With the draft three weeks away, it’s time to look closer at team needs for every NFL club.
QB: A common theme in the NFC West is quarterback-needy teams. The Seahawks’ only signal caller signed for 2011 is Charlie Whitehurst, and little hope remains of him developing into a franchise-caliber passer. Contract talks have ceased with free agent Matt Hasselbeck, who hasn’t thrown more touchdowns than interceptions since the 2007 season. It might be best for both sides to part ways. Seattle will consider a quarterback at No. 25 in the draft, particularly if Florida State’s Christian Ponder and/or TCU’s Andy Dalton are available.
OL: Russell Okung and Max Unger are the Seahawks’ only offensive linemen locked into starting positions. Incumbent center Chris Spencer and right tackle Sean Locklear are free agents, and right guard Stacy Andrews is grossly overpaid. It’s another position Seattle will consider addressing in the first round. End-of-roster fodder like Breno Giacomini, Mike Gibson, Tyler Polumbus, William Robinson, and Paul Fanaika won’t be assured of spots on the 2011 club.
CB: The Seahawks’ pass defense was putrid last season, and trading cornerback Josh Wilson didn’t help. Only the Texans and Cowboys surrendered more passing touchdowns, and only Denver allowed more 20-plus yard completions. Seattle’s back-end woes are exacerbated by right corner Kelly Jennings and strong safety Lawyer Milloy’s free agency, combined with Marcus Trufant’s growing age and declining play. They might be able to get by with 2010 fifth-round pick Kam Chancellor in place of Milloy, but cornerback remains a major weakness.
DL: Coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley showed the ability to get more than expected out of defensive linemen like Chris Clemons, Raheem Brock, and Red Bryant last season. That factor pushes the front four down Seattle’s list of needs, but it still needs addressing. Starting “three-technique” tackle Brandon Mebane and Brock’s contracts are up. Bryant returns from injury at left end, but the Seahawks need more pass rush inside.
Overview: Seattle’s roster has improved since Carroll and G.M. John Schneider took over last winter, but this team is still in a rebuilding phase. The Seahawks’ fluky playoff berth with a 7-9 record and advancement past the wild-card round mean nothing going forward.
Carroll has shown the ability to “coach up” players, but he remains in the process of upgrading the talent level. No singular draft pick or free agent signing will make this an above-.500 team. The Seahawks need another couple of impressive offseasons to become an NFC power.