Connor Wedington.

Because I think the Seahawks will keep 6 wideouts, that leaves us with 5 players competing for the 3 spots behind Lockett, Metcalf, and Eskridge.

I’m giving the nod to Aaron Fuller, Freddie Swain, and Cade Johnson - in that order.

Aaron gets a spot because he had the second-most targets, the second-most catches, and the second-most yards out of all the WRs in the preseason ... and because he’s a key contributor on special teams.

Freddie gets a spot because there is no possible way that JS/PC want to head into the season with only 2 receivers (Lockett and Metcalf) who have caught a pass in a regular season game - and because he showed enough last season to warrant a spot, even if he was sort of so-so this preseason.

Cade gets the final spot because he had the most targets, the most catches, and the most yards out of all the wide receivers, plus the lowest number of snaps per target and, excluding Ursua, the lowest number of snaps per catch. Add it all up and it tells me that he’s a playmaker – which I have been saying since Seattle signed him.


Offensive Line

Regardless of whether or not the stalemate with Duane Brown extends into the season, Seattle isn’t cutting him so that’s one spot down. Gabe Jackson and Damien Lewis are locks. So too is Brandon Shell. Add Kyle Fuller and Ethan Pocic - regardless of how that ends up working out in the long run - and we’re suddenly at 6 offensive linemen. Seattle’s 6th round selection, Stone Forsythe, bumps that number to 7.

Lots of the predictions I have seen have the Seahawks keeping 10 offensive linemen, but I am going with 9 because (a) Seattle can stash a couple on the practice squad, and (b) the ones I think the Hawks keep to fill out the roster have some versatility.

Jake Curhan has been the biggest surprise in camp ... even if he maybe shouldn’t have been since he was the UDFA that Seattle gave the largest signing bonus to. OTC has him listed as a Guard but he took snaps during the preseason at Right Tackle, Left Tackle, and Guard so he’s a keeper.

Cedric Ogbuehi is the final O-lineman because he’s starting at Left Tackle if Duane Brown decides it’s worth missing game checks in pursuit of an extension. Unless Ogbuehi is not fully healed from whatever has been ailing him in which case ... has anyone seen Jamarco Jones?



DEFENSE

With only 24 players on the offensive side of the ball, that leaves 26 spots for defensive players.

Note: I think that most of the 26 are pretty easy to predict so this section will be much shorter than the previous section was.


Defensive Line

Seattle currently has 12 defensive linemen on the roster and I think they will head to Indianapolis with 10. Myles Adams and Jarrod Hewitt are the 2 that I think get cut with both of them earmarked for the practice squad if they clear waivers.

The only real question I have on the defensive line is who gets moved (cut or traded) if the Seahawks sign Geno Atkins?


Linebackers

Nick Bellore is a linebacker now, so that’s one. Future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner makes 2. Add Seattle’s first 2 picks from last year’s draft, WILL Jordyn Brooks and SAM Darrell Taylor, plus preseason phenom Cody Barton, and I think you’ve got the final list - even if it’s only 5 names.

That said ...

Many of us are still hoping for a KJ Wright reunion - perhaps after the Week 1 trip to Indianapolis? - but I, for one, am not holding my breath (on the reunion) and think Seattle is probably okay with an LB group of Wagner, Brooks, Taylor, Barton, and Bellore.

We’ll see if John and Pete agree.


Defensive Backs

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit - Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs might be the best safety duo in the conference so as long as the front office doesn’t mess things up with Diggs, Seattle is set at the safety position.

Especially with Ryan Neal available to back them up.

At nickel, the Seahawks have Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi. Add the recently-acquired John Reid and the nickel spot is set.

At outside corner, DJ Reed, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tre Flowers, and Tre Brown seem like the top 4 guys, probably in that order. Y’all know how I feel about Flowers but, once again, no one appears to have pushed him out of the “Next man up” spot and there’s still a chance he might actually start for the Seahawks in Indianapolis.

If you add up everything to this point (10 D-linemen + 5 LBs + 3 safeties, 3 nickels, and 4 outside corners), you’ll find that we have one spot left.

And that spot goes to ...

Gavin Heslop.

Yes, that’s right, I’m predicting that Seattle will keep 11 defensive backs. Let the ridicule begin.



SPECIAL TEAMS

No surprises here since Seattle only had one player on the 90-man roster at each position.

Jason Myers will get to try to extend his consecutive field goal streak and maybe go two full seasons without a miss (I like stretch goals).

Michael Dickson will continue to do ridiculous things with the football on the handful of occasions this season when Seattle has to punt.

And Tyler Ott will keep snapping the ball long - cuz that’s what long-snappers do.



Here is how the predicted depth chart looks (more or less):

__________

Go Hawks!