On Monday, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah—a former NFL scout—proposed an interesting exercise:
Which NFL Team has the best YOUNG starting five? (Five players 25 or younger)
Dallas has an impressive group
Amari Cooper 25
Ezekiel Elliott 23
Leighton Vander Esch 23
Jaylon Smith 24
Dak Prescott 25
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) July 8, 2019
For the Seattle Seahawks, this task is worryingly tricky. How many players who meet the exercise’s parameters have established themselves as clearly placing in the “Top 5”? The list is virtually non-existent. Evidently, the effects of rebuilding and the clear out from the all-in 2017 are still being felt.
The immediately obvious man on the list is Michael Dickson (23). The punter went to a Pro Bowl in his rookie season and wowed fans with his variety of punts. Most exciting was his drop-kick kickoff, witnessed against the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys.
Not many successful NFL teams can list a punter as being in their five best young players, though. The 24-year-old Chris Carson, fresh off rushing for 1151 yards and 9 touchdowns (at 4.7 yards-per-carry), initially seems worthy of a top-five spot.
Yet in 2019, Carson could easily become the “two” in the “one-two punch” of himself and Rashaad Penny. Running back is a position plagued by durability concerns. Furthermore, the former first-round pick of Penny, coming into his sophomore campaign far lighter, is expected to have a bigger contribution. His explosion was visible in 2018 but he lacked the required vision and patience rushing inside.
Other second-year players from the 2018 draft may fully emerge as clear top-five 25-and-under Seahawks. Had he played a full season, 23-year-old tight end Will Dissly looked certain to make the list. However, following his brutally tough patellar tendon tear, Dissly is now a question mark.
The other early standout from the 2018 class, Tre Flowers (24), performed remarkably well at cornerback, despite being a rookie safety convert. Flowers had an undying confidence that outshone his opposite corner, Shaquill Griffin (23). While Griffin will look to bounce-back from a challenging second-year, Flowers will seek to build and avoid similar struggles.
Griffin is a member of the 2017 draft class that finds itself under the spotlight. It’s often said in NFL circles that a player should only be judged after their third year of playing professional football. A wildcard like 23-year-old safety Lano Hill could suddenly get it together.
Carroll in his 2018 round-up was audibly excited about the group: “There’s two solid years of young guys that are right in the middle of the start of their career..I can’t talk anymore positive about how we see the future. Those guys are the reason. They are the future.”
Most concerning is the lack of candidates that ply their trade in the trenches. Right tackle Germain Ifedi is eligible given he is still just 25. Yet he is still to prove himself as fully worthy, as reflected by the Front Office choosing to not pick up his fifth-year option. Jamarco Jones (23) is a sneaky candidate coming off an ACL tear and hindered by poor athleticism. Guard Jordan Simmons (24) filled in admirably for D.J. Fluker but still struggled to stay healthy.
The defensive line looks more likely to provide a top-five, 25-and-under player. Rookie L.J. Collier is going to get a ton of opportunities from the 5-technique spot following the departure of Frank Clark. Rasheem Green, young at 22, might have needed a NFL season to acclimatize. This year could be his explosion.
Poona Ford (23), at the 1/3 technique defensive tackle role, will look to receive more playing time after numerous flashes. Jacob Martin (23), having ended the year at 220lbs, may see his snap count decrease to a pass-rush specialist role that relies on his technical aptitude and speed. This would make him ineligible as he wouldn’t be “starting.”
Ultimately, this process shows that the upcoming season is monumental for the entire franchise. There are a ton of players at each position who are on a relatively equal starting point. The competition in the pre-season is going to be vicious and Pete Carroll will hope this continues throughout the year. 2019 may well produce a far clearer picture of who the standout young players are on the roster. For Schneider and Carroll: it needs to.
Who would be your top-five, 25-and-under Seattle Seahawks?
Who will be the top-five, 25-and-under Seattle Seahawks after 2019?