Seahawks Winners & Losers through first 3 weeks of training camp
Seaside Joe 1258, 8/15/22: Players, coaches, GMs, and draft classes getting positive and negative reports midway through camp
The Seattle Seahawks are going into their fourth week of training camp and second preseason game on Thursday against the Chicago Bears at Lumen Field. We should expect to see Drew Lock get his first opportunity to spend a week with the 1s and to start against the Bears, but the quarterback competition is one of many storylines that have been worth following in Seahawks camp through three weeks.
There has been a lot of good and as was on display for most of Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the inevitable bad, but for the most part everything that Seattle has intended to accomplish since deciding to retain Pete Carroll and then to trade the quarterback, has been on schedule.
Most of what we’ve seen in training camp so far, even the bad, has been expected for months.
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Pete Carroll & John Schneider
Give it a couple of years and maybe then ESPN will be writing that the Seahawks had the best 2022 offseason. One opinion is that Seattle had one of the worst offseasons in the league and I think it’s fine to believe that. The Seahawks lost several of their best players and could have a worse record than 7-10 this year.
But the sense I’m getting from Seahawks fans is that the franchise is at the tail end of an offseason with substantial positive long-term returns, and that there’s a sense of relief this year that it's better for Seattle to be progressively bad this season than to be mildly successful and frustrating.
Like in the results to Seaside Joe’s “Are you biased?” survey, I don’t think it is typical of Seahawks fans to be relentlessly positive about the direction of the franchise every offseason. If anything, maybe Seattle fans are even tougher on Pete and John than in season’s past because it has been seven years without a deep playoff run.
So I think it says something that in the same offseason that the Seahawks trade Russell Wilson, cut Bobby Wagner, say goodbye to Duane Brown, and watch Chris Carson retire, the general sentiment from the fanbase is one of great fascination and optimism. Especially after the last three and a half months with the 2022 rookie class.
After first getting one of the best trade package returns in NFL history for Wilson, and saving unknown hundreds of millions in a contract extension, the Seahawks went from no first round picks to having three of the top-41 and potentially holding the most draft capital in 2023. If nothing else, Schneider’s veteran players acquired at least netted the team a high-ceiling tight end prospect with Noah Fant. And the acquisition of Drew Lock, even if he never starts, helped Seattle navigate the offseason without having to seriously entertain any of the underwhelming options like Baker Mayfield who hit the market.
Three weeks into camp, neither Lock nor free agent retainee Geno Smith look especially better than expected, but that doesn’t mean the story of camp isn’t: “Impressive new guys!”
In the first preseason game, every single Seahawks drafted rookie had positive moments against the Steelers, with the exception of Tyreke Smith, who did not play. Seattle knows they’re starting Charles Cross at left tackle, a pick only possible because of the Wilson trade, but could also start third rounder Abe Lucas opposite of him. Second rounders Boye Mafe and Ken Walker III also played like significant Week 1 contributors, with the former stealing the show on defense—maybe for either team.
Of the two rookie cornerbacks, the odds are already looking good that at least one of Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen has a future as a starter. Have we taken for granted how rare that is for day three draft picks? And seventh rounders Dareke Young and Bo Melton both had moments they’d like back from Saturday, but also had key positive plays and that’s an even more important takeaway for Carroll.
A potential 10th member of the class is undrafted free agent Vi Jones, a linebacker who also starred on Saturday night.
Not to be forgotten are the free agent contracts for Quandre Diggs, Rashaad Penny, Will Dissly, Sidney Jones IV, and Al Woods so they wouldn’t leave, plus the acquisitions of Uchenna Nwosu, Artie Burns, Marquise Goodwin, and Austin Blythe at a discounted rate.
And the fact that the Seahawks are choosing between Smith and Lock doesn’t make me want to lower Seattle’s offseason grade. For that is also THE BEST THING THEY DID ALL YEAR.
Don’t be the Cleveland Browns and Deshaun Watson. Don’t be the Carolina Panthers and Baker Mayfield. Don’t even be the Indianapolis Colts and Matt Ryan. Those would have all been terrible, illogical moves. Be the Seattle Seahawks and the 2023 draft class, which was the the first thing I requested from the team following the trade.
It should not be any of the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft and I could not think of a bigger waste of this opportunity than the Seahawks doing anything other than picking the best available non-QB in the first round. Seattle drafting a quarterback with a top-10 pick this year would be NFL malpractice, and will eventually be what ends the Pete Carroll era.
Smith and Lock aren’t the best quarterbacks. They’re just the best quarterbacks for what the Seahawks need at quarterback right now.
Throw in a contract extension for DK Metcalf at the exact right price and I say Pete and John must already feel like winners about their offseason.
S Josh Jones
Fighting for a roster spot is not where Jones expected to be when he was drafted in the last second round in 2017. For some context, Jones went right ahead of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Pro Bowl tackle Dion Dawkins, and soon after that Alvin Kamara and Cooper Kupp. There were players who were much bigger busts that year, including Malik McDowell, but Jones has not had an easy road to get this far and he is fortunate to kept his career alive long enough to land with the Seahawks.
Waived after only two years with the Packers, Jones was a back-and-forth practice squad player by his third season. Then he ends up with the Seahawks, a team that is literally paying their two starting safeties the most money in the NFL. There’s no road to starting barring injury and he must also fight off a deep position group, but Jones has managed to do that in part thanks to a high ankle sprain for Ryan Neal.
He’s also fortunately landed in Clint Hurtt’s scheme instead of Ken Norton’s and that could open the door for him to see a lot of snaps with Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs. As a special teamer and a third safety, Jones has made an easy case for final roster.
LB Vi Jones
I covered Levi Jones in my post-game thoughts on Sunday and the best news for him on Saturday was not his sack of Kenny Pickett, though that was good too. It’s that he led the Seahawks in special teams snaps.
The fact that Seattle did a poor job of tackling and doesn’t appear comfortable with the linebackers could be good news for Jones, depending on where he sits amid those tackling concerns. Maybe he’s not quite onto the final roster yet but he’s the undrafted free agent standing out the most so far.
QB Geno Smith & QB Drew Lock
My words for Smith and Lock. Forget about how you’ve been playing or everything that’s happened up to this moment: The Seahawks didn’t bring in anybody else! It’s gotta be one of you.
It’s almost like quarterbacks get blacklisted by the NFL when they get benched and/or lose competitions. Both quarterbacks have been benched and lost quarterback competitions. Now…one of them has to do it! That’s not a strong endorsement but I’m not handing out endorsements, I’m praising those who find themselves in a fortunate situation.
To potentially get off the blacklist this season, that’s fortunate for both quarterbacks.
RT Abe Lucas
It had to be frustrating for Lucas to view himself as a first round pick and then to not be selected until 72nd overall; Since 2010, the only Pro Bowl tackles drafted in the third or fourth rounds have been Terron Armstead, David Bakhtiari, and Orlando Brown. Expectations for tackles who fall out of the top-60 picks should be kept to reasonable levels.
And then maybe slightly puzzling to go to the Seahawks, a team that already drafted a left tackle; it’s great to get any opportunity, but tackles will always prefer the left side, such is the case that caused Orlando Brown to be traded.
Then Lucas had to enter not a two-man race, but a three-man race to be the right tackle; he could be on his way to winning it.
Lucas taking a year on the bench would make sense because the Seahawks should really do all in their power to start the five best offensive linemen especially given the change at quarterback. But Lucas might be one of the five best based on early reports and it doesn’t necessarily mean that Jake Curhan is doing poorly either.
Carroll might choose to start Lucas at right tackle and Curhan at right guard, where he has been playing quite a lot recently.
RB coach Chad Morton / OL coach Andy Dickerson
Dickerson, the third-most experienced assistant coach on the staff with 17 years under his belt, is positioning himself to become an offensive coordinator or a head coach based on his offseason and early returns in camp. The offensive line was one of the bright spots for the Seahawks against the Steelers and was another indication of why Carroll chose to replace Mike Solari with him.
"Forever in my coaching, I've always looked at young guys, develop them and bring them up, and once you get to know who they are and what they're all about, try to push them where they're strong, where they're capable and all, and where it seems obvious. Andy was one of those guys," Carroll remarked. "He came in with Shane, to give Shane support schematically and to help us transition, and he did all of that. I just saw his impact and his connection with our players. It was just too significant to keep him out of, really, the fundamental interaction that he can have with players and the effect that he can have. So it was a natural move in that regard."
But maybe no assistant on the Seahawks has a greater opportunity based on current personnel than Chad Morton. After seven years in the NFL as a running back, but primarily as a kick and punt returner, Morton was a special teams assistant for his first five years as a coach. Carroll made him a running backs assistant in 2015, then the running backs coach in 2017, and most recently added the title of run game coordinator following Dickerson’s promotion.
The running backs appear to be the most exciting position group to watch on the Seahawks this season and all four appear to have important roles in Shane Waldron’s offense. Given that Rashaad Penny was so productive to end 2021, Ken Walker III has everything you want in a prospect, Travis Homer looks to be earning additional touches this season, and DeeJay Dallas could have a future as a starter, how Morton rotates each of these players will be a weekly storyline.
DL Myles Adams
Adams went undrafted out of Rice in 2020, signed with the Panthers, was cut, and later signed with Seattle’s practice squad. He played 33 snaps last season, split between games against the Rams and Bears.
The Seahawks would be left with $2.4 million in dead money against the salary cap by releasing L.J. Collier but if it comes down to those two, Seattle can’t risk losing Adams if he continues his strong camp and preseason.
LB Boye Mafe
I’m not expecting this. But what a world it would be if Boye Mafe turned out to be the best player on the team this year.
CB Coby Bryant & CB Tariq Woolen
Some of you would be upset with me if I didn’t mention them. I think plenty has been said so far and the future looks bright, but this does feel a little out of place coming off of uneven preseason debuts.
Seahawks 2023 draft plans: 10 position players Seattle should consider in the first round!
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Well, no need to harp or make a big deal out of any of these, so I’ll make them quicker.
G Gabe Jackson
If it were my job at right guard, I would not necessarily be pleased with hearing the head coach constantly reference how others on the team could do it just as well and then to also be rotated out so frequently. For a long time, it has seemed like the Seahawks want to find a trade partner for Jackson.
The 2021 Draft Class
It’s only be a few weeks and they are only a few players, but Dee Eskridge, Tre Brown, and Stone Forsythe have had a few of the worst camp experiences. Eskridge only works out on the side, never on the field. Brown hasn’t come off of PUP. Forsythe may have the backup left tackle job sewn up, but seems to be falling out of contention for the right side.
That’s one thing that makes the 2022 offseason feel so successful: For the first time in 10 years, it feels like the draft class isn’t going to disappoint.
The WR room
Even though the Seahawks have two of the best starting wideouts in the NFL, nobody has firmly stepped into the number three role or as a potential future number one.
The Bengals and Rams each had deep starting wide receiver units last season, as did the Bills and Bucs, as well as the Chiefs and 49ers if including tight ends, which sensible in those cases. It’s just a matter of having a lot of weapons around the quarterback position and Metcalf, Walker are steps towards in the direction leading into next year’s draft.
Even if Eskridge returns and has a good season, it still won’t be enough.
The team can’t expect to have Tyler Lockett around for another four years and it is rare that teams find undrafted free agents/late round picks like Doug Baldwin. That’s what makes Doug Baldwin so notable.
The Seahawks must address wide receiver relatively early in the draft next year.
K Jason Myers
His attempts on Saturday night looked bad and he’s the fifth-highest paid kicker in the NFL this season. I don’t usually endorse making rash moves at kicker because this could all be noise, but the team seems to be acting pretty frugally and $4 million in savings is enough to replace Myers and have $3 million left over.
I either name all positions for Bellore, or none of them. There is not a need for a fullback. Bellore was involved in Seattle’s tackling issues on Saturday. He would be a $2 million special teams captain. That may be the only reason Bellore is seeing so much defense, to give him a fighting chance to make the roster, but those efforts don’t add in his favor.
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Seahawks trade Ugo Amadi for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on Monday
I am glad you mention Myles Adams and Vi Jones, as both of them stood out to me. Baye Mafe flashed a number of times and that is all you can ask at this point. If he plays the same way through the season Seattle has unearthed a beauty. His closing speed on his special teams tackle and sack are very promising. You put that with all of the fantastic athletic numbers Joe has shown us and there is plenty of room for optimisim. I made a comment on the YouTube highlights of the game. It was very simple, I think Geno is slow to process and slow of foot, I would prefer Lock as he would be exciting. Some of the grief I got was astounding, finally I had to defend my comment, saying learn how to read I said exciting not a plus 500 quarterback. To me Lock is exciting as we know he has the tools it's weather Pete views it this way, I am crossing my fingers he starts Thursday night like Joe has suggested. If Pete is true to his word Lock will start as Pete said he was going to even the reps out between Lock and Geno.
Final note, from an entertainment standpoint, that was one of the best pre season games I have watched. The refs didn't get in the way, and we watched football. There were probably fouls on every play, however the refs did well. If the foul had no bearing on the outcome of the play, they put the flag away. Well done the ZEBRAS !
Gotta say it: Nick Bellore, as much as I love his heart, was embarrassing to watch vs the Steelers.
The longer they are not on the field, the easier it is to forget about Eskridge and Tre Brown. Either/both should be worried about their future with the team.
But the 2022 offseason--draft class especially--is killing it.