2016 cheat sheet: Seattle Seahawks

Everything you need to know about the Seattle Seahawks entering the 2016 season, all in one place.

| 1 month ago
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

2016 cheat sheet: Seattle Seahawks

[Editor’s note: This article was updated on Aug. 31, 2016.]

To get you ready for the 2016 NFL season, the PFF analysis crew is assembling team “cheat sheets” to catch you up on the latest changes, grades, and rankings of note involving your NFL team.

The Seattle Seahawks have been arguably the best team in the NFL over the past three years, with three trips to the playoffs and two Super Bowl appearances, including the hoisting of the the Lombardi Trophy three years ago. With an aggressive defense that is loaded with talent and exciting skill-position players ready to break out—like wide receiver Tyler Lockett—Seattle should be viewed as one of the favorites in the NFC again this year.

Seahawks preview


Three biggest things to know

1. Russell Wilson remains one of the best in the game.

Not many people expected Russell Wilson to become one of the best quarterbacks in football when the Seahawks drafted him in the third round back in 2012, but that’s exactly what he’s become. Capable of challenging defenses both with his arms and his legs, Wilson forced 11 missed tackles on 101 runs last year, and finished 2016 as our sixth-highest graded quarterback overall.

2. Seattle looking at several RB options to replace Marshawn Lynch.

The loss of Marshawn Lynch in the Seahawks’ backfield is huge, and one for which the team has added several players to try to and address. Thomas Rawls impressed last season as a backup and as a replacement while Lynch was out injured, forcing 26 missed tackles on 147 carries as he rushed for 830 yards and four touchdowns. They drafted C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, and Zac Brooks, but Christine Michael is one to watch too, after finally starting to impress last year; he averaged 4.9 yards per carry and forced seven missed tackles while rushing for 192 yards on 39 carries late in the 2015 season.

3. On paper, the Seahawks’ offensive line looks poor again.

The Seahawks’ offensive line has been their biggest weakness in recent years, and it looks set to remain that way in 2016. They drafted Germain Ifedi in the first round, but he earned a negative grade in 2015 for Texas A&M. They have veterans in tackles Garry Gilliam and J’Marcus Webb, guard Mark Glowinski, and center Justin Britt, but no player on this unit earned a higher overall grade than 49.9 last year.


Key arrivals and departures

Top three draft picks: G Germain Ifedi (Round 1, pick No. 31 overall, Texas A&M), DT Jarran Reed (Round 2, pick No. 49 overall, Alabama), HB C.J. Prosise (Round 3, pick No. 90 overall, Notre Dame)

Signed in free agency: CB Brandon Browner (Saints), J’Marcus Webb (Raiders)

Left via free agency: LB Bruce Irvin (Raiders), OT Russell Okung (Broncos), DT Brandon Mebane (Chargers), J.R. Sweezy (Buccaneers)


Rookie to watch

Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama (Round 2, pick No. 49 overall)

The Seahawks traded up with the Chicago Bears to land Jarran Reed, and he is the perfect plug-and-play replacement to Brandon Mebane in their defensive system. A monster against the run in his final season with Alabama, Reed earned the second-highest run-defense grade among players on the defensive interior last year, notching 35 tackles that resulted in a defensive stop.


Highest-graded player of 2015

Doug Baldwin, WR, 91.1 overall grade

Baldwin elevated himself to become our seventh-highest graded NFL receiver last year. Outstanding with the ball in his hands, he forced 18 missed tackles on 78 receptions, and dropped just two of the 80 catchable passes thrown his way. Taking full advantage of his role as the Seahawks’ No. 1 receiver, Baldwin became Russell Wilson’s top target, and one of the best in the NFL.


Breakout watch

Tyler Lockett, WR

With Baldwin grading as one of the best receivers in football, the Seahawks are poised to have one of the best WR duos in the NFL if second-year receiver Tyler Lockett can improve in 2016. Lockett recorded the third-most receiving yards by a rookie last year, scoring six touchdowns and forcing eight missed tackles on 51 receptions. A weapon on returns, too, the sky is the limit for the player who was our 32nd-ranked WR as a rookie.


Projected lineups

Base defense (2015 season grades shown)

Seahawks base defense

Base offense (2015 season grades shown)

Seahawks base offense

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Brandon

    Shouldnt Rawls or Michael be the projected RB starter? Prosise has been injured through most of camp anyways.

    • osoviejo

      As usual, PFF is a little behind. Why list Chris Clemons as a free-agent signing when he retired before camp even opened? Irrelevant.

      And yes, it will be Rawls/Michael starting. Prosise just started practicing, and has been targeted for passing-down duty since the day he was drafted.

      Lastly, I bet the offensive line doesn’t end up anywhere close to 32nd in the league. Their run-blocking chops alone will see to that, and they have looked so much better at pass pro than at this time last year. The new interior will be stout.

      • Brandon Purdy

        Ig he stays healthy he will be the passing down back.

  • eYeDEF

    Hey Gordon, you guys got the base defense wrong. It’s Jeremy Lane who’s been projected to start opposite Sherman at corner in the base defense. He played there last year after coming back midseason from injury. He’s also the more experienced corner over Shead to be playing on the outside in the base set. Against 3 wide sets Lane will slide inside to defend the slot with Shead moving to the outside.

    • osoviejo

      Shead’s ahead and has had a great preseason, which has the advantage of allowing Lane to concentrate on slot corner.

      • eYeDEF

        I think the most the can be said right now is that it’s TBD. Shead’s had a great camp but based on how they ran base defense last year, that’s not how it was.

        • osoviejo

          Fair enough. Lane started at Kansas City, Shead started vs the Vikings. My bet is the starter this week is the starter for the opener.

          Not sure it means anything at all, but Shead had 7 more snaps in the first game, and 10 more in the second. Whatever it means, they’re taking a good look.

        • Brandon Purdy

          Shead has the clear advantage over Lane at this point. Seattle generally doesn’t like to move players around in the secondary. Let Lane concentrate on tje inside recievers.

          • eYeDEF

            Yet they’ve always moved players around in the secondary going back to 2014 when they’d have Maxwell covering slot on 3 wide sets when Simon came in since Simon couldn’t cover slot. They’re comfortable doing it.

          • Brandon Purdy

            Those were injury and suspension related moves. When guys are healthy these usually won’t move them around.

          • eYeDEF

            That was the way they played in 2014 when Simon was completely healthy. He was a starter on the outside on 3 wide sets where they moved Maxwell to the slot. On base defense Maxwell would cover outside opposite Sherm. Simon later got injured and they had to do other shuffling. But they played that way the latter half of the season when Simon was healthy.

            Just like last year they got completely healthy in the 2nd half they’d have Lane playing on the outside on base defense and sliding inside on 3 wide sets where Shead would play outside.

  • osoviejo

    Well, they fixed the reference to Chris Clemons, but still have Prosise at starting running back, and are missing the additions last week of Tony McDaniel (who looked great against the Vikings), and Will Tukuafu (who is the immediate front-runner at fullback). I’d also mention J’hari Evans, but I doubt he survives the to the 53 anyway.

    But hey, baby steps.