You can never have too many defensive backs. Never. Ever. It’s something that every team should address every year in the draft. Depth in the secondary is vital for any team to be successful in the NFL.
Seattle used three picks in last year’s draft on defensive backs, taking free safety Earl Thomas in the first round, cornerback Walter Thurmond in the fourth, and strong safety Kam Chancellor in the fifth. The Seahawks hope these players will be the foundation of a strong, deep secondary unit for years to come.
The future for the veterans in Seattle’s defensive backfield is uncertain. The play of Marcus Trufant has been steadily declining the last few seasons, and he has also had several significant injuries. He should return next season, but it would not surprise me if the team were to release him because of possible salary cap ramifications. That may be a good thing, in fact, because it would mean that the team has confidence in its young cornerbacks.
Kelly Jennings is a free agent, but I believe he’ll remain a Seahawk. Most Seahawks fans I’ve spoken to can’t stand Jennings, but he knows the system and his salary should be affordable. If Trufant were to be released, Jennings would almost definitely be re-signed. Jordan Babineaux is in the same situation, and I expect him to return, as well.
The same goes for Lawyer Milloy, but I would be concerned if he comes back to the Seahawks next season. He played about as well as could be expected last season, but he’s 37 years old and he was exposed in the playoff loss to Chicago. His return would indicate that Chancellor is not ready to play at strong safety. Chancellor played in some dime packages last season and, frankly, he looked a little lost.
In addition to the three players they drafted, the team brought in several others to add youth, speed and depth to the team. Roy Lewis and Kennard Cox saw some playing time, and Marcus Brown and Josh Pinkard spent time on the practice squad.
I don’t see the Seahawks using their first round pick on a DB, but after that, anything is possible. The team is in the midst of a changing of the guard in its secondary. I expect at least two of the team’s remaining picks will be used on a cornerback or safety. Thomas is a potential Pro Bowler. If Thurmond can stay healthy, he’ll have a legitimate shot at starting. If Chancellor sees significant playing time, that would be a huge boost to the team.
If all goes well, last year’s draftees and those about to be selected will evolve into the core of an outstanding young unit.