2017 NFL Offseason: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks (Last Year: 10-5-1)

2017 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Eddie Lacy, G Luke Joeckel, G Oday Aboushi, ILB Michael Wilhoite, ILB Terrance Garvin, ILB Arthur Brown, S Bradley McDougald, K Blair Walsh.
Early Draft Picks:
DT Malik McDowell, C/G Ethan Pocic, CB Shaq Griffin, S Delano Hill, DE/DT Nazair Jones, WR Amara Darboh, S Tedric Thompson. Seahawks Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
FB Marcel Reece, TE Brandon Williams, OT Bradley Sowell, DE Damontre Williams, DT Tony McDaniel, NT John Jenkins, OLB Michael Morgan, S Steven Terrell, K Steven Hauschka.

2017 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
If there’s one thing the Seahawks absolutely had to do this offseason, it was to upgrade Russell Wilson’s abysmal pass protection. Seattle allowed pressures on the majority of its passing downs last year, and Wilson had to run around like a chicken with its head cut off just to avoid potential sacks. This crushed the Seahawks in their playoff loss to the Falcons, so the front office had to make sure history wouldn’t repeat itself. Unfortunately for Seattle, it doesn’t seem as though enough was done to remedy this issue.

The Seahawks signed just one blocker in free agency, as Luke Joeckel was brought in from Jacksonville. Joeckel obviously has good raw talent, as he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. However, he’s been an utter failure thus far. It could be possible that offensive line coach Tom Cable, who is one of the best at what he does, will get the most out of the former Texas A&M product. Joeckel could play left tackle, but there’s been indication that he’ll be used at guard. Meanwhile, the other blocker who was added was Ethan Pocic, a second-round choice. The pick was a perplexing one, given that the only position Seattle has shored up on the offensive line is center (Justin Britt). Pocic played center at LSU, but will likely move to right guard or right tackle.

Aside from Britt, it’s not very clear where any of the blockers will play. The Seahawks could be going into training camp with the mindset of the five best blockers are just going to start up front, which, under the current circumstances, makes sense. There is no viable left tackle on the roster unless Joeckel counts, as George Fant was an abomination last year. Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi were both pedestrian at guard this past season, but Ifedi, a first-round choice in 2016, is expected to improve.

That said, the Seahawks do have quite a bit going for them on offense. Wilson, obviously, is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Wilson has two dynamic weapons at his disposal in Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin. Graham, one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL, had major questions going into 2016 because of a torn patellar tendon, an injury that has claimed the careers of countless players. Graham had no setbacks, catching 65 passes for 923 yards and six touchdowns despite not practicing at all. Graham can only improve next year. Baldwin, meanwhile, has scored 21 times in the past couple of years.

Wilson has two other intriguing options. Tyler Lockett had a disappointing sophomore campaign that was marred by injuries, but he has great play-making ability and should become a big part of the offense in 2017. The second player in C.J. Prosise, who exploded for 153 net yards at New England in Week 10, but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury the week after. Seattle’s playoff run could have gone a lot differently had Prosise been available.

There’s a chance Prosise could be the primary running back. At the very least, he’ll be a great pass-catching option behind either Eddie Lacy or Thomas Rawls. Both players will have trouble finding viable running lanes, given the status of the offensive line. Lacy may not even make the roster if he can’t keep his weight under control.

2017 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
It was surprising to see the Seahawks struggle defensively toward the end of this past season, given how dominant the Legion of Boom has been over the years. Of course, injuries had to occur to the Legion of Boom for that to happen. Kam Chancellor missed some time during the middle of the season, and then Earl Thomas broke his leg when the Seahawks were getting hot. Seattle surrendered 16.2 points per game prior to the Thomas injury, and that number went up to 23.3 – up by more than a full touchdown – once he went down.

The Seahawks had to guard against an injury like this in 2017 as well as find another cornerback to either start across or eventually replace the controversial Richard Sherman, but they waited until the end of the third round to address the secondary, adding cornerback Shaq Griffin and safety Delano Hill. Griffin is the sort of tall, athletic cornerback the Seahawks have profiled in the past, but it remains to be seen if he can be an effective No. 2 corner this year. Deshawn Shead would fill that role in an ideal world, but he’s coming off a torn ACL and may not be ready for the opener. Hill, meanwhile, could provide decent depth behind Thomas and Chancellor.

Seattle used its initial draft pick on Malik McDowell to improve the pass rush. McDowell will ideally provide some heat in the interior, but there are questions about whether or not he’ll have the fire to be a successful NFL player. McDowell has work ethic issues, so it was surprising that the fiery Pete Carroll gave the green light to select McDowell. If McDowell can’t be productive, the Seahawks won’t have any interior heat, though Jarran Reed and Ahtyba Rubin should be better versus the run than they were last year.

The Seahawks can, at least, generate a consistent pass rush on the edge. Michael Bennett and Frank Clark were both terrific this past season, especially the former, who dominated in all facets and was one of the top 4-3 defensive linemen in the NFL. Cliff Avril also performed on a high level; he notched 11.5 sacks, but he just turned 31 and is coming off groin surgery. Thus, Avril may not be as effective in 2017.

With Seattle’s secondary struggling with injuries last season, the linebacking corps was the heart of the defense. Both Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright were two of the top linebackers in the entire league. The Seahawks don’t have much else at linebacker, which won’t be much of an issue if both remain healthy, given the team’s transition to a 4-2-5 scheme. However, having either Wagner or Wright suffer an injury would be pretty devastating.

2017 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 39-6 as hosts the past five seasons, including the playoffs. They were 8-1 at home in 2016, winning by an average score of 28.1 to 15.8.

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 21-15-1 away from their home stadium in the past four seasons, though they were just 3-5-1 in 2016.

Steven Hauschka has been replaced by Blair Walsh, who has a dubious kicking history. Walsh was out of the league for the second half of 2016 after going just 12-of-16 with four missed extra points with the Vikings. Walsh used to be a terrific kicker, but it appears as though he has lost all confidence, which ironically began with his missed try versus the Seahawks in a playoff game.

Punter Jon Ryan does a good job of pinning the opposition inside the 20, but he was just 23rd in net yardage last year after being 29th in 2016.

The Seahawks were just average on special teams, being close to the opposition in both kickoff and punt returns. They didn’t have a healthy Tyler Lockett for most of the year, so that affected their special-teams play.

Seattle gets two games against both the 49ers and Rams, but there aren’t any easy contests outside of those four, save for a Week 14 matchup at Jacksonville.

2017 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.

2017 Seattle Seahawks Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2017 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: It was extremely disappointing to see the Seahawks fail to fix their offensive line this offseason. Unless Tom Cable can work some serious magic with Luke Joeckel, the front will likely be dominated nearly every game, much like last year. The Seahawks will still be very competitive despite this, thanks to Wilson, his offensive weapons and a great defense, but a deep trip into the playoffs doesn’t seem likely if Seattle can’t figure out how to block well.

Projection: 11-5 (TBA in NFC West)

2016 Projection: 12-4. 2016 Actual Result: 10-5-1.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2017 NFL Draft: Seattle has two big areas of concern that must be addressed: the offensive line and the secondary. The former is a surprise to no one, given how poorly Russell Wilson has been protected the past couple of years. The secondary may shock some, but Richard Sherman appears to be on his way out, while Kam Chancellor is an impending free agent after 2017.

2017 NFL Draft Accomplishments: There are major positive and negative aspects to Seattle’s draft class. Beginning with the former, the Seahawks did a masterful job of trading down multiple times to acquire assets. For just sliding down nine spots, they picked up third-, fourth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks. That was quite the haul.

However, the negative aspect of their class was some of the players they picked. Malik McDowell was one of the least-motivated players in the draft, and the consensus was that he was one of the worst interviews at the combine. If Pete Carroll can get him to play hard, he’ll be a miracle worker. I don’t see it happening. Meanwhile, I had third-round selection Delano Hill as a late-round prospect. Hill could potentially fill a need at safety if Kam Chancellor departs via free agency next spring, but I didn’t have him highly rated.

The Seahawks addressed some needs, picking up Ethan Pocic, Shaq Griffin and Justin Senior. I didn’t understand the Pocic pick at the time, but perhaps Seattle is going to use him at center and slide Justin Britt back outside. Otherwise, it’s not a very logical move, and I thought Pocic was a bit of a reach anyway. Griffin was a nice pick to help at cornerback, while Senior gives some hope at tackle, but not very much.

Seattle has one of the top front offices in the NFL, so this haul could look a lot better in a couple of years than it does now, but I’m not overly optimistic about it. The trading was great, but the execution wasn’t as promising.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

35. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: C+ Grade
The Seahawks did a terrific job of moving down, picking up third-, fourth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks just for moving down nine spots. That’s pretty good, and it’ll help this grade a bit. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the end result. McDowell was a second-round talent I dropped into the third because he interviewed extremely poorly. He has the traits the Seahawks look for in a prospect, but doesn’t seem very competitive, so it’s surprising to me that Seattle would take him.

58. Ethan Pocic, C/G, LSU: C Grade
The Seahawks wanted Garett Bolles, but they’re taking another offensive lineman instead in the second round. Only, it’s at a different position, and one that isn’t needed. The one thing the Seahawks do have up front is a solid center, so I imagine Ethan Pocic will play guard. I guess that’s fine, but I had Pocic in the fourth round, so I think this is a bit of a reach.

90. Shaq Griffin, CB, Central Florida: B+ Grade
The Seahawks needed to obtain at least one cornerback in this draft. Richard Sherman could be dealt at some point in the near future, and the position was a need even before that speculation began. It’s not a surprise that Seattle obtained a tall, athletic cornerback near the middle of the draft. That’s been a formula that has worked for them, and Griffin fits the range in the third round.

95. Delano Hill, S, Michigan: D Grade
The Seahawks have a great front office, but they even miss sometimes. I think this is a whiff, as Delano Hill was a late-round prospect for me. Hill tested poorly at the combine and looked pretty bad in the drills. He’s not impressive at all, but there’s a chance he could be a special-teams stud for Seattle. That said, I don’t think you take someone like that in the third round.

102. Nazair Jones, DE/DT, North Carolina: C+ Grade
Nazair Jones made a big mistake by declaring early, as he has yet to develop any sort of pass-rushing skills. Jones’ poor testing didn’t help either, so he’s a bit lucky to make it into the second day. The one thing Jones can do well is stuff the run, so he’ll help Seattle in that regard.

106. Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan: B+ Grade
Amara Darboh is an athletic player who tested well throughout the pre-draft process, so it’s hardly a surprise that the Seahawks targeted him. Darboh was productive at Michigan as well, so he should be a solid pro. The Seahawks will need another receiver to be a factor in a year or two, and Darboh should be able to contribute by then. He made sense with the penultimate selection in the third round.

111. Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado: B- Grade
Tedric Thompson was a fifth-round pick for me, so this is a slight reach, but we’re in the third day, so that’s not a big deal. Thompson is not a good athlete, but he has positive instincts, so he could pan out. It’s not a surprise Seattle selected a safety here; I thought that could’ve happened much earlier.

187. Mike Tyson, S, Cincinnati: C Grade
The Seahawks are certainly taking a bite out of the safety position in this class, as this is the third such player they’ve selected. I had Mike Tyson going in the seventh round, so this is a tad early for him. I’m just not sure why the Seahawks need so many safeties, but maybe Seattle envisions him as a special-teams star.

210. Justin Senior, OT, Mississippi State: C Grade
This is a strange pick by the Seahawks. They typically swing for the fences in the late rounds, but Justin Senior has no upside. He’s a poor athlete, and he struggled at the Senior Bowl as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if he failed to make the roster, but at least Seattle is trying to fill a need.

226. David Moore, WR, East Central Oklahoma: C+ Grade
Here’s the home run pick Seattle likes to take, as David Moore from East Central Oklahoma (how can something be East Central?) had solid testing numbers. However, there were better options available in the seventh round. Moore could’ve been signed as a UDFA in all likelihood.

249. Chris Carson, RB, Oklahoma State: B Grade
As mentioned earlier, the Seahawks tend to swing for the fences in the final couple of rounds, and this is another example of that. Chris Carson is highly athletic and possesses great upside. I had him going in the seventh round, so the range makes sense. He wasn’t productive at Oklahoma State, but the potential is there for that to change.

Season Summary:
The Seahawks didn’t have the best injury luck in 2016. Russell Wilson was hurt in the early part of the season, as was Kam Chancellor. When they both got healthy, Earl Thomas and C.J. Prosise went down. Meanwhile, Pete Carroll revealed that Richard Sherman was playing injured all year. Perhaps the Seahawks will be luckier in 2017.

Offseason Moves:
  • Seahawks sign ILB Terrance Garvin
  • Seahawks sign ILB Michael Wilhoite
  • Seahawks sign S Bradley McDougald
  • Seahawks sign G Oday Aboushi
  • Seahawks sign ILB Arthur Brown
  • Seahawks re-sign TE Luke Willson
  • Seahawks re-sign CB Deshawn Shead
  • Seahawks sign RB Eddie Lacy
  • Seahawks sign G/OT Luke Joeckel
  • Seahawks sign K Blair Walsh

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Offensive Tackles: It’s a sad state of affairs for the Seahawks on the offensive line. Both tackles desperately need to be upgraded. Two of the “top” three players at the position for Seattle happen to be free agents, and it doesn’t even matter. Signed Luke Joeckel

    2. Defensive Tackle: Seattle’s top defensive priority is finding an interior pass-rusher, as the team doesn’t have anything in that regard unless Michael Bennett moves inside. Tony McDaniel is an impending free agent as well.

    3. Guard: Here’s another offensive line upgrade. The Seahawks at least have young, promising players at guard, but they could use a talented veteran while their young players develop.

    4. Linebacker: The Seahawks are likely to lose their third linebacker, Michael Morgan, to free agency. They’ll have to replace him if that happens. Signed Michael Wilhoite

    5. Running Back: Thomas Rawls is great when healthy, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field very often. A mid-round selection can be used on depth. Signed Eddie Lacy

    6. Backup Quarterback: Trevone Boykin should not be a No. 2 quarterback in the NFL. Not yet, anyway.

    7. Fullback: The Seahawks were using Marcel Reece as their fullback down the stretch, but Reece’s contract is expiring.

    8. Kicker: Steven Hauschka is an impending free agent. Signed Blair Walsh

    9. Punter: Jon Ryan has constantly been ranked near the bottom of the net-yardage category.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2017 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Bradley McDouglad, S, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Seahawks

      Bradley McDouglad is solid in run support, but could stand to improve in coverage. Still, he’s not a liability, and he makes for a fine starting safety.

    2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Seahawks

      Eddie Lacy looked like he was going to eat himself out of the league in 2015, but slimmed down a bit this past season. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry before suffering an ankle injury. Lacy told the media that he plans on doing a P90X workout this offseason, so perhaps he’ll continue to lose weight.

    3. Luke Joeckel, G/OT, Jaguars. Age: 25.
      Signed with Seahawks (1 year, $8 million)

      I’m listing Luke Joeckel as a two-star free agent because he’s only 25 and was once the second-overall pick in the draft. It’s not inconceivable that he could turn his career around. Unfortunately, Joeckel has been an abomination thus far. He was slightly less worse at guard than tackle, so perhaps he’ll have a future there like Robert Gallery once did. Probably not, though.

    4. Blair Walsh, K, Vikings. Age: 27. — Signed with Seahawks
    5. Michael Wilhoite, ILB, 49ers. Age: 30. — Signed with Seahawks
    6. Oday Aboushi, G/OT, Texans. Age: 26. — Signed with Seahawks
    7. Terence Garvin, ILB/ST, Redskins. Age: 26. — Signed with Seahawks
    8. Arthur Brown, ILB, Jets. Age: 27. — Signed with Seahawks

    Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:

    Salary Cap Space: $4.8M
    1. Deshawn Shead (RFA), CB, Seahawks. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Seahawks

      The Seahawks needed a No. 2 cornerback after losing Byron Maxwell, and Deshawn Shead stepped up. Shead was terrific in 2016. However, it’s unknown how the 6-foot-2 Shead would fare outside of Seattle’s system.

    2. Steven Hauschka, K, Seahawks. Age: 32.
      Signed with Bills

      Steven Hauschka has drilled all seven of his attempts from 50-plus the past couple of years. However, he’s had issues with extra points, missing six of 35 tries during the 2016 campaign.

    3. Luke Willson, TE, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Seahawks

      Luke Willson hasn’t been able to do much the past couple of seasons because of Jimmy Graham, but he definitely has talent, and it could be argued that he’s capable of starting for some team.

    4. Steven Terrell (RFA), S, Seahawks. Age: 26.
      Steven Terrell started in place of Earl Thomas late in the year. Terrell obviously wasn’t as good as Thomas, but he held his own, doing a very good job in run support.

    5. Michael Morgan, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 29.
      Michael Morgan hasn’t been able to see much playing time because of K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, but he’s been a solid, two-down run-defender.

    6. Marcel Reece, FB, Seahawks. Age: 32.
      Marcel Reece is a solid blocker and a quality receiver out of the backfield.

    7. Tony McDaniel, DT, Seahawks. Age: 32.
    8. John Jenkins, NT, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Signed with Bears
    9. Garry Gilliam (RFA), OT, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Tendered by Seahawks (original)
    10. Bradley Sowell, OT, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Signed with Bears
    11. Damontre Moore, DE, Seahawks. Age: 24. — Signed with Cowboys
    12. Brandon Williams, TE, Seahawks. Age: 29. — Signed with Colts
    13. Will Tukuafu, FB, Seahawks. Age: 33.
    14. Brock Coyle (RFA), ILB, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Signed with 49ers
    15. Dewey McDonald (RFA), S, Seahawks. Age: 27.
    16. Mohammed Seisay (RFA), CB, Seahawks. Age: 27.


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