So, what do the Seahawks need to do to get back to playing in Super Bowls again?
The simple answer is: bolster the O-Line, bring in a stud running back, pump up the secondary, sign an interior pass rusher, and fill out the roster with athletes.
But, it’s never that simple. Pete Carroll made shockwaves among Seahawks fans by indicating – in his end-of-the-season press conference – that the plan right now is to bring back the same starting O-Line that we finished with. On the one hand, you’re not going to get anywhere without continuity along the offensive line. Those guys need to play together, get used to one another’s tendencies, and have that sort of mental telepathy to know where they’re supposed to be and who they’re supposed to be blocking. But, on the other hand, you can get continuity by signing me and four of my friends to play on the line, and it doesn’t mean it’ll be worth a damn if you keep running us out there year-in and year-out. At some point, you need some motherfuckin’ talent, and talent is always going to trump continuity.
Obviously, we’ve been going on and on about how great Britt has been, so that settles the center position. You can argue that guys like Ifedi and Fant have a lot of room to grow. They’ve gotten a ton of experience, they got through the season mostly unscathed, they can work this offseason to get stronger and learn the intricacies of their respective positions, and they can come back next year hopefully ready to take the next step in their progression. You can sort of make that argument with Glowinski as well, but he always seemed a better fit for the right guard position; maybe with the full year under his belt, he’ll be ready to rock n’ roll in 2017. I think Gilliam has had it though; he’s probably as good as he’s ever going to be. Which would be passable if the other four guys were studs, but they’re not, so I think at a minimum you have to bring in some competition for right tackle. If I had my druthers, I’d hit the free agent market hard and pick up a good one, but I don’t know what the market’s going to look like. You’d think there’d be at least ONE right tackle worth a damn who’s up for grabs. I say, spend some of that extra money and pick one up. That would make two spots on the line you don’t have to worry about, and you can flip Gilliam over to left tackle and have him push Fant in a competition for that spot.
The deal with left tackle is, obviously, Fant is far from ideal. But, he’s who we’ve got. You’re not going to find a superstar left tackle on the free agent market, because those guys always get snapped up by the smarter teams who actually value the O-Line. You’re also not going to find a superstar left tackle at the 26th spot in the draft, because this is a thin draft class for offensive linemen and all the good ones are going to be drafted WAY before it gets to Seattle’s turn. And, you’re not going to trade for one, because the cost would be prohibitive, and again I don’t think there are a ton of teams clamoring to give away their franchise left tackles. So, the best we can hope for is to bring in competition to fight it out with Fant and may the best man win. For what it’s worth, Fant needs to come in bigger and stronger, so he’s not constantly beaten to death by the bull rush. Also for what it’s worth, if the Seahawks sign someone off the scrap heap, it better be someone better than fucking Sowell and Webb.
At guard, Ifedi isn’t going anywhere. For better or for worse, the two guaranteed spots on the O-Line right now that you can lock in are Britt at center and Ifedi at right guard (barring injuries, of course). I think they’ve come to their senses about Ifedi ever being a tackle in this league, and there would be no point in flipping him to the left side of the line since that’s his weaker side. Plus, he’s a first round draft pick; they’re not going to give up on that kind of a talent just because he had a tough rookie season. Hell, they gave Britt three different chances at three different spots on the line over his first three years, and he was only a second rounder! But, at the left guard spot, I think you’ll see Glowinski and Odhiambo duke it out, which again, I don’t know if that’s something Seahawks fans want to hear, but there you go. Now, it’s POSSIBLE the team drafts the best guard available in the first round, in which case YAY, even more competition! I mean, seriously, this team needs to bring in as much talent as it can get, and if that means overloading at guard to finally land on the right set, I’m all for it. I’d probably prefer that they reach for a tackle at that spot in the draft, just because I think we’re so much worse off at that position long term, but I don’t know if that’s realistic.
So, what I’m looking for out of the O-Line: sign a right tackle, draft a guard/tackle high, and maybe sign another swing tackle off the scrap heap.
As for the rest of the offense, let’s start with the running game. I like the Seahawks to draft another one. Maybe a couple, like they did last year, but at least one. My hunch is they’ll look to get one in Day 3 of the draft, but I wouldn’t hate it if they found a real dynamic talent in the first or second rounds. Pit Game Changing Talent with Rawls and Prosise and I think you’ve got something you can work with. Given Rawls’ injury history, you’re all but guaranteed that Game Changing Talent will get significant playing time. Give me a 3-headed hydra at running back any day of the week.
At wide receiver, I don’t think you have to do much of anything. Baldwin, Lockett, Kearse, and Richardson are your top four. We’ve still got McEvoy in the mix, as well as a bunch of practice squad and IR guys from 2016. Maybe you draft one on Day 3 to throw onto the developmental pile, but I think you could be best served going after a couple undrafted guys instead.
At tight end, I think you keep Jimmy Graham and I think you extend him another 2-3 years to loosen up our 2017 cap burden, while at the same time still giving us some outs in case he has another devastating injury. For the life of me, I don’t understand the hate on this guy, considering how awesome he was in 2016. You can piss and moan all you want about 2015, but he was still getting acclimated to our system after a career in New Orleans. I think he’ll only continue to get better the more time he gets with Wilson. Beyond that, I’d like to see Luke Willson back on a reasonable deal. But, if some other team blows him away, it’s not going to kill me. We drafted Nick Vannett to be our backup, all-around tight end, so my hope is he takes a step forward in his second year. Also, not for nothing, but don’t be shocked if we spend a 4th or 5th rounder on another tight end in the draft, as I hear this is a good year for that position.
At quarterback, I think we bring Boykin back, but I think we look to push him by drafting another QB. I have no insider knowledge on this, but my gut says we could even go as high as a 3rd rounder on a backup quarterback, which sounds crazy, but not as crazy as having to start Boykin if Wilson gets injured.
So, what I’m looking for out of the rest of the offense: select another running back in the first couple days of the draft, get another backup tight end in the middle of our draft, find a diamond in the rough at quarterback (possibly as high as round 3), and hold off until Round 8 to get any more receivers.
Let’s go with the secondary next, because I think this unit needs the most work on defense. I have some REAL big plans with the first two or three picks the Seahawks make in this year’s draft, and I think one of them would be best used on another safety. Get someone big and talented, who can learn from the best. I suppose you COULD hold off to the middle rounds for this player, but my concern is that the safety position has seen an increase in value over the years, since the Seahawks drafted the blueprint in Kam & Earl. It’s why someone like Keanu Neal goes in the first round of the draft last year, when he might have fallen to the 4th or 5th just a few years earlier. Also, I think this team needs someone who can play right away, because at this point I don’t know if it’s wise to trust either of our starters to play a full 16-game slate. If they do, then that’s a bonus, and maybe you fiddle around with your defense to let the new guy get his feet wet in some special packages.
Ideally, this safety would also have excellent coverage skills, and could be used in a pinch in some nickel or dime sets, if guys get injured or whatnot. Someone who can play both positions is exactly what this team needs right now, considering Shead is likely to start the season on the PUP list. I think this team needs to hit the cornerback position pretty hard, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw three DBs drafted. The Seahawks have Sherman, Lane, and a whole lotta young guys right now, so bringing in a guy who can play right away in the first day or two of the draft seems to be the smartest way to go. If Budda Baker somehow fell to us at 26, I’d lose my shit.
Beyond that, I like the idea of the Seahawks hitting the free agent market for a dominant interior pass rusher. I know Calais Campbell’s name has been bandied about on Seahawks Fan Twitter, and believe me, I’m right there with ’em. I just don’t think you’re going to find any sort of game changing talent in the draft, picking where we are. Maybe they grab another experimental player late in the draft, but I think if we’re ever going to get this sort of guy, we need to throw money at a veteran.
The rest of the D-Line is solid, I think. I’m also a big fan of the linebacking group as well, and I hope we get a shot at re-signing Mike Morgan to be our SAM, as I don’t think this team really needs to break the bank at that position.
So, what I’m looking for out of the defense: hit the secondary in the draft early and often, re-sign Mike Morgan, sign a superstud interior pass rusher, and maybe some experimental players at the D-Line and linebacker spots if there’s room.
What I like most about our chances going into 2017 is that there’s not a ton of dead weight to lop off. I think you let Sowell sign elsewhere. Don’t break the bank on Luke Willson. I wouldn’t mind seeing Marcel Reece back, as I thought he did some of the best lead blocking in a Seahawks uniform since Mack Strong retired. I wouldn’t mind seeing Tony McDaniel back at the right price. Maybe we look to shore up linebacker, find someone in the draft a little more promising than KPL. And, don’t really kill yourselves trying to bring back McCray.
I think the Seahawks need to look awful hard at long snapper again this year, because that was never NOT an issue with this team in 2016. And, I think the Seahawks need to look at the kicker spot. Was this year just an anomaly for Hauschka? Or, is this the beginning of the end? Kicking is such a mental game, and if these longer extra points are going to be an issue for him, then maybe the Seahawks have to look at selecting a kicker in the 6th round. I mean, a drafted kicker couldn’t be MUCH worse than what we got out of Hauschka last year, right? Sure, dude only missed 4 field goals all year, but two of them were inside of 30 yards. Plus, he missed 6 extra points and another one in the playoffs. So, you know, that shit’s gotta stop. Plus, his last deal with us averaged nearly $3 million a year, so it’s not like he’s going to accept a significant pay decrease just to re-sign with us. Maybe 2017 is the year we draft a kicker of the future and take our chances? It wouldn’t crush me, I’ll put it that way.