Top 5 Most Important Players Seattle Seahawks
Perhaps more than any other organization in the NFL outside of New England, the Seattle Seahawks are built as a true team, continually adhering to the next man up mentality and developing competitive toughness at all corners of the roster. That makes finding their five most important players a tough task, especially when trying to keep the long-term future of the team in mind as well as its current Super Bowl hopes. Plenty of names could be offered for the list, but I’ve chosen five that — I believe — hold the most pivotal roles in Seattle’s future as a franchise.
If a team has a franchise quarterback in place, or someone it hopes will become a franchise quarterback, expect that player to lead the list of most important players. Seattle’s offensive success has lived and died on what Wilson creates the past few years. The running game struggled to be consistent, and the offensive line constantly crumbled, leaving Wilson under heavy pressure. Not many quarterbacks could have maintained a competent level of play behind such a mess, let alone thrive as Wilson has.
His ability to play in and out of structure and create offense where other quarterbacks can’t are part of what makes him special. Wilson has often been described as a man with a method to his madness, and his receivers have learned to thrive with his style of play. If he and Jimmy Graham can continue to build on the chemistry they established last season, Seattle’s passing attack will have no shortage of difficult-to-stop options. Wilson is the straw that stirs the drink, and if he goes down or his play declines, Seattle’s offense would be up a creek without a boat or a paddle.
When Thomas went down with a broken leg last season, Seattle’s defense was essentially on borrowed time. Kris Richard’s Cover 3-heavy scheme asks a lot of Thomas, the best single-high free safety in the NFL. He covers a lot of ground to make plays on the ball and eliminate the intermediate-deep (between-the-numbers) portions of the field. Few can offer Thomas’s range in coverage or his tenacity and physicality against the run. Without him, Seattle’s defense wasn’t the same.
Thomas flirted with the idea of retirement shortly after the injury, but at 28 years old, he’s the team’s most important defensive player, both this season and for the foreseeable future. It’s simply too difficult for another player to emulate what Thomas brings to the table, and without him Seattle doesn’t have the necessary pieces to run the scheme that has been so successful for the organization over the years.
Based on the fact that he was trying to trade Sherman this offseason, general manager John Schneider may disagree with my inclusion of the star cornerback on this list, but whatever you think of Sherman, there should be no argument of how important he is to Seattle, both schematically and individually.
Sherman is a very talented press corner with the ability to find and make plays on the ball while staying hip-to-hip with a receiver. Playmakers of his ilk are hard to come by, and even after a subpar season by his standards, Sherman is absolutely critical to what Seattle wants to do. He can battle top targets on opposing teams all game long, something DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane are not suited for. The franchise has developmental corners like Neiko Thorpe, Deandre Elliott and Shaquill Griffin that they hope can someday become starters, but for the foreseeable future, Sherman is the only corner on the Seahawks roster that can be considered decidedly above average. Without him the unit would crumble, and Seattle’s playoff hopes would dwindle along with it.
Easily one of the more underrated players in the NFL, Wagner is a top-tier linebacker with some of the best instincts and physicality you’ll see at the position. Few second-level players process and attack at Wagner’s pace, and the 6-0, 240-pound linebacker is one of the surest tacklers in the league, as well as a phenomenal blitzer.
A heart-and-soul player, Wagner is the catalyst of Seattle’s success up front, especially given the changing rotation of bodies in front of him. He has missed just eight games in the past five seasons, and has been among the most consistent presences on the team both on and off the field. Given the vast array of volatile personalities on Seattle’s defense, Wagner’s demeanor and cerebral nature offer a welcome and vital addition to their unit.
You could put plenty of players in this spot, but long-term, McDowell’s development is critical for Seattle. Jarran Reed’s problems off the field appear to have caught up to him again, and Seattle has little proven depth to play next to nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin. Obviously Michael Bennett will get his reps there, but Seattle likes to use him on the outside as well, so finding a stud presence that can play every down on the inside will be vital.
McDowell was a monster when he wanted to be at Michigan State, but is reportedly difficult to coach and hit-or-miss in his effort. He was a top-tier talent in this past draft class, but fell to the second round amid concerns his character would keep him from recognizing his potential. McDowell has three-down ability, capable of playing every spot on the defensive line and making a devastating impact as a one-gap penetrator.
His style of play fits the Seahawks perfectly, and imagining a third-down deployment of him and Michael Bennett on the inside while Frank Clark and Cliff Avril attack off the edges is enough to make any Seahawks fan salivate. However, McDowell must prove coachable and hard-working in Seattle, whose culture thrives on snap-to-snap intensity and competitive toughness, and cares not for draft pedigree. McDowell will not make or break the Seahawks, but the franchise could really use his development given its sudden depletion of options along the interior defensive line.