Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.
Training camp report dates: Rookies and veterans, July 29.
Training camp location:Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Renton, Washington.
Offseason in a nutshell: From a personnel standpoint, Chris Clemons is back, Marshawn Lynch is gone, Bradley Sowell and J'Marcus Webb are here to compete for starting tackle jobs, Russell Okung is in Denver playing under a contract akin to a chocolate Easter rabbit (hollow in the middle) and Brandon Browner returned to potentially play some safety if he remains on the roster. So why is there so much anticipation in Seattle? The team has some young pieces that are finally maturing, and the results could be explosive. There are not many teams that already have an offense as good as Seattle's who can make such a drastic improvement in 2016.
Player to watch: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Matt Harmon has a nice breakdown of Lockett's route-running prowess here, and that is just the locomotive tip of the Lockett hype train that has carried us throughout a long offseason. Russell Wilson has had very good, overlooked talent in his arsenal for years now and, playing off Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, was able to get Lockett involved during his rookie season. The trio likely will be the bedrock of a 2016 campaign that could grace us with the most prolific scoring offense in football if Lockett develops into the type of receiver he can be.
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS:
As the wonderful people at Field Gulls noted, Seattle's lack of frantic hustle to replace their old SAM (departed free agent Bruce Irvin) could lead us to believe that the Seahawks are re-thinking how, exactly, to utilize the position. Though Morgan seems to be in the driver's seat right now, Pete Carroll was open to the many other options on his roster.
"The SAM linebacker spot is going to be a really good one to watch," Carroll said, via the team's official site. "That's going to be wide open to see what happens. Mike Mo brings all the experience, and so he would start if we had to start a game today; he's just ahead of the other guys. But both Cassius [Marsh] and Pink [Eric Pinkins] have done a great job of battling, and those guys are getting a great shot."
Many don't realize how significant the change in Seattle was between Gus Bradley's 4-3 and Dan Quinn's 4-3, with the SAM being one of the few focal points (again, please check out the Field Gulls piece from above for a more detailed look). Now Kris Richard, in his second season as defensive coordinator, has the chance to put his own stamp on the front seven, just as the former defensive backs coach has anchored the Legion of Boom.
"In terms of getting in the book, being a pro and studying, those are things he's going to need to prove to all of us over the next several weeks here as we evaluate him as a pro in the building," general manager John Schneider said of the undrafted rookie in an interview on "Pro Football Talk Live." "This guy has a lot of just pure talent. If he wouldn't have had his incident, I think we all agree he would have been taken much higher."
J'Marcus Webb had an objectively meh season last year in Oakland, but he played no worse than some of the NFL's better offensive linemen (D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Andre Smith, Kyle Long or Matt Kalil). Given his age (27), previous experience as a 16-game starter and price tag (he signed for two years and $6 million), he could come to define the savvy moves Seattle's management will need to keep the core of this team together.
Webb is a player who has had poor seasons but thrives under good coaching. He is now with one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL in Tom Cable.
"It's about getting someone to believe in him, and that's my job, and in getting him to believe in himself," Cable told Sirius XM recently. "And if those two things can marry up right, I think this kid can really, really do something cool for us."
Way-too-early season prediction: This is arguably a better team than the one that was a bad first half away from making it to the NFC Championship Game (and potentially the Super Bowl) last season. There is no reason to believe the Seahawks won't be deep in the title conversation in 2016. Matchups between the Seahawksand Cardinals will be absolute slugfests this year, and both have the talent to win 13 or 14 games.