With the NFL Draft coming up, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand on the Seahawks' 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.
The Seahawks currently hold 8 picks in the 2018 draft, which begins April 26 in Dallas.
Seattle's 2018 Draft Picks: Round 1, Pick 18, No. 18 overall; Round 4, Pick 20, No. 120 overall; Round 5, Pick 4, No. 141 overall; Round 5, Pick 9, No. 146 overall; Round 5, Pick 19, No. 156 overall; Round 5, Pick 31, No. 168 overall; Round 7, Pick 8, No. 226 overall; Round 7, Pick 30, No. 248 overall.
Draft History Under Schneider and Carroll: Earl Thomas (No. 14 overall, 2010), Kam Chancellor (No. 133, 2010), Mark LeGree (No. 156, 2011), Winston Guy (No. 181, 2012), Ryan Murphy (No. 248, 2015), Delano Hill (No. 95, 2017), Tedric Thompson (No. 111, 2017).
Where The Seahawks Stand
A glance at the Seahawks roster shows them as being in great shape at safety, both in terms of quality depth and also in front-line talent, with a pair of Pro-Bowlers leading the way. Things aren't quite that simple, however, as the status of longtime strong safety Kam Chancellor remains up in the air due to the neck injury that ended his 2017 season. Chancellor is expected to have more tests this summer to clarify his football future, but as of now the Seahawks are heading into the draft uncertain if one of their defensive leaders will be available in 2018. And while Earl Thomas is healthy and coming off of another standout season, he is heading into the final year of his contract, meaning there's some long-term uncertainty there.
The good news for the Seahawks is that they've done a good job adding talent behind those two, signing Bradley McDougald in free agency last year, then re-signing him to a multi-year deal this offseason. McDougald ended up starting nine games last year, two in place of Thomas and seven for Chancellor, and played very well in both spots. The Seahawks drafted a pair of safeties last season, and Schneider said again Monday that the team still has high expectations for Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson, who played well on special teams as rookies but didn't get much chance to play on defense. Seattle also signed Maurice Alexander, a former starter for the Rams, so that gives them two experienced veterans behind their starters, two promising second-year players, as well as former third-round pick Alex Carter, a versatile defensive back with experience at both cornerback and safety.
In other words, the Seahawks have a lot of quality options at safety, but that doesn't mean they would ignore that group in the draft if the right player were available. That much was evident last year, when despite not having an obvious need at defensive back, the Seahawks took three with their first seven picks and four overall because that's where they saw value in the draft.
"We followed the board," Schneider said last year after the Seahawks picked Shaquill Griffin and Delano Hill in the third round.
Check out which players NFL Media Draft Analyst Mike Mayock pegs as the top safeties in the 2018 NFL Draft.
NFL Media Draft Analyst Mike Mayock's Top 5 Safeties
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Overview (via NFL.com): Fitzpatrick turns up the intensity level as high as it will go and rips off the knob until the game is over. Fitzpatrick has experience as a slot cornerback, but will likely be targeted as a "do-everything" safety who can be deployed as a sub-package linebacker, a blitzer or in the slot against big receivers and move tight ends. Fitzpatrick has consistently shined since his freshman season on Alabama defenses that have been loaded with NFL talent. His versatility, football character and desire to succeed should make him an early starter.
2. Derwin James, Florida State
Overview (via NFL.com): Possesses the desired physical traits and mental makeup of an All-Pro safety who has the ability to not only set a tone but change the course of games. Although James is extremely athletic and talented, he still has room for improvement as a run defender and in coverage. James' talent is best utilized in an active, attacking capacity in a robber role or near the line of scrimmage where he can support the run, blitz and handle physical coverage responsibilities.
3. Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
Overview (via NFL.com): Combination safety with all the size and athletic traits you could hope for in a safety. Harrison is a fluid athlete with few athletic limitations and has the ability to fit into a variety of defensive schemes. His penchant for flying in shoulder first will need to get cleaned or risk giving up missed tackles and big plays. Harrison's physical approach and urgency in run support gives him a chance to start early.
4. Justin Reid, Stanford
Overview (via NFL.com): Reid is what teams are looking for at the safety position in 2018. He's a plus size/speed prospect who has the athletic ability to help with man coverage and the instincts and ball skills for ball-hawking duties on the back end. Reid can get himself into some trouble when he's overly aggressive, but his positive plays far outweigh the negative. He has the talent to become an early starter and a good one. Reid's instincts and play traits should make him a safe selection with Pro Bowl potential down the road.
5. Jessie Bates III, Wake Forest
Overview (via NFL.com): Versatile safety option with the athletic ability to handle man coverage responsibilities in space and the instincts and ball skills to post ball production in zone coverage. Bates is more than willing as a hitter, but can get himself in trouble as an open-field tackler due to inconsistent pursuit angles and technique. Bates plays with energy and aggressiveness and is likely to fill a stat sheet with production thanks to his versatility and play traits. He should contribute early on defense and special teams and has a chance to become a good NFL starter.
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