It’s never easy to project the Seattle Seahawks’ 53 man roster because of the unorthodox head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll gives everyone an equal shot of making the team, whether they are an incumbent starter with a hefty contract or an undrafted free agent. This projection is a best guess of what Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider will deem as their 53 best football players heading into the 2017 season.
Seattle Seahawks Roster Projection – Defense
Defensive Ends: (5)
Michael Bennett will be the starting five-technique defensive end in Seattle’s 4-3 under scheme. He’ll bump inside to defensive tackle on obvious passing downs. Bennett is arguably Seattle’s second most important defender behind Earl Thomas.
Cliff Avril will be the other starting defensive end, playing the LEO position in Seattle’s 4-3 under scheme. After leading the Seahawks in sacks, he’ll look to make the Pro Bowl once again.
Frank Clark will be the Seahawks’ third pass rusher, and will see action as both a defensive end and defensive tackle. He’ll play as a defensive end on third down when Michael Bennett kicks inside to defensive tackle. He’s coming off of a ten sack season. The Seahawks will look to get Clark in the game as much as possible this year.
Cassius Marsh will be the Seahawks’ fourth defensive end. He’ll be a rotational pass rusher that can kick inside if needed. Marsh will be a core special teams player.
The Seahawks took a flier on the talented and troubled Dion Jordan. The third pick in the 2013 draft has had issues with suspensions in the past, but is an extremely talented player. He was an occasional pass rusher at Oregon, but would also cover tight ends, running backs, and even some wide receivers in man coverage. He was a defensive end and linebacker hybrid coming out of college, but Pete Carroll said he’s more of a defensive end and defensive tackle hybrid after gaining weight. He’s not a lock to make the team, but I’d guess Pete Carroll is willing to bet on his talent.
Defensive Tackles: (5)
2016 second round pick Jarran Reed impressed as a rookie. He fell to the second round because of his inability to rush the passer, but he’ll be a handful as a two-down player. When it’s an obvious passing down, Reed will come off the field and defensive end Michael Bennett will kick inside and take his spot. Reed does a great job of taking on double teams and allowing linebackers to flow to the ball. He’s a pivotal and underrated piece of Seattle’s defense.
Although Ahtyba Rubin is seen as a pass rushing interior defensive lineman, he only has three sacks in his two years in Seattle. But he’s been far from a disappointment. Rubin does a great job in the run game, and allows the Seahawks’ linebackers to flow to the ball. He isn’t an every down defensive lineman, but does a solid job when he gets his chances.
The Seahawks drafted the controversial Malik McDowell with their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Based on talent alone, McDowell would’ve been a top ten pick. He fell to the second round because of issues with his effort. When Michigan State started losing games, McDowell stopped trying. That’s a huge red flag, but not something that deters Pete Carroll. The Seahawks like giving players with character concerns an opportunity, and it’s paid off in the past. If McDowell keeps his head on straight, he could become a dominating interior pass rusher.
The Seahawks’ 2016 fifth round pick didn’t get a chance to shine during his rookie year. He spent most of the year on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury. The Seahawks liked what they saw out of Jefferson prior to his injury, and will give him every chance to make the team again and get more reps than he did as a rookie.
- Nazair Jones
The 2017 third round pick won’t be a starter as a rookie, but will get a chance to be a rotational player. The Seahawks like keeping their defensive lineman fresh, which will give Jones a chance of playing if he impresses during the preseason. He’s a strong run defender, but will need to add pass rushing moves if he wants to become a consistent member of the defensive line rotation.
After leading the NFL in tackles, Bobby Wagner will be the Seahawks’ starting middle linebacker again in 2017. He’s one of the more underrated and consistent players on the team. He’ll probably be an All-Pro and Pro Bowler again in 2017.
K.J. Wright is coming off of his first Pro Bowl season. He’s also extremely underrated, and will be an important piece to Seattle’s defense as their staring weakside linebacker.
Kevin Pierre-Louis is entering his fourth season in the NFL. He’s been a tease so far, showing flashes of brilliance among many more moments of inconsistency. This might be the year that he puts it all together. He’ll have an opportunity to be Seattle’s starting strongside linebacker.
Michael Wilhoite is a new member of the Seahawks after spending his first five seasons in San Francisco. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has stated that he wants to give Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright fewer snaps this season so they’re fresher for the playoffs. Wilhoite is an experienced and versatile linebacker that can fill in for Wagner and Wright when they need a breather.
- Kache Palacio
Kache Palacio was one of the most pleasant surprises during last year’s preseason and training camp. He was a defensive end at Washington State, but moved to off-ball linebacker with the Seahawks. He has pass rushing abilities and is athletic enough to cover tight ends and running backs. He’ll be a core special teams player, and could play the LEO defensive end position or any of the linebacker spots when needed.
Arthur Brown has been a disappointment during his first four years in the NFL. Drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft, Brown was expected to become a starting outside linebacker. He’s struggled to live up to the hype. Brown is an athletic linebacker who is looking for a fresh start. Pete Carroll loves these types of players, and will give Brown every chance to make the roster.
After all of the trade talks and offseason rumors, Richard Sherman will be Seattle’s number one cornerback. Even with all of the controversy, he’ll probably make the Pro Bowl again.
DeShawn Shead had a nice season before tearing his ACL in the playoff game against the Falcons. He might not be ready for the regular season opener, but should return at some point during the season and regain his number two cornerback role.
Jeremy Lane is the likely starting nickel corner week one. He did not play well last season. He’ll have to play closer to his 2015 form if he wants to keep his starting position for the entire season.
- Shaquill Griffin
Shaquill Griffin was the Seahawks third round pick in the 2017 draft. He’s a tall and lanky cornerback, which fits what Seattle looks for in cornerbacks. He’ll get every opportunity to win the starting job opposite of Sherman, especially if Shead isn’t ready to return from injury.
- DeAndre Elliott
DeAndre Elliott impressed Seattle’s coaching staff during his rookie season. He didn’t get a lot of reps, but showed that he belonged during his limited chances. Elliott is the prototypical size that Seattle looks for in their corners, and will have a chance to compete for the number two cornerback job while Shead is recovering from knee surgery. Seattle will want to continue developing Elliot, because they believe he has long-term starter potential
It’s unlikely that the Seahawks will keep six cornerbacks on their roster all season, but they might during the beginning of the season if Shead isn’t ready to return from his knee injury. Neiko Thorpe has a chance of being that sixth cornerback. The Seahawks like his size and movement skills, and will give him chances to shine on special teams.
After suffering a broken leg and scaring Seahawks fans with his retirement talks, Earl Thomas will be back and anchoring the Legion of Boom in 2017. If he stays healthy, he’ll probably make the All-Pro team and Pro Bowl again.
Kam Chancellor will be the starting strong safety for the Seahawks again in 2017. This is his last year under contract before hitting free agency in 2018.
Bradley McDougald will have a chance to be the Seahawks’ backup free safety and strong safety. He has enough versatility, athleticism, and size to play both roles. He’s fluid enough in coverage to play a deep free safety position and big enough to play an in-the-box strong safety position. With both Thomas and Chancellor suffering injures last season, having a versatile backup that’s been cross-trained in both positions will serve the Seahawks well if another injury takes place.
With the Seahawks having two of the best safeties in the NFL, they decided to draft Thompson in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He’ll be a backup to starting free safety Earl Thomas, who suffered a serious injury last year. This draft was known for its depth in the secondary, so the Seahawks took advantage and drafted a talented playmaker. Thompson will likely be a core special teams player this season.
5. Delano Hill
The Seahawks drafted strong safety Delano Hill in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. With Kam Chancellor’s injury concerns, Hill will be his replacement if he gets injured again. Chancellor is entering his final year of his contract, so Hill might be his replacement if he leaves in free agency. Hill will likely be a core special teams player this season.