The 8th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Rasheem Green

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I’m going out on a limb here, considering you probably have a good idea of where I’m gonna go with my top 7, if you give it just a tiny bit of thought. There were a lot of ways I could’ve taken this one, but ultimately too many of the players are akin to lottery picks. If this rookie blows up, then of course he enters into the discussion. Or, if that fringe roster guy lives up to his potential, then here we go!

As I noted when I wrote about Jacob Martin, this team is on the hunt for the player (or more likely, players) who will replace Frank Clark. Martin belongs on this list because he’s headed into his second season, and at three sacks in limited snaps, he showed solid promise for a rookie 6th round pick.

To contrast, Rasheem Green was unquestionably a disappointment as a rookie 3rd round pick (the second player we took in the draft, after another disappointment in Rashaad Penny). He played in only 10 games, recording just a single sack (one that I had completely forgotten about, against the Packers on Thursday Night), and overall not making much of an impact whatsoever. At no point did he appear to see his playing time increase, or make any strides at all in his development. So, why do I have him on this list at all?

Well, for starters, I know he’s going to be here. Barring injury, he’ll be part of the D-Line rotation, and with Clark gone (and others with question marks about their availability) there will be plenty of opportunity for him to show what he can do. There’s no better substitute for developing as a player than actual game reps, and this year he should have his fair share.

Also, I’m not gonna lie, that 3rd round status (#79 overall) really has my interest piqued. If you get drafted in the top three rounds, either you’re ready to play right away, or you’re a promising-enough development prospect to be given plenty of chances to succeed. From the moment he was selected (“way-too-early” per most pundits, naturally), Green was deemed to be more of a project. He left USC after his Junior year. He JUST turned 22 years old a couple months ago. I mean, you could argue he hadn’t even continued growing into his adult body! He certainly hadn’t developed into his ideal NFL body. Just getting through his rookie season alive, while getting a small slice of playing time in the process, is probably all we should’ve expected. Now that he’s had his rookie year and knows what it takes to be a professional – combined with the opportunity presented by the Seahawks’ roster construction – I fully expect a jump in his level of production.

His floor should be as a rotational player – sliding inside & outside – with a small handful of sacks. His ceiling is pretty tough to project, because if everything breaks right and he’s as good as everyone in the organization thought he could be when they reached for picked him, we could be talking about The Next Frank Clark. Maybe the power won’t necessarily be there in Year 2, but his ability to play anywhere on the line and being effective both against the run and pass, could bring shades of Early Frank Clark.

Jacob Martin is just a speed guy on the edge. Rasheem Green – if he pans out – could be so much more. That’s why he’s so important to the Seahawks in 2019.

As I’ve said before, the Seahawks have no guarantees heading into the season with regards to their pass rush. So, instead, they’re throwing as many promising young players into the mix as possible, just hoping that one or two of them hit it big.

Also, not for nothing, but Rasheem Green was a BEAST in the pre-season last year. 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 QB hits against Indy; 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 4 QB hits against the Chargers. I know, I know, pre-season success is NO precursor to regular season production, but it’s better than nothing. He at least showed up against the backups on a couple of playoff teams, and that’s as a 21 year old who some said could’ve been a high first round pick this year had he returned for his Senior year of college.

The 11th Most Important Seahawks Player After Russell Wilson: Jacob Martin

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You’re going to see a good number of defensive linemen on this list, because I’m trying to cast a wide net here. It’s a Numbers Game, bro! God willing, one or two of these guys will hit.

Jacob Martin is interesting to me for a number of reasons. For starters, there doesn’t appear to be anyone on the team quite like him; he’s a consummate ‘tweener. At 6’2, 242 pounds, he’s undersized when compared to guys like Collier, Ansah, and Green, but he’s slightly bigger than Shaquem Griffin and Barkevious Mingo, who are being tried out as rush ends from the linebacker position. Martin figures to be this team’s one true LEO end and I’m interested to see how often he’s deployed at that spot.

I think on paper, the starting D-Line in our base defense is supposed to feature Ansah, Reed, Ford, and Collier, with Collier being that Michael Bennett-type end on one side, and Ansah essentially being our Cliff Avril replacement. But, who knows if Collier will be ready for that much responsibility? Maybe someone like Rasheem Green takes that spot. Or, maybe Martin earns the lion’s share of playing time at LEO and that bumps Ansah to the other side of the line.

Martin was the better of the two rookie defensive ends last year, which is promising to me as we head into year two. 3 sacks as a rookie and a number of pressures, in what was essentially a part-time role, is a great foundation to build on. There’s a ton of opportunity here with Frank Clark playing in Kansas City, and aside from Ansah, the team hasn’t done much to replace him. That means the Seahawks are looking to do what they can to promote from within. So, at a minimum, I’d like to see Martin double his number of sacks. Anything approaching double digits will be gravy.

Now, the concern is that he’s a one-dimensional pass rusher. Can he hold his own against the run? And, does he have anything in his arsenal besides speed? Not that that’s a bad thing, but the more he plays, the more he’ll be exposed on tape. So, if he’s just got one or two moves, he’ll be easy to neutralize.

I’ll tell you what, though. With some sort of NASCAR package that features Martin, Reed, Green/Collier, and Ansah on the other side, I like the potential to wreak some havoc. Bottom line, without knowing Ansah’s injury status, there are going to be guys stepping into bigger roles on this team. There will be production coming from unforeseen areas. And I think Martin is as good a candidate as anyone to really pop in 2019.

The 12 Most Important Seahawks (After Russell Wilson)

With the Mariners being who they are, it’s not easy to want to write about sports in Seattle during these lean summer months. So, here’s a contrived excuse to write about the Seahawks! You’ve seen these everywhere else, and now I’m doing it as well: let’s rank the most important Seahawks as we head into the 2019 season!

It’s all subjective, so take my rankings with a grain of salt. The idea is: I’m not ranking them by who’s BEST, but rather who needs to be healthy and on top of his game for this team to exceed expectations. Obviously, if I were simply ranking the best Seahawks, Bobby Wagner would be listed in the top 2, instead of where he ended up (spoiler alert: the Seahawks are more stacked at the linebacker position than any other, so it’s not necessarily a must that he be in there at all times, though obviously I would never wish ill on our defensive captain).

And, since I’m doing this as a countdown, there would be no suspense whatsoever if I didn’t get Russell Wilson out of the way from the jump. We all know what the quarterback means to the game of football, and we all know how much Russ in particular means to the success of this team.

But, in case you didn’t, I’ll get into it here.

Russell Wilson isn’t just the most important Seahawks player, but he might be more important to our team than any player is to his respective team in the entire league. I know that wouldn’t make a lot of sense to fans outside of our Seattle bubble, when you factor in how little he actually throws the ball. But, as we ’round these parts know, that makes Wilson’s accuracy and big play ability all the more vital. If he weren’t as efficient as he is, this offense would be a total disaster!

Now, once you take into account the holes on this roster – primarily in the pass rush – I’m firmly of the belief that the offense will need to carry a bigger share of the burden. And, while we’re still talking about a run-first game plan, Wilson will still be the one running the show. After all, we’re going to need SOMEONE to convert all those third downs after we run it on first & second down!

We, as Seahawks fans, have some hard truths to swallow as we head into the 2019 season. First and foremost, the fact that this isn’t a championship team. Even in our best case scenario, we’re probably a year away (at least). I just feel like there’s too much to overcome, which really isn’t what we’re supposed to be thinking. After 2017 was such a disaster (relatively speaking), the Seahawks overcame expectations to make it back to the playoffs last year; as such, you’d think things are trending in the right direction! But, there are lots of arguments indicating the Seahawks overachieved last year, and if regression rears its ugly head, we could be looking at somewhat of a step back. I don’t think this team is any worse than 8-8, but I also worry that a 9-7 or even a 10-6 team might get blocked out of a Wild Card berth with a pretty stacked NFC.

It’s with that frame of mind that I return to the subject of Russell Wilson. For this team to remain good, we’ll need all the magic he’s got. And, who knows? Maybe the Seahawks will shock me again and really take a huge step forward! I mean, we never saw that stretch run in 2012 coming, until all of a sudden we were blessed with the best team in football for about 5-6 weeks. If Wilson plays at an MVP level, then I do think there’s an outside shot at this team vying for another Super Bowl appearance. He’s just that good, and he makes those around him that much better.

So, going forward, I’ll have 12 more posts about the 12 Most Important Seahawks After Russell Wilson. Except, it’s a total cop-out, because I have two players tied for 12th, which means – including Russell Wilson – I’ll have written about the 14 Most Important Seahawks. But, 14 has no relevance whatsoever to our Seahawks fandom (unless you’re a big Rick Tuten fan), so you get what you get. Feel free to bookmark this page, as I’ll update it with links below as those posts are written:

  1. Ezekiel Ansah
  2. Tyler Lockett
  3. Bradley McDougald
  4. Duane Brown
  5. Bobby Wagner
  6. Jarran Reed
  7. Chris Carson
  8. Rasheem Green
  9. Jason Myers
  10. David Moore
  11. Jacob Martin
  12. Shaquill Griffin & Tre Flowers (tied)

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 Still Haven’t Fixed The Pass Rush Issue

That title’s a little misleading, because I don’t know if you can ever really fix a pass rush, in that I don’t think it’s possible to have ENOUGH of it. Outside of quarterback, it’s the most important facet of your team (because, obviously, it’s the biggest thing that affects the opposing team’s quarterback). So, even if – on paper – the Seahawks were the most stacked team in the league, I’d still be sitting here saying, “We could use a little more.”

Heading into – and especially coming out of – the draft, the Seahawks appeared to be a prime candidate to be movers and shakers in this market. Whereas most of the other top teams were at capacity as far as their salary caps were concerned, the Seahawks had money to burn. Of course, that’s in large part due to the trade of Frank Clark. As we’ve all talked about ad nauseam, the Seahawks’ #1 need heading into this offseason was pass rush, and that’s when Frank Clark was ON the roster! Without him, things went from bad to worse in a hurry.

The first domino to fall was with the first pick in the draft; the Seahawks brought in L.J. Collier. Which, okay. It’s a need and that’s not a bad way to build for the future. But, you can’t really count on a rookie taken at the bottom of the first round to be much of an impact player. A contributor, sure. But, what do those guys usually get you? A handful of sacks? Regardless, he figures to be a significant step down from Clark, and again, we needed to boost our pass rush BEFORE getting rid of Clark.

Next up was the signing of Ziggy Ansah, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. That’s with a huge caveat, of course, because he’s coming off of an injury and we have no idea what we’re getting. While it’s a cost-effective move to bet on a high-upside stud, he could be the next Cliff Avril or the next Dion Jordan. If he’s Avril, then excellent, that makes up for the loss of Clark, and you hope you strike oil with Collier on the other side. If he’s Jordan, then we’re proper fucked.

I know a lot of Seahawks fans were hoping the team would sift through the remaining scraps on the free agent market and use some of that extra money to put the fear of God in our opponents’ O-Lines. But, Ndamukong Suh ended up with the Bucs and Gerald McCoy ended up with the Panthers (having just been released by the Bucs). Both of them are earning under $10 million on one year deals and it’s left a lot of us wondering WHAT THE FUCK, SEAHAWKS?!

OTA’s are in effect as we speak, so the coaches are getting first looks at how the 2019 team is shaping up, but it’s gotta be hard to tell how good (or bad) this pass rush will be without contact and games and all that. I would hope common sense will prevail at some point and the front office will dip its toes back into the free agency waters, because shit is looking GRIM!

And, I get it, there’s only so much money to go around. Bobby Wagner needs a new deal. The team would like to jump on the Jarran Reed train ahead of the final year of his rookie deal, to maybe see some savings on a real up-and-comer. Those guys have to take precedence this summer. But, at some point, the team needs to dive back into that dumpster, if for no other reason than to add more competition in Training Camp.

Defensive Ends/SAM Linebackers

  • Ziggy Ansah
  • L.J. Collier
  • Cassius Marsh
  • Rasheem Green
  • Jacob Martin
  • Branden Jackson
  • Shaquem Griffin
  • Barkevious Mingo

The top two guys I’ve already talked about. Marsh is a veteran whose specialty is special teams, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if he’s cut before the regular season. Green and Martin are coming off of rookie years that were varying shades of underwhelming. Green has the higher upside, but also the most to prove, given his status as a third round draft pick. You hate to put too much on a kid’s shoulders in his second season in the league, but if Ansah doesn’t pan out for whatever reason, this defense is going to be heavily reliant on a couple of second year prospects.

Jackson strikes me as another possible cut before the regular season, though if he’s ever going to make the leap, now would be the time, what with it being his third year. Failing that, I like to hear about Griffin getting a chance to rush the passer, considering that was his specialty in college. I’m sure most coaches and front office people were put off by his smaller size – and that very well might be what keeps him from ever finding a natural position in the NFL – but at least he’s getting a chance. With his speed and agility, here’s hoping he’s able to use that to his advantage. As for Mingo, he’s never really been much of a pass rusher, and I don’t see that changing. For that reason, I don’t really see a role for him on this team, barring injuries.

Defensive Tackles

  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • Al Woods
  • Quinton Jefferson
  • Naz Jones
  • Demarcus Christmas

Reed took a HUGE step forward in Year 3, and while there’s always the hope that he has more room to grow, it’s also just as likely that last year was an anomaly and he’ll regress a little bit. We’ll see; fingers crossed on that end. Poona Ford is more of a run stuffing specialist, as is Al Woods, who is a veteran widebody we brought in on a one year deal.

Jefferson and Jones are both interesting, as they’re relatively young, but have been in the program long enough (entering their 4th and 3rd seasons, respectively). Both are apparently being groomed as 5-Tech ends in base defense, as they’ve both flashed potential at times to be harassers of the quarterback. They’ve also flashed potential to be total duds, as they’ve often found themselves as healthy scratches on gamedays. I feel like 2018 was hard on both of these guys, but there’s ample opportunity in 2019, so I hope they’re ready to go to work.

The bottom line is: outside of Jarran Reed, there are a lot of question marks on this team from a pass rush perspective. If it all breaks right, we could be talking about a young and dominant force. If it all breaks wrong, we could be talking about the main reason why this team fails to make the playoffs. Gun to my head, I’m leaning towards the latter, but there’s still time to prove me wrong.

I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna, I Wanna Really Really Really Wanna Ziggy Ansah

You have no idea how long I’ve been holding onto that Spice Girls reference …

So, here’s the good news: the Seahawks had a need and they helped fill that need with Ezekiel Ansah. Even before the Frank Clark trade, pass rush was a major concern for this team. Maybe the BIGGEST concern. With Clark’s contract situation being untenable, our options were to max out our cap space and do nothing to supplement around him, or get rid of him and hopefully improve our pass rush on the cheap. We chose the second route, and now here we are.

In the run-up to May 7th (after which the league was allowed to sign free agents without any risk to losing next year’s comp picks), the Seahawks brought in Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard, a couple of veterans who’ve bounced around the league for 6 and 4 years respectively, and to date haven’t really made much of an impact outside of special teams. Marsh’s season high is 5.5 sacks; and Orchard (who you might remember got cut on Hard Knocks with last year’s Browns team) has a season high of only 3 sacks. L.J. Collier was our first player selected in this year’s draft, which makes him a total unknown. We paired those guys with holdovers Jacob Martin and Rasheem Green – a couple of promising players from last year’s rookie class, but who also have a lot to prove – and veterans Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson – who are more depth options and not really even guaranteed to have roster spots this year.

Obviously, that wasn’t going to do. There are a number of free agent options still available, and the Seahawks brought in probably the best (or at least the one with the highest upside). Ziggy Ansah is a tremendous talent! He’s a beast! At his best, he’s even BETTER than Frank Clark!

Now, the bad news: every time we talk about Ansah, we have to throw in the phrase, “When He’s Healthy.”

Ziggy Ansah When He’s Healthy is one of the best defensive ends in all of football. But, it’s not even a matter of him missing games (which he has, 14 in the last three seasons), so much as him being a shell of his usual dominant self when he’s playing through injuries. How else do you explain 2.0 sacks in 2016 when he appeared in 13 games? That followed a Pro Bowl 2015 season when he had 14.5.

He’s coming off of a shoulder injury at the moment that really slaughtered his Franchise Tag year in 2018. And, what’s worse, if reports are to be believed, this injury could keep him out through Training Camp and even a month into the regular season!

I really had no idea this was a thing before I read about it this morning. Heading into yesterday, Ansah was a no-brainer to me. OF COURSE you sign the injury risk who – if things break right – could be a stud for this defense in 2019! And, on paper, I like the contract: $5.5 million guaranteed, with $8 million more in incentives; really the ideal deal for all parties involved. If he reaches his incentives, then GREAT, the Seahawks still got a Pro Bowl-calibre player for a song; if he hardly plays, then we’re only out $5.5 million and relatively little harm done.

But, if we’re talking about a guy who might not give you more than 12 games – and that’s assuming he returns hitting the ground running, and doesn’t suffer any setbacks during even a brutal 3/4 of a season – then I’m much less hopeful. Don’t get me wrong, I would still do this deal, because even if we just have him for the back-half of the season, he’s still someone this team needs (and could be a monster for a playoff run). But, I’m more convinced than ever that the Seahawks need to add maybe another 1-2 more pass rushers on top of him.

Or else, Martin and Green better take HUGE steps forward in their progress in Year 2.

All in all, a happy day, but not the happiest of days. I really hope those reports are exaggerated, and Ansah’s injury isn’t as bad as some fear.

The Seahawks Made Some Trades & Drafted L.J. Collier In The First Round 2019

Coming into last week, the Seahawks only had 4 draft picks this year: a first, a third, a fourth, and a fifth. After dealing Frank Clark, then moving down from 21 to 30, then moving down from 30 to 37, all of a sudden long-ass Thursday night, the Seahawks now have a total of 9 picks in the 2019 draft, including #29 which we used to pick up a defensive end out of TCU, L.J. Collier.

Before we get into the guy, let’s set the stage:

  • #29 – L.J. Collier (DE)
  • #37 – Second Round (from NYG, trade down from 30)
  • #92 – Third Round (from KC, trade for Frank Clark)
  • #114 – Fourth Round (from GB, trade down from 21)
  • #118 – Fourth Round (from GB, trade down from 21)
  • #124 – Fourth Round
  • #132 – Fourth Round (from NYG, trade down from 30)
  • #142 – Fifth Round (from NYG, trade down from 30)
  • #159 – Fifth Round

Getting back to the actual guy, L.J. Collier is a 6’2, 283 pound defensive end who EVERYONE is comparing to Michael Bennett, which obviously is a shitload to live up to, but also RIGHT ON! That essentially means he’s a guy who can slide inside on pass rushing downs to allow extra speed rushers on the outside. It also means he’s equally as good at stopping the run as he is getting after the quarterback, which as we all know is a Seahawks Must.

I like the pick, because obviously I have to. What else am I going to say? The Seahawks traded away Frank Clark. As far as defensive ends go, we have Rasheem Green, Jacob Martin, and a bunch of nobodies. Also Known As: A Bunch Of Nobodies. There’s potential, but there are no proven guys. So, re-stocking through the draft was Priority #1. It’s probably Priority #1, #2, and #3.

There are complaints, of course. The Seahawks could’ve stayed at 21 and maybe gotten someone better. Hell, I thought the Seahawks were going to follow my plan to the letter! I said I thought we’d trade down from 21 to 24 or 25; instead we went from 21 ALL THE WAY to 30. As it turns out, right after we did that, the Eagles went from 25 to 22 in a swap with the Ravens, to climb up and draft Andre Dillard out of Wazzu. I don’t know if that deal was on the table or not, but if it was, the Seahawks could’ve done that and still landed Montez Sweat (who ended up going to the Redskins at 26). He was a guy many had as a Top 10 talent, who fell because of medical concerns (heart condition). Time will tell if that bit us in the ass.

What I won’t complain about is not taking a wide receiver in the first round. For a minute, the Seahawks had both #29 and #30, which was a SUPER FUN 20 minutes of draft time. I had the TV on mute, I had the 710 ESPN stream on one screen, and I had Mina Kimes going crazy on a different ESPN stream and I could NOT be more entertained! The thought of the Seahawks picking back-to-back was pretty exciting, but of course you knew we were going to spend every waking moment of those 20 minutes trying to trade down again (which we accomplished, naturally). A few minutes later, at pick 32, the Patriots took N’Keal Harry out of ASU.

First of all, are we sold that a receiver out of ASU is worthy of a first round draft slot? The kid has size and ability, but can he put it all together at the NFL level? I know that because the Patriots took him, that means he gets the NFL’s Stamp Of Approval, but when was the last time the Patriots drafted a wide receiver who actually panned out in a big way?

If you know anything about the Seahawks, you know we don’t throw the ball a ton. So, why would it make sense to blow your wad on a receiver with your top draft pick? We have SO MANY MORE needs on the defensive side of the ball! And, by all accounts, the drop-off from Collier to the next-best defensive end/defensive tackle hybrid was pretty severe. The drop off from Harry to the next-best receivers doesn’t feel all that bad.

If the Seahawks turn around at 37 and take a receiver, I won’t complain, but I’d prefer we stayed on the defensive side of the ball. What’s the point in making Russell Wilson the highest paid player if we’re going to spend all this capital on offensive weapons? Wilson is supposed to make the guys we already have BETTER! Hold out until the 3rd round, Seahawks! You’ll be glad you did!

Because it probably means you took a safety in the second round, which is absolutely what I’m clamoring for.

Tonight’s gonna be fun. Right off the bat, we’ll have another new Seahawk to obsess over. People on Twitter are talking about the large gap between #37 and #92, which I get. With 4 fourth round picks, you’d think we’d be able to package something together to either move 92 up, or move 37 down a few spots and get into the 50’s or 60’s as well.

Of course, I have a ticket to see Endgame tonight at 7pm, so my draft evening will be interrupted. That’s the price you pay for having one of the funnest weekends in recent memory fall into your lap!

The Seahawks Smartly Traded Frank Clark

Look, I love Frank Clark. I think he’s a terrific player. In a vacuum – or in a world without a salary cap – I would absolutely want him to be extended and signed to a long-term contract.

But, this is 2019, and the Seahawks just re-upped Russell Wilson, so there’s not a lot of extra money to go around. Frank Clark was already counting just over $17 million on a Franchise Tag, which would increase significantly if we were to do it again in 2020. By all accounts, he was looking for over $21 million per year as a jumping-off point for a long-term extension. With Wilson already averaging over $30 million per year – upwards of $35 million for his four new years – that just wasn’t going to work. Not with Bobby Wagner’s deal expiring after this year. Not with Jarran Reed’s rookie deal expiring after this year. Not with so many of our offensive linemen nearing the end of their deals. And so on and so forth.

As always, you can’t pay everyone. This has been a problem for the Seahawks dating back to 2014, and it’s going to continue as the team keeps drafting guys who out-perform expectations.

The bottom line with Frank Clark is: do you believe he’s one of the very best defensive ends in the league? Is he capable of getting upwards of 20 sacks in a season? Maybe in the right system, but on a team like the Seahawks – where we stress defending the run as much as rushing the passer – I don’t think that was ever going to happen. On a different team, maybe he’s allowed to sell out more to rush the passer, and as a result he gets to that 20-sack mark. But, I doubt that was ever going to happen here.

As a result, the Seahawks get back the Chiefs’ first rounder in 2019 (the 29th overall selection), one of the Chiefs’ second rounders in 2020 (the lesser of the two they have now), and we swapped down in the third round this year (we go from pick 84 to pick 92).

Sure, the Chiefs get a stud, and look like surefire Super Bowl contenders, but we get $17 million to play around with. There are still veteran defensive ends available. And, maybe this increases our chances of staying at 21 and drafting the best available defensive end. It also, obviously, gives us more flexibility to trade down for more draft picks in the second and third rounds. But, just the thought of actually picking in the first round excites me to no end!

My overall thinking is, at best we were just going to run the same team back as 2018 with Clark on a huge cap number. That team, obviously, wasn’t a Super Bowl contender, and I don’t believe the extra year’s experience was enough to push the 2019 Seahawks into that stratosphere. The only way we’ll be able to improve for the long term AND the short term is to hit on a couple key draft picks, and buy low on a couple of free agents who vastly outplay their deals. The only way to do that was to acquire MORE draft picks and have MORE money with which to spend. This deal accomplishes both of those objectives; now it’s on the front office to make good.

I’d rather have Bobby and Reed extended long term over just Frank Clark, and had we extended Clark on a max deal, I know we would’ve lost at least one of those guys. Having an interior pass rusher like Reed is a much harder find, so extending him long term should be our biggest priority going forward. Keeping Bobby happy as the anchor of this defense should be our next-highest priority. Then, finding and cultivating a young stud – to go along with Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin – will be our next challenge. I, for one, look forward to it!

Seahawks Death Week: What Did We Figure Out?

Heading into 2018, there were question marks across the board with the Seahawks. Could we develop a running game outside of Russell Wilson? Could we develop a pass rush? Would our secondary hold together? How would our new coordinators fit in? Could we develop enough young talent to push this team in the right direction for 2019 and beyond?

It felt like at least a 2-year project before we’d see the playoffs again, so to make it back in Year 1 feels like playing with house money at this point. So, let’s take a look at what went right, in no particular order:

Running Backs

In 2018, infamously the leading running back for this team was Russell Wilson with 586 yards. The next-closest back was Mike Davis with 240. The only player to run for a touchdown not named Russell Wilson was J.D. McKissic, who had 1 all year. So, you can understand why the Seahawks put so much into re-emphasizing this part of the game.

In 2019, Russell Wilson was 4th on this team in rushing yards, much more in line with where he SHOULD be. We used a first round draft pick – after trading down to acquire more picks – on Rashaad Penny, who had an underwhelming rookie season with only 419 yards (3rd on the team), but he also had the third-most attempts and actually led the group in yards per carry with 4.9. Penny didn’t come out of the gates guns blazing, as there was more of a learning curve for him as he adjusted to the NFL, but he did show flashes of brilliance and that big-play ability we brought him in here for. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a Pro Bowler, or just a nice role player, but his Sophomore campaign should tell quite a bit about where his pro career is headed.

Returning as this team’s #2 running back was Mike Davis, who showed his usual reliability and professionalism. This is a rock-solid #2 guy that I’d never have any qualms about making the occasional spot start for an injured player; he’s a huge upgrade over Robert Turbin, for instance. He ended up with 514 yards on a 4.6 average. It appears Davis will be a Free Agent next year, so hopefully we can bring him back at the right price. Though, I guess we’ll see; with the money we have in Penny, we might want to spend the minimum at a spot where there’s a 3-headed monster.

Chris Carson returned from an injury in 2018 and should really be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year. He led the Seahawks with 1,151 yards on a 4.7 yard average with a whopping 9 touchdowns. He’s the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Seahawks since Beastmode in 2014, and let me tell you, he looked A LOT like our future Ring of Honor stud. We were a different team with Carson on the field, as he bowled and jumped over opposing players with regularity.

Overall, I’d say the position is set for 2019, though it’ll be ultra-set if we bring back Davis.

Pass Rush

The Seahawks were tied for 13th in 2017 with 39.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh had 56.0), which was okay, but obviously not great. We improved to being tied for 11th in 2018 with 43.0 sacks (league-leading Pittsburgh & Kansas City had 52.0) which is a step in the right direction, though we could always be better.

Frank Clark led the way with 14.0 sacks; he’s also set to be a free agent in 2019. The Seahawks are saying all the right things about bringing him back on a long-term extension, though they’re also looking to re-up Wilson and a few others, so they’ve got their work cut out for them. Regardless, the franchise tag is in our pocket, and Clark’s already on record as saying he’d welcome the challenge of playing on the tag, thereby having his value skyrocket if he stays healthy and performs as he did this year. He also could, theoretically, still improve, particularly with better pieces around him, so we may just be scratching the surface with him. Either way, this was a HUGE step forward for a guy a lot of people wondered about. I don’t know if I ever expected him to perform at this level, so it’s great to see!

Even more shocking was what Jarran Reed was able to do in his third season as an interior lineman. He went from 1.5 sacks in each of his first two years to a whopping 10.5 sacks in 2018, which is just an astronomical leap! That’s Cortez Kennedy-level ball-busting! He’s another guy this team needs to keep around for the long term.

After those two, it drops off considerably. The next-highest guy was Quinton Jefferson with 3, and he’s just a rotation guy at best. Rookie Jacob Martin also had 3 sacks, which is encouraging for a high-motor guy still developing his NFL body. It’ll be interesting to see what strides he’s able to make between Year 1 and Year 2.

Rasheem Green was the other highly-touted rookie who had only 1 sack this year, and often found himself as a healthy scratch by season’s end. He was always going to be something of a project, so it’s not surprising, but it is a little disappointing. He was never going to have as much opportunity as 2018, considering you have to figure the Seahawks are planning on pouring big money into the area for next year.

Overall, we’ve got two studs, one maybe, and a lot of filler. While this area was better than I expected heading into the year – as I expected this team to totally fall off the cliff – our stars stayed healthy and produced. Now, it’s just a matter of filling in with better talent around those stars.

Secondary

This was always going to be a challenge, with Kam essentially forced into retirement, with Earl holding out, then playing disgruntled, then being lost for the year to injury. And, of course, the Seahawks waived Richard Sherman, which pushed Shaquill Griffin over to his side of the field as the team’s primary cornerback. For all the grief I gave him about that playoff game, I thought Griffin was fine. At times he was a solid tackler, but he also appeared to be out of position every so often, and took bad angles on tackles. He also finished with only 2 interceptions, which is pretty weak for the team’s primary corner. He’s not going anywhere in 2019, so let’s hope he makes a major jump in his performance in Year 3.

The other cornerback spot appeared to change hands multiple times heading into the 2018 season. Byron Maxwell looked to have the inside track, but he came in injured and never made the team. Other veterans were vetted, but the job ended up in the hands of rookie Tre Flowers, who took it and ran with it. There were the expected growing pains, but he really picked it up over the second half of the season, and looks to be a solid cog in this secondary. He didn’t get any picks, but you have to figure those will come with experience.

With both of our starting safeties out, Bradley McDougald really held this whole thing together. He’s a solid veteran who was playing at a Pro Bowl level for a while, but appeared to break down by season’s end. With him, Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill got their chances to make their marks on this team in their second seasons, but both of them were pretty hit or miss. You have to think the experience was nothing but a positive for them, but they’ll still have to parlay it into 2019 and make significant jumps if they want to be here long term.

I have to think the Seahawks will be looking in the draft for another primo safety. While we’re not set yet, it’s good to see the secondary playing as well as they did this season. They might not have showed out with the turnovers as the L.O.B. did when they hit the scene, but they limited big plays and kept this team in ballgames, which is all you can ask for. I’d also like to see the team extend Justin Coleman long-term, as he’s still one of the better nickel corners in this league.

Tight End

Jimmy Graham was thankfully sent packing, and in his place the team actually improved. Who knew?

Oh yeah, we all knew.

Will Dissly made a HUGE impact in Week 1, then got hurt and was lost for the season. Considering he was the best blocking tight end in the draft last year, and with his offense being better than anticipated, he looks like he’ll be an awesome weapon next year, assuming he returns from injury okay.

Nick Vannett really stepped up in his absence, in his 3rd season in the NFL. He had career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. They weren’t super-amazing or anything (29, 269, 3), but this team doesn’t NEED a Jimmy Graham-like tight end to be effective offensively. I am perfectly happy with those numbers from our 2016 third round draft pick.

Ed Dickson was a free agent signee, and he didn’t make a huge impact either – actually finishing with fewer yards than Dissly, thanks to his own injury issues to start the season – but he had some big plays here and there, and still chipped in 3 TDs of his own. Combined, the TE position had 8 touchdowns on the season (51 catches for 600 yards, if you count George Fant, which I absolutely do!), which is perfectly fine for what little resources we’ve pumped into the position. You don’t need superstars at tight end to have a winning offense.

Tight end is set, assuming Dissly is back to 100%.

Offensive Line

The O-Line was the biggest question mark heading into the season, and thankfully it eventually turned into one of this team’s biggest strengths. Duane Brown was a Second Team All Pro at left tackle, Justin Britt brought his usual solidness at the center position, and Germain Ifedi made a big leap in his third year to finally become a passable right tackle. There were some growing pains at the guard spots – arguably the most important spots on the entire O-Line for a team with a Russell Wilson at quarterback – but after the second game, when J.R. Sweezy took over on the left side and D.J. Fluker took over on the right, they finally morphed into a cohesive, solid unit.

The downside is both Sweezy and Fluker are free agents heading into 2019. They’re also getting up there in age, and seemingly always face a litany of injuries. While that should theoretically keep their costs down, it’s hard to ignore the strides this team made when both of them were healthy. As such, you have to figure they’re in store for raises over the $1.5 million each of them made in 2018.

Beyond those two, Ethan Pocic was a disaster. He started those first two games we lost (when couldn’t do a damn thing offensively), and every time he took the field late in the season, the offense took an immediate step back. I don’t know if he’s undersized, incompetent, or both, but he’s got A LOT of work to do if he’s aiming to return to the starting five. As a second round pick already in his second year, with plenty of experience under his belt already, this is NOT trending well.

Jordan Simmons, however, was a revelation when he stepped in for Fluker! He’s a big ol’ mauler in Fluker’s image, but his season ended prematurely with injury. Combine that with the fact that he spent most of his college career injured, and I don’t think he’s someone we can count on long term. As a fill-in, backup type guy, though, it’s nice to know he’s around.

Joey Hunt is heading into free agency; he’s not someone I’d mind if we kept around or not. He looks undersized, and at this point Pocic might only be able to salvage his career if he backs up Britt at center, so Hunt is probably a luxury this team doesn’t need. He could still develop into a quality starter somewhere, but probably not here.

Finally, the aforementioned George Fant had quite a bit of playing time. He was often a sixth lineman this team implemented when we wanted to pound the rock, and once in a while found himself running routes (with his lone catch being a highlight of the season). He filled in for Ifedi late in the year – with Ifedi sliding over to guard for an injured Fluker – and that didn’t go so great. But, I would still expect him back, as I can’t imagine there’s going to be a huge bidding war for Fant.

Conclusion

With an elite quarterback, an elite middle linebacker, two elite wide receivers, and some nice pieces noted above, this is a team that’s heading in the right direction for another playoff run in 2019. How they spend their money in free agency will ultimately determine if this team’s going to contend for a division title. There are still quite a bit of holes left to fill, so it should be interesting.