Analysis: Seattle's Final 53

Now that the final cuts have been made, Seahawks.NET takes an in-depth look at the Seattle roster, position-by-position. We know all about the shoo-ins - now, we can talk about the roleplayers and "depth guys" so crucial to the kind of continued success any team hopes to enjoy.

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace, David Greene.

Greene emerged as the dark horse candidate to many, and it was a surprise to some when Gibran Hamdan was released by the team a few days ago. Hamdan was released by the 49ers as San Francisco went to make final cuts today. As the NFL Europe League’s Offensive Player of the Year, Hamdan’s struggles to make it at this level may spell the end of a larger trend – the ability of teams to project quarterbacks from that league to the big time with any degree of certainty. Undrafted free agent Travis Lulay, a star at Montana State who was released today, might make the practice squad.

Halfback: Shaun Alexander, Maurice Morris, Josh Scobey (KR).

The surprise here was the release of Marquis Weeks, who had shown some flash and dash through camp and the preseason. He’s a very good bet to make the practice squad if no other team picks him up.

Fullback: Mack Strong, Josh Parry.

After suffering a high ankle sprain in the preseason win over the Raiders last Thursday, Leonard Weaver was placed on the team’s Injured Reserve list today, ending his season and prompting the Seahawks to acquire Parry, a more traditional blocking back, from the Eagles for a conditional 2008 draft pick. Fifth-round pick David Kirtman from USC didn’t bowl anyone over in camp, but he’s often been mentioned in speculation as a practice squadder.

Wide Receiver: Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram, D.J. Hackett, Maurice Mann.

Peter Warrick was a sentimental favorite for many fans, as they hoped to see a glimpse of the talent which had him going fourth overall in the 2000 draft. But Warrick was simply outplayed by Mann down the stretch, and his drops in camp didn’t help his case. Seventh-round pick Ben Obomanu is another practice squad candidate, showing some skill with punt returns.

Tight End: Jerramy Stevens, Itula Mili, Will Heller.

Heller cut his teeth in Tampa Bay under the auspices of current Seahawks personnel gurus Tim Ruskell and Ruston Webster. When Ryan Hannam was picked up by the Cowboys, the Seahawks’ front office made the call, and Heller is currently the only healthy tight end on the roster – Mili may be ready for the season opener, and Stevens will miss the first month. Heller has shown good hands and toughness, and he could be yet another valuable pickup from Ruskell’s time in Tampa Bay.

Offensive Tackle: Walter Jones, Sean Locklear, Tom Ashworth, Ray Willis.

Jones and Locklear might be the best tackle combo in the NFL. Certainly Jones has no peer, and Locklear shows incredible promise. Ashworth is a versatile backup who got used to playing all over the line in New England. Willis is a work in progress with great physical potential.

Offensive Guard: Floyd Womack, Chris Gray, Rob Sims.

“If Womack can stay healthy” is how every evaluation begins with the starting left guard, so let us be no different. Gray makes the cut again, with a tip of the cap from Seahawks.NET for his year-after-year survival skills. The rookie Sims was one of the stars of the preseason, looking mature beyond his time and occasionally dominant. He will be one to watch.

Center: Robbie Tobeck, Chris Spencer, Jean-Phillipe Darche (LS).

The venerable Tobeck will slip right in when the season starts, while the Seahawks continue to groom Spencer. Darche, Holmgren’s “Merci Beaucoup” man, is worth a roster spot for the excitement he doesn’t bring to the position of long snapper. Rookie UDFA Pat Ross from Boston College is a good bet for the practice squad – he got quite a few reps in Tobeck’s absence with an elbow injury when Spencer would switch to guard in the second half of preseason games.

Defensive Tackle: Rocky Bernard, Chartric Darby, Marcus Tubbs, Craig Terrill, Russell Davis.

What may be the best interior line rotation in the league returns with few surprises. Davis, the offseason acquisition from Arizona, suffered a heel injury in mid-August and is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

Defensive End: Grant Wistrom, Bryce Fisher, Darryl Tapp, Joe Tafoya, Chris Cooper.

Tapp really came on toward the end of preseason, dominating the Raiders in the final game. Cooper is a tweener who can move inside. Injuries hampered this unit's development in the preseason, but the outside ballast of Tim Ruskell’s prize front seven appears ready to do damage as the season begins.

Middle Linebacker: Lofa Tatupu, Niko Koutouvides.

Koutouvides is a capable backup – a good runstopper who has difficulty in coverage. Tatupu might be the Seahawks’ Ichiro Suzuki – the two athletes share an inexplicable distillation of instinct, study and talent enjoyed by very few.

Outside Linebacker: Julian Peterson, Leroy Hill, D.D. Lewis, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Kevin Bentley.

Peterson and Hill join with Tatupu to form a starting linebacker corps that will be the terror of the NFL – as great as Seattle’s offense is, this might be the team's strongest position. Lewis could start for most teams in the league. Bentley and Kacyvenski are capable backups who provide a presence on special teams. John Marshall was said to appreciate the contributions of Lance Laury, who was cut today, so you might see him on the rebound when the practice squad is announced.

Cornerback: Marcus Trufant, Kelly Herndon, Kelly Jennings, Jimmy Williams (PR), Jordan Babineaux (CB/S).

Williams is the surprise here, especially if he gets the nod at punt returner after the fiascos of 2005. Trufant and Herndon are the likely opening day starters, with first-rounder Jennings learning in the nickel as he rounds out his development. Eventually, he will start opposite Trufant. Babineaux is this defense’s Swiss Army Knife, able to play anywhere in the backfield. He’s a real plus in a secondary that has been thin and doesn’t project to get much “fatter”.

Safety: Ken Hamlin, Michael Boulware, Oliver Celestin.

This position took a real hit when Mike Green went on IR – Green was thought to be this year’s Marquand Manuel, and his interception TD against the Colts seemed to prove his ability to come through in the clutch. Hamlin should be a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year – his return has seemed so natural that almost nothing is said at this point, but “miraculous” is not too strong a word to describe seeing him back on the field after the head injuries he suffered last October. Boulware is another Seattle defender who is returning from lost preseason time due to injury. Celestin impressed in the preseason and outpaced Etric Pruitt, who might make the practice squad if the Seahawks don’t continue their interest in another veteran safety.

Punter: Ryan Plackemeier.

The rookie boomed his way to the starting role with a 44.0 gross/36.6 net average, shoving Tom Rouen aside and stating his case so strongly that even veteran-loving special teams coach Bob Casullo could not deny his gifts.

Kicker: Josh Brown.

Brown was 9 of 11 in field goals in the preseason, including a perfect 8 of 8 from 49 yards and in. You think the Cowboys wish they had taken that flyer on him instead of signing Mike “Fore!!!” Vanderjagt?

Me, too.


Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET and a staff writer for Football Outsiders. Feel free to e-mail him here.


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