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Field Gulls Mailbag: Roster strength, camp battles, Jamal Adams, cap space, and more

Answering Seattle Seahawks questions from the Field Gulls community!

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

More than two dozen Field Gulls readers submitted questions for our first mailbag in an eternity, which is a great response for what is otherwise a pretty dull time in the offseason while we wait for Seattle Seahawks training camp to start. I’ve not selected all of them for response (or else you’d be scrolling forever) but hopefully some of my answers address the questions that weren’t selected.

We’ve got embedded comments in our story editor, so we can feature your comments without resorting to copy-and-pastes or screenshots. It’s a neat little tool we have as writers and we’ll be using this more often outside of just mailbags.

Let’s get to the questions!

Last year I had no expectations for the first half of the season as we needed to "season" our rookies. I expected a better second half as they acclimatized to the NFL. Now we really have a Rookie team, not sure if I should expect the same or if we are strong enough to win enough games in the first half to go on a tear in the second.
What key developments will you all be watching for in pre-season, first couple of games that would give us hope for the back half the season? (outside of Geno's play).

Sometimes preseason can deceive, and sometimes it’s a sign of things to come. Seattle played the first-teamers on the offensive and defensive line quite a bit in all three games last year, and we saw an OL that looked pretty promising and a defensive line that was getting reamed and struggling to generate consistent pressure. Guess what we saw in the regular season?

It’s going to be interesting to see how Pete Carroll approaches this year’s preseason, because Cross and Lucas simultaneously have secure starting jobs but may need those extra reps as second-year players. You have to balance the risk of giving them more live experience with the potential for injury, but I’ll trust the coaching staff on that front. I anticipate a lot of projected first-team work for the outside linebackers and defensive line, including Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed, and at the very least there needs to be cohesiveness and competence shown by them and rookies Cameron Young and Mike Morris (among others). Bad gap integrity, failing to set the edge, getting pushed around off the line of scrimmage, those are all things that killed Seattle last season and I want to see those kept to a minimum throughout preseason.

How much of a role does projection play in figuring out the starting lineups during camp? As in, assuming tie goes to the player with more upside, how much better will Mike Jack have to play than Spoon in order to keep his starting spot? Similarly, how much better would Bobo/Thompson/Johnson/whoever have to play in order to bump Eskridge to the PS?

Top-10 picks in today’s NFL are implied auto-starters with the exception of the occasional quarterback who is still in the ole’ fashioned “watch and learn” system. In this instance, Witherspoon was drafted to be a starter right away (at least in my view), and that’s not a slight against Mike Jackson Sr. I’m sure Jackson will compete like hell to remain a starter but in all likelihood the edge is going to Witherspoon unless he shows something in camp and/or preseason that freaks the coaches out.

I believe it’s easier for early draft picks to quickly fall out of favor on their own than it is for UDFAs to supplant those players through their own preseason performances. We’ve seen it with Christine Michael and essentially L.J. Collier. In other words, if Eskridge loses his spot on the roster I think it’ll be a bigger reflection on him than any of the UDFA WRs suddenly having a breakthrough moment.

This is such a great idea. Can't tell you how many times some random question comes to mind with no idea who to ask. With that in mind, what's up with the buzz that we might be interested in Malik Willis? What, he's already become a reclamation project?

I have no idea where this is coming from other than the initial belief (post-Russell Wilson trade) that Seattle would look at drafting Willis last year. It’s probably premature to write him off as a potential starting quarterback but in the handful of games he played he looked way out of his depth. It’s telling that they brought in Josh Dobbs off of Detroit’s practice squad with the playoffs on the line rather than let him throw the ball.

ESPN is doing a survey of every position. So far the Seahawks don't have anyone in the top ten at their position. A few guys are getting honorable mention. Yet a lot of people seem to like the Seahawks roster. Are the people projecting a winning season for the Seahawks doing so on the assumption that the young guys will continue to improve? Is the Seahawks roster viewed as really deep, but without any verified stats?

Now that the ESPN survey reveal is over, I can note here that the Seahawks only had one player crack the top-10 (DK Metcalf) at their respective offensive and defensive positions. The player I believe is most deserving of a top-10 ranking is Quandre Diggs, and maybe you can have a shout for Riq Woolen at corner but he had his fair share of zone coverage busts that were overshadowed by his great work in man-to-man situations.

Ultimately? I don’t have a problem with the lack of top-10 inclusion. I don’t want to degrade last year’s accomplishments but the 2022 Seahawks were a decent/good but not great team and the way they got to 9-8 was a pretty accurate reflection of that. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, for instance, are a great receiving duo but individually I don’t believe they’re top-10 receivers, and there’s nothing wrong with being in the 11-20 range.

The Seahawks are being rated highly by pundits, I suspect, in part because there is the belief that these young players (and Geno Smith) will continue to improve, and the other part is the balance across so many positions. I have worries about the interior DL and middle linebacker, but generally there aren’t any other critical areas where I’d say to myself, “The Seahawks have nothing there.” Every position has established upper-tier talent or promising but unproven talent!

Are there any concerns about Devon Weatherspoon being able to stay healthy considering his style of play and only weighing 181 pounds.

Honestly? I’m a tad but not overly concerned at an NFL level. Chances are he’ll be asked to move up to around 190, which is Denzel Ward and Stephon Gilmore territory. But he has such an aggressive style and he did miss some time due to injury while at Illinois. I’m more concerned that his aggressiveness in coverage will be used against him and lead to some frustrating penalties borne out of necessity.

Is Jamal Adams gonna be a 'thing' this season?

Yes, he’ll be playing, but sadly I don’t think he’ll ever recapture his 2020 (or New York Jets) form. Quad injuries are no joke and I think of the NBA’s Victor Oladipo for a cross-sport comparison. Oladipo was a rising two-time All-Star in the league and then he tore his quad in 2019 and has not been the same player since—he ruptured his patella tendon in this year’s playoffs, too. Adams’ style of play is so physically demanding and he’s now had three straight very serious injuries in as many seasons in Seattle.

Hopefully I’m wrong but we might be looking at another Bob Sanders type of shortened career.

How much money do we have left to sign a veteran DT?

Seattle has roughly $7 million in cap space but keep in mind they haven’t signed Devon Witherspoon or Zach Charbonnet yet. Based on what John Gilbert wrote in the linked article last month, Seattle would in theory have enough money to add a veteran defensive lineman, but likely not anyone notable unless Ndamukong Suh wants to play on a minimum deal to also keep an eye on his restaurants in Portland. They’re probably gonna need more space to bring back Shelby Harris, is what I’m saying.

No BS, honest assessment of Olu, Bradford, and Cam Young
Straight down the middle, no sugarcoating.

I’ll get back to you in preseason but at the moment, I’m highest on Anthony Bradford of those three rookies. I believe Bradford wins the starting spot at right guard over Phil Haynes, Olu Oluwatimi loses out to Evan Brown at center (not necessarily long-term, just this year), and Cameron Young is a standard rotational nose tackle but nothing special.

It felt like a lot of Seattle’s woes with run-blocking came from the interior of the OL—Austin Blythe and Gabe Jackson in particular. I think Bradford is going to be the most valuable of literally all the Day 3 picks from the Seahawks’ 2023 class.

Question 1: has anyone looked back to see Geno's past training camps to see if there were clues about his progression?
Question 2: which position group will see the fiercest competition? And why is it the Edge group?
Question 3: this is arguably a championship caliber offense, what signs should we be looking for with the defense to see real improvement?
Question 4: who will be the UDFA darlings on this site?

1.) Not to my knowledge.

2.) Center and right guard.

3.) Better discipline in the trenches, assignment correct play, and consistent ability to generate pressure on the quarterback. Watching this team look lost every September for four years running is tiresome.

4.) Jake Bobo on offense, Jonah Tavai on defense.

Have you heard of Michael Dickson?

Yes. In fact I was at Hayward Field two weeks ago in Eugene watching him run in the Men’s 110m hurdles at the USA Track and Field Championships/World Championships qualifiers. He unfortunately was eliminated in the semifinals.

I’ve also heard of the punter. He’s pretty good!

Thanks for everyone who wrote in. We’ll do this again probably at the end of preseason or maybe even before the final preseason game, and with some tweaked parameters so several questions aren’t all asked within one comment.