Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has talked up Delano Hill, but with the Legion of Boom officially gone and only four draft picks, Seattle could be in a tight spot in the secondary.
As a practical matter, the end for the Legion of Boom came last November, when All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas rode off the field in Arizona with his broken leg in an air cast and his middle finger extended toward the Seattle Seahawks‘ sideline.
But Thomas’ widely expected free-agent departure in March brought finality to a transition from one of the most loaded secondaries in NFL history to one that no longer has a single player with a Pro Bowl on his résumé. Right before Thomas signed with Baltimore, Seattle also lost Justin Coleman to Detroit, which made him the NFL’s highest-paid nickelback.
In perhaps any other year, restocking their secondary with playmakers in the draft would be an obvious call. Problem for the Seahawks is that they have a league-low four picks as of now, including no second-rounder, and an even more pressing need for an edge rusher that could take first-round precedence.
Plus, if you believe coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are more content than most observers are with their options to start at safety next to veteran Bradley McDougald. Carroll has talked up Delano Hill more than once, most recently at the NFL’s annual meetings last month when asked where things stand at safety.
“Everything sped up,” Carroll said about how Hill came on late in the season before suffering a hip injury that required surgery. “Everything sped up and his aggressive play showed. His confidence really soared late in the year. He was an obvious factor in physical side of things — making hits, covering ground, filling spots in the running game. He just blossomed. That was the time schedule he was on, and he clicked, so leading into this season, we’re in really good shape with him.”
Hill briefly took over late in the year for Tedric Thompson, who made 10 nondescript starts in place of Thomas then missed the final two regular-season games himself.
“I’m encouraged about the spot,” Carroll said, later adding: “It’s a good trio, at least. We’re in good shape right there.”
But that isn’t stopping the Seahawks from doing their homework on some potential early-round safeties. Their list of reported pre-draft visits includes Darnell Savage of Maryland, Juan Thornhill of Virginia and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson of Florida. All three would likely be strong considerations if they made it to the third round, where the Seahawks own the 84th overall pick. Delaware’s Nasir Adderley could be in play if he falls to Day 3.
Carroll has talked about the jump he expects Tre Flowers to make in 2019 after the converted safety gave the Seahawks 15 solid starts at right cornerback as a rookie opposite Shaquill Griffin. However, Griffin’s up-and-down second season shows that a significant step forward for Flowers shouldn’t be considered a given.
As with safety, any cornerbacks the Seahawks draft would likely be in the third round or later.
In 2017, the Seahawks spent four of their 11 picks on defensive backs knowing that the LOB couldn’t be kept together forever as its core members got more expensive and closer to 30. Three of those selections remain: Griffin (third), Hill (third) and Thompson (fourth).
It seems unlikely that the Seahawks would draft a defensive back in the first round, which means they may need to make do with what they already have in the secondary.