Eight best players in the Seahawks’ NFC West

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 28: Free safety Earl Thomas (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 28: Free safety Earl Thomas (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /
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SEATTLE, WA – JANUARY 11: Running back Darren Sproles
SEATTLE, WA – JANUARY 11: Running back Darren Sproles /

Players eight through five

8. Tyrann Mathieu, Safety – Arizona Cardinals

Mathieu’s stats were nowhere near as good in 2016 as they were in 2015. A lot of this was due to a shoulder injury in week eight. Mathieu was also recovering from a knee injury that happened late in 2015. Still, Mathieu was good.

2015, though, was the year the player knew he could be great. He was named first team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Mathieu had five interceptions and 89 tackles. He should have a 2017 season that resembles 2015.

Plus, he is still only 25 years old.

7. Michael Bennett, Defensive Tackle – Seattle Seahawks

Bennett is a smart player who can adjust to whatever the situation needs. He is an excellent run-stopper and great in pass rush. He had his worst year statistically in 2016 in several seasons, but mostly that was due to injury.

Bennett’s lack of presence impacted the entire defense. Teams were able to focus more blocking on Cliff Avril and could run the ball better wide. Linebackers had to play closer without Bennett and that left the middle open. With no Earl Thomas either, teams took advantage of intermediate throws.

Bennett will be back healthy in 2017. The Seahawks will be better.

6. Russell Wilson, Quarterback – Seahawks

What? Not having the Seahawks quarterback as one of the top five players in the NFC West? Wilson is a great player and is the most important one in the division. But other players are better at the position they play in comparison.

Wilson, like Bennett, had what could be considered an off year in 2016. Again, like Bennett, this was due to injury and also a poor offensive line. With any improvement from the guys in front of Wilson, and assuming he stays healthier than last year, Wilson’s performance will be closer to the second half of 2015 than all of 2016.

5. Richard Sherman, Cornerback – Seahawks

Is Sherman better at being a cornerback than Wilson is a quarterback? The answer is that Sherman has been the best in the league, or among the top three, nearly his entire career where Wilson has not. This is why Sherman is number five.

Plus, Sherman is just a freak of a player. Until the Seahawks started moving him around a bit more in 2016, he effectively shut down half the field. Some fans of other teams may have poo-poo’d this, but try being an offensive coordinator or quarterback for the opposing team knowing you have so much limitation.

Sherman will be great again in 2017. And 2018. And 2019.