Projecting The Seahawks Starting Lineup: Pre-Draft Edition
By Keith Myers
Jan 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Seattle Seahawks starting defensive backs Earl Thomas (29), Brandon Browner (39), Richard Sherman (25), Kam Chancellor (31) take the field for warm-ups prior to facing the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
With free agency all but over and the draft still weeks away, I got a little bored today and started looking over the Seahawks current roster. I was amazed at how few positions in the starting lineups are actually up for grabs, even though we’re still early in the offseason.
With that in mind, I thought I’d project who I thought would be starting for the Seahawks if the season began today. Obviously, the draft is going to change all of this. The Seahawks have 10 picks in the draft, and I expect at least two of them to emerge as starters during training camp.
Quarterback: Russell Wilson
Backfield: Lynch (RB), Robinson (FB)
Offensive Line: Okung (LT), Carpenter (LG), Unger (C), Sweezy (RG), Giacomini (RT)
Tight end: Zach Miller
Wide Receivers: Rice, Harvin, Baldwin
There aren’t a lot of surprises on offense at this point. The “skill positions” seem set, as do most of the positions along the offensive line. It’ll be tough for the draft to make too many changes on this side of the ball at this point, unless the team drafts a new RT before the end of day 2 in the draft.
The one choice here that is likely to get some resistance from everyone reading this is Sweezy at RG. To get that spot in the starting lineup, he’ll have to beat out a finally healthy John Moffitt and veteran Paul McQuistan. Sweezy is by far the best athlete of that group, and made huge strides in his attempt to convert from DT to OG in just 1 season. With a full offseason of work on improving his technique, I think it’s safe to expect big things from him.
Defensive End: Red Bryant (5T), Cliff Avril (Leo)
Defensive Tackle: Brandon Mebane (NT), Greg Scruggs (3T)
Linebacker: Malcom Smith (WLB), Bobby Wagner (MLB), KJ Wright (SLB)
Corner: Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner
Safety: Earl Thomas (FS), Kam Chancellor (SS)
Other than projecting the return of the entire Legion of Boom (not exactly going out on the limb there), the rest of this is definitely open to debate. It’s also very likely to be changed by the draft, so perhaps we should save that debate for a couple of weeks from now.
Mebane, Bryant, and Wagner are easy calls as well. Same goes for KJ Wright, but there’s a possibility that he get flipped from the strong side over to the weak side of the formation.
I put Avril in at the Leo over Bruce Irvin and Bennett. Avril is a better and more complete player, and I think he wins the playing time there because of his ability to set the edge against the run (which Irvin hasn’t shown he can do) and also get around the corner when rushing the passer (which isn’t Bennett’s forte). Both of those other guys will see plenty of playing time though, as I expect the Seahawks to be in their nickel sub-package for about 50% of their defensive snaps.
Avril’s presence in the Leo spot means that Malcolm Smith will see more playing time at WLB. If one of the other DEs were to win that spot, Avril would likely start on SLB, with Wright moving to the weak side.
The other player on here that I think some fans will question is Scruggs starting at the 3-tech defensive tackle. He isn’t the ideal fit there. Pete Carroll like massive run stuffers in the starting lineup, and Scruggs is a pass rusher. I’m going to save my reasoning for placing Scruggs in the starting lineup for another article, since my reasoning there is somewhat complex. But I’ll just say that the 10 lbs. he’s already added since last season will only help him succeed on the inside of the line in 2013.