Analysis: Assessing Seahawks' Offensive Depth Chart Following 2022 NFL Draft
Posted On May 5, 2022
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After adding nine new players in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Seahawks have officially transitioned into phase two of their offseason program with rookie minicamp, organized team activities, and mandatory minicamp all coming in the near future.
With the draft now in the rearview mirror, general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll always will be on the lookout for ways to improve his team and plenty of quality free agents remain available to sign. But barring an unforeseen trade and/or unexpected frenzy signing veterans, Seattle’s 90-man roster as constructed likely won’t undergo any significant changes between now and the start of training camp in late July.
Keeping that assumption in mind while examining the current depth chart, which positions should the Seahawks feel good about? And which ones remain potential concerns progressing towards the start of the season?
As the franchise transitions into the post-Russell Wilson era, here’s a close look at all six position groups on the offensive side of the ball with additions, departures, and an overall position grade:
Additions: Drew Lock, Levi Lewis
Departures: Russell Wilson
To the surprise of many, Seattle opted to bypass drafting a quarterback last week, skipping out on multiple opportunities to select Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral, and Sam Howell. The decision not to grab one of those signal callers indicates the team wasn’t high on an underwhelming draft class at the position and for better or worse, reaffirms the organization’s commitment to moving forward with either Drew Lock or Geno Smith as the starter in 2022. Jacob Eason could also be a wild card to watch, but Lock and Smith have far more starting experience and the competition will likely be a two-player battle throughout the offseason program into training camp and the preseason.
The Seahawks did add an intriguing undrafted rookie to the mix in Louisiana’s Levi Lewis, an athletic dual-threat quarterback from Louisiana. Though he’s only 5-foot-8, 187 pounds, he led Lafayette to a program-best 13-1 record last season and finished his collegiate career with 74 touchdowns compared to just 18 interceptions. He also can create with his legs, as he surpassed 1,000 rushing yards and scored 14 touchdowns on the ground for the Ragin’ Cajuns. While he’s unlikely to be a threat to Lock or Smith, he could be a fun developmental quarterback on the practice squad.
Position Grade: C-
Additions: Kenneth Walker III, Darwin Thompson
Departures: Alex Collins
Despite re-signing Rashaad Penny to a one-year deal in March, the Seahawks had a significant need at running back both in the short and long-term with veteran Chris Carson’s status uncertain coming off neck surgery. Still, it was a bit of a shocker to see the team use one of their two second-round picks on Michigan State standout Kenneth Walker III, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best back in 2021, with so many other pressing needs on the roster.
While Carroll didn’t rule out the possibility of Carson returning, his comments after day two of the draft weren’t encouraging and using a premium pick on a top back indicates Seattle isn’t confident the former 1,000-yard rusher will be able to play again. With the dynamic all-around ball carrier added to the backfield as an insurance policy, Walker should compete for substantial playing time alongside Penny right away after rushing for over 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, giving the team an exciting pair of complementary runners. Behind them, former Miami teammates Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas will once again duke it out for third down back duties and play extensive special teams, while Josh Johnson and Darwin Thompson will also be in the mix.
Position Grade: B+
Additions: Bo Melton, Dareke Young, Jake Herslow
Departures: John Ursua
Much to the delight of Seahawks fans everywhere, DK Metcalf wasn’t traded before or during the draft and remains optimistic he will receive a lucrative extension to stay with the franchise long-term. The same can be said for Tyler Lockett, whose name briefly cropped up in trade rumors after Wilson was dealt. Both star wideouts will be back in uniform catching passes from Lock and Smith, keeping one of the best one-two receiving punches in the NFL intact.
Behind Metcalf and Lockett, Seattle will be banking on speedy second-year receiver Dee Eskridge getting through the offseason program without the injuries that dogged him as a rookie. He missed a big chunk of OTAs and training camp with a toe injury before a concussion suffered in the season opener sidelined him for seven games. Freddie Swain will also return for his third season after catching 25 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. Bolstering competition at the bottom of the depth chart, seventh-round selections Bo Melton and Dareke Young bring elite athletic profiles to the field and will aim to make their mark on offense and special teams while competing against returning veterans Penny Hart, Cody Thompson, and Aaron Fuller.
Position Grade: A-
Additions: Noah Fant
Departures: Gerald Everett
Coming to Seattle as part of the Wilson trade, the athletic Fant had his fifth-year option picked up by the organization and will have two seasons to earn himself a second contract. Given his chemistry with Lock from their time together in Denver and the presence of Metcalf and Lockett drawing attention from opposing defenses, he could be a candidate for a career year after a change of scenery. He should see extensive snaps in 12 personnel groupings with standout blocking tight end Will Dissly, who was re-signed to a three-year, $24 million contract in March and will look to be a bit more of a factor in the passing game himself.
After battling foot problems each of his first two seasons, former Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson faces a critical third season. He has flashed in training camp as a seam-stretching matchup nightmare and priority red zone target, but the inability to stay healthy has limited his chances to make an impact on game day. If he wants to carve out a consistent role moving forward, availability will be key establishing a rapport with the new starting quarterback. As a wild card to watch, Tyler Mabry will be back for a third season hoping his special teams value gives him a shot at making the 53-man roster after spending the past two years primarily on the practice squad.
Position Grade: B-
Additions: Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas
Departures: Duane Brown, Brandon Shell, Jamarco Jones
While replacing Wilson remains the most important objective for Seattle in the long run, the team didn’t have a greater need than tackle heading into the 2022 NFL Draft and attacked the deficiency head on. First, Carroll and Schneider used pick No. 9 to select Cross, the light-footed pass protecting virtuoso out of Mississippi State who should be a day one starter safeguarding Lock or Smith’s blind side. Doubling down on a huge area of concern, they stayed in state two rounds later picking Lucas out of Washington State, keeping the Everett native in the Puget Sound region with a chance for him to vie for immediate playing time on the right side as well.
But if Lucas wants to start early, he’s going to have to beat out a pair of second-year blockers in Jake Curhan and Stone Forsythe. Curhan, who signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie last spring, impressed in five starts replacing Brandon Shell at the tail end of last season and that experience should serve him well in a competition. Forsythe also saw snaps against the 49ers at right tackle and the former sixth-round pick out of Florida has plus-athleticism that could help him push for a starting role opposite of Cross as well. It’s also possible Forsythe could be the direct competition for Lucas on the left side with Greg Eiland seeing snaps there as well. There’s a ton of youth at this position but also plenty of upside down the road.
Position Grade: C+
Additions: Austin Blythe, Shamarious Gilmore
Departures: Ethan Pocic
While the Seahawks made seismic changes at the bookend positions, the team maintained status quo in the interior for the most part. With that said, a switch was made at center by reuniting former Rams starter Austin Blythe with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and line coach Andy Dickerson as a replacement for Pocic, who signed with the Browns in free agency. Aside from that move, however, guards Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson will both return as expected starters with Phil Haynes coming back as a swing reserve behind them.
From a depth standpoint, Seattle didn’t draft any guards or centers, opting instead to bring back Kyle Fuller on a one-year deal and sign Georgia State’s Shamarious Gilmore as an undrafted free agent. Filling out the depth chart, Dakoda Shepley will compete against Fuller to back up Blythe after being claimed off waivers from the 49ers last season and guard Pier-Olivier Lestage will return after spending last season on the practice squad.
Position Grade: B-