With the 2016 NFL season now in the books, and the 2017 league year not yet upon us, now is a good time to take a look at where things stand for the Seahawks. Over the next two weeks, we'll do a position-by-position breakdown of the Seahawks, both looking back at the 2016 season and looking ahead to 2017. Today, the focus is on cornerback.
With Richard Sherman established as the starter at left cornerback, DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane battled for the other starting job, with Shead emerging as the winner of that competition, while Lane still played a big role in the defense as Seattle's nickel corner.
Sherman again played like one of the league's best corners, recording a team-high four interceptions on his way for a fourth consecutive Pro Bowl selection. As is usually the case for the corner opposite Sherman, Shead was tested often and held up well to that challenge, proving to be a valuable piece of the defense.
"I thought he had a very good year and was challenged a ton on the other side of Sherm, that can wear anybody out, and he hung in there tough all season," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He made a considerable amount of plays and all that, he's a terrific team guy."
Unfortunately for Shead and the Seahawks, he sustained a torn ACL in Seattle's postseason loss at Atlanta, an injury that could affect his availability for the start of the season.
Notable Number: 11
The Seahawks had just 11 interceptions, their lowest total in seven seasons under Carroll. And while that stat has to do with a lot more than just cornerback play, it is a number that Carroll, who puts so much emphasis on winning the turnover battle, will want to see improve going forward.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear in his end-of-season press conference that this is a position where he'd like to add depth. The Seahawks saw positive developments in free-agent addition Neiko Thorpe and undrafted rookie DeAndre Elliott, but with Shead's status for the start of the season in question, the Seahawks will likely look to add reinforcements to help Sherman, Lane and company.
"We have to think like we have to pull from the ranks of the guys and see how they do," Carroll said. "I thought DeAndre Elliott did a nice job in the bits that he played, Neiko did some nice stuff for us, too, there were a couple other guys there on the roster that have looked good and looked competitive. We're going to have to do a really nice job of coaching in the case that DeShawn doesn't make it back able to go. If he's not available we're going to really miss him but we have to go for it with the other guys. Obviously there will be a chance to address that in the draft, too, and there will be plenty of chances. Right now we're excited about some of the guys coming up."
The Seahawks have never drafted a cornerback higher than the fourth round under Carroll and general manager John Schneider, but whether or not that changes this spring, look for the Seahawks to add to the competition at corner at some point this offseason.
What The Future Holds
Shead's injury is obviously a negative, but with Sherman and Lane coming back healthy, and with Seattle's history of developing cornerbacks under Carroll, there are still plenty of reasons for optimism for this position group going forward. In addition to Thorpe and Elliott, the Seahawks have two players on their 90-man roster, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Mohammed Seisay, who missed last season due to injury, but who have the size and physical skills the Seahawks look for in their corners.
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Wide Receiver
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Offensive Line
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Defensive Line
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Quarterback
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Safety
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Running Back
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Linebacker
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Tight End
- Offseason Position Breakdown: Special Teams
The best photos from team photographer Rod Mar's behind-the-scenes 'Eye on the Hawks' photo blog from the Seattle Seahawks' 2016 NFL season.