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Get ready for a Seahawks draft that goes heavy on the trenches

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The countdown to the 2022 NFL Draft is about to hit single digit days, and fans across the NFL are working themselves into a frenzy regarding the infusion of young talent and potential their favorite team is about to receive. For some teams that means fans are scouring tape and draft profiles looking for the player who could be the missing piece to push the team over the top, while for other teams it’s a matter of taking the best player available to help in rebuilding.

For the Seattle Seahawks, it’s anybody’s guess how the team will proceed as the team enters its first draft in the post-Russell Wilson era. Quarterback remains a significant need for the team following the trade of nine-time Pro Bowl schlub Wilson to the former division rival Denver Broncos. In any case, as the team continues in its adoption of the Shane Waldron offense, while also shifting defensively to adopt a Vic Fangio style system, the overhaul of the roster continues.

Thus, with the heart of free agency already in the rear view mirror, it’s now time to focus on what the Seahawks could do in the draft later in April. The place to start, as always, is not just to focus on the positions of need for the Hawks, and rather to start with an analysis of the current roster in relation to past rosters. So, without wasting any time, here is a breakdown of the roster by position, both for the team as currently constructed, as well for at the opening of training camp each season since 2012. The training camp rosters for 2010 and 2020 are excluded from this table because during each of those seasons the league had an 80 man limit on the roster, while the 90 man roster of the lockout-shortened 2011 training camp has also been excluded.

Current Seahawks roster relative to past training camp rosters

Position 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021 4/17/2022 Average Difference
Position 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021 4/17/2022 Average Difference
QB 4 3 4 3 3 3 3 3 4 3 3.33 -0.33
RB 5 4 5 5 8 8 5 6 7 6 5.89 0.11
FB 1 2 2 3 2 2 3 1 1 0 1.89 -1.89
TE 5 6 6 5 6 6 7 6 6 4 5.89 -1.89
WR 12 13 12 12 13 12 14 13 13 9 12.67 -3.67
C/G 8 9 9 10 8 9 9 10 9 6 9.00 -3.00
T 7 6 6 5 6 4 6 5 8 3 5.89 -2.89
DE 7 7 7 9 7 7 5 6 7 6 6.89 -0.89
DT 8 7 9 8 8 9 7 9 8 3 8.11 -5.11
LB 12 12 11 10 10 10 10 11 8 13 10.44 2.56
CB 10 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 10 9 9.67 -0.67
S 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 8 7 4 6.56 -2.56
P 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1.11 -0.11
K 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1.33 -0.33
LS 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1.44 -0.44
Total 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 91 69 N/A N/A

With this data handy, it becomes possible to begin to look at what positions the Seahawks are likely to make additions in the coming months prior to the opening of training camp, and thus to hone in on the areas of the roster on which they may be likely to focus during the upcoming draft.

The big caveat in comparing the positional breakdown of the current roster relative to the rosters of years past is obviously the shift from a base 4-3 to a base 3-4 and the corresponding shift in needs from the defensive line to the linebacking corps. With the team likely to need only half as many defensive tackles relative to seasons past, but more linebackers, to most accurately look at the positions an average of the total of defensive tackles, defensive ends and linebackers combined during the 2012 through 2021 seasons is included below.

Roster breakdowns of defensive front seven personnel since 2012

Position 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021 4/17/2022 Average 2012 through 2021 Difference
Position 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021 4/17/2022 Average 2012 through 2021 Difference
DE 7 7 7 9 7 7 5 6 7 6 6.89 -0.89
DT 8 7 9 8 8 9 7 9 8 3 8.11 -5.11
LB 12 12 11 10 10 10 10 11 8 13 10.44 2.56
Total 27 26 27 27 25 26 22 26 23 22 25.44 -3.44

For readers wondering how the 2022 positional breakdowns on the defensive line were determined, players who were formerly categorized as defensive tackles or defensive ends for Seattle were re-categorized for the purposes of this analysis based on their physical traits. Bulkier players, such as Al Woods and Bryan Mone, who are likely to man the nose tackle spot in a 3-4 are included as defensive tackles in this breakdown. Those who had been smaller defensive tackles for the Hawks in the past and weigh in between 280 and 300 were categorized as defensive ends. Lastly, defensive ends such as Alton Robinson who weigh in at less than 280 are included in this breakdown at linebacker. (Author’s note: For those wondering, Carlos Dunlap is not counted in this breakdown, as while he is still considered to officially be on the Seattle roster through the start of June for salary cap purposes, that is simply an administrative function and he is not currently a member of the team.)

Moving on to evaluating the actual breakdown of the defensive front seven personnel, as noted in the table, the team has averaged between 25 and 26 players on the roster during training camp between the defensive line and the linebackers, and there does not seem a valid reason why this number can not be used to inform predictions for the 2022 Seahawks roster.

In any case, while the top of the depth chart is certainly well defined at several position groups, including wide receiver, tight end and safety, there is still a need for depth during training camp. It would seem logical that these positions will be filled out to the point where they are equal to the lowest number of players at the position in years past. Meanwhile, the Seahawks tend to come to camp heavy at positions of significant turnover, such as quarterback in 2012, wide receiver and offensive line in 2018 and safety in 2019, just as examples. With that in mind, it would seem likely that the Hawks enter training camp with an above average number of players at quarterback and tackle. Linebacker will obviously see an increase in numbers as well, but that likely has more to do with the increased need for numbers at the positions than simply due to year over year turnover.

Taking all of that into consideration, here is a projection of how many players the Seahawks may add to the roster at each position between now and the start of training camp:

Quarterback: 1
Running Back: 2
Tight End: 1
Wide Receiver: 3
Interior Offensive Line (Center/Guard): 2
Offensive Tackle: 4
Defensive End (3-4 Defensive Tackle): 1
Defensive Tackle (3-4 Nose Tackle): 2
Linebacker: 1
Cornerback: 2
Safety: 2
Fullback/Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper: 0
Total: 21

These additions are obviously not just going to come through the draft, as they will also come as undrafted free agent signings, free agency and the waiver wire as well in the weeks ahead. However, regardless of how these additions to the roster are made, the change in offensive line coach from Mike Solari to Andy Dickerson certainly seems to make it apparent that the offensive line coach has significant input on the players on the roster at the position. In any case, with a significant shortage of offensive linemen on the roster relative to offseasons past, it certainly appears that the shift in offensive line personnel that better fit the Shane Waldron offense could be the biggest target for Seattle over the next three months.

In short, it may be prudent for Seahawks fans to prepare for a draft made up of a significant number of additions in the trenches, rather than through the targeting of playmakers at receiver or cornerback.