Walt, you need to put Texas LT Connor Williams on this list. Dude is going to be one of the best LT's in this class. He'll be a JR this year, but former TE with outstanding movement and pass blocking skills. Dude is a stud and Freshman All-American. First time in a while I've been excited for our Offensive line.
WR Percy Harvin, DE Cliff Avril, DE Michael Bennett, DT Tony McDaniel, CB Antoine Winfield, CB Marcus Trufant.
Early Draft Picks:
RB Christine Michael, DT Jordan Hill, WR Chris Harper, NT Jesse Williams, CB Tharold Simon, TE Luke Willson. Seahawks Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
QB Matt Flynn, OT Frank Omiyale, DT Alan Branch, DT Jason Jones, OLB Leroy Hill, KR Leon Washington.
2013 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
It's amazing to think that at this time last year, the Seahawks were preparing to start Matt Flynn. That never happened, of course, because Russell Wilson looked far more impressive during preseason action. He won the starting job prior to Week 1 and never looked back, compiling 3,118 passing yards, 489 rushing yards, 30 touchdowns (26 passing, four rushing) and just 10 interceptions.
Wilson fell to the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft because he measured in at 5-11, but he made up for that by excelling in every aspect of the game. His pocket maneuverability is unparalleled; it's amazing how he uses his feet to find passing lanes. More importantly, Wilson is a winner. He comes up huge in the clutch, as witnessed in the divisional round of the playoffs when he brought his team back from a huge deficit against the Falcons. Matt Ryan ultimately won that affair, but it was impressive nonetheless.
What makes Wilson's rookie performance especially remarkable is that he was able to thrive despite not having the best receiving corps. The injury-prone Sidney Rice, his No. 1 wideout, caught just 50 balls for 748 yards in 2012. Golden Tate and tight end Zach Miller were next on the receptions list with 45 and 38, respectively.
General manager John Schneider noticed this weakness and addressed it during the offseason. He made a bold move on March 11, dealing the No. 25 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to the Vikings for Percy Harvin. One of the most dynamic play-makers in football, Harvin can be used in a variety of ways and is a threat to go the distance at any moment. Harvin is considered fragile by some, but he's had just one non-migraine injury in his career, which occurred last season when he missed seven games because of an ankle problem. However, considering that he hasn't suffered a headache in two years, it's safe to say that his durability concerns are way overblown. He'll be a great weapon for Wilson this season.
Wilson will also rely on Marshawn Lynch, who seems to get better every season. Lynch rushed for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, maintaining a yards-per-carry average of 5.0 - the best figure in his 6-year career. With opposing defenses still respecting Wilson's ability to scramble, Lynch will continue to churn out huge chunks of yardage.
Lynch's YPC figure is pretty impressive considering that Seattle's offensive line is pretty mediocre. There are two studs up front: left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger. The latter didn't surrender a single sack in 2012, while the former gave up just one in 15 starts. Okung just needs to stop committing so many penalties; he was whistled for a ridiculous 13 infractions.
The rest of the offensive line isn't very good. Left guard James Carpenter, who was drafted as a right tackle, barely played last year because of multiple injuries. He didn't look very good when he was on the field though. Right guard Paul McQuistan and right tackle Breno Giacomini are pretty pedestrian. The latter was completely humiliated by Chris Long in the season finale. He was also flagged 12 times in 2012.
2013 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
The Seahawks made a huge splash when they acquired Percy Harvin - but they weren't even close to being done. They were the clear-cut winners of free agency, signing multiple talented veterans to cheap deals. It all started when they inked Cliff Avril to a 2-year, $13 million contract. Avril was one of the top pass-rushers on the market, and it was absolutely crucial for Seattle to obtain him, given that Chris Clemons is coming off a torn ACL. Avril will be the team's new primary pass-rusher out of the Leo position.
Seattle wasn't done with its pass rush. The team obtained Michael Bennett, formerly of the Buccaneers. Bennett registered nine sacks in 2012 while being a major force against the run. He'll play defensive end in base formations and then move inside on obvious passing downs. He'll give way to Bruce Irvin in those situations. Irvin, last year's first-round pick, can only play on third downs, but he's proven to be outstanding if all he has to do is put pressure on the quarterback; he tallied eight sacks as a rookie.
The Seahawks' much-improved pass rush will only help an unbelievably talented secondary, which was bolstered by yet another cheap signing. Seattle obtained another former Viking, Antoine Winfield, when they inked him to a 1-year, $2 million deal exactly one month after the start of free agency. Winfield will start in the slot, giving Seattle the best trio of corners in the NFL. Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will continue to play on the outside. The former is very solid, while the latter is arguably the top cornerback in football, though professional troll Skip Bayless believes otherwise.
A pair of outstanding safeties complement Seattle's corners rather well. Kam Chancellor is a force against the run, while Earl Thomas is the star of the duo. Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowler, is a top-five NFL safety.
One area that was a concern for the Seahawks last year was run defense. They ranked 23rd in that department, surrendering 4.5 yards per carry. The issue was Red Bryant's torn plantar fascia, which completely sapped his effectiveness. He's reportedly 100 percent, so Seattle should be able to improve versus the rush. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, entering the third season of his 5-year contract, is also strong against the run. Having said that, the Seahawks spent a couple of mid-round selections on players at his position (Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams), so the coaches will be hoping that one of the two steps up and becomes a cheaper solution on the interior of the defensive front.
Speaking of stepping up, someone will have to do that in the linebacker corps. The Seahawks have two outstanding players in the group, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, but Leroy Hill is gone, so they need someone to take over his duties.
2013 Seattle Seahawks Schedule and Intangibles:
The Seahawks aren't kidding about this whole 12th man thing. The deafening noise at Qwest Field is why they were 25-4 as hosts from 2005 to 2007. They were a perfect 8-0 in 2012. If they manage to obtain homefield advantage in this year's playoffs, it's all over for the NFC.
While Seattle is great at home thanks to its great fans, the team is pitiful on the road. Since 2007, the Seahawks are 15-37 as visitors, though they did win a playoff game at Washington.
Ask any professional football gambler or handicapper when to bet against Seattle, and they'll say to do so in 1 p.m. East Coast games. They've had nine of those since 2008, and lost eight by a combined score of 211-111. They somehow beat the Super Bowl champion Giants two years ago, eliminating nearly everyone's Survivor Pool entry. Go figure. Unfortunately, the Seahawks have a ridiculous four 1 p.m. East Coast battle in 2013 (Panthers, Colts, Falcons, Giants). Football is a macho-man sport, but the people in charge need to start looking at how science (Circadian rhythms, in this case) affects the game.
Steven Hauschka has been outstanding in his two seasons in Seattle. He went 25-of-30 in 2011 and 24-of-27 last year, though he's been just 3-of-8 from 50-plus in that span.
Jon Ryan is one of the top punters in the game. He was tied for seventh in both net punting and attempts inside the 20 this past season.
Leon Washington was one of the top returners in the NFL, but he's now on the Patriots. That won't be much of an issue because Percy Harvin will take Washington's place.
The Seahawks have a pretty tough schedule. In addition to enduring those ridiculous 1 p.m. games, they have to battle five teams that made the playoffs in 2012 (49ers twice, Texans, Colts, Falcons, Vikings). Some of their other opponents (Panthers, Saints, Giants, Rams) figure to be even better this season.
2013 Seattle Seahawks Rookies:
Go here for the Seahawks Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2013 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: The Seahawks are the best team in the NFL. Unfortunately, there are two things going against them. The first, which was discussed earlier, is a schedule that contains four early games. The second is high expectations. The front office made so many great moves in free agency, but there's a chance it could all backfire. This Seattle regime has never made it past the second round of the playoffs, so expecting an inexperienced group to go the distance could be too much to ask.
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: The Seahawks have done so well in free agency this offseason that they don't really need to do anything in the 2013 NFL Draft, save for obtaining a right tackle upgrade. All they figure to do is take the top player available to bolster their roster.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Seahawks barely had any needs to take care of, so they spent the 2013 NFL Draft taking the presumed best players on their board all while making sure they have replacements for the future as well as injury insurance for a potential Super Bowl run.
Having said that, there were a couple of odd choices. I can get Christine Michael, but why Spencer Ware as well? That seems unnecessarily redundant. Also, I don't know what Seattle is going to do with two guards (Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith). It's going to be difficult for both of them to make the roster.
I did love some of the Seahawks' picks though. Chris Harper could succeed Sidney Rice if the injury-prone wideout gets hurt again. Ty Powell was a steal at No. 231. The best pick, however, was Jesse Williams, who was taken 137th overall. Some thought Williams would be a first-round pick, so to get him on Day 3 was phenomenal.
Seattle had an OK draft, but there were too many questionable picks. The right tackle position should have been addressed.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
62. Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M: C Grade
I'm all for picking the top player available - it's questionable if Christine Michael qualifies as such - but it has to make some sort of sense. The Seahawks already had Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin in the backfield. Where does Michael fit in? This seems like a wasted selection.
87. Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State: C Grade
Even as a Penn State alumnus, I'll say that this is a reach. Jordan Hill probably should have gone in the Round 5 area, but he does fill a need as an interior pass-rusher. The problem is that Hill is terribly inconsistent.
123. Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State: B+ Grade
I thought the Seahawks would go with Quinton Patton, who would have been a better value selection. I do like Chris Harper though. Sidney Rice constantly gets injured, so Seattle needed to find a good Plan B just in case he gets hurt again.
137. Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama: A+ Grade
Jesse Williams, what took you so long? It's unbelievable that he fell this far. Some deemed Williams as a late first-round candidate. I thought he'd fall to the second or third because of the lacking need at the position, but there's no excuse for him lasting this long. He doesn't fill an immediate need for the Seahawks, but he'll be useful down the road.
138. Tharold Simon, CB, LSU: B+ Grade
You have to wonder where Tharold Simon would have gone had he not been arrested on the first night of the draft for intimidating a police officer. There's no questioning that this is a good value pick from a talent standpoint though. Simon is a great fit in Seattle's defense as a tall, lanky corner.
158. Luke Willson, TE, Rice: C+ Grade
I never thought I'd be talking about an "other" Rice tight end, but Luke Willson could have a chance to start down the road because of the lack of talent Seattle has at the position. He's a bit of a reach though.
194. Spencer Ware, RB, LSU: C Grade
Another running back? Why? Spencer Ware fits the range in Round 6, but this seems like a wasted pick.
220. Ryan Seymour, G, Vanderbilt: C Grade
I didn't have Ryan Seymour as a draftable prospect, but it's the seventh round, so who cares? I'm surprised the Seahawks waited this long to address their offensive line.
231. Ty Powell, OLB, Harding: A Grade
Ty Powell probably should have been taken in the fourth round, so I love the value the Seahawks obtained with the Harding product. Powell will provide Seattle with much-needed depth at linebacker.
241. Jared Smith, G/DT, New Hampshire: C+ Grade
Jared Smith was chosen in the right range, though he'll be buried on the depth chart. He may not make the team.
242. Michael Bowie, OT, Northeast Oklahoma State: C+ Grade
Another needed offensive line pick, though Michael Bowie is unlikely to challenge at the poor right tackle spot anytime soon.
The Seahawks were screwed over by the NFL schedule-makers, having to play two East Coast playoff games in as many weeks, including one that was a 10 a.m. local time kickoff. The good news though is that this franchise has a bright future, as the sky's the limit for Russell Wilson. The front office needs to complement him with potent weapons this offseason.
Seahawks sign QB Tarvaris Jackson
Jaguars sign CB Marcus Trufant
Seahawks re-sign K Steven Hauschka
Seahawks sign CB Antoine Winfield
Seahawks sign QB Brady Quinn
Chargers sign WR Deon Butler
Bills sign DT Alan Branch
Raiders acquire QB Matt Flynn from Seahawks
Seahawks sign DT Tony McDaniel
Seahawks cut WR Ben Obomanu
Seahawks sign DE Michael Bennett
Patriots sign KR/RB Leon Washington
Seahawks sign DE Cliff Avril
Lions sign DT Jason Jones
Seahawks cut KR/RB Leon Washington
Seahawks acquire WR Percy Harvin from Vikings for 2013 1st-, 7th-rounders; 2014 mid-rounder
Defensive Tackle: The Seahawks have an outstanding defense, but it can be even better if they manage to add an interior pass-rusher. If they can get to the quarterback more effectively, it'll make their dominant secondary that much more potent. Signed Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel; drafted Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams
Wide Receiver: It's amazing how great Russell Wilson was as a rookie despite not having a legitimate No. 1 receiver at his disposal. One could be acquired with the 25th pick this April. Traded for Percy Harvin; drafted Chris Harper
Right Tackle: Breno Giacomini is a huge liability at right tackle. He can't pass protect, and he commits way too many penalties. If the Seahawks don't find an upgrade in free agency, they'll have to obtain one in the first few rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Defensive End: Chris Clemons tore his ACL in early January, so he may not be ready for the start of the 2013 season. As we all saw in the playoff loss to Atlanta, Bruce Irvin cannot be a starter because he gets demolished against the run. Signed Cliff Avril
Guard: James Carpenter hasn't proven that he can stay healthy. Paul McQuistan isn't very good. The Seahawks could stand to find at least one upgrade on the interior.
Linebacker: Depth will be needed if Leroy Hill leaves via free agency.
Tight End: Zach Miller's contract will get pretty bloated in the coming years. The Seahawks may want to bring in a young tight end. Drafted Luke Willson
Kicker: Steven Hauschka is a free agent. Re-signed Steven Hauschka
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Michael Bennett, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 27. Signed with Seahawks (1 year, $5 million)
One of the more underrated players in the NFL, Michael Bennett is a solid pass-rusher and a premier run-defender. He plays all three downs and deserves a big contract.
Cliff Avril, DE, Lions. Age: 27. Signed with Seahawks
Cliff Avril is a relatively young, dynamic pass-rusher, but he tends to struggle in run support. He rejected a 3-year, $30 million deal last offseason.
Antoine Winfield, CB, Vikings. Age: 36. Signed with Seahawks (1 year)
Antoine Winfield has enjoyed a great career, but it's quickly coming to an end. Turning 36 in June, Winfield was demoted out of full-time duties at the end of this past season even though he had been playing well. Winfield may still have one strong year left in the tank, but as we saw in the AFC divisional round with Champ Bailey, old corners could fall off without any warning.
Tony McDaniel, DT, Dolphins. Age: 28. -- Signed with Seahawks
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Bills. Age: 30. -- Signed with Seahawks
Brady Quinn, QB, Chiefs. Age: 28. -- Signed with Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Steven Hauschka, K, Seahawks. Age: 28. Re-signed with Seahawks
Steven Hauschka was 24-of-27 last year, but only 1-of-4 from 50-plus. He's just 3-of-8 from beyond 50 the past two seasons.
Jason Jones, DT, Seahawks. Age: 27. Signed with Lions
Jason Jones is a quality interior pass-rusher who was lost late in the year to a knee injury.
Leon Washington, KR, Seahawks. Age: 31. Signed with Patriots
Leon Washington has been one of the top return specialists over the years, but he'll be 31 at the end of August.
Leroy Hill, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 30.
Leroy Hill had a solid 2012 campaign as a two-down linebacker until late in the season when he dealt with a lingering hamstring injury.
Alan Branch, DT, Seahawks. Age: 28. Signed with Bills (1 year, $3 million)
Alan Branch is sort of a jack-of-all-trades defensive tackle. He has no glaring weaknesses and is at his best when stopping the run.
Clinton McDonald (RFA), DT, Seahawks. Age: 26.
Marcus Trufant, CB, Seahawks. Age: 32. -- Signed with Jaguars
Frank Omiyale, OT, Seahawks. Age: 30.
Deon Butler, WR, Seahawks. Age: 27. -- Signed with Chargers