If you thought we were done pumping NFL Top 100 player lists to bide the time during this slow part of the offseason, think again.
In response to NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 Players of 2013, ProFootballTalk.com introduced their own century index back on July 1, when they unveiled players ranked in the bottom-fourth (No. 100-76). Having joined forces with several members of the NFL media to generate their list, the PFT staff has continued to unveil 25 players at a time each Monday since. Yesterday, they disclosed players ranked No. 75-51 and will highlight No. 50-26 next week before concluding the following Monday with their Top 25.
Six Seahawks showed up on the NFL Network’s player-driven list – center Max Unger at No. 95, wide receiver Percy Harvin at No. 90, free safety Earl Thomas at No. 66, quarterback Russell Wilson at No. 51, cornerback Richard Sherman at No. 50, and running back Marshawn Lynch at No. 24. Fifty players into PFT’s countdown, Unger and Harvin show up yet again – Unger slightly lower at No. 99 and Harvin considerably higher at No. 53. I like to think Thomas, Wilson, Sherman, and Lynch will all rank somewhere in PFT’s Top 50 in the coming weeks.
The PFT edition also adds a new Seahawks face to the League’s Top 100 landscape, as cornerback Antoine Winfield – one of the club’s notable offseason acquisitions – comes in ranked one spot ahead of Unger at No. 98.
Matt Williamson likes what the Seahawks have done this offseason to strengthen an already solid roster that includes All-Pro players in running back Marshawn Lynch, free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and center Max Unger, as well as five Pro Bowl selections – quarterback Russell Wilson and left tackle Russell Okung, in addition to Lynch, Unger and Thomas.
Williamson provides a comprehensive look at each team in the NFC at ESPN.com while handing out his grades – with the Cardinals and the Eagles the only other teams earning an A. It’s an Insider feature, so registration and a fee is required to view it. But here’s a sampling of what he has to say about the most-recent moves by general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll:
On the trade to acquire Percy Harvin: “Along with San Francisco, the Seahawks might be the best team in the league – and this offseason only reinforces that notion for me. Adding Harvin as an explosive element to this offense is gigantic. When healthy, he is one of the best players in the league and he was playing at an extremely high level last season before being sidelined with an ankle injury. Seattle will get creative with how it employs him.”
On the defensive additions: “A great defense got even better this offseason. The addition of (Antoine) Winfield, who excels in the slot, against the run and as a blitzer, makes the league’s best secondary very much improved. Seattle lost (Jason) Jones and (Alan) Branch up front, but added (Cliff) Avril, (Michael) Bennett, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams. Those switches in personnel not only make them younger up front, but also improve the pass rush dramatically with Avril off the edge and Bennett coming from either a standard defensive end position or on the inside in passing situations.”
On the 325-pound Williams, the defensive tackle who was drafted in the fifth round: “On tape, Williams looked like a first-round pick to me, and if medical issues do not slow him down, he could be a very instrumental member of this defensive line. The Seahawks are stacked.”
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 28, when the Seahawks had an OTA session that was open to the media:
Percy Harvin. So, what do you get a player who seemingly has everything for his 25th birthday?
How about a 57-yard touchdown reception? That’s what quarterback Russell Wilson came up with during today’s OTA session, and it was just one of four receptions for Harvin during the final team period that slapped an exclamation point on the workout.
Harvin was acquired in a trade with the Vikings in March because he was proficient and productive as a receiver, returner and runner the past four seasons with the Vikings. But today, on his birthday, the spotlight was on Harvin’s receiving skills.
On the second play of the team period, Harvin got behind Brandon Browner, a 6-foot-4 cornerback who is as physical as he is tall, to take Wilson’s pass along the sideline and run it into the end zone. A few snaps later, it was Wilson to Harvin on a crossing pattern. Then, Harvin made a nice grab of a pass from backup QB Brady Quinn as he was racing across the field toward the sideline. Finally, it was Quinn to Harvin to round out the day.
Four routes, four receptions; one big reason why the Seahawks deemed Harvin worth the three draft choices they gave up to acquire him.
None of this should come as a surprise, because last year Harvin tied for first in the NFL with no dropped passes on 82 targets before being sidelined for the final seven games with a torn ligament in his ankle. In fact, according to the statistics provided by ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, the Seahawks have three players who ranked among the top 20 in that category last season: Harvin at No. 1; wide receiver Sidney Rice, another ex-Viking, who had one drop on 78 targets to rank No. 9; and tight end Zach Miller, who had one drop on 49 targets to rank No. 16.
Marshawn Lynch. The team’s leading rusher the past three seasons was back after missing last week’s OTAs. Today, Lynch didn’t miss a beat – or an assignment, or a hole – while displaying the explosive quickness and power that helped him rush for a career-high 1,590 yards last season.
Linebackers. It was difficult not to watch assistant coach Ken Norton’s crew during the session was featured rain, wind and even a sun break or two along the shores of Lake Washington.
Outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Kyle Knox intercepted passes in the 7-on-7 drill, when cornerback Byron Maxwell added a third. During the final team period, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner slapped away a pass that was intended for Miller, while outside linebacker Malcolm Smith made a last-second tip of a pass that was almost in the hands of rookie tight end Luke Willson.
ANTHONY McCOY WAIVED/INJURED; JAKE BSCHERER SIGNED
In a procedural move, tight end Anthony McCoy was waived/injured today. When he clears waivers, McCoy will revert back to injured reserve. McCoy tore his right Achilles tendon during an OTA session last Monday and had surgery on Thursday.
Jake Bscherer, one of three dozen players who attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, was signed. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle played at Minnesota-Duluth.
The players also have OTA sessions on Wednesday and Friday, which are not open to the media. Next week, they have OTAs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
YOU DON’T SAY
“They’re very serious. And I think they’re hungry. They’re very hungry. The way these guys work in the weight room or running inside. You can see them compete in practice. Yeah, they’re ready to go.” – Antoine Winfield, the team’s new nickel back, when asked about the other starters in the secondary: cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Browner and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor
Marcus Trufant played the past four seasons under Gus Bradley when Bradley was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator. Today, Trufant, an unrestricted free agent, is visiting Bradley in his new role and location – head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Trufant’s visit was reported by the Jaguars’ website.
The Jaguars rebuilt their secondary during the NFL Draft by selecting strong safety Jonathan Cyprien with the first pick in the second round and then adding cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz (third round) and Demetrius McCray (seventh) and safety Josh Evans (sixth). But Trufant, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 2003, could mentor the young secondary – just as he did for the Seahawks the past few seasons with the All-Pro tandem of free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman as well as Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner.
The Seahawks released Trufant last offseason, only to re-sign him for a 10th season. But this year, a similar move is unlikely because the team signed nickel back Antoine Winfield in free agency, drafted cornerback Tharold Simon and also has incumbent backups Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell.
UPDATE – At 11:54 a.m. the Jaguars officially announced they had signed Trufant:
There are some automatic circle-the-date events in the NFL. The draft. The start of training camp. The regular-season opener.
For Dan Quinn, this year also included April 29 – which just happens to be today, and the day Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program kicked off. It marked the first time since the final practice of the 2012 season that the coaches have been allowed on the field with the players. And for Quinn, it was his first time on an NFL practice field since the 2010 season, as he spent the past two years as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida following a two-season stint as the Seahawks’ D-line coach.
“This is the day I’ve really been looking forward to,” Quinn said. “I’ve been looking forward to this Phase 2 starting. In fact, I even told that to the guys before hand – we’re all kind of getting back to our element, which is being out on the field.”
His anticipation over this day is understandable. It was Quinn’s first day on a practice field as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, a position he was hired to fill in January after former D-coordinator Gus Bradley left to become head coach of the Jaguars. It also was Quinn’s first on-field session with the free-agent additions to the unit he now coordinates – linemen Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel and cornerback Antoine Winfield.
“This is a chance for us to see some of the new players we’ve added on the field,” Quinn said. “The classroom work has been good. But this is the next step, the precursor to playing. The culmination has been good and the players, to their credit, worked.”
The players did that work in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center because of the rain that was falling in Renton this morning. But it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the players or coaches, even though their “against air” efforts focused primarily on technique.
“It’s always fun to get out there on the field,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “We still can’t do a whole heck of a lot, but at least we’re running routes, catching balls, calling plays.”
The limited on-field activity that is allowed in Phase 2 continues through May 17, with a rookie minicamp scheduled for May 10-12. Phase 3 begins on May 20 and will include 10 OTA sessions where the offense is allowed to work against the defense, and vice versa. The offseason program concludes for the veterans with a minicamp June 11-13.
Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.
Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.
It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:
Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”
Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”
Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”
Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”
Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”
Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”
Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”
Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”
Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”
Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”
Happy Schedule Thursday.
Yes, the league will announce the 2013 NFL schedule today – at 5 p.m. PT. Until then, we thought you might want to weigh in on how many primetime games the Seahawks might get.
It was a topic for discussion at Virginia Mason Athletic Center yesterday, because the Seahawks are an ascending team and have some inviting matchups on tap this season: The NFC Champion and NFC West rival 49ers, home and away; the Falcons in Atlanta, where the home team rallied in the closing seconds for a two-point victory in January’s divisional playoff game; the Colts in Indianapolis, matching a pair of teams that won 11 games last season and are led by quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson; the Saints at CenturyLink Field, in a rematch of that memorable 2010 wild-card playoff game where Marshawn Lynch’s electrifying and earth-shaking 67-yard touchdown run iced the Seahawks’ 41-39 upset of the defending Super Bowl champions; and the Vikings in Seattle, with the Seahawks’ foursome of Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Antoine Winfield and Heath Farwell playing against their former team.
The Seahawks had a franchise-high five primetime games in 2006, following their run to the Super Bowl in 2005. They’ve had three primetime games in each of the past two seasons, and also had three in 1999, 1990, 1987, 1986 and 1985.
The Seahawks’ young, but oh-so-talented, secondary just got a lot more experienced.
Former Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield was signed today, the team announced. Winfield, who will turn 36 in June and has been in the NFL for 13 seasons, is expected to compete for the nickel back spot in a secondary that already includes two All-Pro players – free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman; and Pro Bowl-caliber players at strong safety and the other corner in Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Winfield was released last month by the Vikings in a salary-cap move, despite coming off a 2012 season when he had 101 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defensed. The passes defensed were a career high, while the tackle and interception totals were his second-highest totals.
Winfield played his first five seasons with the Bills, who selected him in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft after a senior season at Ohio State when he was named All-America and voted the Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back. He signed with the Vikings in free agency in 2004 and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
For his career, Winfield has 1,170 tackles and 27 interceptions. He also has started 16 games six times, the last coming in 2010.