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2016 Seahawks Preview: Cornerback Looks Like A Deep And Flexible Position In 2016

Depth and flexibility highlight a cornerback unit that will be one of the most competitive position groups on the team.

The Seahawks didn't make a lot of moves to bolster cornerback depth in 2016 in large part because they feel good about the players they have coming back. Bigger than any addition made this offseason—though re-signed veteran defensive back Brandon Browner could play a unique and important role in the defense—was the re-signing of unrestricted free agent Jeremy Lane, who split time as a starter and in the nickel role with DeShawn Shead late last season.

Between Richard Sherman showing more versatility than ever last year, Shead's growth in what was by far his best season, Tharold Simon being healthy heading into camp, Tye Smith having a year under his belt, Marcus Burley being back as a versatile and experienced piece of the puzzle, and the potential for growth from 2015 practice squad corners like George Farmer, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Trovon Reed, it's easy to see why Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says, "We have, really, as good of flexibility as we've ever had" in the defensive backfield.

Returning starters:Richard Sherman
Jeremy Lane
DeShawn Shead
Additions:Brandon Browner (free agent)
DeAndre Elliott (UDFA)

Key losses:

None

Last year:

The initial 53-man roster included six cornerbacks: Richard Sherman, Cary Williams, DeShawn Shead*, Tye Smith, Marcus Burley and Tharold Simon. *--Shead also played safety in 2016.

What's At Stake In Training Camp

Sherman obviously will hold down one starting job, and as things stand now, both Lane and Shead figure to play prominent roles in the defense as the right cornerback and nickel corner, possibly changing things up from week to week, or even within games, as was often the case last year after Lane returned from the physically unable to perform list. But it's way too early to assume those three will hog all the playing time at cornerback, which is why this position group will be a fun and competitive one to watch in camp. Tharold Simon missed the better part of last season, as well as the 2013 season, with foot injuries, but when healthy in 2014 he was a significant contributor, starting five games. He'll come to camp hungry, looking to prove he not only can play, but can push for a starting role.

Sherman, Lane, Shead, Simon and Burley all have significant experience, but the Seahawks are also excited about the potential in young players like Smith, Farmer, Reed, Jean-Baptiste and undrafted rookie DeAndre Elliott, which is why the competition will be on not only for roster spots but also potentially for significant playing time. However things shake out, look for the Seahawks to build off of a 2015 season in which they showed more versatility at cornerback than they had in the past when Sherman usually stuck to his spot at left corner. In addition to Browner providing flexibility in a new hybrid role, Sherman will likely move around at times to cover top opposing receivers like he did last season, and Shead and Lane can go back and forth from outside corner to the nickel spot depending on matchups.

"We're going to be incredibly versatile, we're going to be incredibly experienced," Sherman said. "There aren't going to be a lot of people we can't match up with individually or collectively as a group. It's going to be a fun challenge to put out there."

RELATED

Check out the best photos of Seahawks cornerbacks from the team's 2016 offseason workout program.

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