With free agency winding down, especially for the Seahawks I would imagine, it seems about time to take stock of where Seattle sits heading into the draft. It’s no secret the Seahawks are a good team, no amount of east-coast bias could blind the football world to that fact. The Seahawks may well be a great team, in fact I have them in the top five as we stand at this moment. As a result, this article is going to be much shorter than it might have been in previous years. Today what I’m going to examine is remaining areas of concern for the 2013 Seahawks. We are a couple of draft picks and perhaps a few bargain bin free agents from a final roster at the moment and with any luck these shockingly few holes will be filled come the regular season. The following is an account of what’s missing/a shopping list for this front office:
#1: A starting quality DT to pair with Brandon Mebane
This need might be satisfied in a fairly anti-climactic manner with the return of Alan Branch but that is no guarantee. Branch is only 28, he’s available, and he’s probably relatively cheap. None of that is anything to sneeze at. Additionally he has started 31 of 32 games for the Seahawks and provided four sacks and solid run stuffing during that time. This is also noteworthy. Contrarily Branch only had one sack and one tackle for loss last season compared to three and five in 2011. Branch is a known quantity but he’s far from exciting and most definitely upgrade-able I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle brought back Branch but I also think there’s a good chance they draft a DT with one of their first two picks in the draft. These scenarios are far from mutually exclusive as you can never have too many quality defensive linemen. It’s important not to forget about Jaye Howard who failed to make an impact last year but was a fairly well regarded prospect coming into the draft and could always surprise.
#2: A starting quality OLB to go with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright
This is the second biggest hole I see on the Seahawks right now and I’m not entirely sure there isn’t a viable candidate on the roster at this moment. That says a great deal about this team. Malcom Smith appears to have some talent and impressed me in his brief 3 game stint as a starter last year. Am I comfortable going in to the season with him as the starter though? Not without a serious back up plan. If the Seahawks insist on being boring I’m sure they could bring back Leroy Hill although he is far from the explosive talent he once was. My best guess is Seattle drafts an OLB in either the 2nd or 3rd round has him battle Smith for the job, with Smith likely returning to his role as a backup.
#3: A slot cornerback
Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner’s success as a corner tandem is well documented but in the today’s pass happy NFL you need three quality corners on defense. Trufant was fairly underwhelming last year and seems unlikely to be brought back in 2013. Walter Thurmond III is probably capable of playing this role but he simply cannot be counted on to stay healthy. Jeremy Lane is also a player who conceivably could be the guy for this spot but I see him as more of a backup on the outside with his size and lack of elite quickness. There are question marks surrounding both internal options and a couple interesting guys floating around in free agency (ie. Charles Woodson, Adam Jones, Tracy Porter) but they are probably cost prohibitive for a team that has been spending a surprising amount of money lately. The most likely scenario is Seattle tries to see if one of their two guys can stick as the third corner and takes a chance on someone later in the draft as well, as they are wont to do.
#4: A starting right tackle
This is where the shopping list enters pipe dream territory. Breno Giacomini is almost certainly the starting RT for the Seahawks in 2013. The problem is he’s not very good. He’s probably not the worst starting RT in the league but his inconsistency and stupid penalties are cringe inducing at times. There are some quality OT’s available in free agency at the moment who would represent a significant upgrade (Sebastian Vollmer and Andre Smith jump to mind) but they remain firmly outside Seattle’s price range barring any major cap casualties. Quality offensive tackles don’t last long in the draft so I doubt an immediate starter can be found late in the second round, but you never know. Unfortunately I think Giacomini is the Seahawks’ only realistic option at the moment.
Lists of five are much more aesthetically pleasing than lists of four but I really can’t think of anything else the Seahawks truly need. Quarterback? Check. Runningback? Check. Wide Receiver? Pretty impressive with the addition of Harvin. Tight End? Fine presuming Miller is sticking around, which he seems to be. Even the offensive line is has two Pro Bowlers and quite a few options at guard with upside. The Seahawks have also loaded up on pass rushers and they already had a stacked secondary so I really don’t know what else they would desperately desire. Quality depth is a must and that’s largely what this draft class is expected to provide, but by and large the Seahawks are set. Being a Seattle Seahawks fan at the moment feels like being a spoiled child who can’t even think of what he wants for Christmas because he has everything. Everything can always go wrong at the drop of a hat (and in my experience as a sports fan it does 85-90% of the time) but we are looking at a pretty strong squad heading into the 2013 draft. It’s a good thing I wrote this article now because knowing how well this front office drafts there might be nothing to say on this topic come April 28th.
Previewing the Seahawk/ Redskins game
I’ve thought about this game all week and while I feel it’s a game we can win, I have not jumped on the bandwagon of “it’s going to be a blowout!” I think the key to looking at this game is balancing expectations with reality. I’m looking at several categories:
- Scoring: The Seahawks are entirely capable of scoring a lot of points. But that hasn’t been their predominant performance over the season and certainly not on the road, the one exception being the Buffalo Bills. While our offense has turned in solid performances recently, expect Marshawn to be only moderately successful tomorrow based on the Redskins run defense. The bulk of our scoring will be on Mr. Wilson!
- Talent: the Seahawks clearly have the greater depth in talent. A great example would be Brandon Browner returning at cornerback and yet if he’s rusty we don’t have to play him the entire game because we can rely on Jeremy Lane. We also have the shared linebacking skills of Leroy Hill and Malcolm Smith.
- Taking care of the ball: both teams are excellent at this I can’t see an advantage in either direction.
- Special teams: Leon Washington. 2nd best returner in the NFL. Advantage Hawks.
- Making adjustments: both teams excel at halftime adjustments, again I can’t see an advantage for either team.
- Quarterbacks: both quarterbacks are extremely talented but I’ll take Russell Wilson. He may not be as fast that he’s an excellent game manager and he doesn’t put himself at risk trying to run the ball. He also has a ton of poise in the pocket.
- Defense: no team allows fewer points than the Seattle Seahawks. There’s that old saying that defenses win championships. My guess is that our entire defensive squad has that tattooed on their behinds.
- Pass coverage: Advantage Hawks. Browner and Sherman, Kam and Earl… Expect the legion of boom to give RG3 fits with passing.
- Running game: Both teams excel with Lynch and Morris running the ball…. But I’ll take Beastmode every day and twice on Sundays!
I expect this to be a very close game, while we haven’t played our best ball on the road this year, much of those games were earlier in the season. Expect this game to be the exception. I believe the Seahawks will win… but like the Rams game, not by much.
In many ways I think the Rams game was good for us. It reminds us as players and fans that at times we will struggle and that one of our best strengths is the ability to rise to the occasion. I’ll close with this message I got from Malcolm Smith after the Rams game last week:
@Asthmagirl thank you very much. It was too close for my liking but im glad we won. Now the real ball starts
Now the real ball starts… Well played Malcolm, well played!!
With the regular season swiftly coming to a close, Seahawks fans have to be fairly satisfied with where Seattle sits at this point in time. In fact it would be fair to say that the Seahawks have been surprisingly good this year. We all knew about the elite defense but the young offense under the direction of Russell Wilson has exceeded expectations by improving steadily throughout the year. We are at a point now where the Seahawks offense is excelling, coming off three straight 40+ point performances. The Hawks have scored the 8th most points in the league and allowed the least suggesting that they are one of the top teams in the NFL. Not many would have seen the Seahawks as an elite squad going in to 2012, including yours truly who would have filed them under “decent, exciting, but flawed”, a category that includes a good portion of the league. I could have written an entire article outlining just how great the 10-5 Hawks have been, especially recently, with the headline “Wow these Seahawks Sure Are Great!” but somehow I think that would have lacked analytical depth. Instead, today I tackle what I consider to be the biggest reason why the Seahawks have been so much better than expected this year: the contributions of the 2012 draft class.
Now, before we get started, I thought it might be nice to refresh our collective memory as to how Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s draft was received by pundits at the time. I do this to highlight the folly of trying to analyze drafts before any of the players play a down in the NFL, and also to show how the Seahawks succeeded by flying in the face of conventional wisdom and the consensus of the scouting community. Below are a couple quotations slamming our 2012 draft class.
“Their entire draft was one shocker after another.”- John Czarnecki- foxsports.com (too be fair he did give a B grade)
“The Seahawks went bonkers and picked Bruce Irvin at 15. Could he develop into a solid pass-rusher? Sure, but this was a spit take-inducing selection. LB Bobby Wagner (47) and RB Robert Turbin (106), both from Utah State, will help, and QB Russell Wilson (74) has a bright future, even if Seattle didn’t really need him. Everything else was … very … blah. Grade: C”- Chris Burke- si.com
“It is hard to look past Bruce Irvin at 15th overall. Irvin is one dimensional and while he does that one thing really well, it is not the more complete player teams hope to find in the 1st half of the 1st round. Seattle did little post-Irvin to make up for the blunder in the subsequent rounds. Grade: D-” – Jonnie Stoneberg- fftoolbox.com
Not all reactions were openly hostile, but even the biggest fans of the draft class seemed to have a “wait and see” attitude about it. Hindsight is 20-20 and there are some intelligent football writers quoted here; my goal isn’t to try and expose them as frauds or poor prognosticators. Instead I just mean to show that the perception and the reality about the 2012 Seahawks draft class ended up being extremely divergent. As a result, one of the reasons the Seahawks have been so much better than expected this year is because their rookies have exceeded expectations by such a significant margin. Let’s take a look at what this underrated draft class has done for the Seahawks in 2012:
1st Pick, 1st Round, 15th Overall: Bruce Irvin.
I wrote an article earlier this year saying how Bruce Irvin has been pretty much exactly as advertised (http://12thmanrising.com/2012/10/10/he-is-who-we-thought-he-was-an-early-take-on-bruce-irvin/) and it think it pretty much holds true at this moment. Irvin has 8 sacks and 17 quarterback hits but offers little else other than pass rushing so far (16 total tackles, half of which have come on his sacks). He is a raw, pure, undersized pass rusher so this is not altogether unexpected. Irvin has met expectations and been productive without being an absolute stud. Considering how many thought he would be a bust it would be hard not to qualify this pick as a success.
2nd Pick, 2nd Round, 47th Overall: Bobby Wagner
Speaking of absolute studs….. Bobby Wagner. Wagner has made some big plays this year with 2 sacks and 3 interceptions but more importantly he has been a consistent and intimidating presence stopping the run. Wagner has 129 total tackles, 9 for a loss and a tackle factor of 1.50 (tied for 6th in the NFL). Wagner has been the unsung hero of the Seahawks defense in my opinion and has to be one of the top candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Big win for Seattle’s front office.
3rd Pick, 3rd Round, 75th Overall: Russell Wilson
What else can be said about Russell Wilson? Even the most optimistic Wilson supporters could not have seen the season he has had coming. The diminutive QB has not put up massive yardage totals like Andrew Luck due to the run-heavy offense Seattle runs but he has been very efficient and effective. Russell Wilson has been deadly in the redzone and stands to tie or break the rookie passing TD record as he sits only 1 behind Peyton Manning’s 26, set in 1998. Wilson has also been great running the ball, especially using the read-option, with over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has been all Seahawks fans could have asked for and more and I’m going to stop right there before I start to sound like John Gruden.
4th Pick, 4th Round, 106th Overall: Robert Turbin
Turbin, or the Sea-Hulk, has been an excellent addition to the Seahawk’s offense. He has brought a powerful, almost Beast Mode like, presence to the running game whenever Lynch is on the sidelines. As the Seahawks have been making a habit of blowing out opponents, Turbin’s role has only been increasing. With 4.6 yards a carry and surprising effectiveness in the passing game, both blocking and catching, Seahawks fans can be very comfortable when Turbin enters the game. What he lacks in breakaway speed he makes up for in virtually everything else. I’m convinced Turbin could start for quite a few teams in this league and he is both an effective role player and a premium Marshawn Lynch insurance policy. Quite the 4th round find.
5th pick, 4th round, 114th Overall: Jaye Howard
Howard is the first pick that could be considered even remotely disappointing. Considering he is the 5th pick in this class that is really saying something. At the time Howard was considered a value choice with some real upside but while he remains on the roster but has yet to crack the DT rotation. On his Wikipedia page under professional career all it says is, “He was selected in the fourth round, 114 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.” Enough said.
6th pick, 5th round, 154th overall: Korey Toomer
Toomer did not make the 2012 Seahawks and was considered a fairly questionable pick at the time making him the first official bust of this class.
7th pick, 6th round, 172nd overall: Jeremy Lane
Lane was drafted to be quality depth and that’s exactly what he has been. With Browner out Lane has started two games and has shown himself to be a physical corner in the classic Pete Carroll style. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a bright future in Seattle showing Pete Carroll’s knack for finding quality defensive backs in the later rounds. Alternatively, I wouldn’t be surprised if he fades into obscurity, because it can really go either way with depth players like Lane.
8th pick, 6th round, 181st overall: Winston Guy
Guy has appeared in only 2 games and has settled in as the 5th safety on this team. Seeing as NFL teams don’t necessarily carry 5 safeties Guy will have to show something during training camp to stick on the team next year. Hard to call him a bust, we just don’t know what he can do. At this point in the draft it’s hard to expect a lot and to be fair to Guy he has managed to stay on the team which isn’t nothing.
9th pick, 7th round, 225th overall: J.R Sweezy
This former college d-lineman started two games for the Seahawks this year which was a fairly remarkable story in and of itself. Sweezy flashes impressive physical tools but looked shaky at times during game action. That being said, you don’t expect a lineman drafted in the 7th round to be an effective starter as a rookie, especially if he is new to the position. Sweezy is an intriguing developmental project and has a chance to stick around if he continues to improve. Hard to ask for more from a 7th round pick
10th pick, 7th round, 232nd overall: Greg Scruggs
The Mr. Irrelevant of Seattle’s draft class has been a useful component of Seattle’s defensive line rotation. Scruggs has shown some ability to bring pressure up the middle on passing downs with 2 sacks, 6 quarterback hits and a deflected pass in fairly limited duty. Scruggs is no star but getting any contribution from the 232nd player picked in the draft has to be considered a bonus.
It is apparent that a major factor in Seattle’s rise to prominence in 2012 has been the contribution of its outstanding rookies. The Seahawk’s 2012 draft has the potential to go down as franchise changing or even historic if these players can keep improving and reach their full potential. A lot can happen and it remains very early to judge this draft class but it seems the Seahawks have added a great deal of high quality young talent in 2012 which not only accounts for their surprising level of success this year but could also be the catalyst for a string of winning seasons in Seattle.
This week, The View from Section 333 goes on the road to Canada!
With the Seahawks playing in Canada, it seemed imperative to put this game in an international perspective and take it to neutral territory. Thus, this game was viewed from the snug of a small pub on Vancouver Island – probably the first time your intrepid reporter has viewed a Seahawks game without the wearing of the Seahawk attire or being surrounded by cheering family, friends and fellow 12th man. Even Twitter, that fallback of 12thman in-game commentary was off limits due to roaming charge issues on the business phone and a lack of wifi in the pub.
Our first impression centered on all the rushing yards being accumulated. In recent weeks, as the offense has hit its stride, adjustments to the offensive scheme have been impressive; Specifically, Wilson’s uncanny ability to run a read offence and make last minute adjustments, either from the line or from the pocket.
Our second impression was that the defensive seemed to be playing with the same fierceness as they did the week before. Not only the first stringers, but those filling in the missing pieces, Smith, Lane and Maxwell were stand outs. A couple quick notes here… Smith has impressed me by really playing within his game. He doesn’t get pulled out of position and he seems to have a knack for playing to the ball. Lane and Maxwell were very gung ho and I appreciated their efforts. Maxwell seemed much more effective, possibly just based on size. Lane, bless his heart, was always at the right place at the right time but lacks the weight to make really effective tackles. He’s a heck of special teams coverage guy… great speed!
Going into this game, I anticipated a win. Buffalo isn’t a horrible team, but their wins have come against less than stellar opponents. Coupled with comments I read during the week regarding how they planned for the game (by finally talking to TJack for what was apparently the first time this season), I really felt like they would not be fully prepared for the Hawks. Throw in the concept of a road game for both teams and it seemed likely we would win.
However, I did not expect the win we had. At the beginning of the 3rd quarter, my viewing companion turned to me and said “we’re going to score 50 points again”, a statement I immediately poo-pooed. No, we weren’t going to score 50 points on the road… Well, I was wrong. We did and it felt great.
After all the struggles earlier this year, the Seahawks have become a team of opportunists. The team with a plan that can respond to all sorts of opportunities. A team of depth that can rise to the occasion and compensate for personnel changes. But most importantly, they are a team in the true sense of the word. Their ability to respond to their opponents, play to their individual strengths, downplay their weaknesses, and make in game adjustments is epic. They’re exactly where they need to be going into their last two games.
And oh my gosh, they’re fun to watch!
Brandon Browner is now suspended. Marcus Trufant is officially out with a hamstring injury. Only 3 CB had played snaps on defense during the first 11 games of this season, and 2 of them wont be available this week.
Enter Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane.
Thurmond was once thought of as a late 1st to early 2nd round draft pick, and a certain NFL start. Then he blew out his knee in college, and slipped all the way to the 4th round where the Seahawks grabbed him. He played sparingly in 2010 as he slowly came back to form.
2011 had Thurmond start as the nickel corner, and then he got elevated to starting. Problem was that in the only game in which he started, he broken his leg which ended his season. It also cost him the first 11 games of this season, as he started the year on the PUP list and then had a tough time getting back to full speed even once he was activated.
So here we are about to play the Seahawk’s 13th game in Thurmond’s 3rd season, and we have yet to see all that much of him. So what should we expect to see tomorrow?
Honestly, I have no idea.
On one hand he was above Richard Sherman on the depth chart a year ago. On the other hand, very very few players have ever come off the PUP list and made a positive impact for their team that season.
Looking back at early 2011, Thurmond strung together a series of good performances before his injury, especially the game against the Giants. But then again, his worst game as the one in which he started, and he will be starting this week against Arizona.
Clearly, there’s not much we can go by, so we might as well just stop trying. Instead, lets look at what type of player Thurmond is.
At 5-11, Thurmond is more of a traditional CB than the player he’s replacing. He’s also not nearly as physical, and isn’t the same type of player in terms of run support. But what he can do is cover. He’s much smoother in the hips, has better footwork, and is smoother coming out of his packpedal and running with the receiver. All of that means the she should be better in coverage, especially smaller/quicker receivers that have plagued the Seahawks this season.
The new nickel corner is rookie Jeremy Lane, and there’s even less info on him. Lane hasn’t played a snap on defense since the preseason. Back then he was a surprising physical corner who looked and played like a smaller but quicker version of Brandon Browner. He made plenty of mistakes, but also made a few “wow” plays.
The problem with using preseason games to scout Lane is that 13 weeks of a practice can work miracles for a rookie. We really have no idea what to expect in terms of his quality of play.
Ultimately, that is the problem. We don’t really know anything about what to expect from the 2 new contributors to the defense. Both have plenty of physical talent, but neither has much in the way of experience.
I guess we’ll finally get to see how ready they are.
The 3rd day of the draft is usually a snooze-fest for most fans. The players getting drafted are usually ones they’ve never heard of. The Networks are still talking about the first round picks and seem to ignore the names being announced. The only … [visit site to read more]
With the 172nd in the 2012 NFL draft, the Seattle … [visit site to read more]