Skip to main content

Seahawks OTAs Preview: 5 Storylines to Watch

Due to strict restrictions, the Seahawks won't necessarily be playing real football during OTAs over the next month. But these practices will still be incredibly important with the team breaking in a new quarterback and implementing a new defensive scheme.

Taking the field for the first time as a collective group, the Seahawks will shift their offseason program into overdrive when organized team activities begin at the VMAC on Monday, May 23.

Per NFL rules, Seattle will be able to hold up to 10 OTA practices and a three-day mandatory minicamp and while no live contact is permitted, 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills will be allowed. As a result, while these sessions won't mirror real football in most ways, this will be the first time an incoming nine-player draft class and returning veterans will be together to partake in extensive team drills.

In the past, these practice sessions have not been a big deal for a seasoned Seahawks squad and last year, most veterans reported late by choice after not having a normal offseason program in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But after jettisoning quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner in March, these 10 OTAs will be far more important for coach Pete Carroll's young, rebuilding team.

With training camp now a little over two months away, here are five storylines to watch as Seattle transitions into the third and final phase of its offseason program:

1. Which quarterback will put his best foot forward kicking off the battle to replace Russell Wilson?

While some positions will be far more difficult to evaluate than others during non-contact OTA practice sessions, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron should receive ample evaluation time watching Drew Lock, Geno Smith, and Jacob Eason run his offense with the first extensive team sessions of the spring. Holding an early edge due to his familiarity with the scheme, Smith will aim to maintain his grip on a potential starting role by being decisive with the football and throwing with anticipation and accuracy. As for Lock, the next few weeks will be crucial for him as he gains reps in a new system and continues to adjust to a new group of receivers around him. If he's able to pick up concepts quickly, makes sound decisions, and establishes early rapport with several skill players on the practice field, he has a chance to make up some ground in the competition with his obvious physical tools.

2. Who will stand out among veterans and rookies in a crowded receiver group?

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Rehabbing from offseason surgery, DK Metcalf likely won't do much, if anything, on the field during OTAs. To get reps with his new quarterbacks, Tyler Lockett may do more than he typically does this time of year. But the next few weeks will be far more important for players behind those two star wideouts on the depth chart, starting with second-year receiver Dee Eskridge. The ex-Western Michigan star endured a rough rookie season and missed seven games due to a concussion, so he will be hoping to get off to a fast start rolling into his sophomore campaign. A quartet of returning practice squad players - Cody Thompson, Penny Hart, Aaron Fuller, and Cade Johnson - will face improved competition with the arrival of rookies Bo Melton and Dareke Young. Those six players may be competing for one or two roster spots at the most, making even practices in mid-May crucial ones to stand out and make a few plays on the outside.

3. How much will be learned about Clint Hurtt's new-look defensive scheme?

In all honesty, probably not much. Obviously, Seattle will be switching to more 3-4 looks with the expectation of playing more man coverage on the back end based on comments made by Hurtt after his elevation to defensive coordinator. But OTAs tend to be about learning and mastering the basics on the field and with contact prohibited in these sessions, the scheme will most likely be pretty vanilla with the more intricate stuff being installed in the classroom. Ultimately, while more will be revealed once training camp and the preseason arrive in August, until the real bullets start flying in Week 1 when Wilson and the Broncos come to town, it will be tough to know what to truly expect from this defense schematically. For now, rotations along the defensive line will be the most notable thing to keep an eye on.

4. With multiple starting jobs potentially up for grabs, which cornerbacks will gain an early edge in the competition?

For the most part, Seattle's front seven should be set from a starter standpoint. The same can't be said at cornerback, however, as the team will need to replace departed starter D.J. Reed. Even after re-signing Sidney Jones, it's possible both outside starting roles could be for the taking this summer. With restrictions on playing the football in place and no press coverage at the line in team sessions during OTAs, it won't be possible for new defensive backs coach Karl Scott to make a full evaluation of his players. Still, this will be an excellent opportunity for incoming rookies Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen to make a strong first impression, especially if second-year defender Tre Brown isn't ready to practice yet coming back from a patellar tendon injury. Veteran Artie Burns, who played well with the Bears last year under new associate head coach Sean Desai and thus could hold an advantage from a scheme standpoint, will also look to push for a starting role on the outside.

5. Which injured players will be back in action? And which ones aren't quite ready to return to the field?

Since it's only May, like any smart NFL team would this time of year, the Seahawks won't be forcing the issue getting veterans back on the field who are coming off of significant injuries. For example, though he has been seen in uniform on the practice field recently, safety Quandre Diggs probably won't do anything substantial four months after surgery to repair a fractured fibula. Fellow safety Jamal Adams shouldn't be expected to do anything as he nears the finish line returning from shoulder surgery and Carroll has already said running back Chris Carson won't participate as he continues to try to work back from neck surgery. But it's possible players such as linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven and safety Marquise Blair, who had an ACL tear and fractured kneecap respectively, could be back in action entering the final year of their respective rookie contracts and depending where his recovery is at, Brown may be involved in a limited capacity as well.