Boy, is that ever a clunky mouthful of a title?
So, anyway, yesterday I wrote about where the Seahawks are lacking in star power. Today, we’ll take a look at who could potentially step into bigger, more impactful roles. Let’s face it, while the Seahawks can do a lot with the draft and free agency, it’s still a total motherfucking crapshoot, so it would be ideal for guys we have currently to step their games up and help fill some of these holes.
I’ll be honest with you, the inspiration for this post came from this ESPN article. I’ve been largely discounting Shaquem Griffin mostly due to his disasterous start back in Week 1 against the Broncos. I’ve also gotta say, I expected more of an impact on special teams out of the rookie linebacker. Maybe that’s unfair; maybe I built him up too big heading into the regular season (after a whirlwind period post-draft, through an exciting pre-season). Some guys just need a little bit more time to have everything click; maybe Year 2 is when we see his growth as a professional.
Or, maybe he’s more hype than substance. Maybe the Seahawks are playing him outside of his natural position due to his lack of size. Maybe his focus is being pulled in all these other directions outside of football and his heart isn’t totally in it. These aren’t things I question lightly, but they’re nagging concerns in the back of my mind that I feel like are on a lot of other people’s minds too, but no one is saying anything about it. Does he want to be a professional football player? Or, does he want to be an inspirational story to a lot of kids out there? That’s okay; I’m not blaming him if the NFL isn’t his bag.
The thing is, I believe in his talent; he just needs to put in the work and study his craft and he’ll be right there. He has the potential to fill K.J. Wright’s shoes ably. So, maybe now that everything has died down from a media perspective, he can just relax and focus on football and everything will be better in 2019. That’s MY hope. Because if he can take over that weakside linebacker spot, that’s a HUGE hole the Seahawks won’t have to worry about.
There’s a big ol’ Earl Thomas-shaped hole in our secondary that needs filling. Of the three options, none seem realistic or all that enticing. The first option is to re-sign Thomas; but clearly the team has made it clear they don’t want to pay what he’s worth (I tend to agree, but I’ve been decidedly scared off by the third contract to Kam Chancellor). The second option is the draft; but I’m told this year’s draft lacks in quality safeties. On top of which, the team has precious few selections this year, and can ill-afford to use its first rounder on one of the few true elites, as we’ll need to trade down to build a bigger cache. The third option is free agency; but we’ve seen what happens when the Seahawks go dumpster diving for secondary players (see: Cary Williams).
It’s been my contention all along that safety is this team’s #1 need this off-season (even more than pass rush; come at me broseph). It’s also been my contention all along that the team never sees things the same way I do, and will almost certainly stick with what they’ve got (while maybe taking a flier on a late-round project to mold into the type of player they like). Bradley McDougald is a fine player, and I’m glad he’s here to fill in for some of the void. But, can he last a full season? He barely made it out alive in 2018, and his play dropped off considerably as he fought through nagging injuries. The point being: he’s not really a long-term solution.
If there’s a guy on the roster this very second who has a chance to take a step forward in his development, it’s Tedric Thompson. I know the bloom has come off the rose, since 2019 will be his third year in the pros. But, 2018 was really his first year as a starter; he stuck almost exclusively to special teams as a rookie. Now, obviously, the concern is that there’s little evidence of his play improving over the course of last season, but I don’t sit there and watch all the tape, so I’m not really one to judge. I’ve heard both good and bad things; he made a few plays, and he bungled a few plays.
More than anything, I guess I’m encouraged by what I heard about him heading into the 2018 season. His teammates seemed to be really high on him last summer, right before Earl Thomas returned to start in week 1. Maybe that rattled him a bit? Maybe it set him back? Obviously, you don’t want to just hand him the starting job, but if he heads into 2019 as the presumptive favorite, maybe that boost of confidence sends him to the next level. He’s got a lot of good experience, now it’s time to put it all together and hope things gel in Year 3. If so, that could be a real game-changer for this defense.
Talking about the bloom coming off the rose … Shaquill Griffin’s bloom is looking pretty wilty. Maybe, again, it’s a matter of too much expectation too soon; or maybe that switch from right cornerback to left is a huge deal that needs more than an offseason to perfect. As I say all the time, I’m no expert. But, I’ll tell you what my eyes tell me: they say that Tre Flowers looks ahead of where Shaquill Griffin was at this point in his career the previous year.
I’ll go a step further: I think Tre Flowers today might be better than Griffin, and I think he looks like a better fit for that left cornerback spot.
Now, the last thing you want to do is go and jerk everyone around. Moving Griffin from right to left to right again (saying nothing of where he ended up as a college player in his final year with UCF) is going to stunt his growth, so it’s probably better to see what he’s capable of with a little continuity. Nevertheless, I’ll be extremely interested in how Tre Flowers looks in his second season. If he does, indeed, surpass Griffin in ability, that could be another game-changer for this defense as it searches for playmakers in the secondary. This defense has proven time and again that it needs turnovers to truly thrive. So, let’s hope it comes from someone currently on this roster!
While he’s technically an exclusive-rights free agent, for all intents and purposes, David Moore will be back on the Seahawks in 2019. It was hard not to be dazzled by his exciting plays in 2018. There were a number of big catches down field early in the season to not only have him on the local radar, but also had many fantasy gurus looking to him as a potential mid-season sleeper. Then, his numbers mysteriously faded down the stretch. It looked like Wilson lost confidence in him, as he relied on more veteran pass-catchers to come through in the clutch. In short, Jaron Brown stole David Moore’s chick.
2019 will be his third season, and wide receivers notoriously start their careers slow (especially in Seattle). I would expect, if he’s going to pop, now will be the time. The best part here is the team doesn’t really NEED him to be a true #1. Doug and Tyler are still firmly entrenched ahead of him. But, as a change of pace, or as a big body down field, Moore does fill a role in this offense. Coming up with more 50/50 balls and being a big endzone target will be his niche on this team. It’d be cool to see him earn that trust, so the team can divert resources away from this position.
While his combine numbers precipitated his draft plummet, Jamarco Jones was reported to be a gamer in college, who shows out on tape more than in shorts amid cones. Unfortunately, his rookie season ended before it really began, so we never got a chance to see him compete with Ifedi for that starting right tackle spot. We’ll never really know how serious that competition would’ve been, but here we are, in the fourth year of Germain Ifedi’s rookie deal.
The team has between now and the start of the league year to activate the fifth-year option on Ifedi and it would reportedly be worth over $8 million. Given his overall play to date – as one of the lowest-rated tackles in the NFL – it seems highly unlikely that the Seahawks would go that route. However, you’ve gotta give him credit for MUCH improved play in 2018; it appears the switch to Mike Solari, with the addition of D.J. Fluker to his left, has worked wonders for Ifedi’s growth. As the fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, I won’t rule it out, as the team could still cut him without penalty before the start of the fifth year, if we decided to go in another direction. My gut says we won’t even risk it; if we wouldn’t use it on Bruce Irvin back in the day, I find it hard to believe we’d use it on a right tackle.
The team also faces the prospect of losing George Fant to free agency, depending on what sort of tender we choose to offer him. He could walk with zero compensation, which opens up a very legitimate spot on this team, when you figure how often we use a 6th lineman in a run-heavy offense. Maybe – assuming Jones fully recovers from his high-ankle sprain injury – he takes over that role (though I find it hard to believe he’ll see any sort of tight end routes like Fant routinely enjoyed), with the outside chance that he pushes Ifedi for the starting right tackle job (or, at the very least, making it clear the team has a replacement in place for 2020 and beyond).
I actually really like many of our O-Line prospects. Jones, of course, but also Jordan Simmons (who is another exclusive-rights free agent we should see again), and even Ethan Pocic (though I tend to prefer him as a possible center replacement for Britt, though I don’t think the cap situation works at this juncture). Ideally, the Seahawks run back the starting five from 2018 and we go to work. But, the younger guys have flashed potential and competency at spots over the last season, and could have bright futures in this league if they continue to develop.