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Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Draft team needs: Seattle Seahawks


Newly signed Red Bryant is a run-stuffing load at defensive end for the Seahawks. (Getty Images)  
Newly signed Red Bryant is a run-stuffing load at defensive end for the Seahawks. (Getty Images)  

When league scouts talk about the Seattle Seahawks, they all say the same thing: Loads of young talent, but what about the quarterback?

Under coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have tried Charlie Whitehurst (failed) and Tarvaris Jackson (grade incomplete) as quarterbacks they acquired to fill a glaring need. Now comes Matt Flynn.

The Seahawks signed Flynn as a free agent from the Green Bay Packers. Flynn started two games in four years with the Packers, so his signing is risky.

Carroll said that Flynn and Jackson will compete for the job, but it's probably Flynn's to lose.

If Flynn can prove to be more than just a manage-the-game passer, Seattle will push for the NFC West title.

If not, they might be looking again next spring.

QB: Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in his only start last season for the Packers. But it wasn't as good as the numbers would indicate. He doesn't have a big arm, but he is smart and sees the field. It's hard to say what will happen when and if he takes over as the starter. Jackson started 14 games, threw for 3,091 yards, 14 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He had some moments when he looked like he was the future, but others where he looked lost. Consistency is a problem. Josh Portis is the No. 3 QB.

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RB: Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1,204 yards and 13 touchdowns and was rewarded with a new contract. Lynch is a tough inside runner who can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Veteran Leon Washington is the top backup. He is more of a third-down back. Kregg Lumpkin and Tyrell Sutton are backups. The fullback is versatile Michael Robinson. Even though they signed Lynch, the Seahawks need to find a young runner to develop.

WR: The Seahawks thought they answered their receiver problems when they signed Sidney Rice. But he played in just 10 games because of injuries. He has to stay on the field. But the injuries allowed rookie Doug Baldwin to emerge. He was the team's leading receiver with 51 catches for a 15.5-yard average. Mike Williams played in only 10 games and was disappointing with 18 catches. His lack of speed shows up. Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate each had 30-plus catches. Deon Butler's career has been slowed by injuries. Ricardo Lockett is a young player to watch.

TE: This is a position that needs to be better. Zach Miller, who came over as a free agent from Oakland, caught 25 passes, a career low. That number needs to be around 60. Anthony McCoy had 13 catches and Cameron Morrah had six, but he has some speed to get deep. Miller is the key here. He has to improve in 2012.

OL: Injuries crippled this unit last season. Three of the starting linemen ended the season on injured reserve. Left tackle Russell Okung went down with a torn pectoral muscle and right tackle James Carpenter tore an ACL. Okung will be ready for the start of the season, but Carpenter might not. Breno Giacomini, who played well at right tackle, might keep the job. Carpenter could move to guard. The left guard will be John Moffitt, who missed time with a torn MCL. The center will be Max Unger, who has also started at guard. The Seahawks added guard Deuce Lutui, who played for Carroll at Southern California, and tackle Frank Omiyale for depth. Line coach Tom Cable should have this unit playing at a high level in 2012.

DL: The Seahawks' line isn't made up of household names, but it's a good one. The best player is Red Bryant, who was re-signed. He is an anchor against the run at defensive end. Chris Clemons provides the pass rush from the other end spot. But there isn't much behind those two. The Seahawks are in need of a pass-rusher to help Clemons. On the inside, Jason Jones, who was signed as a free agent from Tennessee, will team with Brandon Mebane, an underrated inside player. Jones played end last year for the Titans, but he's clearly more comfortable inside. Alan Branch started 15 games last season, but he's more of a run stuffer. There isn't a lot of depth inside or outside.

LB: This is the real weak spot on the roster. K.J. Wright, who started 12 games as a rookie, is the only linebacker on the roster who started for Seattle last season. He has a chance to be a really good player. The Seahawks lost middle linebacker David Hawthorne to the Saints in free agency, but signed Barrett Ruud to replace him. That's a step down. Ruud is just OK. The other spot should be a battle between Adrian Moten and others. I expect the Seahawks to spend an early pick on a linebacker, maybe even in the first round.

DB: The Seahawks have one of the best young secondary groups in the NFL. The safeties might be the best duo in the league. Free safety Earl Thomas is a rangy player who fits the modern game. Strong safety Kam Chancellor is a big hitter who needs to improve some on his coverage. Jeron Johnson and Chris Maragos are the backups. The corners were a pleasant surprise in 2011. Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman were not expected to start but both played well and appear to be set as a duo for a long time. Browner, a CFL refugee, is a big, physical corner who makes up for a lack of speed with his strong press skills. Sherman is the better cover player of the two and was a rookie find. The team re-signed Marcus Trufant on Monday, and he will likely be the nickel corner. Walter Thurmond and Roy Lewis are backups who will compete for the nickel job.

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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