Roster Rundown: The Final 53

Seahawks.NET
Posted Sep 2, 2007


In the end, it was 51 of these 53 players who made final cuts. Two transactions changed the dance card a bit, and at least one more move is guaranteed, but here's a look at the roster by position as it stands right now.

Keepers: Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace
Cuts: David Greene, Derek Devine

Hasselbeck is the obvious incumbent, and Wallace the fifth-year understudy. Wallace alternated between veteran-level acumen and inexplicable “goat-throws” in the 2007 preseason, putting up a 75.3 quarterback rating and throwing as many interceptions as he did touchdowns with three each. The current short depth at the position would seem to eliminate any chance of Wallace getting shots at receiver or return opportunities.

Of course, the Seahawks will be thinking about several quarterbacks for a backup role – rumors have already surrounded Washington’s Mark Brunell, and waived Titans signal-caller Tim Rattay would seem to be a good fit. After three years in Seattle’s system with very little to show for it, Greene simply eradicated the patience of those who were charged with his future in Seattle – most notably Mike Holmgren. In truth, the only reason that Greene wasn’t included in the 21 cuts before the Alvin Pearman trade that made his release a certainty was that the Seahawks were trying to see if they could find a trading partner.

Running Backs

Keepers: Shaun Alexander, Maurice Morris, Mack Strong, Leonard Weaver
Cuts: Marquis Weeks, Josh Parry, David Kirtman
Acquired: Alvin Pearman

Alexander, Strong and Morris certainly weren’t going anywhere. Weaver seemed to flirt with the bubble after some inconsistency, but he rebounded strongly in the finale against the Raiders. Weeks once again looked very good in the preseason, but the acquisition of Pearman from Jacksonville for a conditional draft pick settled his future on the roster. Pearman is a versatile but unspectacular back whose primary value to Seattle will be an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Parry is a good special-teamer, a reliable backup who might stick on the practice squad.

Wide Receivers

Keepers: Deion Branch, Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson, D.J. Hackett, Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor
Cuts: Joe Fernandez, Jordan Kent, Logan Payne

Branch and Engram’s positions on the team – flanker and slot – are cemented. Question #1 is the split end position, and whether Hackett (the supposed default starter) or Burleson (who really showed up in the preseason) will take it. A rotation might be the best option there. Burleson’s additional ability as a return man places Hackett in the catbird seat, but Hackett’s relative invisibility this preseason didn’t help his case. Obomanu led all preseason Seahawks receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns. He has a bright future with the team. Taylor came back from a knee injury to look strong against the Raiders in the last preseason game. Fernandez displayed ability as a return man, which might put him on the practice squad. Kent’s freakish athleticism and raw potential might do the same for the former Oregon Duck.

Tight Ends

Keepers: Marcus Pollard, Will Heller, Bennie Joppru
Cuts: Joe Newton, Leonard Stephens

A thin position just got thinner. Pollard looked strong this preseason, but his age has to be a concern from a workload/durability standpoint. Heller is primarily a blocking tight end (Ryan Hannam, the sequel), and Joppru is primarily a special teams guy who is just hoping to stay off the injured reserve list for once. Newton is a big, polished, intriguing player who could make strides from the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Centers/Guards

Keepers: Chris Spencer, Chris Gray, Rob Sims, Floyd Womack, Mansfield Wrotto
Cuts: Steve Vallos

Waived/Injured: Pat Ross

Seattle’s options at center are Chris Spencer as the starter and guard Chris Gray as a backup. The positional domino effect from this lack of depth could be severe if Spencer gets hurt for any period of time. On the other hand, Spencer may have been the Seahawks’ most unheralded player this preseason in the way he took on San Diego nose tackle Jamal Williams and Pat and Kevin Williams of Minnesota. If he maintains this level of play, Spencer is a possible Pro Bowl candidate. Sims is very strong on the left side, and Gray’s experience mitigates his age concerns. Wrotto shows potential, but Womack can’t be counted on to stay healthy for any period of time, and he’s increasingly ineffective when he is in the game. Ross probably would have been released had he not injured his knee in the Oakland game.

Tackles

Keepers: Walter Jones, Sean Locklear, Ray Willis, Tom Ashworth
Cuts: Kyle Williams

Jones and Locklear are the established veterans. Ashworth is a decent backup option on the right side, and quite possibly the worst offensive lineman in the NFL as a left tackle. Willis looked very solid at right tackle in the final two preseason games when Jones was resting a sore shoulder and Locklear moved left. Though he was occasionally flustered in pass-blocking situations, Willis might be a dominant run-blocker. Any injury to Jones or Locklear means big trouble for the Seahawks, and the second consecutive year of worrisome line depth is a big debit against the front office.

Defensive Ends

Keepers: Patrick Kerney, Darryl Tapp, Bryce Fisher, Baraka Atkins
Cuts: Brandon Green, Nu’u Tafisi
Acquired: Jason Babin

Kerney and Tapp are the starters, two ends with more pass-rushing than run-stopping ability. Fisher is the slightly less dynamic veteran who has more ability against the run than any other Seahawks end. Atkins is a fast rookie, and Babin is an end/linebacker hybrid who peeled off 20 pounds for the 2004 Scouting Combine and worked out at both positions. He got lost in the shuffle as the Texans moved from a 3-4 to a 4-3, but the ability he had as a fearsomely quick end at Western Michigan is still present and accounted for. The trend has been firmly established – the Seahawks want thoroughbreds and not plowhorses on the ends, and if it means that Tapp looks like Bryant McKinnie’s “Mini-Me” whenever the Seahawks play the Vikings, pure speed will be the tradeoff.

Defensive Tackles

Keepers: Rocky Bernard, Brandon Mebane, Chuck Darby, Craig Terrill, Russell Davis
Cuts: Eric Taylor, Marcus Green
Reserve/Injured: Marcus Tubbs

This unit – and the whole team – was dealt a devastating blow when Tubbs was lost for the year to a torn right ACL. A great deal of Seattle’s ability to stop the run went out the window with Tubbs’ season. Mebane, the rookie from Cal who was the star of training camp, will now be the pointman this season against the likes of Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Edgerrin James, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, Brian Westbrook … welcome to the NFL, kid. Darby is a 275-pound bowling ball with some pursuit ability, but the Seahawks need to quit miscasting him as a run-stopper of any stripe. Davis is a decent big body, and Bernard is Seattle’s best pass-rushing tackle. Terrill excels on special teams and he’s solid in the rotation – a good situational player.

Linebackers

Keepers: Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson, Leroy Hill, Kevin Bentley, Niko Koutouvides, Will Herring, Lance Laury
Cuts: Cameron Jensen

Whatever the Seahawks’ roster issues may be, they might just have the NFL’s best linebacker corps from top to bottom. Even the scrubs played like studs this preseason. Tatupu, Hill and Peterson should form the league’s dominant 4-3 set of ‘backers after some now-solved schematic issues stopped them just short of their potential in 2006. Bentley saw a lot of time in the preseason, and Koutouvides was outstanding, especially on special teams. Herring and Laury have potential, though Herring’s size may limit him to a future on the return squads.

Cornerbacks

Keepers: Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Josh Wilson, Jordan Babineaux
Cuts: Omowale Dada, DeJuan Groce, Kevin Hobbs, Pete Hunter

Trufant and Jennings will be the stars of a secondary with more questions than answers. Trufant has looked better since his move back to the left side, but he’s still vulnerable in coverage. Jennings is fast and has great recovery speed, but tackling is a problem. Wilson is an outstanding kick returner and a very good tackler, but he’s a rookie and he’s gong to be embarrassed in coverage for a while – it’s just par for the course. If the Seahawks could somehow combine the best qualities of their three primary cornerbacks into two, and add a heaping portion of Babineaux’s versatility, they’d be among the elite. As it is, this position will see its share of knocks in 2007.

Safeties

Keepers: Deon Grant, Brian Russell, Mike Green, C.J. Wallace
Cuts: None
Traded: Michael Boulware

After a demotion in 2006 and the acquisition of Grant and Russell before the 2007 season, Boulware’s departure wasn’t exactly a surprise. Sources say that if a trade was not forthcoming, he may have been cut outright. Grant and Russell have not impressed in coverage so far, but we’re hoping that’s more about Seattle’s vanilla preseason schemes than two expensive Seahawks mistakes. Grant has been a great tackler, which is a plus, even if many of those tackles have been recoveries from bad coverages. Wallace led the team in preseason interceptions and used every fiber of his being to play his way onto the team – his determination against the Raiders was a beautiful sight, and he’s the lone 2007 undrafted free agent to make the final 53.

Specialists

Keepers: (P) Josh Brown, (K) Ryan Plackemeier, (LS) Derek Rackley

Brown and Plackemeier are among the most effective in the NFL. Rackley, however, needs a new GPS for his long snaps. This is a position the Seahawks might want to think about upgrading.



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