Friday, April 3, 2009

Position by Position: The Defense (part 2)

by: Michael Steffes

Speaking of cornerbacks, it is time to finish out my roster analysis pinpointing the positions the Seahawks need to add numbers to through the draft.

In this breakdown, I will be looking at defensive backs and special teams. This includes a look at who is on the roster and how many the team regularly brings to camp. Defensive backs will defintely be an interesting position to follow over draft weekend. There is already some evidence the team is looking to upgrade the position, as they recently brought in Ken Lucas.

Lets get to it! To see the analysis, click...


Current Number: (7) Trufant, Wilson, Jennings, Babineaux, Hobbs, DeMichael Dizer, Marquis Floyd

Taken to Camp: 14 or 15 DBs Total- DBs often play both corner and safety

Last year in Camp: (7) Trufant, Wilson, Jennings, Babineaux, Hobbs, DeMichael Dizer, Omare Lowe

There have been calls for the Seahawks to upgrade the corner position after former first round pick Kelly Jennings struggled badly in the early part of the season. While Josh Wilson stepped in an proved to be a player on the rise, his diminutive status leaves questions about whether or not he can be a long term answer. Kevin Hobbs was a surprise in training camp, but never really got a chance to make a mark during the season. Babineaux is also an interesting case, because the team has resisted giving him a shot at safety unless absoulutely necessary. They like his versatility but seem to prefer he stay at corner. One thing is clear, either from the current group, or someone added, the Hawks really need a playmaker to emerge in the secondary. Especially with the new emphasis on the front four. It would help if the corners could make QBs pay for rushed throws by turning over the offense more often.

VERDICT: This may be the hardest position to project right now. While the drop off in play was dramatic last year, the team has already invested heavily into the corner back position, at least through the draft. My gut says that Hawks would prefer to spend this years draft picks in other area's, and that is why they took a look at a veteran like Lucas. It took Trufant a few years to maximize his ability, and the team might feel that Jennings struggles last year will help him to become a quality NFL starter. If the problems persist, it would be more palatable to spend a high pick on corner next year after giving the current group a fair opportunity to prove their worth.


Current Group: (4) Grant, Russell, Wallace, Adams

Taken to Camp: 14 or 15 total DBs

Last Year in Camp: (7) Grant Russell, Wallace, Adams, Mike Green, Kelin Johnson, Eric Wicks

There has been a lot of discussion about the Seahawks safety play this offseason. It is hard to gauge how the team actually feels about the position, but the fans are certainly ready to upgrade. It would have made for an interesting scenario if local kid Taylor Mays had entered the draft, but instead a deep safety class lacks a true back end intimidator. As can be seen by the current group on the team, there is plenty of room to add talent to this position.

VERDICT: The Hawks are going to add a safety somewhere along the way. Most likely it will be addressed in the top 4 rounds. Whether or not the team is drafting to replace Brian Russell, like many of the fans are hoping for, is a different story. Regardless of who plays, it is time to put some youth into the safety position. Both Grant and Russell are over thirty. On top of that, there is little depth. I wouldn't be surprised to see one safety position get addressed this year and the other next year. All and All, there are too many quality safeties for the Hawks not to grab one in this draft. The value will be right for when Ruskell has regularly selected safeties, in the fourth and fifth rounds.


Current Group: (5) Mare, Coutu, Ryan, Schmitt, Ryan Senser

Taken to camp: 6, two of each

Last year in Camp: (5) Mare, Coutu, Plackemeier, Schmitt, Reggie Hodges

The special teams are another point of concern for Hawks fans. Apparently one training camp wasn't enough to decide the kicker competition, so they will go at it again this summer. On top of that, the team needs to find out if Tyler Schmitt is healthy. They brought in a few free agents but never really made a move to add one. Maybe they know Jeff Robinson will play again in a pinch. They also switched punters after week one last year, and Ryan didn't exactly set the world on fire. He was inconsistent, which was his rep. The team kept Bruce DeHaven, so it will be interesting to see what changes they actually make.

VERDICT: The Hawks have 4 7th rounders, which gives them a great opportunity to pick up a punter and let him compete in camp. That wouldn't surprise me a bit. They could also draft a long snapper again, assuming they don't mind being ridiculed two years running. It would be a shocker if they took a kicker, but they didn't exactly take a conventional route by keeping Coutu around all year inactive. One thing they may do is see if there is any interest in Mare on draft day among teams looking at kickers. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he could fetch a 6th or 7th from a team that misses out out on the top kicker available. The Hawks would miss his kickoff ability though, it was one of the few bright spots last year.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That is the question the Hawks have to be asking regarding their secondary play and pass rush. Clearly better secondary play allows more time for the ends to get home, but a better pass rush can make a decent secondary look like superstars. Don't be surprised to see the Hawks address both just in case. Of the special teams players, drafting a punter makes the most sense, especially in the 7th, where the team has 4 picks. The one spot on defense the team needs to get younger at is safety, that seems like the most likely place for talent to be added. Especially when you look at the current roster and see that only 4 safeties are under contract. Every fan has their favorite, but really the class is a deep one any number of players could improve the Hawks back end.