Predicting Seattle Seahawks' Starting Lineup Pre-2014 NFL Draft
The Seattle Seahawks are lucky to have maintained the large majority of their 22 starters from last season, which will be a big help to them as they chase their second straight championship.
There isn't much that will change when it comes to their starting depth chart, though there will be a big change at the wide receiver position.
They lost Golden Tate to the Detroit Lions in free agency but do have a few pretty solid options to make up for the loss. Doug Baldwin is the leading candidate to be one of the team's starting receivers after helping them in a big way towards the end of the 2013 season.
Sidney Rice will also nab a high spot on the depth chart if he remains healthy—he's one of the best in the league when he's 100 percent.
Percy Harvin is another X-factor that will contend for one of the top receiver spots, but his best fit isn't on the sideline—it's in the slot. He's more of an offensive weapon than a receiver, so Harvin will likely be shifted across a few positions but starting at none.
Outside of the receiving group, Seattle's depth chart will largely look the same as it did last year. There's a lot of talent on this team and the majority of it belongs to young men who will play for much longer and help the team reach new peaks. They're in a great position moving forward, and they're only getting better.
Projected started: Russell Wilson
There's no chance that Russell Wilson isn't quarterbacking his team come opening day. The upcoming third-year passer has shown much progression in his two years in the league and already has a ring to show for it.
He did have some growing pains at times last season, but that's expected of a quarterback in just his second season. Clearly there's more he can and needs to improve on, but he's on the right track as we enter the 2014 season.
Wilson's numbers from last season speak for themselves: 3,357 yards, 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.
Plain and simple, he's one of the brightest young quarterbacks in this league and will undoubtedly take another step forward next season.
Projected starter: Marshawn Lynch
Aside from its defense, a large part of Seattle's horsepower came from Marshawn Lynch in 2013.
Ever since joining the team in 2010, Lynch has steadily become a more and more dangerous runner—he's now considered to be a top five running back in the league and has a stranglehold on the starting running back position in Seattle.
He totaled 1,257 yards last season as well as 12 touchdowns, ranking in the top 10 of the league for both stats. Lynch is a bruising runner with an engine that just doesn't quit. He has the ideal combination of speed and power for a running back and is hard to bring down—he can outrun and truck through most defenders that attempt to tackle him.
Lynch is in his prime, and there's not many runners in the league that are better than him.
Projected starters: Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin (slot)
The Seahawks took a sizable loss when Golden Tate signed with the Detroit Lions, but it's looking like they'll be alright at the position. While Tate was a very dependable and talented receiver, his understudy from last season will make a fine option as their No. 2 (small chance of being No. 1) receiver.
Doug Baldwin really came through in a big way for the Seahawks last year, and he will be depended upon much more in 2014. Sidney Rice will likely hold the No. 1 receiver spot with Baldwin as the second or third receiver—that's contingent upon Percy Harvin's help and production.
Harvin looked great the last time we saw him on the field, but his health is a lingering issue that Seattle is surely wary about. Even if he's healthy, he's probably a better fit in the slot and out of the backfield anyways.
No matter how you line 'em up, the Seahawks have a solid trio of receivers that will help this offense be productive and balanced next season.
Projected starter: Zach Miller*
Seattle's offense didn't use a tight end so much, but when it did, Zach Miller was a solid option at the position. By no means is he a great or even game-changing tight end, but he held things down for them and did score five touchdowns.
If the roster stays generally the same as it is right now, then Miller will more than likely be the starter. However, Seattle has previously expressed interest in free-agent receiver Jermichael Finley, and that marriage may be coming sooner than later.
He failed the team physical he took in March but will likely have more tests done soon to determine whether or not he is fully healthy. If he is, then it'd be prudent of Seattle to set its eyes on him.
He's an athletic tight end who can, when healthy, be that game-changing tight end that would only further extend the depths of Darrell Bevell's playbook.
Projected starters: Russell Okung (LT), James Carpenter (LG), Max Unger (C), J.R. Sweezy (RG), Pending Draft Pick (RT)
The Seahawks have one of the most talented blindside blockers in the league in Russell Okung, and he anchors an otherwise underwhelming group.
James Carpenter does a solid job at left guard but isn't anything special.
Max Unger is a solid center and fits into Darrell Bevell's zone-blocking scheme very well. Things start to get less confident as you move over to right guard and right tackle. J.R. Sweezy is good enough for now, but he will need to be upgraded within the next couple of years. The only mystery on their offensive line is at right tackle, which will likely end up being a draft pick.
They could use one of the early round picks to draft a solid lineman that is talented enough to be plugged in and start right away. One name that could be called on draft day is Zack Martin of Notre Dame. He's a physical lineman who has a high ceiling and would feel right at home in the zone-blocking scheme.
Pairing him with Okung would make for a very young and talented pair that could develop into one of the league's best O-lines.
Projected starters: Michael Bennett (LDE), Tony McDaniel (DT), Brandon Mebane (DT), Cliff Avril (RDE)
The dominance of Seattle's defense starts up from with its excellent pass rush. Leading the pack are Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, two of the league's best defenders who were brought in during last year's free agency period.
Considering they're two of the best in the league at their position, it's hard to see them losing hold of their starting spots from last season—the talent behind them on the depth chart does not nearly equal theirs. They can rush the quarterback very well, as evidenced by their 16.5 combined sacks and pressure opposing quarterbacks into throwing ducks, just as they did to Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
Besides their edge-rushers, the Seahawks have a couple of talented big men in the middle with Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane. Mebane is solid but will likely be replaced within the next few years, while McDaniel is one of the better D-tackles in the NFL. He's stout against the run and is a big reason why Seattle was able to thwart most runner-based offenses last season.
Overall, the Seahawks' offensive line is one of the best groups in the league.
Projected starters: Bruce Irvin (LOLB), Bobby Wagner (ILB), Malcolm Smith (ROLB)
Seattle has one of the best, young linebacking corps in the NFL—a group headlined by Bobby Wagner. The former second-round pick has quickly become one of the NFL's elite at middle linebacker. He's racked up 260 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions in just two seasons, and is one of the reasons why the team's defense runs so smoothly.
Moving to the outside, Malcolm Smith was a reliable piece of their defense all year long but came up huge for them in the big game, earning MVP honors to go along with his championship ring. He, along with Bruce Irvin, makes for a dependable pair of backers to sandwich Wagner between.
You also can't forget about K.J. Wright who made quite an impact last year. Wright is tremendous in coverage and while he may not start, he is still a huge contributor to their championship defense.
Projected starters: Richard Sherman (LCB), Kam Chancellor (SS), Earl Thomas (FS), Byron Maxwell (RCB)
The Legion of Boom lost one of their key members this offseason when Brandon Browner signed with the New England Patriots, but their young stud Byron Maxell is looking to be a very solid replacement. While he lacks the same size as Browner and thus gives up the physicality advantage, Maxwell is great in coverage and played very well for Seattle down the stretch last season.
He's just one of four ball hawks that Seattle's defense boasts. The headliner of the group is obviously Richard Sherman who made statement after statement last season en route to a Super Bowl victory. He's as physical and challenging as cornerbacks nowadays get, and he is truly one of the best at his position.
In looking at the Seahawks' safeties, it's hard to argue that they aren't the best safety tandem in the NFL. Earl Thomas is an All-Pro player who is stellar in coverage and is very physical despite having a smaller stature.
His partner-in-crime, Kam Chancellor, definitely helps put the "boom" in Legion of Boom. He's shown tremendous ability as a hitter but is also pretty competent in coverage, although hitting is definitely his forte.
Together they are one of the most menacing secondaries in the league and can match with almost any passing offense—just ask Peyton Manning.