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2021 NFL Draft Preview: Are The Seahawks Set At Running Back After Re-Signing Chris Carson? 

A look at where the Seahawks stand at running back heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, and at some of the top prospects at that position. 

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Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) evades a tackle by Notre Dame defensive lineman Adetokunbo Ogundeji (91) as he runs for a touchdown during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

The 2021 NFL draft kicks off on Thursday, April 29, though as things currently stand, the Seahawks will be sitting out Day 1 of the draft having traded their first-round pick to acquire safety Jamal Adams last summer. While the Seahawks could always add more picks via trades, for now they have just three picks due to the trades made to acquire Adams, defensive end Carlos Dunlap II and guard Gabe Jackson. And whether the Seahawks end up making just those three picks or if John Schneider works his magic and they end up selecting more players, there will still be opportunities to add talent to the roster, so over the next two weeks, Seahawks.com will take a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Seahawks, as well as the top draft prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position over the past 11 drafts under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

So far we've covered the offensive and defensive lines, and today we take a look at where things stand at running back. Tomorrow we'll turn our attention to safety.

Seattle's 2021 Draft Picks: Round 2, No. 56 overall; Round 4, No. 129 overall; Round 7, Pick No. 250 overall.

Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider: Robert Turbin (No. 106 overall, 2012); Christine Michael (No. 62, 2013); Spencer Ware (No. 194, 2013); Kiero Small (No. 227, 2014); C.J. Prosise (No. 90, 2016); Alex Collins (No. 171, 2016); Zac Brooks (No. 247, 2016); Chris Carson (No. 249, 2017); Rashaad Penny (No. 27, 2018); Travis Homer, (No. 204, 2019); DeeJay Dallas (No. 114, 2020).

Where The Seahawks Stand

The Seahawks had serious questions at running back heading into free agency with both of their top two backs from 2020, Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, headed to free agency. Add to that the fact that Carroll stated running the ball more effectively as one of his big goals heading into 2021, and running back had a chance to be a position of need had Hyde and Carson both signed elsewhere. But while Hyde did leave for Jacksonville, the Seahawks were able to re-sign Carson, a big development for their offense going forward. 

In addition to having Carson back, the Seahawks also should have a healthy Rashaad Penny after the former first-round pick missed most of last season while recovering from a torn ACL. The hope will be that those two can again be the one-two punch they were providing for Seattle's offense late in the 2019 season before Penny's knee injury. The Seahawks also brought back Alex Collins, who played well late in the season after rejoining the team that drafted him in 2016, as well as Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas, so the depth is strong. That doesn't mean more depth and competition can't be added to the mix—the third-down role is still up for grabs—but the Seahawks can head into the draft comfortable that there isn't a big need at running back.

NFL.com's Top 5 Running Backs

1. Travis Etienne, Clemson

Overview (via NFL.com): Rampaging, loose-hipped runner who wins with force and speed. Etienne's scheme will create favorable boxes for him to run into at times, but his contact balance and overall will to avoid being tackled has earned plenty of tough yardage. He has average size and runs with long strides and a frenetic pace that hampers his quick-cut control and fluidity at times. However, he has home-run speed in the open field and runs with fury and pop to finish near the goal line. He's a greatly improved pass-catching option but needs to step up consistently in pass protection. His tools for creating yardage stand out during games and that same presence should be on display as a dangerous pro back.

2. Najee Harris, Alabama

Overview (via NFL.com): Plus-sized runner who elevated his game and draft stock with a well-rounded performance in 2020. Harris showed improved short-area creativity and elusiveness to go with his trademark physicality. Creates additional yardage with both wiggle and power, but he lacks desired top gear to change games in a flash. He handled a heavier lift in 2020, with almost 300 total touches in 13 games. Harris' value as a third-down option out of the backfield and as a personal protector should not be underestimated after his performance in his senior year. His running style could shorten his career, but he's a tough, three-down runner who can immediately upgrade a running game.

3. Javonte Williams, North Carolina

Overview (via NFL.com): Big, broad bully back who runs with an exciting blend of animosity and feel as a future every-down starter in the league. With just 366 carries under his collegiate belt, Williams hasn't seen much tread come off the tires, but teams might speculate that his running style could lead to some in-season wear and tear. He's a terror behind his pads, creating yardage by battering and discarding tackle attempts. He sees the front fairly well and has above-average hips and the creativity to add to his rush total with more than just power. He lacks run-away speed for the long touchdowns but runs with above-average vision and contact balance to succeed at a high rate near the goal line. He tends to trust the blocking scheme and keep his runs on track but can recalibrate when needed. Williams is best-suited to gap, power and inside zone rather than flowing wide, where he lacks one-cut quickness. He will drop passes from time to time but has the route-running and protection toughness to take over as a three-down RB1 fairly early in his career.

4. Trey Sermon, Ohio State

Overview (via NFL.com): Great-looking running back at a quick glance, but one who suffers from inconsistency in creativity and decisiveness. The regular-season tape at Ohio State was fairly disappointing relative to the talent he showed at Oklahoma, but his monster postseason should quell some concerns. At both schools, the interior vision and decision-making was suspect and would run him into some traffic. He does have potential as an outside-zone back, where he has more time and space to utilize his skills. He has size and open-field speed and will step up and handle his business in pass protection, as well as catch it out of the backfield. So, while Sermon's skill level as a runner is somewhat average, his potential as a three-down backup with upside should create middle-round interest.

5. Michael Carter, North Carolina

Overview (via NFL.com): Complementary back with adequate size, toughness and athletic ability. He's at his best when running off-tackle and working behind and setting up lead blocks. While he has crisp feet for quick cuts and directional change, he displays somewhat average creativity and instincts in eluding linebackers and safeties who fit up into positioning between the tackles. He plays with good burst and could be a very good fit for an outside-zone scheme where he can one-cut downhill and get into space. He has soft hands and enough tape to show that he can snap off man coverage as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He's willing to stand in and protect his quarterback, too. He could go in the middle rounds but has "committee" potential early on.

NFL.com's rankings of the top running back prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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