The good news for the Seattle Seahawks last season: They won a division title and made the playoffs.
The bad news: They’re far from being a good team.
The Seahawks won the division with a 7-9 record, and they did upset the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs. But the NFC West was not a good division — nor is the champ a good team.
In his first season, coach Pete Carroll did a solid job keeping the team together through some injury problems to make the playoffs. But there are still a lot of uncertainties, starting at quarterback.
Veteran Matt Hasselbeck will be a free agent, but the Seahawks want him back. That doesn’t mean they’ve given up on Charlie Whitehurst or won’t draft a quarterback this year.
“We’re always going to be trying to find those guys to compete at that position,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. “It’s the most important position on the team.”
Schneider is in his second season with the Seahawks working with Carroll. Make no mistake, though, Carroll is the one with the most juice.
Seattle had two first-round picks last year and took tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas. Okung battled through some injuries but showed potential when he was on the field. He’ll be a good player. Thomas played well for most of the season, but had some rookie lapses. He has a chance to be a Pro Bowl player soon.
The Seahawks might not be good now, even with a division title, but they’re building this the right way through the draft.
QB: Hasselbeck is getting up in years and he didn’t play that well last season, although he did have a nice game in the upset of the Saints in the playoffs. The Seahawks traded to get Whitehurst last season, but he didn’t show that well when he was given a chance and there are still doubts about him. They need to address this position early in the draft. A first-round pick on a quarterback is a possibility.
RB: There are a lot of capable bodies, but are there any stars? Marshawn Lynch flashed after being acquired from the Bills, but is he any more than just a guy? Justin Forsett is more of a third-down back and Leon Washington is more of a kick returner. They will look at this position at some point, but they can get by with what they have. Michael Robinson is also in the mix.
WR: The surprise of the season was the play of Mike Williams. After being considered a draft bust and being out of football, he came back to lead the team in receiving. He is a big receiver but he lacks speed. In fact, the Seahawks starting outside receivers lack speed. Ben Obomanu is on the other side, but the team has high hopes for Golden Tate, a 2010 rookie who does have speed. Deon Butler, a third-year player, had 36 catches last season but he’s coming off a broken leg. He can also provide speed. Veteran Brandon Stokley was contributing late, but he’s a free agent.
TE: John Carlson is one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the league. He has the ability to get down the seam, and he’s key near the goal line. But bad quarterback play limited his productivity last season as he caught just 31 passes and was asked to block more. Cameron Morrah is a young tight end they think has big-play potential.
OL: This is a unit that was crippled by injuries last season. They started a lot of different combinations and never seemed to settle on a group. They have a new line coach in Tom Cable, who likes bigger players. Okung fought through injuries as a rookie, but he will be fine. Center Chris Spencer and right tackle Sean Locklear are free agents. Guard Max Unger might move to center. He only played in one game last season because of a toe injury. If Locklear doesn’t return, they need to find a right tackle. Stacy Andrews and Tyler Polumbus are also in the mix. They could draft a lineman early in this draft.
DL: The line was better than expected. Brandon Mebane was the team’s best player, but players like Red Bryant and Colin Cole flashed at times. Both suffered injuries that hurt, Bryant going down for the year. Veteran Raheem Brock surprised as a pass rusher with 9 sacks, but they can’t count on that again. Chris Clemons is a good pass rusher. They could use help from a speed rusher.
LB: Aaron Curry has yet to live up to what was expected when he was a high first-round pick in 2009. This has to be his year. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is solid but not special. He isn’t as good as his reputation. David Hawthorne, the other linebacker, might be the best of the group. The Seahawks could use better play from those three players and more depth behind them.
DB: Thomas played well as a rookie and has the range you want in a safety in this pass-happy league. Veteran Lawyer Milloy played next to him and did a decent job, but he doesn’t run very well and might retire. Kam Chancellor could take over there. Marcus Trufant is a good player, but the team had just 12 interceptions last season. Kelly Jennings, the other corner, could be lost to free agency. There isn’t much behind him, but second-year player Walter Thurmond has some ability. Jordan Babineaux has served as the nickel corner in recent years.