Analysis: Pre-OTAs Seahawks 53-Man Roster Projection

Though the offseason is still far from done, how would Seattle’s final roster look if cuts happened today?

As witnessed this week, the NFL offseason is still in full swing and the Seahawks are far from making moves to improve their team on both sides of the football.

Over the past 48 hours, Seattle has added five quality veteran free agents to address multiple positional needs, including ex-Lions All-Pro defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. The team also bid farewell to safety Kam Chancellor and receiver Doug Baldwin, two legends who served as staples in the most successful period of franchise history.

But even with further changes imminent in Seattle and across the league, it’s never too early to dissect the roster position-by-position and take a stab at which players will make the team in September.

With organized team activities set to start on May 20 and mandatory minicamp rapidly approaching, here’s my first Seahawks 53-man roster projection of the 2019 season.

Quarterback

Keep: Russell Wilson, Paxton Lynch

Cut: Taryn Christion

Verdict: There’s no surprise about who will be starting under center for Seattle after Wilson received a record-breaking extension in mid-April. Behind him, Seattle will stick with Lynch, a former first round pick who lasted just two seasons in Denver before being out of the NFL completely in 2018. The Seahawks will be banking on the 6-foot-7 signal caller rebounding thanks to a change of scenery and an ideal situation playing behind one of the league’s best quarterbacks.

Running Back/Fullback

Keep: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer

Cut: J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise, Bo Scarbrough, Adam Choice, Nick Bellore

Verdict: Carson will one again be Seattle’s workhorse out of the backfield, while Penny will be pushing for extended playing time after injuries set him back at times as a rookie. With Mike Davis now in Chicago, Homer will beat out McKissic and Prosise for third down duties by showing off his well-rounded game during the preseason. Scarbrough or Choice may be retained as insurance on the practice squad, depending who performs better in August. If Bellore carves out a role on special teams, he may have a chance to hang around into September, but Seattle rarely used a fullback last season.

Wide Receiver

Keep: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Gary Jennings, David Moore, Jaron Brown, John Ursua

Cut: Malik Turner, Caleb Scott, Keenan Reynolds, Amara Darboh, Jazz Ferguson, Terry Wright

Verdict: With Doug Baldwin released and likely heading towards retirement, Seattle will enter the new season with a largely unproven cast of receivers aside from Tyler Lockett, David Moore, and Jaron Brown. All three receivers selected in the draft will find defined roles in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense right away, with D.K. Metcalf starting as the “X” receiver, Gary Jennings seeing snaps both outside as well as the slot, and Ursua playing in the slot as well. Intriguing undrafted free agents Jazz Ferguson and Terry Wright would be nice to retain on the practice squad to develop as potential hedges for Moore and Brown.

Tight End

Keep: Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Jacob Hollister

Cut: Tyrone Swoopes, Justin Johnson, Mik'Quane Deane

Verdict: Aside from trading a seventh rounder to the Patriots for Hollister shortly after the draft, the Seahawks showed confidence in last year's group and hasn't made any significant moves at tight end. Dissly could open the year on the PUP list as he continues to recover from a torn patellar tendon, making it imperative Seattle keeps three other tight ends on the roster. Under such circumstances, Dickson will start, while Vannett should see extensive action and Hollister may have an impact as a receiver at the position. As extra insurance, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Johnson or Deane kept around as a practice squad player.

Offensive Tackle

Keep: Duane Brown, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jamarco Jones

Cut: Elijah Nkansah

Verdict: There’s not much suspense at tackle, as the Seahawks have more stability at the position than they’ve had in quite some time. Brown and Ifedi will remain in the starting lineup, while Fant and Jones offer quality depth and both players should be capable of stepping in on either side of the line in a pinch. Nkansah played a few snaps last year and should be eligible to remain on the practice squad.

Offensive Guard

Keep: D.J. Fluker, Mike Iupati, Phil Haynes, Jordan Simmons

Cut: Jordan Roos, Demetrius Knox, Marcus Martin

Verdict: Seattle lost starter J.R. Sweezy in free agency, but offset his departure by signing Iupati, a former All-Pro who could ultimately be an upgrade if he can stay healthy. While Fluker and Iupati are cemented in the starting lineup at both guard spots, the Seahawks could have quite a battle brewing behind them to earn backup roles. Haynes, a fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest, will likely be groomed as a long-term starter and should be a near-lock to make the team. The last spot could come down to the wire, though Simmons should be the favorite after playing well in three starts last year, giving him an edge over Roos and Martin. Knox could be an intriguing practice squad candidate.

Center

Keep: Justin Britt, Ethan Pocic

Cut: Joey Hunt

Verdict: Again, not much drama here, as Britt will be Seattle’s starting center for a fourth straight season, bringing much-needed continuity to the offensive line. Behind him, Hunt has endeared himself to the coaching staff during three seasons with the team and he’s a favorite of the coaching staff, but his lack of size ultimately will lead to him losing out on a backup role to Pocic.

Defensive End

Keep: Ezekiel Ansah, L.J. Collier, Cassius Marsh, Jacob Martin, Rasheem Green

Cut: Nazair Jones, Branden Jackson

Verdict: Assuming Ansah returns sometime in August, he’ll jump immediately into the starting lineup as the team’s short-term replacement for Frank Clark. Across from him, Collier will seize hold of the starting base end spot, with second-year defender Rasheem Green ready to play extensive snaps behind him. Martin and Marsh will provide steady situational pass rushers off the edge and both could find themselves on the field together occasionally on certain sub packages. With the addition of Collier, Jones and Jackson will become expendable as five-technique defensive ends and hit the chopping block.

Defensive Tackle

Keep: Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson, Al Woods

Cut: Jamie Meder, Demarcus Christmas, Bryan Mone, Jay-Tee Tiuli

Verdict: After shining in the second half of his rookie season, Ford should be vaulted into the starting lineup next to Reed, giving Seattle a dynamic tandem of defensive tackles. Jefferson will still see some action as a defensive end, but at 290-plus pounds, he’s likely going to see the bulk of his snaps playing in the interior, especially on pass rushing downs. Ultimately, the recently signed Woods will be battling Meder and Christmas for the final roster spot in what should be an interesting battle that transpires throughout the preseason. Expect Woods to come out on top, with Christmas landing on the practice squad.

Middle Linebacker

Keep: Bobby Wagner, Cody Barton

Cut: Emmanuel Ellerbee, Justin Currie

Verdict: Wagner will once again be the undisputed leader of Seattle’s defense as he goes for a fifth-straight All-Pro selection in 2019. Barton, a third-round pick out of Utah, will give the Seahawks arguably the best insurance policy they’ve ever had behind him and instantly become one of the team’s key cogs on special teams, while Ellerbee could spend another season on the practice squad.

Outside Linebacker

Keep: K.J. Wright, Shaquem Griffin, Ben Burr-Kirven, Austin Calitro

Cut: Barkevious Mingo, Mychal Kendricks

Verdict: This may be the toughest position to get a read on because it remains to be seen whether or not Kendricks will be eligible to play at all in 2019. With that complicated matter still unresolved, the Seahawks made a wise choice to use a fifth-round pick on Burr-Kirven, who took snaps at weakside linebacker during rookie minicamp and could be an eventual starter at the position. Carroll indicated earlier this offseason Griffin would be utilized more as a pass rusher this season and as long as he makes great progress this summer, his spot on the team should be safe. Calitro ultimately is the one who needs to be looking over his shoulder, as he’d be the odd man out if Kendricks can suit up or Seattle decides to keep Mingo.

Cornerback

Keep: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Jamar Taylor, Neiko Thorpe

Cut: Derrek Thomas, Devante Davis, Kalan Reed, Jeremy Boykins, Simeon Thomas

Verdict: Griffin and Flowers will return as starters on the outside, but the competition to replace former starter Justin Coleman at nickel cornerback should be as intense as any of the Seahawks upcoming positional battles. King proved his worth as an extra safety during Seattle’s late season push to the playoffs, seeing extensive action in sub packages. Due to his ability to also play on the outside, he will make the team, but Taylor’s past experience as a slot corner along with his ideal size and athletic traits makes him the favorite to replace Coleman. Thorpe will once again hang onto a roster spot due to his special teams prowess, though the presence of Thomas and Davis could change things. Retaining at least one of those promising undrafted corners seems like a must for the Seahawks and if they’re scared about losing them on waivers, that could force their hand to keep one on the active roster.

Safety

Keep: Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi

Cut: Shalom Luani, Marwin Evans, Jalen Harvey

Verdict: In earlier seasons, Seattle may have kept only four safeties. But as the landscape of the NFL changes with teams passing the football more than ever before, the Seahawks will likely keep five, retaining three mainstays from last year’s squad while adding Blair and Amadi to the mix as rookies. McDougald gives the team a lot of flexibility, as he has prior experience starting at both safety spots and could slide back to free safety in a pinch if Hill or Blair impresses at strong safety this summer. He could also stay in his comfort zone at strong safety, opening the door for Thompson to retain his starting job from last year. This should be a fun position to watch as all these moving parts fall into place in August.

Special Teams

Keep: Michael Dickson, Jason Myers, Tyler Ott

Cut: None

Verdict: The Seahawks should feel pretty darn good about their specialists going into the 2019 season. Dickson earned First-Team All-Pro honors as a rookie and should only improve going into his second year with the team, while Myers received a four-year contract after a career year with the Jets and won’t have to compete against Sebastian Janikowski this time around. Ott signed his exclusive rights tender and shouldn’t have to worry about losing his job either.

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