OT Bradley Sowell, OT J'Marcus Webb, DE Chris Clemons, DT Sealver Siliga.
Early Draft Picks:
OT/G Germain Ifedi, DT Jarran Reed, RB C.J. Prosise, TE Nick Vannett, G Rees Odhiambo. Seahawks Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
RB Marshawn Lynch, OT Russell Okung, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Brandon Mebane, DE/OLB Bruce Irvin.
2016 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
The Seahawks had a few things wrong with them when they began the year with a 2-4 record. They climbed to 4-4 prior to the bye, but only did so by beating the 49ers and the Matt Cassel-led Cowboys. They were able to make vast improvements during the bye though, as a result of mixing things up on their offensive line. They moved Patrick Lewis into the center spot, for instance, which improved Russell Wilson's pass protection. However, Wilson could have similar pass-protection issues in 2016 because of a key departure.
Russell Okung is gone. That's absolutely huge. Okung certainly hasn't been very durable - he hasn't played an entire year, missing 24 games in his six professional seasons - but he has been a very effective blind-side protector when healthy. Okung not being around pretty much ensures Wilson will be running for his life once again. The Seahawks simply don't have a replacement for Okung. Garry Gilliam is projected to be the starting left tackle, and he resembled a human turnstile last season.
The Seahawks had other problematic areas on the blocking unit entering the offseason, as both guard spots were huge question marks. The highly athletic Mark Glowinski, chosen in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, was expected to take over as one of the starters after barely playing as a rookie. There was a gaping void at the other guard slot in the wake of the J.R. Sweezy departure, but that will be filled by first-round rookie Germain Ifedi. Also very athletic, Ifedi had several teams hoping he'd drop to them in the second frame, so there's a good chance he'll perform well as a rookie. Third-rounder Rees Odhiambo will also be in the mix. Meanwhile, at right tackle, J'Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell are likely to battle for the job, and there won't be any winners in that "competition," as both players are major sieves.
It's a good thing Wilson is very mobile, as he'll once again have to pick up chunks of yardage on the ground. And speaking of rushing yards, Wilson won't have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield going into the season for the first time, but that's perfectly OK. Lynch missed time at the end of last season and the team was actually more productive on offense. Lynch weighed the team down when he was on the field because he wasn't healthy, and Thomas Rawls proved to be a great replacement. Rawls rushed for 830 yards on an amazing 5.6 yards-per-carry average. Unfortunately for him, he sustained an ankle injury that forced him to miss the final three regular-season games as well as the playoffs. Given that Rawls has no proven track record of durability, Seattle wisely spent third- and fifth-round selections on C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins for insurance purposes.
Speaking of injured players, Jimmy Graham sustained a torn patellar tendon in Week 12. That's one of the most gruesome injuries an athlete can have, and it's likely that Graham will miss the entire 2016 campaign, just like Victor Cruz did last year. Though Graham is an athletic marvel, he never transitioned well into Seattle's offense, and the Seahawks were very explosive after he was knocked out.
Of course, it helped that both Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett came on at the end of the season. Baldwin was especially productive, catching 47 passes for 724 yards and 11 touchdowns beginning in Week 10. Translate that over a 16-game slate, and Baldwin would've logged 94 receptions for 1,448 yards and 22 scores. That's obviously unrealistic, but it just goes to show that the Seahawks have play-makers capable of stepping up in Graham's absence. Lockett qualifies as one, too. He caught 51 passes for 664 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie despite doing very little offensively until Week 7. He seems poised for a big sophomore campaign.
2016 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
While the offensive line was a major problem for the Seahawks in the early stages of the 2015 season, that wasn't the entire issue. Kam Chancellor's holdout was another key factor. The secondary wasn't the same without its play-making safety during the first couple of weeks. Chancellor returned for the third game of the season, but wasn't himself until he rounded into shape a couple of weeks later. Seattle consequently surrendered 27 or more points in four of its initial six games, with the two exceptions being against the Jimmy Clausen-led Bears and the struggling Lions.
The Seahawks ultimately surrendered 17.6 points per game to close out the year, so major improvements were made late in the season. Chancellor finally got back to 100 percent, and most of the secondary performed on a high level. Chancellor, along with the other two remaining members of the Legion of Boom, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, were their usual dominant selves. Sherman, like Chancellor, began the year slowly, but was terrific down the stretch.
That said, Seattle's secondary wasn't complete. Byron Maxwell, the fourth Legion of Boom member, left for Philadelphia last offseason. He didn't take to that particular system - he was one of many players Chip Kelly misevaluated - but the Seahawks didn't have a viable replacement. Seattle tried to use DeShawn Shead, but he was a disaster. The team signed Brandon Browner this offseason, but he is a pass-interference machine. The Saints didn't even want him, so it'll be shocking if he's a positive contributor for Seattle.
One way to fix issues in the secondary is to improve the pass rush, which was lacking for the Seahawks in 2015. The interior especially failed to produce pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The front office didn't do anything to improve this area, but the defensive tackles on the roster should still be decent against the run. The 330-pound Ahtyba Rubin will continue to clog running lanes, while second-round rookie Jarran Reed was obtained as a replacement for Brandon Mebane. Jordan Hill will be in the rotation as a jack of all trades, master of none.
All isn't lost in this department, however, as the Seahawks have some potent edge rushers, particularly Michael Bennett, who has reportedly improved his workout regimen this offseason. Bennett was already dominant, so it's difficult to imagine him being even better. He'll once again start across from Cliff Avril, who notched nine sacks in 2015. Chris Clemons, who used to record double-digit sack totals routinely for the Seahawks before leaving for Jacksonville, was signed on for depth purposes.
One player Seattle will definitely miss is Bruce Irvin, who signed a huge deal with the Raiders this spring. It'll be difficult to fill his shoes, but the Seahawks have a talented second-year pro in Frank Clark who might be able to do the job. Clark thrived as a rookie at defensive end, but learning this new position could be challenging. Clark will be starting along with two stud linebackers, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner. Both enjoyed terrific 2015 campaigns.
2016 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 are a ridiculous 31-5 as hosts the past four seasons, including the playoffs. However, they were just 5-3 at home in 2015, so could the magic be wearing off?
Seattle has struggled on the road over the years, but that appears to have changed recently. After going 15-37 as visitors between 2007 and 2012, the Seahawks have been 18-10 away from their home stadium in the past three seasons.
Steven Hauschka has been outstanding over the years, and 2015 wasn't any different. He went 29-of-31, including a perfect 6-of-6 from 50-plus. However, he missed four extra points.
Punter Jon Ryan does a good job of pinning the opposition inside the 20, but he was just 29th in net yardage last year after being 26th in 2014.
The Seahawks struggled on special teams in 2014, but were much better in that regard thanks to Tyler Lockett, who scored twice. However, they were still outgained on punt returns.
Seattle has a very easy start to its season, battling the Dolphins, Rams, 49ers, Jets and Falcons in its first five games. The team could easily be 5-0 heading into its Week 7 contest against Arizona.
2016 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.
2016 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: The Seahawks are undoubtedly one of the favorites to win Super Bowl LI. The Cardinals probably have a better chance at the moment, but that could definitely change if Seattle figures out a solution to its offensive line woes.
Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: Seattle's No. 1 weakness is well-publicized; the offensive line is a mess. However, the Seahawks don't value protection as highly as other teams, so it seems like they'll be focusing on other areas of need, particularly their defensive line, which struggled to put heat on Cam Newton in the playoff defeat. That said, I expect the blocking unit to be addressed at some point.
2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Seahawks certainly had a great start to their draft. They were able to move down five spots from No. 26 and still acquire the player they coveted all along. Germain Ifedi was a borderline first-round prospect, but he fits exactly what Seattle looks for in its blockers from an athleticism standpoint.
The second day was great as well. Jarran Reed easily could've been chosen on Thursday night, so obtaining him in the middle of Round 2 was outstanding. C.J. Prosise was also a steal in the third frame, as he projects to be a great complement for Thomas Rawls.
I wasn't really a fan of what Seattle did with some of its subsequent picks. Nick Vannett was an underwhelming target at No. 94, while Quinton Jefferson was acquired by trading a 2017 fourth-round selection. I didn't like that at all, though getting Alex Collins at Pick No. 171 made up for it a bit.
I'm comfortable with giving a "B" to the Seahawks. I like that they finally addressed their offensive line, and they made some outstanding early choices. I didn't agree with some of their later selections, but aside from the Jefferson decision, they weren't bad enough to crush this grade.
NFL Draft Individual Grades:
31. Germain Ifedi, OT/G, Texas A&M A- Grade
If the Seahawks had stayed put and chosen Germain Ifedi at No. 26, I would've given this a solid "B" grade. It's a very logical pick. Ifedi is the sort of athletic player the Seahawks covet. He also fills a big need. Russell Wilson's pass protection was disastrous last season, and it was bound to get even worse with Russell Okung gone. Taking an offensive lineman early was a must.
This "B" turns into an A- because of the trade. The Seahawks were targeting Ifedi all along at No. 26, so it's outstanding that they were able to move down and still acquire him.
49. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama B+ Grade
When I saw that the Seahawks surrendered a fourth-round pick for this selection, I said that it better be a good player, or else they'd earn a terrible grade. Well, they definitely made a solid choice. Jarran Reed is a good player, but he tested very poorly. Seattle taking a low SPARQ player will surprise quite a few, but in truth, the team doesn't completely focus on that. Reed will help a weak defensive interior for sure.
90. C.J. Prosise, RB, Notre Dame A- Grade
C.J. Prosise could've been chosen about 20 or so picks earlier than this, so I like the value. The fit is even better, as the Seahawks taking an athletic running back with great receiving skills is hardly a surprise. They needed a replacement for Marshawn Lynch to pair with Thomas Rawls, and Prosise figures to be a decent replacement.
94. Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State C+ Grade
First of all, congrats to Urban Meyer, whose blood money really paid off in giving him 10 prospects in the first three rounds. Second, I thought Nick Vannett would be chosen a bit later than this, but this is not a bad pick. Vannett has very little athleticism to speak of, but he could become a steady pass-catcher for Russell Wilson. He provides solid insurance for the Seahawks, who may never have Jimmy Graham at 100 percent ever again in the wake of his patellar tendon injury.
97. Rees Odhiambo, G, Boise State C Grade
I guess the end of the third round is the time to begin taking risks on middling prospects. That's what the Seahawks are doing at this juncture. Rees Odhiambo has played well when on the football field, but he has yet to play an entire season. He has constantly nursed injuries, but perhaps with proper training, he can overcome that. If so, he'd be a solid addition to Seattle's weak offensive line.
147. Quinton Jefferson, DT, Maryland C- Grade
The Seahawks usually draft well, but I don't like this pick very much. Part of the problem is that Seattle surrendered a fourth-round pick in 2017, which will be a better class (check here for my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.) As for the actual player, Quinton Jefferson was an average producer with mediocre athleticism. I had him down as a sixth-round prospect, so I don't know why Seattle moved up for him.
171. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas A+ Grade
How did Alex Collins last this long? And it's not just Collins, as numerous talented running backs fell in the 2016 NFL Draft. Collins, who could've been chosen in the third round, will be stuck behind Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise on Seattle's roster, but he'll be productive in the event of an injury. Seattle is suddenly extremely deep at running back.
215. Joey Hunt, C, TCU C Grade
The Seahawks added their third offensive lineman of the draft, which makes sense. I thought they'd pick up three, perhaps even four blockers to really bolster their front line. However, I didn't have Joey Hunt in my top 400, and there weren't even any athletic numbers posted for him. It seems like Hunt is someone the Seahawks could've obtained in the UDFA market.
243. Kenny Lawler, WR, California B Grade
It's a bit telling that the Rams didn't even try to draft Kenny Lawler so that Jared Goff could continue throwing to him. Lawler was productive at California, but he tested very poorly at the Combine. He has no upside, but the range is right for him toward the end of the seventh round.
247. Zac Brooks, RB, Clemson MAKE THE PLACE LOOK NICE FOR SOME KIELBASA TIME MILLEN Grade
I don't think I've ever given out a Millen grade in the seventh round. I once did so in the sixth frame when the Redskins wasted a pick on Colt Brennan. But this seems like some kind of joke. Zac Brooks retired from football so he could venture into a career of interior design. I assume he's going to show up to OTAs, but perhaps he'll only do so just so he can make the locker room look pretty.
The Seahawks started 2-4, but had a furious finish to their season. Unfortunately, the NFL screwed them over with some horrific scheduling, and Seattle was half-asleep in the first half of the divisional-round loss to Carolina as a result.
Seahawks sign DE Chris Clemons
Seahawks re-sign OLB Michael Morgan
Seahawks re-sign RB Christine Michael
Seahawks sign OT J'Marcus Webb
Seahawks sign DT Sealver Siliga
Seahawks sign OT Bradley Sowell
Seahawks re-sign P Jon Ryan
Seahawks re-sign WR Jermaine Kearse
Seahawks re-sign CB Jeremy Lane
Seahawks re-sign DT Ahtyba Rubin
Seahawks announce retirement of RB Marshawn Lynch
Two Offensive Tackles: Seattle's No. 1 priority this offseason is clear. Russell Wilson's pass protection must be improved. It starts at tackle, where the injury-prone Russell Okung will have to be replaced if he's not re-signed. Meanwhile, right tackle Garry Gilliam was atrocious. Signed Bradley Sowell and J'Marcus Webb
Guard: Here's more line help. The Seahawks can probably get away with J.R. Sweezy as one of the starting guards, but another one must be added. These line upgrades could definitely come in the first three rounds.
Two Cornerbacks: After the offensive front, the Seahawks' major area of concern is cornerback. They lost Byron Maxwell last offseason and never recovered. Now, Jeremy Lane's contract is expiring, but even if he's re-signed, another corner will have to be added. Re-signed Jeremy Lane
Defensive Tackle: Seattle could use a better interior pass-rusher, and Brandon Mebane happens to be an impending free agent anyway. Re-signed Ahtyba Rubin; signed Sealver Siliga
Outside Linebacker: It doesn't sound like Bruce Irvin will be back. A new third linebacker to go along with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright will have to be obtained.
Wide Receiver Depth: A third receiver will be needed behind Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett if Jermaine Kearse isn't brought back. Re-signed Jermaine Kearse
Backup Quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson is heading for free agency. If he's not retained, a backup for Wilson will be needed.
Punter: Jon Ryan is usually ranked near the bottom of net average. Re-signed Jon Ryan
Sealver Siliga (RFA), NT, Patriots. Age: 26. -- Signed with Seahawks
Chris Clemons, DE, Jaguars. Age: 34. -- Signed with Seahawks
J'Marcus Webb, OT, Raiders. Age: 28. -- Signed with Seahawks
Bradley Sowell, OT, Cardinals. Age: 27. -- Signed with Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Russell Okung, OT, Seahawks. Age: 27. Signed with Broncos
Russell Okung is certainly one of the most physically gifted left tackles in the NFL, but he definitely has an extensive injury history that is weighing his ranking down.
Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, Seahawks. Age: 28. Signed with Raiders
Bruce Irvin never became the dominant player the Seahawks thought they were getting in the first round. He has been inconsistent and doesn't really excel at anything. However, Irvin is a solid player with no weaknesses in his game.
Patrick Lewis (RFA), C, Seahawks. Age: 25. Re-signed with Seahawks
Seattle's offense improved when the team put Patrick Lewis into the starting lineup. Lewis hasn't been great, but he has definitely been an upgrade over the other centers Seattle played in 2015.
Jeremy Lane, CB, Seahawks. Age: 26. Re-signed with Seahawks (4 years)
Jeremy Lane struggled a bit off a knee injury to start the 2015 season, but he performed well in his final couple of games. Lane is a solid nickel.
Brandon Mebane, DT, Seahawks. Age: 31. Signed with Chargers (3 years)
Brandon Mebane dealt with a groin injury early in the season, but got healthier as the year progressed. He was strong to close out the 2015 campaign, being solid in all regards.
Christine Michael (RFA), RB, Seahawks. Age: 25. Re-signed with Seahawks
Christine Michael has great athletic ability, but it's all about whether he can put it together mentally or not. He had some promising showings to close out the 2015 season.