Ever since Pete Carroll became Head Coach for the Seahawks in 2010, he wanted to make sure that he had a top-tier defense. He prides himself on having the best defensive backs in the NFL. The Legion of Boom has dominated the league for the past four years. But with a 2016 season that led to some questioning if the Legion of Boom was over the hill, it created some uncertainty to who would be on the roster in 2017. Here are our predictions of will be the 2017 Seattle defensive backs.
Trade rumors were swirling around Sherman during the offseason, but Seattle kept the most vocal part of the Legion of Boom. Although Sherman played with an MCL injury during the second half of the season last year and had arguably his worst season, he still performed very well. He only gave up two touchdowns all year and had a 64.0 passer rating allowed, but gave up 14.6 yards per reception, according to NFL.com. If it was the MCL injury that slowed down Sherman in 2016, he is due for another great season in 2017.
Chancellor is one of the best safeties in the NFL. In 2016, Chancellor had a 62.1 passer rating allowed when targeted 40+ times, which was the second lowest among safeties, according to NFL Network. He is known for his hard-hitting style over the middle of the field, but it may be catching up with him. He has suffered injuries the past couple of seasons and had surgery on both of his ankles in the offseason. But if he stays healthy in 2017, he will be one of the top safeties again.
What’s Trending: Cowboys continue to make headlines as 2017 season approaches
NFL Counterparts: Matching each Game of Thrones’ character to their NFL counterpart
Thomas is also one of the top safeties in the NFL. His ability to be a ball hawk when he plays center field limits opposing offenses from making big passing plays. But when he suffered a broken leg last year, the impact without him was felt. On passes targeted 20+ yards downfield, quarterbacks only had a 61.3 passer rating with Thomas on the field. But without Thomas on the field, quarterbacks had a 112.0 passer rating, according to Pro Football Focus. Seattle needs Thomas on the field to be successful.
Lane received a 4 year, $23 million contract after a strong 2015 season and Super Bowl. But in 2016, his play was not the same. Lane was expected to take over the second corner position. But after struggling, he was moved back to slot corner, where he continued to struggle. Lane did not register an interception and only three passes defended. Lane needs to step up in 2017, especially with DeShawn Shead unlikely to start the season healthy.
Shead improved the second corner position after taking over for Lane. Lane had one interception and 8 passes defended in 2016. However, Shead is likely to start the season on the Physically unable to Perform list, meaning he will be out for at least six weeks. Shead’s performance after returning from injury will be a storyline to follow in 2017.
Seattle signed McDougald in the offseason to help with depth at safety. A two-year starter with Tampa Bay, McDougald will be an insurance policy if Chancellor or Thomas get injured. Seattle will be in a nickel often, and McDougald is able to also cover the slot. With Shead likely starting the season on PUP, McDougald being a versatile defensive back is needed for the Seahawks.
Thorpe was signed to a multi-year contract for special teams and depth purposes. Thorpe was a key special teams guy for Seattle last year. But if the cornerback position continues to suffer injuries and Shaquill Griffin is not ready to play, Seattle needs Thorpe just in case they need a guy to fill in.
Griffin was drafted to be the future replacement for the aging Sherman. His speed and athleticism is what stands out, as he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine. The Seahawks likely planned for Griffin to play special teams and limited time on defense to develop and learn the system. But Griffin could potentially win the second corner spot if he quickly learns Seattle’s bump-and-run Cover 3 defense.
The Seahawks continued their secondary youth movement this offseason when they drafted Hill in the third round. Hill will be the long-term replacement for Chancellor at strong safety. He will mainly see time on special teams, but he could find snaps on defense so Chancellor takes less of a beating during the season.
Thompson was the third defensive back drafted by Seattle in the 2017 draft, and he will be developed to be the future replacement for Thomas at free safety. He will likely have the same role as Hill playing special teams and taking snaps from Thomas to keep him healthy throughout the year.
Tyson was the fourth and last secondary player drafted in this year’s draft. More of a younger, depth player for Seattle, Tyson will compete to be in the backup nickel role. He will be one of the last guys to make the team, but him being drafted in the sixth round will help him make the team.