The Seahawks kicked off Phase 3 of their offseason workout program Monday with the first of 10 sessions of organized team activities that will take place between now and June's mandatory minicamp. On Thursday, OTAs will be open to the media, and we'll have coverage on Seahawks.com, but before that, it's time once again to answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to yours this time around. Mingo's Role, Candidates For A Breakout Season & More In This Week's Seahawks Twitter Q&A
@VanceBoyer asks, "What do you expect from Barkevious Mingo this season? I have pretty high hopes for him, liked him a lot when he got drafted?"
A: Well, Vance, you're not alone in those high hopes. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have also expressed excitement about adding the former first-round pick in free agency this offseason.
While Mingo will have to compete this summer and in the preseason to win the job, he's got a real shot to be the team's starting strongside linebacker in the base defense, while also serving as a pass-rusher in nickel packages. Carroll also sees Mingo as a potential impact player on special teams.
"A big role," Carroll said in March at the annual league meetings when asked about Mingo. "This is a very versatile football player. Just start off with he's got a tremendous motor and because of that he has been a big factor on special teams, so right off the bat he is going to be a core special teams guy. We are going to start him at SAM linebacker with the thought of using him there in base defenses and then also as a rush guy. He's been able to be very versatile as a rusher. He's been an edge rusher, he has great speed and a great motor to bring off the edge. He also has done a lot of things in terms of moving in and out and being able to move him around especially in aspects of the third down package, so I'm looking forward to that."
@Gurjittumber25 asks, "With the new kickoff rules being implemented, does that increase the chances for Tyler Lockett or Rashaad Penny to take one to the house?"
A: If you missed it Tuesday, the NFL adopted some changes to the kickoff rule for 2018, and the play should look quite a bit different in 2018. Whether that means more big returns or not remains to be seen, but I could definitely see a scenario where these changes—in particular the lack of a running start for the coverage team—lead to some bigger returns. On the other hand, forcing the return team to have eight players closer to the line of scrimmage while also eliminating wedge blocks could make it tougher to set up returns. Whatever happens, it'll be interesting to see how things play out.
@Jacearete asks, "Who's our starting running back, Mike Davis, Chris Carson or Rashaad Penny?"
A: The fact that the Seahawks took Penny in the first round would seem to indicate they expect big things out the San Diego State product, but that doesn't guarantee him anything. Penny has the size, speed and elusiveness to be a very good running back, but he'll still have to earn his playing time in what figures to be a competitive backfield. Carson got off to a great start as a rookie and won the starting job early last season, but he played only four games before sustaining a season-ending leg injury. He's healthy and back on the field now, and will be out to show he can still be a starting back after the injury. Davis, meanwhile, not only finished the year strong, but he also finished the year healthy, no small accomplishment at a position that has been hit hard by injuries over the past three seasons. And let's not count out C.J. Prosise either. Yes, the third-year back has battled numerous injuries in his first two seasons, but if he can stay healthy, he has shown in flashes the potential to be a difference maker. The good news for whoever doesn't win the starting job is that running back is a position where multiple backs can make a difference in any given game, particularly if the Seahawks succeed in their goal of improving their running game this season.
@gnarlyraddad asks, "Are there any players you think will have a breakout year?"
A: With a handful of starters leaving on both sides of the ball, there will be opportunities for players to step up into bigger roles, so yes, I'd imagine we'll see a few breakout players in 2018. If by breakout player you mean a starting-type player becoming even better known this year, I could see someone like Shaquill Griffin, Frank Clark or Jarran Reed fitting that description. All three were big parts of Seattle's defense in 2017, but should only get better as their games mature. Also, if Kam Chancellor is unable to play this season because of a neck injury—he's expected to have more tests later this summer—Bradley McDougald could be in for a big year if he ends up starting a full season at strong safety.
And if by breakout you mean a player who had a limited role in the past moving into a bigger role this year, I'd point perhaps to tight end Nick Vannett or receiver Amara Darboh. With Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson leaving in free agency, there's room for at least one receiver and two tight ends to earn a lot more playing time, and while some of that could go to offseason additions such as Ed Dickson and Will Dissly at tight end or Marcus Johnson and Jaron Brown at receiver, Vannett and Darboh are a pair of returning players with great opportunities to make their mark in 2018.
@MartinKendell asks, "Is there any hope for the offensive line?"
A: To piggy back off the last question, I would argue that the offensive line could be something of a breakout unit in 2018 despite not making a ton of changes—or perhaps because there weren't a ton of changes. The Seahawks made a change at offensive line coach, bringing in Mike Solari, and signed D.J. Fluker as a potential starting right guard, but otherwise they could end up with four returning starters on the line. Does that mean the Seahawks will suddenly have the best offensive line in the NFL? Probably not, but with Pro-Bowl left tackle Duane Brown and center Justin Britt leading the way for a group that could have more continuity than in recent years, there are reasons to believe this unit will take a big step forward this season.
"This is the best we've been in some time," Carroll said earlier this offseason. "A little quietly it's emerging that it's a very good group and it's going to be one that we're going to look forward to seeing some real progress made… It hasn't been mentioned that much, but we feel like we have continuity. We haven't said that in so many years, but we feel like we have some continuity on the offensive line, so we're looking forward to it."
Earlier this week, Britt expressed a similar opinion as the team kicked off OTAs.
"There's a lot of depth in our room right now—guys who can do it all and play a lot of spots—so the potential of having those guys back and starting is really good for us, not only for continuity, but leadership wise and what we expect out of each other," Britt said. "It'll be cool to see how it all unfolds and who ends up where."
@Shaunblahblah asks, "If you were to pick three Seattle sports media/reporters to fill out a bar trivia team, who would they be and what would each of their "expert knowledge" topics be?"
A: If I can have more than three, this is easy and not a hypothetical, because a group of media members actually does trivia pretty regularly at Dino's Pub and they win pretty frequently.
There's Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, who's pretty much a walking encyclopedia, especially when it comes to old Pac 10/12 football history. Times columnist Larry Stone and Mariners reporter Ryan Divish know all things baseball, plus Stone and Condotta are old enough to cover older TV/movie/music trivia, while Divish also has the 80s and 90s movies covered (big John Hughes fan or something) Then there's professional twitter nuisance Alex Akita, whose real job is something of a mystery to everyone, but he's got 90s pop-culture and boy bands locked down.
The Seahawks started Phase 3 of their voluntary offseason workout program this week, hosting the second of 9 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Tuesday, May 22 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.