Position Preview – Defensive Backs
Holdovers: Marcus Trufant, Josh Wilson, Kelly Jennings, Jordan Babineaux, Lawyer Milloy, Roy Lewis, Jamar Adams
Newcomers: Earl Thomas (1st round), Walter Thurmond (4th round), Kam Chancellor (5th round), Kevin Ellison (waivers), Kennard Cox, James Brindley, Marcus Brown, Marcus Udell, Chris Richards, Cord Parks
Departures: Deon Grant, Ken Lucas
Short-Stays: Quinton Teal
Starting Four Heading in to Training Camp
LCB – Marcus Trufant
RCB – Josh Wilson
SS – Jordan Babineaux
FS – Earl Thomas
Trufant spent the first six weeks of the season on the PUP list with a back injury. When he returned, he was immediately thrown into man-on-man situations against some of the elite wide receivers in the NFL, with little to no help over the top or from a pass rush that one could generously call “non-existent”.
That didn’t stop fans and sports radio hosts from ripping Trufant on a weekly basis, or from wondering if the big money contract signed after his breakout 2007 season had softened the former Washington State standout.
If healthy, Trufant remains the team’s top cornerback, and is fully capable of a bounce-back year. This could be aided by an improved pass-rush, and a more dynamic safety tandem guarding the back-end of the secondary.
Wilson and Jennings, who earned much praise from Pete Carroll this off-season, will battle for the starting right cornerback job, with the other serving as the nickel corner. Either way, Wilson covers the slot receiver when opponents go with three-receiver sets.
Fourth-round cornerback Walter Thurmond is coming off a serious knee injury, and will be eased into his NFL career. Thurmond began doing on-field work towards the end of OTAs, and if healthy, would provide Wilson or Jennings with a real challenge for the nickel corner role.
Lewis, Brown, Udell, Richards, and Parks face uphill climbs towards roster spots.
At safety, first-round pick Earl Thomas will start immediately at free safety. Thomas lacks size, but has tremendous speed and coverage ability, enough so that some analysts felt he was one of the top cornerbacks available in this year’s draft.
With Thomas penciled in at safety, the Seahawks’ choices at strong safety—Babineaux, Milloy, Ellison, and Chancellor—it’s clear that there is no desire to have “interchangeable” safeties. Thomas (5-10, 202), is expected to pair with Babineaux (6-0, 210) or Milloy (6-0, 216), but Chancellor (6-3, 231) and Ellison (6-2, 227) are the thumpers at strong safety Carroll wants from the position.
Ellison has knee and legal issues, but played for Carroll at USC and started as a rookie in a talented Chargers secondary. Jamar Adams (6-2, 212) also has nice size and is a sleeper worth keeping an eye on during the pre-season.