The 4th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Duane Brown

Here is the Home Page for this series of posts.

I’m on record as being pretty high on the Seahawks’ offensive line this year. I like what they brought to the table in 2018, and I think overall we’re significantly deeper heading into 2019. We’ve got Justin Britt in his prime, with Hunt and Pocic able to back him up if need be. We’ve got a couple strong veteran guards in Iupati and Fluker to really stabilize things up the middle, with really strong depth in guys like Pocic, Simmons, Roos, and Haynes (the rookie). We’ve got Ifedi on the right side, who took a huge leap in his development in Year 3, and who’s also heading into a contract season (where he figures to get PAID as he becomes a free agent next year). And, even there, the Seahawks have pretty solid depth in George Fant (who will continue to develop his tight end skills, as he also plays a lot in our 6-linemen heavy sets) and Jamarco Jones.

The only place where I’d worry about our depth is where we’re inarguably the strongest with our starter, and that’s left tackle. Duane Brown is the best lineman on this team, period. He was brought here specifically to shore up this entire unit, as we floundered with rookies and young guys for a spell, and we not only paid a pretty penny in draft picks to get him here, but in cash money to keep him here. He’s also going to be 34 years old when the regular season starts, so the clock is ticking. While he’s still playing at a high level now, he’s one major injury away from seeing his career go down the toilet. Then, where will we be?

The Seahawks should be grooming his eventual replacement, so this year will be pretty huge. Jamarco Jones certainly has the body type and the skills (in college) to be a starter in this league. But, can he stay healthy (he missed his entire rookie season last year before it even got started)? And, is he athletic enough to stop some of the best pass rushers in the league on that left side? I’d love for him to have another full year to learn under Duane Brown before we even have to THINK about throwing him into the fire. That means we need to keep Brown’s knees healthy.

If Brown is in there, I honestly don’t care a whole lot about how the rest of the O-Line holds up, because I think he covers up a lot of the crap around him and makes everyone better. Having a year and a half playing with Wilson has helped Brown learn his tendencies, which in turn has helped in our overall pass protection. And, of course, this team is all about running the ball, so having Brown in there to lock down that left side is vitally important. Tack on the fact that Iupati almost certainly won’t be healthy for the full season, which means left guard could be a turnstile. Having Brown there to help out whoever has to fill in beats the shit out of having whoever his back up will be.

As the offense will need to carry more of the load for a depleted defense, this unit will only go as far as the O-line allows it. We saw that in 2017 when even the great Russell Wilson couldn’t overcome what was the absolute worst offensive line in the league. Duane Brown’s presence is vital to making this offense go, which is vital to taking this team back to the playoffs.

SEARCH: Seahawks OTAs 53-Man Roster Projections 2019

For as mediocre as I’ve been decrying the Seahawks’ defensive line heading into this season, there’s actually a pretty interesting battle going on. While this team lacks star power – particularly in the pass rush – there’s tremendous depth across the entirety of the front seven. You could argue – aside from Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed – that it’s ALL depth, but that’s neither here nor there.

The rest of the roster shakes out pretty easily, but I cannot stress this enough: doing a 53-man roster projection in the middle of June is as worthless as it gets. I can’t even describe how wrong I’m going to be by the time Week 1 rolls around; there will be countless injuries and a number of players who make the team that aren’t even on the roster right now!

But, based on the players we have today, here are my thoughts:

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

This feels like the easiest of the non-Special Teams specialist spots to predict. Paxton Lynch just isn’t an NFL quarterback, period. The only reason he’s here is because he’s tall and a former first round pick. Not that Geno Smith is any great shakes, but at least he’s started; he’s taken the more traditional route to being a career backup.

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Rashaad Penny
  • Travis Homer
  • C.J. Prosise
  • J.D. McKissic

Already, I don’t feel great about my prediction. If you’d asked me coming out of 2018, I would’ve GUARANTEED that this team takes one of either Prosise or McKissic, but not both. But, I’m just not super sold on the back-end of this group. If Prosise continues to ball out like he’s been doing during these OTAs, I don’t think there’s any way this team can just cut him for nothing. The guys I left off the roster are guys I feel like will be available on the scrap heap if the need arises. The only monkey wrench is the fullback, Nick Bellore. We all know the team likes to run a lot, and having a competent fullback is always a Pete Carroll desire. If he makes the team, probably cross off one of Prosise or McKissic.

Tight Ends

  • Ed Dickson
  • Nick Vannett
  • Will Dissly
  • Jacob Hollister

I don’t have a real strong belief that the team is going to keep four tight ends PLUS George Fant, but I don’t know where the cut comes from! Dickson was our best tight end when he was healthy in 2018, and is our most veteran all-around player at the position. But, at the same time, there is money to be saved by cutting him. Vannett has continued to improve year to year and had sort of a mini-breakout last year (particularly in the endzone). But, at the same time, he’s on the last year of his rookie deal, and I don’t know if he brings anything to the table that’s super special. Dissly looks like a stud, so if he’s healthy by the time the regular season starts, he’s a lock. I think the other lock is Hollister, and not just because we traded for him; clearly based on our history, we have no quibbles with cutting guys we’ve traded for. He sounds like a super stud on special teams and a guy we’d like to hang onto for a while.

Wide Receivers

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • David Moore
  • Jaron Brown
  • Keenan Reynolds

Lockett, Metcalf, and Moore are all locks, assuming they stay healthy. I think Brown is about as close to a lock as possible, considering there isn’t a ton of veteran presence in this room. Finally, I think we only hang onto 5 receivers due to the need to have a 4th tight end. With that in mind, the fifth receiver spot is going to be a HUGE battle. I know there’s a prevailing thought that the Seahawks just HAVE to keep all of their rookie drafted receivers, but unless they prove to be special – and healthy – the Seahawks have no problem cutting them and stashing them on the practice squad. For starters, I don’t expect both Jennings and Ursua to be healthy throughout Training Camp; if they are, then we’re having a different discussion. But, in reality, I think the final receiver spot is going to go to one of those two guys or Keenan Reynolds, and I’m giving Reynolds the advantage based on his being in the system for a full year, and actually seeing some playing time last year. With his experience, and his Baldwin-esque build and skillset, I think he’s perfect to slide right into that dependable slot receiver role.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Mike Iupati
  • Justin Britt
  • D.J. Fluker
  • Germain Ifedi
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Jordan Simmons
  • George Fant
  • Jamarco Jones

I’m pretty secure in this prediction. The only way it changes is if there are injuries. Look for Joey Hunt or Phil Haynes to maybe sneak in there if there are any surprises to the core nine I’ve listed above.

Punter/Kicker/Long Snapper

  • Michael Dickson
  • Jason Myers
  • Tyler Ott

Enough said.

Secondary

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Tre Flowers
  • Akeem King
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Jeremy Boykins
  • Tedric Thompson
  • Bradley McDougald
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair
  • Delano Hill

I’m not super sold on Boykins. Amadi is also not totally a lock, but Boykins is really just a stab in the dark. I think, if it comes down to a young guy and a veteran, this team keeps the young guy. Boykins was here last year, so he has a leg up, but whatever. This post isn’t really about the secondary.

Defensive Line

  • Ziggy Ansah
  • L.J. Collier
  • Rasheem Green
  • Jacob Martin
  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Mychal Kendricks

Linebacker/Ends

  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

You kinda gotta lump all these guys together, because there’s a lot of crossover. I’m pretty secure in my prediction of the 8 linemen and 5 linebackers I’ve listed above. But, just as there will be an interesting battle among the final wide receivers, I think there’s going to be a tremendous battle among the SAM linebackers/defensive ends we’ve got on this roster. I mean, just look at the list of guys I’ve left off of this team:

  • Branden Jackson
  • Cassius Marsh
  • Demarcus Christmas
  • Naz Jones
  • Austin Calitro
  • Jamie Meder

For what it’s worth, I think Christmas is a guy we can stash on the Practice Squad. Jackson is a guy who has hung around for a few years that I know the team likes, but he isn’t really elite at anything. Naz Jones was a healthy scratch for a lot of weeks last year and it appears his time has run out with the Seahawks if he doesn’t seriously flash in Training Camp. Meder is a veteran, but hasn’t really done anything in his career.

The two hardest cuts for me were Marsh and Calitro. Marsh is such an ace at Special Teams, that it wouldn’t surprise me if the team finds a way to keep him. But, he’s essentially a journeyman at this point, so he probably only makes the team if there are injuries at defensive end. He feels like Ansah insurance, which brings me zero comfort. Calitro, on the other hand, was a rookie last year who I thought played pretty well in an injury-ravaged unit. It’s hard for me to see him go, but he’s not really playing the same position as Griffin or Mingo. He’s more of a backup to Wagner/Wright, which they went out and drafted in BBK and Cody Barton. If the team liked Calitro so much, would they have used two moderately high draft picks on guys who can easily replace him? At this point, Barton sounds like he’s a stud, and the guy putting the final nail in Calitro’s coffin.

All of that having been said, I don’t think Griffin or Mingo are locks by any stretch of the imagination. While both are being used in pass rush situations, neither have really excelled at the professional level at that job. Nevertheless, both seem like pretty key guys to our Special Teams, which is why I have them making the 53-man roster. If it comes down to Special Teams or Pass Rush, and the team feels it needs more help with the latter, then don’t be surprised if Marsh takes the spot of Mingo (I can’t imagine the team keeps both Marsh AND Mingo in lieu of waiving Griffin, because why wouldn’t you keep the cost-controlled guy with upside?).

I’m telling you, I’m utterly fascinated with how this whole portion of the team is going to shake out. I’ll be out of town for the entirety of the Pre-Season, which is kind of a bummer, but it’ll still be interesting to follow from afar.

Projecting The Seahawks Rookies Sight Unseen, Based Simply On What Information Has Passively Reached My Brain

So far, we’ve had Rookie OTAs and Voluntary OTAs. I think. I can’t be sure. I’m only like half paying attention right now.

I have never been to a single Seahawks practice in my life, so of course I have no firsthand knowledge of what’s been going on at these OTAs. I rely on the beat writers I follow on Twitter, the occasional article I read on a Saturday morning when I get the newspaper, and whatever makes it through when I’m listening to Brock & Salk in the morning. As such, I’m as ill-informed to have an opinion on the new Seahawks rookies as can be. But, this is the Internet, so I’m actually OVER-qualified to have an opinion on these rookies!

Most of this, honestly, is going to harken back to rookies of yore. Because, here’s the deal: by and large, rookies don’t make huge impacts on the game of football. There are precious few every year, and they generally come from the very top of the first round. Oh, you’ll find starters on most every team, but that’s usually based on circumstance: you want to get the promising rookies in there as soon as possible to start gaining valuable experience, in hopes that by Year 2 they’re ready to take a big leap.

Take a look at the 2018 Seahawks draft class; we were all pretty stoked on those guys, right? How many of them REALLY made an impact? Sure, Michael Dickson was a Pro Bowler, but he’s a once-in-a-generation talent at the punter position. Beyond him, Tre Flowers was a semi-capable starting cornerback for most of the season, Will Dissly looked good for about a week before he was lost for the season due to injury, Shaquem Griffin mostly played on special teams after a disasterous start in Week 1, Martin was a decent rotational player on the defensive line, and our top two picks – Penny & Green – were largely disappointments respective to where they were selected in the draft.

Take a look at the 2017 Seahawks draft class. Shaquill Griffin was a semi-capable starting cornerback for most of the season, Chris Carson was solid when he was healthy, but Ethan Pocic was a disaster, Malik McDowell never played a down, and the rest of the guys were – at best – Special Teamers (or, they were role players, or they were injured).

Who was the last Seahawks rookie to come right out of the gate as a star (not just on Special Teams)? I would argue we’re talking Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner in 2012 (you can make a case for Lockett, but he was a Pro Bowler as a returner, and was really just a 3rd receiver on offense his rookie season). Everyone else, you’re talking about adequate starters, role players, the aforementioned Special Teamers, or busts as rookies.

So, it’s pretty stupid to expect ANY of these rookies this year to step into significant roles. While there are openings that figure to at least give guys opportunities for more playing time than they’d otherwise see, it takes a REALLY special kind of player to come in Year 1 and be a star. Russell Wilsons and Bobby Wagners don’t just grow on trees!

I’ll just go down the list from the first round on, giving my thoughts on what I expect from them in 2019. Remember, this isn’t my opinion of their entire careers, just what they’ll bring to the table this season.

L.J. Collier – I think he’ll get plenty of snaps, but I can’t envision much more than a role player, even as thin as the D-Line is. Ideally, he’d pass up Frank Clark’s rookie season of 3 sacks, but that’s only because I expect him to get a lot more playing time. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine double-digit sacks right out of the gate.

Marquise Blair – While I wouldn’t necessarily call the safety position “stacked”, there are plenty of returning starters that will make things difficult for Blair to break through. From what I’ve been hearing, though, there’s a lot of chatter about his potential. If he stays healthy, he certainly has one of the best chances to really stand out as a rookie, but I would expect his career to start off slow, and pick up steam towards the end of the season. More than anything, I see Special Teamer in his immediate future.

D.K. Metcalf – Of all the rookies, I feel like fans are highest on his breakout potential. And why wouldn’t you? He’s probably the most physically gifted athlete on this team, and there’s a new opening with Doug Baldwin’s early retirement. I’d say I’m a little more reserved about his chances of truly breaking out, and not just because the offense is stifling to the passing game. To be a star in this offense as a receiver, I’d say he’d have to eclipse 65 receptions and/or 10 touchdowns (in his case, the 10 touchdowns is probably more likely). That’s certainly within reach, but I can’t help but see him falling just short of both of those marks. I’d be thrilled with something around 45 catches and 5 TDs, which isn’t bad in the slightest, but also not really amazing.

Cody Barton – Based on all the OTA hype so far, Barton appears to have the highest ceiling of all the rookies (at least when it comes to their rookie season results). Too bad for him that the Seahawks are beyond stacked at linebacker. When you hear about how he’s so good that the team will look to find ways to get him on the field, I think that’s a good sign. The positive for his own growth is that the linebacker room is also among the oldest on the team, so the odds of these guys getting injured at some point feels pretty high. I would expect Barton to be the best of the rookies in 2019, with him ultimately taking K.J. Wright’s spot for good starting in 2020.

Gary Jennings – I’m pretty sure he’s been injured throughout OTAs. Honestly, I sort of expect that to continue. He’ll be so hyped up in Training Camp to make an impact, that he’ll probably re-injure himself and spend 2019 on the IR.

Phil Haynes – I heard good things early, but I think he too has been injured a little bit (I could be wrong). Regardless, I’m expecting nothing out of him as a rookie. I think he’ll stick with the team and probably be a healthy scratch most weeks.

Ugo Amadi – I’ve heard exactly nothing about Amadi so far in OTAs. My guess is he makes the team, plays on Special Teams, and doesn’t really do much on defense. Seems like a longshot that he steps right into a nickel cornerback role from Day 1.

Ben Burr-Kirven – There’s been a lot of positive chatter, and there’s been word that he’s nicked up. He’s obviously not seeing time on defense, as you figure he’s also behind Barton – as well as the returning vets – on the depth chart. When he’s not injured, I bet he’ll flash occasionally on Special Teams, but I don’t have super high hopes that he’ll be healthy.

Travis Homer – At best, he’s a #3 running back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands behind C.J. Prosise (who manages to stay healthy through Training Camp for the first time ever, only to get injured once the season starts and Homer is on someone else’s 53-man roster).

Demarcus Christmas – He strikes me as a Practice Squad player.

John Ursua – My hunch is that he’s NOT the next Doug Baldwin, and that he probably gets cut at the end of Training Camp. Meaning we’ll have traded away a pick from 2020 for absolutely nothing.

The Seahawks Made Even More Trades & Drafted Even More Guys On Day 3 Of The NFL Draft 2019

Check out my post on Day 1, and my post on Day 2.

Just like I did yesterday, here’s a recap of all the wheeling and dealing from Day 3:

  • Trade from 114 to 120 with the Vikings, acquired 204 (sixth round)
  • Draft Gary Jennings, wide receiver from West Virginia, at 120
  • Draft Phil Haynes, guard from Wake Forest, at 124
  • Draft Ugo Amadi, defensive back from Oregon, at 132
  • Draft Ben Burr-Kirven, linebacker from Washington, at 142
  • Draft Travis Homer, running back from Miami, at 204
  • Draft Demarcus Christmas, defensive tackle from Florida State, at 209
  • Trade 2020 sixth round pick to Jaguars, acquired 236 (seventh round)
  • Draft John Ursua, wide receiver from Hawaii, at 236

So, for shits n’ giggs, here’s the entire Seahawks 2019 NFL Draft, in one bullet-pointed list:

  • First Round: L.J. Collier, DE
  • Second Round: Marquise Blair, S
  • Second Round: D.K. Metcalf, WR
  • Third Round: Cody Barton, LB
  • Fourth Round: Gary Jennings, WR
  • Fourth Round: Phil Haynes, G
  • Fourth Round: Ugo Amadi, DB
  • Fifth Round: Ben Burr-Kirven, LB
  • Sixth Round: Travis Homer, RB
  • Sixth Round: Demarcus Christmas, DT
  • Seventh Round: John Ursua, WR

I’m not gonna bother with the undrafted free agents, because the bottom of the roster is always so fluid, it would take more work than I’m willing to commit to keep track.

All in all, pretty good haul. Let’s talk about the Day 3 Dandies.

It’s hard to tell where Jennings fits. With Doug Baldwin all but retired at this point, we know that Tyler Lockett has the build and ability to play anywhere on the field. He can be our slot guy, he can be our deep threat on the outside, he can really do it all. Metcalf is our burner and our big body for deep passes and red zone targets. Jennings has good size (6’1, 214, 33″ arms) and speed (4.42 40). It seems like he’s another guy like Lockett who could play either slot or outside. Since he doesn’t appear to be as unique as someone like Metcalf, he’s probably going to have to separate himself with crisp route running and good hands. Regardless, he’s another receiver to throw on the pile, and as usual the Seahawks are playing the numbers game in trying to replace Baldwin’s hefty production.

Dude, I’m not gonna lie to you, I REALLY like the Haynes pick. While I like the guards the Seahawks have now, the starters are old and injury prone, and the backups – while good – are also injury prone. Haynes is a rock, who played a ton in college. He’s also super athletic, and super BIG (6’3, 322, 33.5″ arms); he’s everything we want and need at a guard spot, and it looks like he could backup either right or left. The best part of this pick is that he probably shouldn’t have to play, so if we do see him as a rookie, either we’re dealing with a TON of injuries ahead of him, or he’s earned the look with his quality play. Figure he fights for a starting spot in 2020 when Iupati moves on.

Amadi was a safety at Oregon, but also has a lot of experience playing corner as well. With all the safeties we have on roster, I can’t imagine he’ll get any play there, but with Justin Coleman moving on, there’s a clear opening at nickel corner. At 5’9, he’s not the typical outside corner you’d expect in a Seahawks defense. But, he is what we’ve seen at nickel. With only Akeem King ahead of him on the nickel corner depth chart, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amadi starting before too long. Failing that, he’s another special teamer to throw onto the pile.

I was happy to see BBK get picked by the Seahawks. As a rookie, it’s hard to see him as anything more than a special teamer. But, if he develops, we could be looking at K.J. Wright’s replacement when his knees finally give out. He obviously isn’t the physical freak that Wright is, but BBK has the sideline-to-sideline speed and tenacity you love to see out of a coverage linebacker. Considering we have Bobby, Wright, and Kendricks all starting, along with Barton getting selected in the third round, you have to wonder what this means for the future of Shaquem Griffin. I think his days are numbered. I also think Quem should bulk up and try out for the LEO end spot. He’s gonna need a big spike in his productivity in training camp and pre-season to keep his spot on the team, that’s for sure.

Travis Homer looks like a true Seahawks running back. Dude is fast, decisive, and breaking tackles like a mofo! He looks like more than your typical 3rd Down Back, but it also looks like he has those abilities in him. He’ll need to catch the ball and block well to carve out a regular role on this team; but as it stands now it seems like a lock for Homer to take C.J. Prosise’s spot, which is fine by me.

I wanted the Seahawks to wait until later in the draft to pick up a run-stuffing D-Tackle, and by jove they did it! Christmas is 6’3, 294, so he’s not HUGE huge, but he’s big enough. Considering what we were able to get out of Poona Ford as an undrafted rookie, I would expect similar things out of Christmas. It’d be nice to have both of them, with Jarran Reed, on the inside holding it down. Christmas doesn’t need to be a pass rusher in the slightest for me to enjoy this pick, just as long as he clogs up those rushing lanes.

The shock of the final day of the draft was seeing the Seahawks trade into the 7th round. They did this by giving away a 2020 6th rounder, which smacks of the Seahawks not having any respect for their 6th round picks (see: the Brett Hundley disaster), but you can also see why it needed to be done. With Baldwin as good as gone, there’s a need to throw extra resources into the wide receiver position. At the same time, the Seahawks already used two picks on WR, so the odds of attracting a high-end undrafted free agent like John Ursua was going to be next-to-impossible. He said that a bunch of teams were looking to sign him, and I bet the odds of the Seahawks being the winner in that sweepstakes was pretty remote. They felt the same way, obviously, so they did what they had to do. Ursua is the definition of a slot receiver. His making the team will depend on how soon he can get in a groove with Wilson, so we’ll see.

All in all, the Seahawks checked off all the boxes they needed to, except maybe backup quarterback, but that’s obviously something that can wait. I’m pretty happy with how they went about it. It sounds like the Seahawks REALLY dominated the rest of the league when it came to getting excellent value in their trade-backs, while not giving up the farm on their trade-ups. Heading into this draft with 4 selections, and coming away with 11 new players, plus an extra 2nd rounder in 2020 (plus being smart with free agency and looking to bank 4 extra comp picks), I’m telling you this is A.P. general managing at its finest. We won’t know for a while if these players pan out, but as far as execution goes, I give this draft an A+.