The Seahawks' offseason workout program comes to an end this week with a three-day mandatory minicamp that kicks off on Tuesday. With the whole team, or something very close to it, on the field over the span of three days, this will be the best look yet at the players who will make up the 2021 version of the Seahawks. With that in mind, here are five storylines worth keeping an eye on during this week's minicamp:
1. Are there early frontrunners in the cornerback competition?
While there will be competitions for roster spots and starting spots in just about every position group—Russell Wilson is probably safe at quarterback—no spot is more wide open than cornerback, which features five veterans with significant starting experience, as well as rookie Tre Brown, competing for the two outside spots.
If there were front-runners at this point, it would probably be D.J. Reed, who played very well last year after taking over a starting role due to injuries, and didn't give it up even after Tre Flowers was healthy, as well as Ahkello Witherspoon, a former starter for the 49ers who was one of Seattle's first free-agency additions this offseason. But those two are far from locks to start thanks to a deep competition that also features Flowers, a starter for each of his first two seasons and part of last season; Pierre Desir, a former starter for the Colts and Jets who also has experience in Seattle's defense; and Damarious Randall, a former first-round pick who is moving from safety back to cornerback, the position he played during his first three seasons as a starter in Green Bay.
With minimal contact allowed, defensive backs won't get a chance to show everything they can do, but the corners vying for starting spots can show off their coverage skills this week and began making their cases for starting jobs and roster spots.
2. Do any offensive linemen push for spots in the presumed starting five?
The Seahawks return four starters from last year's line—tackles Duane Brown and Brandon Shell, guard Damien Lewis and center Ethan Pocic—and made a trade for a longtime starter, guard Gabe Jackson, who presumably will take over for the retired Mike Iupati, so the starting line is pretty much set, right?
Well, maybe the line isn't set in stone, not yet at least. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has mentioned unprompted, on a few occasions, how well Cedric Ogbuehi played in relief of an injured Shell last year, and said Ogbuehi will get a real chance to compete for that right tackle job. Pocic, meanwhile, will face competition from Kyle Lewis, Carroll has said this offseason.
From a big-picture standpoint, Carroll noted earlier this offseason that the lack of offseason workout last year, as well as preseason games, made it difficult to have as much competition for some spots as he would have like, including the offensive line. So with last week's OTAs, this week's minicamps and a preseason this year, expect a bit more competition for starting spots. Nothing will be decided this week, but if nothing else, minicamp can give an early look at who is competing for first-team reps and at what spots.
3. How is Darrell Taylor adjusting to his new dual role?
One of the most interesting developments early this offseason has been the Seahawks' use of 2020 second-round pick Darrell Taylor at strongside linebacker. Taylor, who missed his entire rookie season with a leg injury, was drafted as a defensive end and is still expected to play that position, but he has also been playing strongside linebacker in Seattle's base defense.
With K.J. Wright, who played the strongside spot last year, still a free agent, that spot remains wide open and as of now it appears Taylor and Cody Barton are the most likely two players to take over that role. Should Barton win that competition, Taylor still has a good chance to be a factor in the pass-rush rotation, but if Taylor can handle that spot, he could end up playing dual linebacker/D-end role like Bruce Irvin did during his time in Seattle.
4. The D-line rotation.
The Seahawks should be really deep at defensive end this year after re-signing Carlos Dunlap II and Benson Mayowa and signing Kerry Hyder Jr in free agency, with those three veterans joining L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Alton Robinson and Taylor in the rotation. What's less clear is what the Seahawks' depth will look like at defensive tackle, particularly with Jarran Reed no longer on the team, having been released in a salary-cap related move. Poona Ford presumably will handle one starting spot at defensive tackle, but the other spot appears to be open to competition between the likes of veteran Al Woods, a free-agent addition, and younger players like Bryan Mone and Cedrick Lattimore. Or perhaps could former first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche even factor into that competition.
Also worth watching this week and particularly in camp will be how often defensive ends like Collier, Green and Hyder move inside, something they did frequently last year and could do even more given the depth at end.
5. What rookies stand out?
The Seahawks only selected three players in this year's draft, receiver D'Wayne Eskridge, cornerback Tre Brown and tackle Stone Forsythe, but those won't be the only rookies looking to impress as they go against veterans in minicamp. That small draft class means Seattle's 13 undrafted free agent signings will be heading into training camp knowing at least a few of them will have a real shot to make the 53-man roster, and you can bet all of them know that every time they take the field, a June minicamp included, they have an opportunity to help their case come roster cut time.
As for the draft class, as mentioned earlier, Brown is part of a deep cornerback competition, so every rep will be important for him to show that he can hang with the veterans in that position group. Eskridge, meanwhile, is trying to win the No. 3 receiver role and would love to make a strong early impression on his offensive coaches and teammates. Forsythe's chance to shine won't really come until the pads go on in camp, but he can at least show that he has a good early grasp on the offense.
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' organized team activities held on Thursday, June 10 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.