Time to get into it.
We now know the Seahawks are picking 26th in the 2017 draft.
Here’s the question we’re all going to be asking this week:
How do the Seahawks get back to their very best?
Go back to what made them great in the first place.
Great defense, commitment to running the ball, turnovers.
The top two seeds in the NFC this season combined for only 12 wins a year ago. A good off-season can lead to a big improvement.
Recently the Seahawks have looked more like a finesse, delicate offense. We’ve referred to the offense as a glass cannon, capable of doing great damage but it cracks and shatters under any kind of adversity.
Do what you do best — with the Detroit and Carolina games a perfect example of that. Re-commit to the run and stick with it, get your explosive plays in the passing game by exploiting play action.
Add competition and if possible some veteran leadership to the O-line — and more depth at running back.
The aura of intimidation and danger that gave them an advantage just by stepping on the field has been shattered. The defense that was once historic proved vulnerable in ways that would have been unimaginable in their heyday…
The Seahawks have a really good core filled with star players like Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor.
It’s time to add two or three others to join Frank Clark as younger playmakers.
Physicality, size, length and speed — time to reestablish that aura of intimidation.
Off-season plan (first draft)
1. Reload the defense
The 2017 draft is going to be about defense. That’s were the depth is, that’s where the quality is.
This draft has the deepest/most talented group of CBs I’ve seen in several years. Also, loaded with edge rushers, safeties, RBs and TEs.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 11, 2017
The 2017 draft looks as though its going to be a rich one at the cornerback position and their will be quality at the top as well as quantity through the rounds. Most teams I’ve spoken with have the same eight cornerbacks at the top of the board; Marlon Humphrey/Alabama, Desmond King/Iowa, Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado, Adoree’ Jackson/USC, Sidney Jones/Washington, Cordrea Tankersley/Clemson, Kevin King/Washington and Jalen Tabor/Florida.
All grade as top 45 selections and its not out of the question they all land in round one.
With Seattle picking in the late 20’s, they’re unlikely to get anywhere near the best offensive tackles (Garett Bolles, Ryan Ramcyzk) or the top two running backs (Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook). They could, however, get a cornerback or another pass rusher with a legit first round grade purely due to the depth at each position.
We know the Seahawks haven’t drafted a corner earlier than the fourth round in the Carroll era — and that’s something we also need to consider. Seattle has pretty defined draft trends and they might stick to their guns and continue to look for their guys on day three.
The ACL injury to Deshawn Shead and the deep class of cornerbacks might provoke a different approach this year.
Three of Atlanta’s first four picks in the 2016 draft were defensive players — could we see something similar from Seattle this year? This is the draft to do it.
Will we see them tap into the extreme list of defensive talent turning pro from the local schools? Washington is sending Sidney Jones, Kevin King, Elijah Qualls, Budda Baker and Joe Mathis to the NFL. Washington State has a very talented, dynamic safety in Shalom Luani. All could be in contention for the Seahawks.
Could they also be aggressive in free agency, targeting Calais Campbell as a priority to provide a dynamic interior presence to compliment Seattle’s productive EDGE rushers?
It feels like there’s an opportunity to find 3-4 impact players for the defense during this off-season.
2. Commit to the run, more competition
The Seahawks had the 25th best running attack in the NFL this year. In the previous four years they were comfortably in the top-five.
Part of the issue is Marshawn Lynch. There will never be another. Lynch was able to impact every game he played in — even on a 20-carry, 60-yard day. His physicality, the attention he commanded and the consistent eight-man boxes provided the Seahawks with an advantage they could only dream of in 2016.
It doesn’t mean they can’t run the ball successfully without Lynch — but it feels like they need to recommit to that aspect of their offense. Too often they started strongly and were then led down a different path. It happened in Atlanta where Thomas Rawls had 29 yards on six carries on the opening drive and five yards on five carries for the rest of the game.
Personnel additions are to be expected — although Carroll might have more faith in the incumbents than most fans. He singled out C.J. Prosise as a key player yesterday and has consistently defended his ‘O-line for the future’.
Adding at least one other running back feels likely given the injury issues experienced by Prosise and Thomas Rawls. That could be a veteran or a draft pick. Players like Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Stewart could be available — and it’s a deep draft of mostly uninspiring running backs.
Extra competition on the O-line is probably more likely than a full-scale rebuild. They might be able to add a veteran tackle via free agency or trade.
Do you want to spend $10m a year on Wagner — a player Tony Pauline has compared to Pittsburgh’s Adam Bisnowaty (possibly available in round three)?
The draft will provide some options between rounds 2-4 and the Seahawks are expected to have an extra third round pick (Bruce Irvin compensation). More youth on the O-line might not be the order of the day — but if the veteran market explodes they might not have a choice.
Aside from Bisnowaty — Dan Feeney, Dorian Johnson, Forrest Lamp, Antonio Garcia, Roderick Johnson, Taylor Moton, Chad Wheeler, Dion Dawkins and David Sharpe are being projected beyond the first round.
Can they tempt the 49ers to make a deal for Joe Staley? Are there other possible trade targets?
The O-line won’t go unaddressed — but the extent of the changes and how they add to the group isn’t clear.
How else will these moves help the team?
The Seahawks are not a good road team currently. They were 8-1 at home and 1-5-1 travelling to NFC opponents (including playoffs).
The brand of football discussed above? It travels well.
Seattle generally wins a lot of games at Century Link Field. The key to being a #1 or #2 seed in the playoffs is the road record. If they can get back to the days where they were 5-3 or 4-4 on the road, they have a chance to host more than a solitary playoff game.
Bigger, faster, stronger
John Schneider mentioned being the bullies again in 2016 — something they never quite established. Any potential off-season addition this year likely has to play with an edge and have unique physical traits (size, length).
Bigger, faster, stronger has to be return.
We probably need to look for punishing, physical defenders and athletes that jump off the screen in trying to identify the next batch of Seahawks.
Production is also important. If they want to create more turnovers — who was adept at doing that in college? Who was consistently creating pressure and forcing TFL’s? Who are the best run blockers or pass protectors? Which running backs can set a tone in the NFL?
Key veteran additions:
Calais Campbell (or another interior D-liner)
Veteran tackle (via trade or free agency)
They’ll have four picks between rounds 1-3. That should be enough to add a defensive lineman or EDGE, two defensive backs (CB, S) and a running back. Feel free to swap any of these for an offensive lineman.
Over the next few days I’m going to try and watch every cornerback currently listed with an early draft projection. I’m going to review each defensive lineman and safety.
In just over a week we’ll have the Senior Bowl and at the beginning of March it’s the combine. This will help us narrow the list of potential targets with prospects getting measured at each event. For example, we know they like tall cornerbacks with +32-inch arms. We need this type of info.
And at some point in the next ten days, my wife will give birth to baby #2.
Time to get to work.