Seattle Seahawks 2019 NFL Season Preview

Quarterback

When the Seahawks were making Super Bowls, they were able to have as much talent as they had because they had a cheap quarterback on a rookie deal, with Russell Wilson making just 526k and 662k respectively in their two Super Bowl appearance seasons. Wilson eventually got a 4-year, 87.6 million dollar extension and that started to affect the rest of the roster. It’s not the only reason why the Seahawks haven’t been true contenders in recent years, as their drafts have not nearly been as good and they’ve had bad injury luck, but they haven’t had a ton of financial flexibility to add outside talent to plug holes. They made the playoffs last season, but were the worst ranked playoff qualifier in first down rate differential at -0.04% (18th in the NFL) and lost in their first game against the Cowboys.

Heading into the final year of that extension this off-season, Wilson signed a record 4-year, 140 million dollar extension with a 65 million dollar signing bonus and that has already started to have an effect on this roster, which has continued to shed talent this off-season. I’ll go more in detail on the players they’ve lost later, but all of this being said, it’s hard to argue Wilson doesn’t deserve to get paid this much if he wants to. The Seahawks didn’t have much of a choice but to keep their most important player, as Wilson is the biggest reason why this team has at least been contending for playoff spots in recent years. Letting him go next off-season was not a real option, as it would have meant totally resetting the team.

In 7 years in the league since the Seahawks got a steal in the 3rd round in the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson has completed 64.2% of his passes for an average of 7.86 YPA, 196 touchdowns, and 63 interceptions, while rushing for 3,651 yards and 16 touchdowns on 645 carries (5.66 YPC). He’s earned an above average grade from Pro Football Focus in all 7 seasons, including 5 seasons in the top-8 and a 7th place finish in 2018. He’s also made all 112 starts over that time period and, still only going into his age 31 season, I see no reason to expect any sort of drop off from him in 2019.

The Seahawks will need him to continue to stay healthy because their backup quarterback situation is one of the worst in the league, with Paxton Lynch and Geno Smith, a pair of former high draft picks who have busted, competing for the backup job. Lynch, the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Broncos, is one of the bigger quarterback busts in recent memory. Despite his high draft status, he had trouble getting on the field over the likes of Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler. When he actually got on the field, he showed why Siemian and Osweiler were playing over him, completing just 79 of 128 (61.7%) for 792 yards (6.19 YPA), 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in just 4 starts, before the Broncos let him go last off-season, after just two seasons in Denver.

Lynch actually spent 2018 out of the league, taking a few tryout visits that never materialized into anything. Lynch is still only going into his age 25 season, but at this point even just winning the backup quarterback job in Seattle seems like a longshot. Geno Smith isn’t a great quarterback or anything, with a career 72.7 QB rating, but he’s at least experienced (31 career starts) and is good enough to be a backup somewhere. I would expect him to be the favorite for the job unless Lynch unexpectedly takes a big step forward. Either way, the Seahawks will be hoping Wilson can play all 16 games again.

Grade: A

Running Backs

Russell Wilson may be deserving of his massive salary based on pure talent, but given Wilson’s usage in this offense, it’s at least a little bit surprising they’d be willing to give him such a big contract. The Seahawks were one of the run heaviest team in the league last season, with their 534 run attempts being 2nd only to the Lamar Jackson led Ravens. Part of that is Wilson taking off, but even Wilson’s rushing attempts were down last year, as his 67 carries were a career low. After averaging 610 combined drop backs and carries in his first 6 seasons in the league, Wilson saw that number drop to 545 in 2018, lowest since his rookie season in 2012.

The Seahawks’ running game was effective in 2018, as they ranked 5th in the NFL in yards per carry at 4.79, so they will probably continue running this ultra-conservative offense in 2019, but it’s a bit of a strange move to pay someone 35 million dollars per year to be involved on only about half of the offensive snaps, especially given Wilson’s dual threat ability as a runner and a passer. It’s kind of like spending six figures on a nice car that you drive down the street to the store once a week.

In 2017, when the Seahawks struggled to run the ball, Wilson carried this offense, setting a career high with 691 combined drop backs and carries and accounting for 4,569 of the Seahawks’ 5,608 yards from scrimmage, a whopping 81.5%, easily the most in the NFL. That’s not an advisable strategy either, especially with the Seahawks now having more running back talent, but Wilson has proven time and time again he can handle anything you ask of him.

The Seahawks used a first round pick on San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny last year, expecting him to help turn around their running game, but he actually finished 3rd on the team in carries by a running back with 85. Instead, second year running back Chris Carson ended up making the biggest impact, rushing for 1,151 yards and 9 touchdowns on 247 carries (4.66 YPC), while finishing as Pro Football Focus’ 5th ranked running back overall.

A 7th round pick in 2017, Carson showed flashes of being this kind of running back as a rookie, rushing for 208 yards on 49 carries (4.24 YPC) in 4 games, before breaking his leg and going down for the season, but his breakout 2018 was still a pleasant surprise for this team. Injuries have been a concern for Carson since college, part of why he fell in the draft, and he missed another 2 games in 2018, so durability will likely continue being an issue for him going forward, but if he stays healthy he could easily have another strong season.

Mike Davis was actually 2nd on the team in carries, rushing for 514 yards and 4 touchdowns on 112 carries (4.59 YPC), but he signed with the Bears this off-season, opening the door for Penny to become the clear #2 back. Penny also ran well last season, rushing for 419 yards and 2 touchdowns on 85 carries (4.93 YPC), and the Seahawks clearly like his talent, using a premium draft pick on him, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Penny earned his way into a more even timeshare with Carson. There will be plenty of carries to go around for both backs.

The one concern in this backfield is they lack an obvious passing down back. Mike Davis served in that role last season, catching 34 passes, while Carson and Penny managed just 20 and 9 respectively. Neither did much as a receiver in college either, so neither is a good fit for that role. The Seahawks have a few candidates, but JD McKissic is a converted wide receiver with just 86 career touches, CJ Prosise is a former 3rd round pick, but has played just 16 games in 3 seasons in the league, mostly due to injury, and 6th round rookie Travis Homer is too raw in pass protection to trust in passing situations as a rookie. None of those three backs are locks for the final roster. This will remain a run heavy team though, so the lack of a good passing down back isn’t as big of a deal.

Grade: A-

Receiving Corps

One key player the Seahawks lost this off-season was wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Baldwin was not let go for financial reasons though, as the 8-year veteran unfortunately could not continue his career due to a variety of injuries and retired ahead of his age 31 season. In an injury plagued 2018 season, Baldwin was not as productive (50/618/5 slash line in 13 games) as he was in his prime (78/1003/8 average slash line from 2014-2017), but he’ll still be missed and the Seahawks don’t have an obvious replacement.

Last year’s #3 receiver David Moore is a situational deep threat who caught less than 50% of his targets in 2018 and was a mere 7th round pick two years ago. The Seahawks were aggressive in adding receivers through this year’s draft, taking Mississippi’s DK Metcalf in the 2nd, West Virginia’s Gary Jennings in the 4th, and Hawaii’s John Ursua in the 7th round, but it’s unclear how much any of them will be able to contribute year 1.

Metcalf has the best chance to make a rookie year impact and he’s an athletic freak, but he’s not nearly as good moving laterally, which will likely limit his ability to run a full route tree. He’s a boom or bust prospect, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see him slip to the end of the 2nd round. The Seahawks love having open competitions, so all three rookies will compete for jobs in 2 and 3 wide receiver sets with Moore and veteran career reserve Jaron Brown. That competition might not produce any particularly useful players in 2019 though.

Tyler Lockett is locked in as the clear #1 option and will likely see a higher target share, as well as more coverage, with Baldwin gone. Lockett was about as efficient as a pass catcher can be last season, catching 57 of 70 targets for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns. When you include the fact that none of those targets were intercepted, Wilson had a perfect 158.3 QB rating when throwing to Lockett last season, the only quarterback/receiver combo in the league to do so.

His overall receiving totals aren’t that impressive, but they came on just 459 routes run on one of the most conservative offenses in the league and he ranked 18th among qualifying wide receivers in yards per route run at 2.10. He also added another 69 yards on 13 end around carries, as the Seahawks like to make use of his speed in any way possible. The Seahawks locked him up on a 3-year, 30.75 million dollar extension last off-season that seemed like an overpay at the time because he hadn’t proven himself at that level yet, but it’s hard to argue it’s an overpay in hindsight, especially with the Seahawks losing Baldwin.

A 2015 3rd round pick, Lockett showed signs of being the kind of player he was last season in the past, but he dealt with injury issues and never put it together consistently before 2018, when he finished as Pro Football Focus’ 23rd ranked wide receiver. He’s a perfect fit for Russell Wilson and this offense, as the goal of this offense is to run the ball and then throw deep off play action. Wilson had the 3rd highest QB rating in the league last season off play action (126.0) and Lockett was a big part of that. In the prime of his career in his age 27 season, Lockett could easily have another strong season in 2019, though he probably won’t be as efficient without Doug Baldwin drawing coverage opposite him. He’s now by far the biggest receiving threat that defenses need to worry about.

The Seahawks don’t have any real receiving threats at tight end either. Third year tight end Nick Vannett led the way with a 29/269/3 slash line and played 528 snaps in 15 games, while veteran Ed Dickson had just a 12/143/3 slash line and played 364 snaps in 10 games. Vannett was a third round pick in 2016, but he’s never shown himself to be much of a receiving threat, while Dickson has averaged just 21 catches per season in 9 years in the league and is now going into his age 32 season.

Last year’s 4th round pick Will Dissly is expected to return from injury and he had a 8/156/2 slash line in 4 games last season before getting hurt, but 66 of those yards came on one play and he wasn’t a receiving threat in college, getting drafted primarily for his blocking ability at 6-4 265. He wouldn’t be the first tight end to become a better receiver in the NFL, but he had limited athleticism (4.87 40) even before suffering a brutal torn patellar tendon last season. He’s the wild card of the group, but I wouldn’t expect much from him as a pass catcher. This is a limited receiving corps with Baldwin retiring.

Grade: C

Offensive Line

Seattle’s offensive line is also a problem, as it has been for years. They’re better in run blocking than they are in pass protection, so the switch to a run heavier offense helped this unit, but they still allowed 51 sacks, 8th in the NFL, and Russell Wilson was pressured on 39.7% of his drop backs, 6th among qualifying quarterbacks. They are still better than they’ve been in recent years though and they had a lot more consistency upfront, with 4 offensive linemen making at least 15 of 16 regular season starts. They also return 4 of 5 starters upfront in 2019.

Only one of those starters (left tackle Duane Brown) earned an above average grade from PFF in 2018 though. Brown was acquired by the Seahawks in the middle of the 2017 season, with the Seahawks sending a 2018 3rd round pick and a 2019 2nd round pick to the Texans for Brown and a 2018 5th round pick. The Seahawks also gave Brown a 3-year, 34.5 million dollar extension last off-season to keep him long-term, but he’s been worth it so far, immediately stabilizing the left tackle position and then finishing as Pro Football Focus’ 8th ranked offensive tackle overall in 2018. His age (34 this season) is becoming a concern, but he’s finished in the top-17 at his position on PFF in 8 of the last 9 seasons and could easily have another couple solid seasons left in the tank.

He’ll likely start next to the lone newcomer on this offensive line, free agent addition Mike Iupati, who is expected to replace free agent departure JR Sweezy at left guard. Sweezy was PFF’s 82nd ranked guard out of 88 qualifying last season, so it wouldn’t be hard for Iupati to be an upgrade, but he’ll need to stay healthy, which has been an issue for him in recent years. He hasn’t played all 16 games since 2012 and has missed 30 games with injury in 6 seasons since, including 6 games missed last season with back and knee problems. Now going into his age 32 with a long injury history, his best days are almost definitely behind him, but he’s a good fit for this offense if he’s healthy because his strength has always been blocking. In his prime, he was one of the best run blockers in the league, finishing as PFF’s 9th ranked run blocking guard as recently as 2015.

If Iupati gets hurt again, the Seahawks would likely turn to Ethan Pocic. Pocic was a 2nd round pick in 2017, but struggled mightily in 11 rookie year starts (83rd out of 92 qualifying guards on PFF) and was limited to 4 very underwhelming spot starts as an injury replacement in his 2nd season in the league in 2018. Only going into his age 24 season, Pocic theoretically has untapped potential, but the Seahawks seem to prefer him as a swing reserve. He has the ability to play both guard spots and center (and he played some tackle in college), but doesn’t play any of those positions particularly well.

Pocic could be an option at right guard, where veteran DJ Fluker is a mediocre starter, but Fluker seems like the heavy favorite for now. Despite finishing as PFF’s 72nd ranked guard out of 88 qualifying last season, the Seahawks re-signed him to a 2-year, 6 million contract this off-season as a free agent. He’s experienced, with 74 career starts in 6 seasons in the league, but he’s never been more than an average starter and that’s unlikely to change in 2018. Justin Britt is locked in at center, so Pocic isn’t an option there, but Britt hasn’t been quite as good since his breakout 2016, when he finished 12th among centers on PFF. The Seahawks gave him a 3-year, 27 million dollar extension after that season, but he’s finished below average in both seasons since, including 29th out of 39 qualifying centers in 2018.

Right tackle Germain Ifedi rounds out this offensive line. A first round pick in 2016, Ifedi has made 44 of 48 starts in 3 seasons in the league, but he has struggled and has only kept his starting job for lack of a better option, finishing in the bottom-10 at his position in all 3 seasons in the league. Not only has he struggled as a blocker, but he’s also committed 39 penalties in 3 seasons, including a ridiculous 19 penalties in 2017. The Seahawks declined his 5th year option for 2020, even though it was guaranteed for injury only, and while he’ll likely remain a starter in 2019, this could easily be his last season in Seattle.

The Seahawks also use 6 man offensive lines somewhat frequently, bringing swing tackle George Fant in as a blocking tight end. They almost always run out of this formation, running the ball on 202 of 215 plays with Fant at tight end, but he did catch one pass for nine yard on one of the 13 pass plays. Fant is a former blocking tight end that the Seahawks converted into an offensive lineman. He struggled in the first 10 starts of his career in 2016 (all at left tackle), finishing 83rd out of 86 qualifying offensive tackle on PFF, before missing all of 2017 with injury and moving into his new role as a 6th offensive lineman in 2018.

Fant did make a couple starts at right tackle down the stretch in 2018 due to injury and held his own, so perhaps he’ll push Ifedi for his starting job at right tackle in training camp. Blocking tight end is probably his best role though and he still gets plenty of action in that role in this offense. Like the rest of this offensive line, Fant can push guys around as a run blocker, but they should continue struggling mightily in pass protection.

Grade: C+

Edge Defenders

The Seahawks had solid offensive play in 2018, finishing 12th in first down rate at 37.45%, but this defense has fallen pretty significantly from their dominant units a few years ago, finishing last season 19th in first down rate allowed at 37.49%. Overall, they were 18th in first down rate differential at -0.04%. They were able to make the playoffs because of a league best +15 turnover margin, but turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a year-to-year basis.

Russell Wilson isn’t suddenly going to start throwing a bunch of interceptions, but they were only +5 in interceptions last, as opposed to +10 in fumbles. That’s in large part because of a 63.64% fumble recovery rate, 2nd in the NFL. They only lost 4 fumbles all season, despite running the ball on 534 snaps, but they fumbled 18 times total. They are unlikely to have that good of luck again and should commit more turnovers as a result. A lack of turnovers was a big part of why their defense played the 3rd fewest snaps in the league (behind Carolina and Detroit), which made their defense look better than it was.

The Seahawks also lost some key contributors on defense this off-season, most notably defensive end Frank Clark. Clark was one of the better edge defenders in the league in 2018, finishing as Pro Football Focus’ 21st ranked edge defender and totaling 14 sacks, 12 hits, and 38 hurries on 463 pass rush snaps (13.8% pressure rate). He’s not a one-year wonder either, but the Seahawks probably wouldn’t have been able to keep him and still extend Russell Wilson and a couple other starters on this defense, like defensive tackle Jarran Reed and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, so they franchise tagged him and traded him to the Chiefs for a good haul, including a 2019 first round pick (29th overall) and a 2020 2nd round pick.

They may have gotten a good return, but he will definitely be missed in the short-term. The Seahawks didn’t have another edge defender with more than 3 sacks last season. Second year defensive end Rasheem Green should have a bigger role in Clark’s absence, but he struggled mightily on 201 snaps as a rookie, finishing as one of PFF’s lowest ranked edge defenders. He had just 1 sack and 6 hurries all season on 120 pass rush snaps. The 2018 3rd round pick still has upside and could take a step forward in his 2nd season in the league, but his career is not off to a good start and he certainly wouldn’t be the first 3rd round pick who didn’t develop into a long-term starter.

The Seahawks also added a trio of edge defenders this off-season, in an attempt to replace Clark. They used the first round pick they got from the Chiefs on TCU defensive end LJ Collier and also added veterans Ezekiel Ansah and Cassius Marsh in free agency. Collier was not widely considered a first round prospect, but he wasn’t a huge reach either and could have a rookie year impact. Marsh, meanwhile, is a rotational player at best, who set a career high with 550 snaps last season, but finished 93rd out of 113 qualifying edge defenders on PFF.

Ansah has the best shot to replace Clark in the short-term. That would require him getting healthy and staying healthy though, which is far from a guarantee. Ansah was a productive pass rusher from 2014-2017, totaling 36 sacks, 67 hits, and 114 hurries on 1,561 pass rush snaps (13.9%), while earning an above average grade from PFF in all 4 seasons. The Lions franchise tagged him last off-season, but concerns about his long-term durability, after he missed 5 games from 2016-2017 and was limited in others, led the Lions to not extend him long-term, which proved to be wise.

Ansah played just 146 snaps in 2018 due to shoulder problems and is not expected to be back until training camp at the earliest after off-season surgery, which is why he didn’t sign anywhere until May and got just 6 million guaranteed on a deal worth up to 9 million, just a year after being given a 17.143 million dollar franchise tag. He has bounce back potential, but he’s also going into his age 30 season and could be starting to fall apart. He’s worth the risk for a team that desperately needs a difference maker off the edge, but there’s no guarantee the risk pays off. The Lions will try to replace Clark by committee and will likely have a weaker group of edge defenders as a result, unless a couple young players breakout and Ezekiel Ansah stays healthy and turns back the clock.

Grade: B-

Interior Defenders

With Frank Clark gone, defensive tackle Jarran Reed is now their top defensive lineman and, going into the final year of his rookie deal, the Seahawks will likely give him a big extension this off-season. Reed had a strong 2018 season, totaling 10.5 sacks, 13 hits, and 26 hurries, a very impressive 10.3% pressure rate from the interior, but he wasn’t as good against the run and the 2016 2nd round pick is a one-year wonder, earning middling overall grades from Pro Football Focus in his first two seasons in the league, while combining for just 3 sacks, 9 hits, and 22 hurries on 546 pass rush snaps (6.2% pressure rate). The Seahawks are banking on him continuing his strong play and not proving to be a one-year wonder, but the contract they ultimately give him may be a little bit much for a player who hasn’t proven it consistently yet.

At the other defensive tackle spot, Shamar Stephen and Quinton Jefferson split snaps last season, with Stephen playing primarily in base packages and Jefferson playing primarily in sub packages. Stephen is no longer with the team, but the he struggled for most of the season and the Seahawks have a few options to replace him. Free agent acquisition Al Woods is likely the favorite and he’s been a solid run stuffer for years, but he’s also going into his age 32 season. He’ll face competition from Nazair Jones, 2017 3rd round pick who has played just 416 snaps in 2 seasons in the league, and Poona Ford, a 2018 undrafted free agent who flashed on 231 snaps as a rookie.

Quinton Jefferson will likely remain as the primary interior pass rusher opposite Reed. Last year was the first significant action of the 2016 5th round pick’s career and he didn’t show much, managing just 3 sacks, 11 hits, and 17 hurries on 371 pass rush snaps (8.4% pressure rate) and struggling against the run. I don’t expect much more from him in 2019. Barring a breakout season from someone, the other defensive tackle spot inside next to Jarran Reed should continue being a weak point.

Grade: B

Linebackers

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is also expected to be extended at some point this off-season now that the Seahawks have moved on from Clark. Wagner has been arguably the best off ball linebacker in the NFL in recent years, finishing in the top-6 at his position on Pro Football Focus in all 3 straight seasons, including back-to-back seasons as their highest ranked off ball linebacker, and he’s still in the prime of his career in his age 29 season, so the Seahawks can’t afford to lose him.

To keep Wagner, the Seahawks will likely have to top the 5-year, 85 million dollar deal CJ Mosley received from the Jets in free agency this off-season. Wagner is a few years older, but he’s a much more dynamic player, as Mosley has his struggles in coverage. Outside of Russell Wilson, Wagner might be their most important player on the roster. He’s one of just a few players still remaining from their Super Bowl defenses and he’s easily the best.

Fellow linebacker KJ Wright is also still on the roster from those dominant defenses, though he had a lost 2018 season due to a knee injury that limited him to 223 snaps in 5 games. Wright was a top-30 off ball linebacker on PFF for 5 straight seasons prior to 2018, maxing out at #5 in 2015, so he has bounce back potential, but he’s also going into his age 30, so he could be slowing down. The Seahawks brought back him on a 2-year, 14 million dollar contract as a free agent this off-season, but they also might have drafted his long-term replacement in the 3rd round, when they took Utah’s Cody Barton.

For now, Barton will provide insurance behind Wright and compete for the other outside linebacker role, which plays less than half the snaps and comes off the field for a 5th defensive back in sub packages. Barkevious Mingo played the 2nd most snaps by a Seattle linebacker in Wright’s absence in 2018 and will compete for the 3rd linebacker job, but he struggled last season and has been a mediocre player throughout his career, so he’d be an underwhelming option, even in a pure base package role. Owed 4.2 million non-guaranteed plus incentives, Mingo will likely be let go if he can’t lock down a starting job, as his salary is too rich for a backup.

The Seahawks are hoping Mychal Kendricks can play this season and he’ll likely be the 3rd linebacker if he can, but he faces an uncertain legal future. Kendricks pled guilty to insider trading last summer and, while he’s already served his 8-game suspension from the NFL, he has yet to be sentenced and could get multiple years in prison, which would obviously make him unavailable for the 2019 season.

The Seahawks gave him a 1-year, 4.5 million dollar deal this off-season, but none of it is guaranteed, so they can move on without penalty if he can’t play. Kendricks is an experienced veteran with 77 career starts who is theoretically still in the prime of his career in his age 29 season and he’s more than qualified for a base package role (he’s always played best against the run), but none of that will matter if he’s in prison. With Wright returning and depth added through the draft, this should be an improved linebacking corps even if Kendricks can’t play.

Grade: A-

Secondary

No unit on this roster has seen more changes in recent years than the secondary. The last remaining member of the Legion of Boom, Earl Thomas, signed with the Ravens this off-season, with the Seahawks unwilling to meet his financial demands. Cornerback Richard Sherman was shown the door last off-season, coming off of a torn achilles and owed 11 million non-guaranteed, while Kam Chancellor was forced into retirement last off-season by a serious neck injury.

Thomas missed most of last season with a broken leg though and the Seahawks had solid safety play in his absence, so the loss that could affect this team more in 2019 is the loss of slot cornerback Justin Coleman, who signed a 4-year, 36 million dollar deal with the Detroit Lions this off-season. Coleman isn’t nearly as big of name as the former Legion of Boom players, but he’s been one of the better slot cornerbacks in the league over the past 2 seasons, finishing 32nd on Pro Football Focus in overall coverage grade in 2017 and then 19th in that measure in 2018.

The Seahawks don’t have an obvious replacement on the roster, but they did use a 2nd round pick on Utah safety Marquise Blair, who can also cover the slot. Starters Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson are probably locked into their jobs, but the Seahawks could use 3 safety looks frequently to mask their lack of depth at cornerback, so Blair could still have a big rookie year role. Free agent acquisition Jamar Taylor is currently penciled in as the 3rd cornerback, but he’s struggled throughout his 6-year career, with the exception of a solid 2016 season, so he’s an underwhelming option and may not even be a roster lock, only guaranteed 25k at signing.

McDougald is their best safety, finishing a career best 32nd among safeties on PFF in 2018. A 6-year veteran with 61 career starts, McDougald has played better every season in the league and is still very much in the prime of his career in his age 29 season. He should continue giving them above average safety play and is a steal on the 3-year, 13.5 million dollar deal the Seahawks gave him last off-season. Thompson, meanwhile, is a 2017 4th round pick that got his first starting action in Thomas’ absence last season. He wasn’t great, but he played well enough for the Seahawks to continue starting him and he could keep developing, only in his 3rd year in the league. He might have to compete with Blair for the starting job, but all three safeties should see significant action.

Shaq Griffin and Tre Flowers are locked in as the starting outside cornerbacks, after starting 16 games and 15 games respectively in 2018. A 3rd round pick in 2017, Griffin showed a lot of promise as a rookie, but took a step back in his 2nd season in the league, finishing below average on PFF. Flowers, meanwhile, went in the 5th round in 2018. The 6-3 203 converted safety has the size the Seahawks love in a cornerback and he did a great job against the run, but was also inconsistent in coverage. Both players could take a step forward in coverage in 2019, but that’s not a guarantee. This is far from the Seahawks’ once dominant secondary and this defense as a whole has gotten much worse in recent years as well.

Grade: C+

Conclusion

The Seahawks made the post-season in 2018, but they needed a league best +15 turnover margin to do so and turnover margins are incredibly inconsistent on a year-to-year basis. If the Seahawks hadn’t had such great luck recovering their own fumbles, they could have easily been about an 8-8 team last season. Add in some key defensive losses and the loss of wide receiver Doug Baldwin and this is a team that isn’t even as talented as last year’s squad. Pete Carroll is one of the better head coaches in the league and his team could overachieve their talent level once again, but even if they do that it might not be enough for them to qualify for the post-season again. 

Prediction: 6-10, 3rd in NFC West

Team Score: 73.76 (21st in NFL)

Offensive Score: 75.80

Defensive Score: 71.71

team score is based on a weighted average of individual player grades (certain positions valued higher than others, score out of 100)

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