With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. Next up is the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks earned a decisive 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos to win the Lombardi Trophy for the first time fin franchise history in February. However, Seattle has had to watch several contributors leave through free agency, which has been a blow to the team’s depth. The Seahawks enter the draft with just six picks to patch some of the holes created this offseason.
Guard/Tackle: The offensive line was the weakest point of Seattle’s roster last season. The line was highly inconsistent and the struggles were exacerbated by a combined 18 games missed due to injury for Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini and Max Unger. Giacomini (NY Jets) and Paul McQuistan (Cleveland) are now gone and the team has declined their 2015 option on former first-round pick James Carpenter.
It’s created needs at guard and tackle for Seattle that need to be addressed. The Seahawks think highly of second-year options Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey as potential replacements but more depth and competition is needed.
Defensive End: Despite re-signing Michael Bennett, the Seahawks felt the defensive end position was still enough of a need to make a run at Jared Allen in free agency. While Bennett and Cliff Avril are the likely starters, Seattle needs another pass rushing option outside for when Bennett slides in to tackle on passing downs to replace Chris Clemons. The Seahawks also need to figure out how to replace Red Bryant as a two-gap end on run downs.
Wide Receiver: Golden Tate moved on from Seattle this offseason and signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions. It’s left a void for the Seahawks to fill in their receiving corps. Sidney Rice re-signed on a one-year deal but both Rice and Percy Harvin have a long history of injuries. Their health will remain a question until they can prove it isn’t anymore. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette will be back but the Seahawks could still try to add another playmaker at the position.
Defensive Tackle: Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel are both back as starters inside. However, Seattle is looking to replace the 5.5 sacks of Clinton McDonald as an interior pass rusher. Second-year tackle Jordan Hill showed flashes as a rookie and could fill that role, but he battled injuries and only played in four games last season.
Mebane has a sizable cap hit in 2015 as well that could lead him to potentially be a cap casualty next offseason. Seattle will have to find some long-term solutions along the defensive interior.
Cornerback: With Brandon Browner (New England) and Walter Thurmond (NY Giants) leaving in free agency, the Seahawks need to add to their depth at corner. Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell return as starters with Jeremy Lane and Phillip Adams as competent reserve options. The addition of A.J. Jefferson also provides some veteran depth. Behind that, however, no corner on Seattle’s roster has game experience.
Linebacker: K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith and Heath Farwell are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents after next season. Mike Morgan will be a restricted free agent.
In addition to adding depth to the roster for next season, Seattle may have to plan on replacements for at least a couple of those players next offseason The Seahawks may not have the funds available to sign their linebackers to bigger contracts once they reach free agency and may have to turn to cheaper, younger options. It would be wise for Seattle to make sure they have strong options to turn to in the event they can’t re-sign players like Wright and Smith after next season.