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2016 NFL Draft Preview: Do the Seahawks Need to Add Depth at Safety?

A look at where the Seahawks’ roster currently stands at safety, and at some of the top prospects in this year’s draft.

With the NFL Draft coming up, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand with Seattle's roster, as well as the top prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

Seattle currently holds nine picks in the 2016 draft, which begins on Thursday, April 28 in Chicago. 

Round 1 | Pick 26 | No. 26 overall

Round 2 | Pick 25 | No. 56 overall

Round 3 | Pick 27 | No. 90 overall

Round 3 | Pick 35 | No. 97 overall*

Round 4 | Pick 26 | No. 124 overall

Round 5 | Pick 34 | No. 171 overall*

Round 6 | Pick 40 | No. 215 overall*

Round 7 | Pick 4 | No. 225 overall (from Dallas) 

Round 7 | Pick 26 | No. 247 overall

* - Compensatory Pick (compensatory picks cannot be traded).

So far we've covered the offensive and defensive lines, running backs, linebackers, receivers, cornerbacks and quarterbacks, today we shift our focus to safeties.

Draft History (Under Schneider and Carroll)

S Earl Thomas (No. 14 overall, 2010)

S Kam Chancellor (No. 133, 2010)

S Mark LeGree* (No. 156, 2011)

S Winston Guy* (No. 181, 2012)

S Ryan Murphy* (No. 248, 2015)

* signifies a player no longer with the team.

Where the Seahawks Stand

Since Kam Chancellor took over the starting strong safety job in 2011, he and Earl Thomas have been fixtures in Seattle's secondary together. But even if there is little mystery about Seattle's projected starters at safety, that doesn't necessarily mean the Seahawks wouldn't look at adding depth in this year's draft.

In part because of Thomas and Chancellor's standout play and durability, the Seahawks haven't had to draft heavily at safety, only taking three players there since the 2010 pick that brought Chancellor and Thomas to Seattle. And the Seahawks have also found good safety depth via a trade, landing Kelcie McCray last year, and free agency, signing backup free safety Steven Terrell in 2014, and signing versatile defensive back DeShawn Shead as an undrafted free agent in 2012. The only other safety on the roster as it stands now is Robert Smith, a strong safety who went undrafted out of Clemson last year.  

Seattle's draft history, as well as their current roster, suggests the Seahawks won't feel compelled to draft a safety if the right player isn't available, but if things fall the right way, acquiring quality depth that can also help on special teams might make sense.

Take a look at NFL Media Analyst Mike Mayock's Top 5 safeties in the 2016 NFL Draft.

NFL Media Draft Expert Mike Mayock's Top 5 Safeties

*1. Karl Joseph, West Virginia *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Fiercely competitive with immense football character. Different teams may have differing opinions of how best to utilize him, but Joseph has proven he can make plays in man coverage or play disciplined enough to be trusted on the back. His average size and subsequent durability will concern some teams due to his aggressive, attacking demeanor; however, Joseph is talented enough to become an early starter and high­-impact safety down the road if the medicals check out.

2. Vonn Bell, Ohio State

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Though lacking in desired size and physicality, Bell has the ability to match up in space and is at his best when keeping the action in front of him where he combines his vision, reactive quickness and ball skills to go make plays on the ball. Bell lacks size and isn't an aggressive tackler so he needs to prove he can run so that he locks in his draft positioning as one of the top free safeties in this draft.

*3. KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Smart, experienced cornerback has strapped it on against some of the best receivers in the nation during his time with the Irish. Russell has the athleticism and cover talent to play press coverage and make a living there, but he may never produce as many pass break­ups or interceptions as a team would like. Played outside and from the slot and offers that versatility to an NFL team as a future starter or third corner.

*4. Keanu Neal, Florida  *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Neal started the year off with a hamstring issue that slowed him down and caused some uneven tape at times, but his size, athleticism and hitting are the best in this draft. Neal isn't limited to simple box tasks even though he thrives there. He has all the makings of an early starter and may hear his name called earlier than some might project.

*5. Justin Simmons, Boston College  *

Bottom Line (via NFL.com): Simmons has interceptions against Deshaun Watson, Jacoby Brissett and two against Notre Dame, and was one of the standouts at Shrine Game practices showing off his instincts and ball skills. Despite his thin frame, Simmons tackles with urgency and doesn't lack toughness for the position. With range, length, cover skills and special teams ability Simmons should hear his name called on the third day of the draft and could become an eventual starter.

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