The Seahawks wrapped up offseason workouts last week with a three-day minicamp, and for a number of reasons, head coach Pete Carroll is very excited about what he saw over the course of his team's offseason workout program. Players and coaches now get to enjoy some downtime before training camp kicks off at the end of July, which makes this a great time to answer some questions from Seahawks fans. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to submit a question this week, and apologies if we couldn't get to yours this time around.
@Mitch74010333 asks, "What do you think are the chances of Shaquill Griffin starting at cornerback opposite Richard Sherman?"
A:When training camp kicks off, one of the more interesting competitions for any one starting spot will be the one taking place at right cornerback. With last year's starter, DeShawn Shead, unlikely to be ready for the start of the season because of a knee injury, that job is currently open for someone to take hold of in camp. As of now, Jeremy Lane would be considered the favorite if only for his significant edge over the rest of the field when it comes to experience, having started 15 games in his career, playing significant snaps in plenty more games. Last year, Shead beat out Lane for the starting job at right corner, but Lane still was a big part of the defense as Seattle's nickel corner, and he has looked even better this offseason, Carroll noted at the end of minicamp.
"He sees the opportunity," Carroll said. "He's really going for it. Across the board, everybody's evaluation of Jeremy across the entire program is that he's really focused, really tuned in, he's really ready to go for it. He's physically as fit as he has been in a long time. Remember, he had a really difficult offseason a couple years back, and it has taken him almost a couple years to overcome all of that, and he's back to full form. But more than that, his focus is really on it to seize this opportunity. We feel really good about that, and then there's guys nipping at his heels, but that's probably the obvious statement there."
Among those "guys nipping at his heels" is Shaquill Griffin, a third-round pick who has made a good first impression, with defensive coordinator Kris Richard saying, "He's got probably one of the best corner minds that we've had for a young guy around here." And this is far from being a two-man race—there are other players on the roster, ranging from Neiko Thorpe to DeAndre Elliott to Pierre Desir, a member of the practice squad about whom Carroll and Schneider have spoken highly this offseason, who could also factor into the competition.
The Seahawks are very demanding of their cornerbacks, both in terms of the technique they ask them to play, and even more importantly, the discipline required to play for a coach who, above almost anything else, abhors giving up big plays on defense. There's a reason most of Seattle's best corners have taken time to develop—Lane, Shead and Byron Maxwell all made their mark on special teams long before they were starters, and even Richard Sherman had to wait until the middle of his rookie season to earn a starting job, and that came after Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond both went down with injuries. But the Seahawks did think highly enough of Griffin to make him the highest-drafted cornerback of the Carroll/John Schneider regime, so it's certainly feasible that he could find his way onto the field right away, either as a starter, or as a third corner if Lane won the starting job.
@athanjk asks, "Who's slotted for the last linebacker position? And what does Griffin have to display to earn a starting job at CB?"
A:We covered corner already, but as Athan notes, there's also an opening at strongside linebacker with last year's starter, Michael Morgan, a free agent. While strongside, or Sam, linebacker is not an every-down position because of how much nickel is played in today's NFL, it's still an important part of Seattle's defense. The Seahawks signed three veteran linebackers this offseason, and two of them, Michael Wilhoite and Terence Garvin, are among the options for that job. Other contenders could still emerge in camp, as of now, those two seem to be the leaders heading into this break.
"The linebacker spot is the most competitive it has been," Carroll said. "Michael Wilhoite coming in, he's an experienced player who can play for us. He can play Mike, Will or Sam, that's a really big boost to us. Terence Garvin has looked really good at the Sam position. He was a DB coming out of college, so he's got good coverage skills that we're looking for in that position, as well as enough size and strength to play on the edge. He's battling it out with Mike Wilhoite right now there, that's a really good competitive spot."
@okaken300 asks, "Who do you think will start at every offensive line position?" While @yo_ger asks, "Can you rate what you've seen so far from the offensive line compared to last year?"
A:While it's too soon to predict a starting five—players haven't even practiced in pads yet, let alone played preseason games—we do know, based on what Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable have said this offseason, what options they're looking at along the line.
On the left side, three players are in the mix for two starting jobs, with George Fant battling to keep his starting job at left tackle, while free-agent addition Luke Joeckel and second-year guard/tackle Rees Odhiambo are both competing at guard and tackle. Joeckel, who is coming back from a knee injury that ended his 2016 season, was limited in what he could do in offseason workouts, so it may take a while for that competition to sort itself out.
While every job is up for competition, Justin Britt at center seems like the closest thing to a lock along the line based on how well he played there last year. Right guard is shaping up to be a competition between Mark Glowinski, last year's starter at left guard, Oday Aboushi, a free-agent addition, and perhaps also second-round pick Ethan Pocic, who has worked at both right tackle and right guard since arriving in Seattle. Last year's starter at right guard, Germain Ifedi, has moved outside to tackle, and looks to be the frontrunner there, but given his and Pocic's versatility, things could always change between now and September.
As for comparing last year to this year, again, it's awfully early to judge much, but Cable is excited about this group, both in terms of the growth he has seen from young players, and also because of the players added to the mix in free agency and the draft. After seeing his group throughout offseason workouts, Cable said, "You can expect us to be much further along in our preparation as we get ready for camp."
"I'm the most excited coach on the staff right now," Cable said. "That's what I've told Coach (Pete Carroll) and (general manager) John (Schneider)—I appreciate them putting this together in a year's time and doing a fantastic job. Our personnel guys nailed this, so it's just a matter of getting them in the right spots and going and playing ball.
"I'm excited as camp approaches. I think we've made some progress towards being ready to go to training camp. That means teaching the offense and getting the young kids involved. I think we're right where we should be at this point… Really all those kids, from George to Germain to Rees, they all have matured a year. It's kind of like a freshman in college. If you play them right away, it can be painful at times, but they make big strides, and they've done that. They've all matured and handled this thing really, really well."
@StevenDeJong93 asks, "With Carroll saying they want Eddie Lacy to play big, can we determine the Seahawks' ideal dimensions for each position?"
A:Short answer: big, fast, athletic and strong is generally good.
But on a more serious note, while the Seahawks, like any team, have ideals at various positions, one of the things that has made the Seahawks so successful is the way they have found players with unique attributes from a scouting standpoint, and found ways to develop and maximize those attributes from a coaching standpoint.
Yes, the Seahawks want defensive tackles to be a certain size to stop the run, and they want cornerbacks to have a certain arm length or height, but they aren't going to only look at players of certain dimensions at certain positions. Carroll's USC teams were known for producing big, physical receivers, but the best receiver in this era of Seahawks football has been Doug Baldwin, who while not big by NFL receiver standards, is unusually quick, has a great feel for the game and has plenty of other attributes that make him a Pro-Bowl receiver at 5-foot-10. Red Bryant hardly fit the mold of a typical NFL defensive end, but Carroll and Dan Quinn saw in an underutilized tackle a potential run-stuffing end, and Bryant became a key part of the Seahawks defense from 2010 to 2013. Russell Wilson, as you may have heard a few times before, is a bit short compared to most NFL quarterbacks, but his other attributes, ranging from his athletic ability to his arm strength to his decision making to his work ethic allow him to overcome that perceived flaw.
As Schneider often says, the easiest thing to do in scouting is look at a player and say what he can't do. What the Seahawks have done so well under Schneider and Carroll is evaluate players and look for what they can do to succeed in the NFL.
@kmasterman asks, "Could Coco beat you in a 40-yard dash if you had to run backwards?"
A:For those who don't know, Coco is the nickname of our 2-year-old daughter (and if you follow me on any form of social media, you probably knew that already, because I'm that dad). Anyway, I'm pretty confident that I could still win that race, but it's only a matter of time until age catches up with me—and helps her—and she'll be able to beat me no matter how I try to run.
@itsruvim asks, "How's the backfield looking so far? Who's getting the most carries?"
A:Following minicamp, Carroll raved about the depth of running back, which with the addition of Eddie Lacy and with the health of Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise, should be one of the more competitive position groups in camp, both in terms of who gets the bulk of the carries, and also in the competition for the final spot or two on the roster.
While Lacy and Rawls have both been starters in the past, that doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be a clear-cut No. 1 and No. 2 in Seattle's offense. Carroll has long talked about liking a one-two punch at running back, and if the Seahawks are going to get back to running the ball better and more frequently—something Carroll has mentioned several times this offseason—there will be enough carries for both of those players, as well as Prosise, to have significant roles in the offense.
"Wow, I think it's an exciting group," Carroll said last week. "We've never been this strong with this many guys who can compete and do things. We have a variety of different guys that have different strengths that they bring. It was incredibly beneficial for us to see C.J. make it through the whole time. He has a great scope that he fills for us. He can come out of the backfield and he can run routes as a receiver and he looked really good running the ball behind the line of scrimmage. It was like, one day after another, nobody wanted to say anything because he started to add up some days finally. Because he's never had consistent preparation behind him. So he goes into this six weeks hugely ahead of where he's been in years past and we have really high hopes. But he has his way, and Eddie has his way. Eddie's going to run big and thick and tough and so is Thomas. Alex (Collins) had by far his best work done in the last three or four weeks. He has just been so consistent for us. We didn't get to see Chris Carson much. Mike Davis did a nice job too. I don't know if I left anyone out there. But the group is really competitive and it's going to be hard to come up with enough snaps with these guys to figure it out but we'll do the best we can. And I'm really fired up about Chris Carson—I love that we picked him up. So we'll see a lot of him in camp."
@AlexEricksonFan asks, "With Tanner McEvoy having toe surgery, how's the competition for that last receiver spot looking?"
A:In addition to running back, Carroll has pointed to receiver as being one of the more competitive position groups on the roster. In addition to the four players who saw the bulk of the playing time last year—Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson—the Seahawks have a number of other players pushing for jobs and playing time. McEvoy, who made the team as an undrafted rookie last year, is a candidate for a job, as are rookie draft picks Amara Darboh and David Moore, and returning players like Kenny Lawler and Kasen Williams. And that list doesn't included undrafted rookies like Cyril Grayson Jr. and Darreus Rogers, and if past history is any indicator, there's a pretty good chance an undrafted rookie could emerge in camp as a legitimate contender for a spot on the team. The Seahawks have usually kept five or six receivers on the 53-man roster, so the competition for those jobs should be fierce.
@TruthisTold2U asks, "How is the health of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor?"
A:You can find more details here, but the health of both of those players, and of Thomas in particular, was a bright spot in offseason workouts.
Chancellor had surgery on both ankles this spring to clean up bone spurs, and was running around looking like his old self during minicamp. Thomas, meanwhile, is coming back from the broken leg that ended his 2016 season early, and is "way beyond" where he or the Seahawks thought he would be at this time, Carroll said.
Finally, former longtime Sports Radio 950 KJR host @gasman206 proposes a rule change, and it's a weird one: "If a kicker attempts a field goal and the ball sticks to either upright, the game is over and his team wins. Good idea?"
A:I'm confused how a football is going to stick to a goalpost unless maybe it lands really delicately right in the corner between the cross bar and upright, but has that ever happened? I've yet to see it. Would kickers start trying to sneak Stickum on the ball if this rule passed? Or go out and put glue on the goalpost during pregame warmups? Now if the goal was just to hit the upright, it would be interesting to see how often kickers could do that intentionally. We see plenty of kicks doink off the posts throughout an NFL season, but could a kicker do that on purpose with a win on the line? Now I'm intrigued.
Check out photos from Day 3 of the Seahawks' mandatory minicamp at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.