Three-quarters of the Seahawks 'Legion of Boom' defensive backfield competed in Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots bearing significant injury.
The All-Pro trio of cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas, and strong safety Kam Chancellor played with, and through, a damaged elbow (Sherman), a dislocated shoulder (Thomas), and a torn MCL (Chancellor). They were setbacks Sherman and Thomas endured two weeks prior in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers, and in Chancellor's case, in practice two days before this past February's big game.
All three LOB-members are expected to be ready by the start of the 2015 regular season, with Thomas the only one undergoing offseason surgery. But the secondary has suffered its share of setbacks in recent months, with starting cornerback Byron Maxwell signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency and Jeremy Lane's season-opening status in doubt after the nickel cornerback hurt his forearm and ACL in the team's final game of 2014 against New England.
The loss of Maxwell and question marks surrounding Lane led the Seahawks to sign veteran cornerback Cary Williams on the NFL's open market, but the team also took steps to bolster its depth at the position in this past weekend's draft.
In the fifth round, Seattle selected cornerback Tye Smith, a 6-foot, 195-product out of Towson University, located just north of Baltimore, Md.
"I think this is the best team for me, as far as my style of play," Smith said via conference call shortly after the Seahawks made him the 170th overall pick, which happened to be the day before his 22nd birthday. "I feel like I have an aggressive style and I like the way they play as well, very aggressive."
Smith finished his career at Towson - the only school to offer him an athletic scholarship - with 312 tackles, the fifth-most in Tiger football history. He led his team with eight passes defensed his senior season, recording 85 tackles in 12 starts.
"Very aggressive, really cool mover," Seahawks Executive VP/General Manager John Schneider said of Smith in a post-draft press conference. "Length. Tough. Just competed his tail off all the time. He was always around the football.
"I want to throw a name out there to compare him to, but I can't because you guys will think I'm crazy, as a mover, and his ball skills."
Smith spent his time at Towson playing the outside cornerback spot, which is where Pete Carroll said he'll start working as a member of the Seahawks.
"That's where he looks most comfortable," said Carroll. "But he has a knack and nature to him he might be able to play inside some day. We'll see what happens."
In Chancellor and Thomas, the Seahawks return one of the NFL's best safety tandems for their sixth season together. Yet the club saw backup safety and key special teams contributor Jeron Johnson sign a free-agent deal with the Washington Redskins, opening a slot for a player like Ryan Murphy - the Seahawks' 2015 seventh-round pick (No. 248 overall) - to come in and compete.
"The guy started 38 games, he averaged almost 70 tackles a year," Carroll said of Murphy, who played his college ball at Oregon State and is a close cousin of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. "Very consistent. Played in the nickel area so we saw him get close to the line of scrimmage like we play Kam [Chancellor] and how he fits in. Played on the deep end as well."
For Schneider, it was Murphy's versatility that stood out, recalling a nearly 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Murphy had in a 2014 game against USC - Murphy also had a 41-yard pick-six against the Trojans the year prior.
"I was at the workout at Oregon State and he had a great positional workout, thinking he might play corner as well," Schneider said of Murphy. "That type of workout, and he's a safety."
Carroll said he expects Murphy to bring the type of tough-minded traits the Seahawks seek out.
"One of the things we really love about the guy is how his teammates feel about him," said Carroll. "They want to go to war with this guy. He's one of the first names that pop up, that this is a guy that we all trust and believe in.
"He's a grit guy. He's tough. He's just what we're looking for."