by: Chris Sullivan
I thought I’d look at the offense and see where I think the Hawks are at as far as caliber of players and probability of adding depth or new starters. Here is the offensive breakdown. I’ll try to do defense soon…
Matthew Hasselbeck: B+ — I don’t think the Hawks look to ship Matt out and I don’t see why they would. Matt will be, and should be, our starter in 2009.
Seneca Wallace: C as a starter, A- as a backup — Again, Ruskell + Co seem to really like Seneca and I can see why. He did lead us in 75% of our wins last year, after all. I don’t view him as a starter in this league, and I don’t think many do. He is a very good backup and deserves the money he is making in that role.
Charlie Frye: D — Charlie is a free agent and he will not be a Seahawk next year. In fact, I don’t know if Frye will be in the league next year. Kind of a shame, really, but he is too inconsistent. I like Frye, but not as a Hawk.
Jeff Rowe: ? – We don’t know Rowe but we know that he was our favorite practice squad QB in the league last year. Rowe is young and has a strong arm, I think if he can prove he deserves a roster spot he will get it. Still no clue if he’s good or not.
Overall: Quarterback is not a need. We will bring in a couple of guys (like always) to compete for that third spot, but no one serious. There’s a chance we go mid-to-late rounds and draft a QB to compete with or replace Rowe. I’d be surprised if it was before the fourth round.
Julius Jones: C — Jones is an enigma. He showed flashes of brilliance last year, then disappeared at Holmgren’s whim. We saw a little bit of Jones, but lets be honest, 2009 will be his first real year as a Seahawk.
TJ Duckett: A- — Duckett will play a prominent role in the offense this year (he was brought on for Mora). He’ll help the other RBs learn the zone blocking scheme he excelled in while in Atlanta, and will end up with more carries, more yards, and likely more touchdowns. Duckett was a bright spot last year despite having very limited carries.
Justin Forsett: C — J-Force was one of my favorite guys in training camp and the preseason last year, and I think he can make this team and prove himself valuable as the third RB… that said, it’s not a lock. he did not excel on punt returns last year and will not likely be asked to return them this year (Nasty Nate is back baby!).
Maurice Morris: B+ — Morris had a great year last year, but will almost certainly be playing outside of Seattle.
Overall: The Seahawks have a need for depth at Running Back. If LeSean McCoy or another of the high-potential late-first-rounders drops to the second round, they will have to take a look at him. I would secretly love to see the Hawks target Derrick Ward in Free Agency, but there is nothing really pointing that way other than.. me.
Leonard Weaver: A- –Weaver has emerged over the last two years as a force in the fullback world. That said, Ruskell likely has already set his price and if Weaver demands more (and can get it elsewhere), he may be gone. Weaver is one of the more important free agents this year in my mind.
Owen Schmitt: ? — Schmitt was decent on special teams and had a few flashes of brilliance when he was in at fullback. Unfortunately, that was so infrequent that I don’t feel we can really grade him yet. I like Schmitt, but I don’t think he’s ready to start… that said, I don’t think he’s ready to start in Holmgren’s offense, maybe he is in Knapp’s. Maybe he won’t have a choice…
Overall: Fullback is a position of strength currently that could easily flip to a big fat question mark in Free Agency. Look for us to add at least one realistic depth position or, if we think Weaver is gone, we may sign a “good” but aging free agent fullback for one year to make sure Schmitt is ready.
Too many to list and this is an area we have covered at length. The Hawks need a starter and they need one depth guy (who may come from the current squad). Look for them to carry only five WRs this year with Burleson probably being the only sure shot. I think Burly, Branch and Payne are all likely to make the final cut. It will be very interesting to see what Ruskell is thinking come free agency.
John Carlson: A- — an excellent year by Carlson, he needs to work hard to become even better but I can’t imagine he won’t be doing that.
Will Heller: C — Heller is a free agent. He’ll be back if the price is right, he won’t if it ain’t. I’d say 50/50.
Joe Newton: D — I like Newton, everyone likes Newton, but he’s not built like a tight end and he’s not built like a WR. He may be doomed to the cutting room floor this year if he hasn’t bulked up. We need a great blocker (can you hear me, Ryan Hannam?) and Newton is not likely that guy.
Overall: We will likely add a strong blocking tight end either in Free Agency or the draft, more likely the former than the latter.
Offensive Line (I’m going to break this down by position, rather than player, because there are 11-14 people linemen)
Left Tackle: A+ starter, B- depth — Walter Jones is still an elite tackle in the game. However, Jones is aging and hurting, so there’s a real possibility that he will not play 16 games next year. Sean Locklear is poised to take his spot, but Locklear struggled last year on the right side… Can Solari turn Locklear into a dominant LT? I don’t think so. He doesn’t have the “freak of nature” thing going for him. Same goes for Ray Willis. Kyle Williams played very well last year, but he did get beat; when he was getting beat, we slid an extra guy to his outside to pick up the slack… Williams may not be a solution either. The Seahawks must consider picking an LT up with their #4 pick. If they let Ray Willis go in free agency, you better believe they are thinking hard about it.
Left Guard: B Starter, C depth — While a lot of you Addicts loathe Mike Wahle, I’m still a believer. He was very good most of the year and unquestionably made Walt much, much better. He had three major penalties called that negated long runs, but at least two of those were very iffy holding calls. Womack slid in at LG for much of the year once Wahle was injured, and played well, but with Womack being a free agent, it is up in the air whether he’ll be back next year. After a very good, and full, year Womack could be looking to collect his last big paycheck before wobbling off into the sunset. I think Chris Spencer could excel at LG, but for that to happen we need to remedy the Center position.
Center: C- Starter, C depth — Chris Spencer has been plagued with injuries in this league and when healthy has been, at best, mediocre. Steve Vallos stepped up last year and played very well in a position that he had never played before the preseason, but it is very much a question mark as to whether Vallos can be a real starter in this league. Look for the Hawks to focus in on a center in the draft or, to surprise everyone, grabbing Matt Birk as a bit of an F-U to Minnesota for taking Hutch.
Right Guard: ? Starter, C depth — Rob Sims, remember him? He had a good year in 2007 but was injured within minutes of the first snap of 2008. Verdict is still out there, but he will be given a chance to play next year, I believe. He is a free agent though, so there’s a chance we let him go if Ruskell isn’t content with the injury’s progress (or Sims’ progress). Ruskell has said many times that he is very high on Sims though. The main depth behind him is Womack (another question mark) and Mansfield Wrotto. Wrotto excelled late last year, but did make a few young-guy mistakes. I’m not sure he’s ready to start this year. With both Guard positions surrounded by question marks, I think the Hawks look to fill in a hole or two there. Unfortunately, there are very few options in the free agent pool and drafting a guard presents the same problem that Wrotto and Co present — youth and inexperience.
Right Tackle: C+ Starter, B- Depth — Locklear almost lost his starting spot last year to Ray Willis and could be in danger of that happening again. We discussed Willis in the LT section, but if we keep him around, it could mean bad things for Locklear. If we don’t keep him around, it could mean worse things for Locklear (if we end up drafting an OT in the 4-slot). Locklear might want to start sweating now. He is a good right tackle, but I don’t think he will ever be a success at left tackle. We’ll see what happens here.
Overall: C — Not great for arguably the most important part of the offense. Still, there are a number of quick fixes, including moving our personnel around a bit.
So, what do you guys think?