Top Five Seahawks Primed to Breakout in 2018

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By now you’ve heard all about it. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Jimmy Graham, Cliff Avril, Paul Richardson, DeShawn Shead and potentially Earl Thomas (god please no) are all no longer Seahawks. That has left many analysts and pundits alike to predict the demise of the once great Seahawks. Records as low as 4-12 have been predicted for the Seahawks and Hawk fans were even blessed with this great take:

You’re welcome for the free promotion on my blog that nobody reads, Benjamin.

Anyways, there are five players in my mind that can prevent such a catastrophe of having the worst record in the NFL.

1. Tyler Lockett (WR)

It may seem odd to put a player here who’s been in the league for three years already. However, after an outstanding rookie season in 2015 that saw Lockett be named as a 1st Team All-Pro by the Associated Press, Lockett unfortunately broke his leg at the end of the 2016 season and that injury had lingering effects on his 2017 campaign.

Enter 2018. With Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham gone and Doug Baldwin fully cemented as the team’s number one receiver, look for Lockett to have a big season. Oh, and he’s on a contract year.

2. Shaquill Griffin (CB)

Quill Griffin had a great rookie season, despite only registering one interception. Griffin was thrusted into a much larger role after Richard Sherman tore his achillies and by all accounts he handled it as well as he could. As Pro Football Focus Seahawks points out, Griffin ranked up well compared to his rookie counterparts in 2017:

Having a full off-season to prepare as the starter in Sherman’s old spot at left cornerback should do wonders for Griffin’s development. He’ll need to take a leadership role in that secondary that has seen the departures of Sherman, Chancellor and a rocky relationship with Earl Thomas. Griffin has made it very clear that he plans to carry the torch of the L.O.B.

3. Nazair Jones (DT)

2017 3rd-round pick Nazair Jones started in only two games last season and played in just 11. However, he managed to register 19 tackles, two sacks and an interception in that time. With the ill-fated Sheldon Richardson trade backfiring on Seattle after he signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings, Jones will have room to take a hold of the starting role right out of camp.

The Seahawks supplemented this with the signings of Defensive Tackles Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen (both former Vikings). Nazair Jones will have his work cut out for him in camp with heavy competition at the position that also includes 2016 2nd-round pick, Jarran Reed. The Seahawks will need solid production from both Reed and Jones, but look for Jones to breakout if he is able to play all 16 this season.

4. Nick Vannett (TE)

As a 3rd-round pick in the 2016 draft, Vannett had high expectations to produce pretty quickly as many higher round picks tend to do. Unfortunately, Vannett has been buried in the depth chart over the last two seasons behind the Greatest Seahawks Tight-End of all-time Jimmy Graham (In three seasons, Graham set the Seahawks’ Tight End franchise record for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.) As well as everyone’s favorite Canadian now turned Detroit Lion Luke Willson.

The proverbial sea has parted at the Tight End position, leaving Vannett to compete against nine year veteran Ed Dickson and rookie Will Dissly. Now is Vannett’s best chance to take the starting role and start producing.

5. Michael Dickson (Punter)

#PuntersArePeopleToo

Also look at these punts, goddamn.

If these five (or four, sorry Michael) can put together a solid season it would pay huge dividends for the Seahawks in 2018. The NFC is looking more and more like the Western Conference in the NBA with the likes of the Eagles, Rams, Packers, Saints, Falcons & Vikings all looking like Super Bowl contenders. Couple that with teams like the Panthers, 49ers, Giants, Cowboys on the rise the Seahawks have their work cut out for them. Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Doug Baldwin and (for now) Earl Thomas are still the core of this team, but they can only carry this team so far. The aforementioned five four players and their peers will determine the course of this season.

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