On the Clock: Seattle Seahawks
By Jeremy Green
Over the next month, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering. The Seahawks are up now.
After struggling for most of the 2006 regular season, the Seahawks were one defensive stop away from advancing to the NFC Championship game. They have been active this offseason, as they try to hold on to the top spot in what is now becoming an extremely competitive NFC West. Seattle should be fine on the offensive side of the ball. QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander are among the best in the NFL at their respective positions. Both players missed numerous games with injuries in 2006. WR Deion Branch is not a No.1 receiver, but he is Seattle's go-to-guy and should have a better season in 2007 now that he will have an offseason to get acclimated to the West Coast offense.
Seattle also has a ton of talent of the defensive side of the ball, but underachieved last season, finishing with the 19th-ranked defense in the NFL. The Seahawks are going to perform on the offensive side of the ball. How the stars perform on defense will determine their fate in 2007.
The Seahawks' defense was one of the most underachieving units in the NFL in 2006. Not surprisingly, the front office has focused most of its attention on that side of the ball. The most talked about signing has been the addition of former Atlanta DE Patrick Kerney. Unfortunately, the signing of Kerney looks eerily similar to the signing of Grant Wistrom three years ago. Since his 13.0 sack season in 2004, Kerney has totaled 11.0 sacks the past two seasons. The better additions occurred at safety position. Seattle added SS Brian Russell (Cleveland) and FS Deon Grant (Jacksonville). Russell is a born leader. The most important thing he brings to the table is the ability to get everyone lined up properly. He is also a player who can play in the box or the deep half of the field. Grant is a big safety with very good range. He can cover a lot of ground from the middle of the field to the sideline. The additions at safety are huge for this team, as former starters Ken Hamlin and Michael Boulware were caught out of position way too often in 2006.
I already talked about Wistrom's depature, which won't be major because of Kerney's arrival. Both were overrated players when they hit the free-agent market, but at least Kerney is younger. The team will not bring back Hamlin, but added two safeties this offseason. TE Jerramy Stevens will not be back because the team has grown tired of his off-the-field problems, marginal work ethic and dropped passes. The Seahawks do have three key players who have not been re-signed and are still available. WR Bobby Engram has been a productive No. 3 receiver in their offense, while OC Robbie Tobeck and ROG Chris Gray have started a lot of games for the Seahawks over their careers. Bringing Engram back on a one-year deal would help because he gives them depth at wide receiver and some leadership for the younger players at the position.
The biggest issue the Seahawks need to settle right now is their offensive line. The starting interior of the line that took them to the Super Bowl two years ago is gone. Steve Hutchinson left two years ago in free agency. Tobeck began the 2006 season as the starter before getting injured and he it seems likely that he won't be back. Gray is 36 year old and also seems unlikely to return. As of today, Rob Sims (LOG), Chris Spencer (OC) and Ray Willis (ROG) are slated to be the starters. The Seahawks need some depth along the offensive line in case there players don't perform up to expectations.