Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Search for the Best 53

by: Michael Steffes

It seems like the article dijour this week is laying out the final 53 man roster. I am hesitant to go this route, especially when the most telling game is being played tomorrow. But there are a couple of things that I think are fair to note in all of the analysis being done. The standard format of listing the number kept at each position over the last 6 years and trying to fit the players into that format simply won't work this year. The injuries have changed things. So has the depth. Ruskell and Holmgren should, and most likely will be, searching to put together the best 53 players. I think it will be hard for them to cut a good player just to satisfy a number they have had in the past. Here is how I see things. TO CONTINUE....

The Way I see it, the defense has all but two spots set. However, these battles do not change the number of defensive players that will be kept.


DT- Bernard, Mebane, Terril, Bryant, and Green (5)
DE- Kerney, Jackson, Tapp, and either Atkins or Babin (4)


Tatupu, Hill, Peterson, Laury, Lewis, Hawthorne (6)
~Herring goes to PUP

CB- Trufant, Jennings, Wilson, Hobbs(4)
S- Grant, Russel, Babineaux, and either Wallace or Adams(4)

This is 23 players. It both gives the Seahawks decent depth at all the positions and allows two extra players to be kept on offense. Could the Hawks keep both Atkins and Babin, or both Adams and Wallace? Sure, especially if it improves special team units, but as of now that seems to be a stretch with offensive situation. Especially because the defense is more than adequate with the top 23.

If we look at the offense I count 27 spots that are probably needed. And this is assuming Branch is put on the PUP list. So it all works out OK in my book.

So really, the battles are likely being looked at differently by the front office. To me they looks something like this.

Atkins, Babin, Wallace, Adams, and the last WR all fighting for the final spot.

I know there is a lot of venom out there to cut Duckett, so if you want to put him on that list, well feel free. However, prepare yourself to be disappointed, and this has nothing to do with the money, it has do with the fact that he is the only running back of the group that brings something different to the table. Ruskell has cut his free agent mistakes, as well as his draft picks in the past. Plus, he will give Holmgren's voice a lot of credence in this decision, out of respect for what Mike has done for this franchise and it being his last year. I am betting Mike Holmgren likes the idea of converting short yardage situations this year, and he knows Duckett can help in that area.

So back to the final player. Here is what we should be thinking about. Can the team survive with 4 defensive ends. They should be able too, so do we want. Babin is the better pass rusher, Atkins the bigger body. Both can play special teams. Who is more willing? Who puts their heart into it? Dehaven may be making the decisions on the final guys.

Would you rather keep an extra safety and only have 3 ends? Not on this roster, in my opinion. Unfortunately there isn't any DT who can slide outside like Jackson slides inside. This lack of versatility ensures four ends. My guess is that the team keeps Wallace and hopes Adams makes the PS. Take a look and see if the team holds Adams back this weekend, that would be a good sign. He seemed to get less action last week than the first, so this may be a conscious decision.

Now I ask, do any of these players outweigh the benefit of keeping all four young WR's. In the current scenario, we can keep Kent, Payne, Taylor and Obamanu (Bumpus to PS). Would you take Babin, Atkins, or Adams over any of the WR's? Maybe in a sane year, but with Branch on the PUP (in this scenario), it benefits the Hawks to see who steps their game up when the lights come one for the regular season. You could also ask if Payne could make the practice squad? I would say that is risky at best.

Now another battle that is being waged in this decision is whether or not Deion Branch will outproduce any of those three in the first 6 weeks. I am not qualified to answer this, because I don't have the medical information that the team does. I would say that history is not on his side. Coming back midseason, he may have something to contribute, but the only players in recent history to contribute after coming back so quickly from ACL reconstruction are QBs. This is why I believe when all is said and done the PUP is where he will land.

You may disagree, but the most substantial battle for a roster spot is really between Babin and Atkins, and this is because neither are eligible for the practice squad. It is possible that one of them will have trade value as well. The Hawks acquired Babin in the Michael Boulware trade, and have seemingly coached him up since then.

Of course, all of this will be sorted out tomorrow night, and don't dismiss the idea that if Charlie Frye stinks up the joint again, against a much tougher defense, his roster spot could be handed to anyone of these guys. Who is more valuable, a guy who can play special teams, or a guy who holds a clipboard? There is a reason more teams are keeping only two quarterbacks every year, and it is usually because that final roster spot is a valuable commodity.

Hey, maybe putting together this roster isn't as difficult as it looks. Lets see what happens tomorrow, and then I will tell you who I think makes up the final 53 and practice squad.