Young CB’s battle for inclusion in LOB
By Dan Viens
The Seattle Seahawks defensive backfield features a battle between a number of young, talented players for the precious few roster spots up for grabs.
Back in 2013 the Seattle Seahawks may have assembled the greatest collection of defensive back talent this league has ever seen on one team. During training camp, the following players were all included on the 90 man roster:
- Richard Sherman, CB
- Brandon Browner, CB
- Earl Thomas, S
- Kam Chancellor, S
- Byron Maxwell, CB
- Walter Thurmond, CB
- Jeremy Lane, CB
- Jeron Johnson, S
- Ron Parker, CB/S
- Antoine Winfield, CB
- DeShawn Shead, S/CB
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This was the birth of the Legion Of Boom. Thomas and Chancellor established themselves as the best safety tandem in the league, Sherman arrived as a legitimate shut down corner, and Browner had the best year of his career. But to realize how truly special this group was, consider the backups:
- Lane was a rookie, and is now a starter with a new $23 million contract in hand.
- Maxwell, now a Dolphin, went on to sign a $63 million free agent contract with the Eagles.
- Thurmond left as a free agent and had a few excellent years before retiring this off season.
- Johnson also left as a free agent, signing with Washington.
- Ron Parker was cut from this team and is now a $5 million a year safety in Kansas City.
- Shead, now a part-time starter, ended up on the practice squad.
- Winfield, a 3 time Pro Bowler who was brought in to shore up the nickel spot, retired.
Maybe he knew what he was up against.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said last week he thinks the current roster is the best collection of talent since that Super Bowl-winning 2013 squad. Does that apply to the newest incarnation of the LOB as well?
Sherman, Thomas and Chancellor are all still here and playing at an elite level. Lane is the presumed starter now at RCB, perhaps rotating with Shead based on WR matchups.
Those are your top five. With the team likely to keep 10 total DB’s on the roster that only leaves 5 more spots. Consider the current crop of players vying for those precious backup spots:
- Marcus Burley, CB
- Tharold Simon, CB
- Brandon Browner, S
- Tye Smith, CB
- StanleyJean-Baptiste , CB
- George Farmer, CB
- Trovon Reed, CB
- DeAndre Elliot, CB
- Kelcie McCray, S
- Tyvis Powell, S
- Steven Terrell, S
Of those 11, McCray might be the only lock, that’s how deep and talented these guys are. Browner has an inside track with a good training camp, since the team re-signed him with a specialized hybrid safety role in mind. Specifically, he’ll be counted on to help cover tight ends, an Achilles heel for the Hawks in 2015.
Smith and Simon will be given every chance to make the team. Both were draft picks and seen as having future-starter upside, but Simon in particular needs to show he can stay healthy. Burley too has been nicked up since coming over in a 2014 trade with Indianapolis and is hurt by the fact he can only play in the slot.
Stanley is interesting because he fits the ideal physical mold Seattle loves in it’s CB’s. But the 6-3, 218 pound Nebraska alum flamed out in New Orleans after being selected in the 2nd round in 2014. As a draft prospect he drew comparisons to Sherman. No he gets a chance to learn from him.
Farmer might have the biggest uphill battle of them all as a converted receiver, and Reed and Elliott are small-school undrafted free agents who have drawn raves but are likely battling for practice squad spots.
Perhaps the most intriguing player of the group is Powell. As one of the stars for the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes, Powell surprisingly went undrafted and was quickly targeted by Seattle. At practice yesterday he looked like a veteran. His movements were smooth, and he possesses the kind of size and athleticism the Hawks covet, as they like they safeties to be able to play both the free and strong positions. Monday, Powell was consistently running with the 2nd team. It looks like he’s got a great chance to make the team.
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We’re just at the start of camp, and perhaps the dawn of a new wave of LOB members. It’s definitely one of the best position battles to keep an eye on as camp progresses.
Maybe even as good as it was in 2013.