NFL free agency is still ongoing, but things have definitely slowed down since the first couple of weeks, and the draft is still a couple of weeks away, which makes this a good time to look both at where things stand for the Seahawks right now and at what could lie ahead in the draft. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to submit a question this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@kibbykibbykibby asks, "Who do you feel will have a breakout season on offense and defense?"
A: I could give you my opinion on this, or we could ask Michael Bennett, who answered this very question on 710 ESPN Seattle earlier this offseason. Bennett named defensive tackle Jarran Reed, offensive tackle Garry Gilliam and running back Thomas Rawls as three breakout candidates.
If you want a few more options, I'd suggest any of Seattle's young offensive linemen, depending on how things turn out there, running back C.J. Prosise if he is able to stay healthy in 2017, or on defense, there are a few candidates at cornerback depending on how things shake out at right corner if DeShawn Shead isn't back by the start of the season. And I don't know if a two-year starter qualifies as a breakout candidate, but since he's new to the Seahawks, I'd say keep an eye on safety Bradley McDougald, who figures to have a significant role on defense even though the Seahawks already have a pair of All-Pro starters at safety.
@john_wrede asks why teams say they draft best player available instead of drafting for need?
A: Something you're likely to hear come draft time from talent evaluators in any sport is that they'll take the best player available, regardless of need. And the logic there is sound—you don't want to pass on a sure thing just to fill a need elsewhere. But to some extent, nearly every team factors need into their draft evaluations, and the Seahawks have made no secret of the fact that they do that when it comes to setting their draft board.
General manager John Schneider has said, on multiple occasions, that the Seahawks grade players based on their team, not based on the league, which is to say they factor in how a player would fit into their roster. That being said, the Seahawks won't pass up what they see as a great value—as Schneider would put it, a player sitting there all alone on the draft board at a certain point in the draft—but if the Seahawks see two players as equally talented and one has a chance to start right away while the other plays a position already manned by an All-Pro talent, the player at the position of need is going to have the higher draft grade.
"We're definitely in a growth mindset, so we grade for our team, we don't grade for the league," Schneider said last year on Sports Radio KJR. "… We grade for what our team looks like. What ends up happening, you just have specific positions that are pushed, if you will. Like the year we took (James Carpenter), everybody thought we took Carp too high. Well, we had a specific need, so that's why he was moved up. That's the way we've done it over the years. We have the same process, we grade the same way, our grading scale is the same, but we're always looking towards the future in terms of, how do we address who's coming up as a free agent, who can compete at left guard or who can compete at center or left tackle? Those are the things we focus on instead of saying, 'OK, this guy's a first rounder, why is he a first-rounder? Here's a description of a first rounder.'"
@CouRouge1 asks, "What should I choose first, paper, rock or scissors?"
A: Always go rock. In the words of Bart Simpson's internal monologue, "Good old rock, nothing beats that."
@NexuxFromBricki asks, "What position do you think is a top priority with our first pick, defensive back or offensive tackle/guard?" and @Whompetgaming asks if the Seahawks should add three cornerbacks in the draft.
A: As addressed earlier, need very much does factor into the decision making that will go on during the draft. That doesn't mean the Seahawks will draft what you or I see as a perceived need with their first pick regardless of how they grade a player, but the makeup of the current roster will be a factor when the draft kicks off in a couple of weeks.
As for which is the biggest need, it's probably fair to say it could be cornerback seeing as starter DeShawn Shead is coming off of a serious knee injury that very well could cause him to miss the start of the season. And beyond Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane, the Seahawks have very little experienced depth on their roster—plenty of young talent they like, just not a ton of experience. Seeing as this is considered to be a very good defensive back class, it would not be surprising at all to see the Seahawks go that direction with one or more of their early-round picks. Will the Seahawks pick three corners in one draft? That might be a high estimate, but then again, they did take three running backs a year ago, so if the right value is there to be had, it's certainly a possibility. Offensive line, meanwhile, looked to be a top need coming into the offseason, but the additions of Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi do add experience to that position group. That doesn't mean the Seahawks still won't draft offensive linemen, but those signings should keep them from feeling like they have to regardless of what's available.
And speaking of that topic…
@nMallis254 asks, "Do you feel the latest free agency moves are to fill holes so they can draft the best player available instead of need?"
A: Lots of need vs. best player available discussion this week, huh? As for this question, the Seahawks, like all NFL teams, look to fill holes in free agency in part so they have more flexibility in the draft. The linemen the Seahawks signed this offseason are one example, as are the multiple linebackers the Seahawks have signed in free agency. Those moves don't rule out the possibility of drafting those positions, or even of doing so with an early pick, but they do help keep the Seahawks from feeling like they have to reach to fill a glaring need.
@Blitzin44 asks why the Seahawks don't have more variety in their preseason schedule from year to year.
A: While it might be fun for fans to see different teams in the preseason, the key factor at play here is location. NFL teams, and especially those as geographically isolated as the Seahawks, travel a lot of miles during the regular season, so if the choice for the Seahawks is playing Oakland every year or having to go to the east coast for a game that doesn't count in the standings, then it's going to be the Raiders every year. Teams don't want to play divisional opponents in the preseason, so for the Seahawks, the closest opponents are always going to be AFC West foes, who this year make of three fourths of Seattle's preseason schedule. And Minnesota, the Seahawks' only non AFC West opponent this preseason, is closer to Seattle than any other NFL team that plays outside of the AFC and NFC West.
@matthewpark1971 asks, "How many quarterbacks will the Seahawks have in camp this year?"
A: At least three. While the Seahawks have gone with two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster more often than not under Carroll and Schneider, it's tough to get through training camp with only two, which is why the Seahawks are all but certain to add at least one if not a couple of quarterbacks between now and the end of July.
The Seahawks 12K saw 12s showcase their team spirit from The Landing in Renton along Lake Washington to the club's Virginia Mason Athletic Center practice facility, with proceeds from the event benefitting A Better Seattle, an initiative working to reduce and prevent youth and gang violence in the greater Seattle area.