So when NFL.com's Steve Wyche slapped a pic of Matt Hasselbeck onto an article entitled "QB all that's missing from these teams", I didn't immediately spit out my Mountain Dew. Despite the fact that the Seahawks are hurting immoderately at almost every position and that a quarterback will not solve everything, I just decided to give the guy a break. I'm not insecure about my team; I don't need sportswriters to give the Seahawks their deserved diligence in order to feel good about them. Their defeat of New Orleans gave me two years' worth of punk-headed confidence to coast on. And besides, it's just too easy to mock sportswriters. Picking on easy targets makes you look the worse.
Nevertheless, I knew Wyche was wrong without even reading the article. For all my rants about the QB position and how its importance justifies no other draft pick at #25 if a top-four QB remains, the Seahawks have dire needs all over the roster.
So here's my shot at a position-by position assessment of Seattle's roster. Just to be different, I'll assess each position on a scale of one to ten - ten indicating a well-filled position, one meaning a bleeding hole.
This rating falls short of a 3 because of its enormous importance. It escapes a 1 only by virtue of Matt Hasselbeck retaining schematic and familiarity value to the Seahawks and Charlie Whitehurst not being a definitive bust yet. Both caveats may eventually land on the bad side. This team is desperate for a non-backup QB for whom nobody has to make excuses, and Seattle has had no such QB on its roster for three years.
Running back: 7
Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, and Leon Washington could be a terrific stable. Lynch has the power and effort to make defenses work to tackle him; Forsett continues to dart through holes and break off big runs when the rare opportunity opens up; and a healthy Washington proved his worth as a major offensive weapon a long time ago. I actually think this particular running back committee could have a high ceiling with a good offensive li...wait, shoot.
Offensive tackle: 7
This is an average between Russell Okung and Sean Locklear, with Stacy Andrews as the wild card. The best thing about Lock in 2010: the swollen blister that was his contract finally got punctured and drained by John Schneider. Other than that, he was routinely beaten for pressure and couldn't stay disciplined in the red zone, contributing to a number of lost touchdowns.
Andrews, a prototypical right tackle with a history of success at that position in Cincinnati, will finally be playing that position again for the first time in years. Contrary to popular belief, not all tackles can just slide over to guard as if it's the easiest thing in the world. That's generally a phenomenon reserved for top-tier tackles, which Andrews is not, but he is solid and could be a convenient in-house answer. It would be economical, in my opinion, for Carroll to settle for Andrews right now and address needs that exist for sure, rather than maybe.
Tyler Polumbus provides great depth, should he be re-signed. I personally expect him to find a better offer elsewhere after redeeming himself from his disappointing Denver career.
Offensive guard: 3
Chester Pitts was supposed to get healthy. Instead, he couldn't stay on the field and gave way to Polumbus, who was serviceable but proves the difference between a good tackle and a good guard. Incumbent Max Unger wound up on injury reserve after one game and may not be NFL-strong enough to man the interior anyway, judging from the time he logged in his own backfield in 2009. Mike Gibson improved from camp body to good depth since the Mora days but doesn't lock the position down.
With a running game pivotal to Seattle's offensive plans (and with tight ends needed to catch passes and not block all the time), neither guard position can afford to be left as it is.
Chris Spencer is not the first-round Pro Bowler some hoped he would be, but neither is he the first-round bust some paint him as. He has steadily improved each year since 2007 and, even through his requisite yearly injury, was Seattle's most consistent lineman in 2010. Where have we heard that label before? Rob Sims, whom Carroll promptly dumped for chump change.
For me, the Spencer question isn't just about the player's talent - it's about making progress. Spencer isn't a world-beater, but he doesn't have to be in order to prevent a hole from existing. Letting him walk would be taking a step backwards to take another one forwards, and that's if Spencer's replacement passes muster. Again, Unger looks more like roving depth than a starter.
Wide receiver: 5
The Seahawks, in my likely-unpopular judgment, have Mike Williams as a #2 with as-yet-unreached #1 potential; Brandon Stokley, the durable veteran whose chemistry extends past the QB to the football itself but who is rapidly approaching Bobby Engram territory in terms of age; and Ben Obomanu, the one-year wonder(?) who provides a nice #4 option and gunner. Still proving themselves are Deon Butler and Golden Tate, both of whom lack crucial tools that could keep them from exceeding the value of Obomanu.
I am honestly not very optimistic on Butler and Tate. I read a telling snippet of how Butler has tried to put on weight and become a heftier player to jam, and it didn't work out:
His slight size was an issue, along with his inexperience running routes. Listed at 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, but more likely 5 to 10 pounds lighter, Butler says it’s a battle to keep weight on during camp.
“Me and Kelly Jennings talk every day in the training room,” Butler said. “We’re like ‘Dude, we just can’t do it. We’re maxed out.’ Probably during the season both of us play like at 178-ish.”
I do not want to see any of my team's receivers being compared to Kelly Jennings in any way. Maybe I'm reading into this too much, but if Butler is fully fleshed out already, he's going to be hampered by his inability to overcome jams at the line of scrimmage his entire career. No matter how offenses try to use Butler, he can always be jammed. As worried as I am that Carroll over-values size at certain positions, he's correct in that you can't get along without it unless your other tools compensate amazingly. I'm not sure Butler fits that profile.
I'm open to disagreement, but the truth is, you can never have too many wide receivers. It would not be difficult to part with most of Seattle's incumbent wideouts to welcome a new prospect from the top four rounds. However, with Carroll trying out a variety of unconventional offensive weapons, who knows what he'll do.
For all the dismissal that Michael Robinson gets from some folks, I did see him land some awful nice blocks and spring Marshawn Lynch for some awful nice runs late in the season, once he finally returned. He's functional as a Wildcat quarterback. He also brings such immense value on special-teams that 49ers fans were gnashing their teeth over our signing of him. Carroll's trick playbook may give Robinson a place on the team despite the desire of some for a traditional fullback that's quickly disappearing anyway. I'd much rather use late-round picks on other positions, and I suspect that Schneider may still be looking for high-impact picks that low anyway.