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Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: Ranking the Seahawks roster before training camp, nos. 20-1

Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) scores a touchdown against Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (27) in the second quarter as the Seattle Seahawks take on the Dallas Cowboys Sunday September 27, 2020 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA.  (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

With Seahawks training camp beginning Wednesday, we are now at the end of our countdown of Seattle’s roster as a new season begins.

And no doubt, it’s a much different looking top 10 than it has been the last decade, illustrating just how much the roster has changed the last few years — and how intriguing it will be to see how the team comes together in the first season without Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner since 2011.

On to the top 10.

10. Defensive tackle Poona Ford

Potential role in 2022: Starting nose tackle.

Why he’s ranked here: It’s undoubtedly been a while, if ever, that the Seahawks entered the season with a defensive tackle having the highest salary-cap hit. But that’s the case this year with Ford at $10.075 million for 2022, the final season of a two-year extension and indicative of how the team values his role in helping defend the run, in particular. Ford also had two sacks and six QB hits last year, numbers the Seahawks hope he can maybe improve on going forward.

9. Linebacker Uchenna Nwosu

Potential role in 2022: Starting outside linebacker/rush end.

Why he’s ranked here: Nwosu was Seattle’s most significant outside free-agent signee this year, inked to a two-year deal worth just over $19 million. Nwosu had 17 QB hits last year with the Chargers, a number that would have been the best on the Seahawks, as well as five sacks. Seattle is hoping for even more this year in trying to improve what has been a far-too-inconsistent pass rush the last few years.

8. Defensive end Darrell Taylor

Potential role in 2022: Starting defensive end/rush end.

Why he’s ranked here: Finally healthy last year, Taylor began to show why the team drafted him in the second round the year before, finishing second on the team with 6.5 sacks. Can he get to double digits this year? Seattle sure hopes so.

7. Tight end Noah Fant

Potential role in 2022: Sharing tight end duties with Will Dissly and serving as a de facto third receiving option behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.

Why he’s ranked here: Fant was one of Seattle’s targets in the Wilson trade after catching 68 passes for 670 yards last season for Denver. No Seattle tight end has ever had more than 65 catches in a season (Jimmy Graham in 2016). The Seahawks hope pairing Fant with the more blocking-oriented Dissly will give them one of the best tight end combos in the NFL.

6. Running back Rashaad Penny

Potential role in 2022: Starting running back.

Why he’s ranked here: Is this too high for Penny considering his injury history? Well, the Seahawks are unquestionably counting on Penny to be able to replicate his success of last season — four games of 135 yards or more in the last five and a 6.3 yards per carry average that was the best in the NFL — as they ease into their post-Wilson world. If Penny can’t do that, Seattle’s challenge this year only gets that much harder.

5. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks

Potential role in 2022: Starting inside linebacker and new defensive play-caller.

Why he’s ranked here: The move to more of a 3-4 scheme means Brooks will often play a somewhat different role on the field than Wagner did. But in one sense he is succeeding Wagner in wearing the green dot and relaying the play calls from the coaches and generally directing things up front. Wagner was among the best ever at that task, so there are big shoes to fill. Brooks, though, proved a lot last year by making 183 tackles, a team single-season record.

4. Strong safety Jamal Adams

Potential role in 2022: Starting strong safety and overall havoc-maker on defense.

Why he’s ranked here: Adams figures to be the most scrutinized player on the team now that Wilson is gone, with fans constantly debating if he is worth the four-year, $17.5 million-a-year contract that officially kicks in this year. But the team says the new defensive scheme should feature his pass-rush talents more and maybe get him closer to the 9.5 sacks he had in 2020 and not the zero he had in 2021. First, though, he’s also got to get and stay healthy, having missed nine of 33 games his first two seasons in Seattle.

3. Wide receiver DK Metcalf

Potential role in 2022: Starting receiver and fear-striker into opposing defenses.

Why he’s ranked here: The big story as camp begins is when will Metcalf sign a new deal keeping him with the team for four more years or so. As of this writing, that has yet to happen. But it should sooner than later, and then Metcalf can get back to forging chemistry with Geno Smith and Drew Lock and hoping he can put up similar, if not better, numbers than he did with Wilson. Despite the debate over how he was used last year, he finished with 12 TD receptions, fourth in the NFL.

2. Free safety Quandre Diggs

Potential role in 2022: Starting free safety and leader and steadying force of the defense.

Why he’s ranked here: The Seahawks made it clear how much they value Diggs, signing him quickly into free agency to a three-year deal worth up to $39 million. And Diggs appeared healthy in the spring after the frightening leg injury suffered in the final game a year ago. With Wagner having moved on, Diggs’ leadership and locker-room presence will be more vital, to say nothing of his playmaking ability in the back end. He’s the only player in the NFL to record at least three interceptions each of the last five seasons.

1. Wide receiver Tyler Lockett

Potential role in 2022: Starting receiver and leader and steadying force of the offense.

Why he’s ranked here: Lockett turns 30 in September. But he has shown no signs of slowing down, setting a career high with 1,175 receiving yards last season and his third straight 1,000-yard season, something only Steve Largent has also done as a Seahawk. Lockett, now the longest-tenured player on the team, will also now take on an even larger leadership role with Wilson gone. He showed he’s ready for it in the spring, on the field for everything the team did, usually looking like the best player on the field, as well.

Remaining roster

• 20. Left guard Damien Lewis

• 19. Linebacker Cody Barton

• 18. Punter Michael Dickson

• 17. Right guard Gabe Jackson

• 16. Cornerback Justin Coleman

• 15. Defensive end Shelby Harris

• 14. Defensive tackle Al Woods

• 13. Left tackle Charles Cross

• 12. Quarterback Drew Lock

• 11. Quarterback Geno Smith