As it stands now, the Seattle Seahawks will head into this year's NFL draft with only four selections, the fewest of any team in the league. They also have 14 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, as well as needs at other positions.
It all means there will be much more on their agenda than just putting prospects through the paces at the NFL's scouting combine this week. Indianapolis is often where the groundwork for free-agent deals is laid, and with every general manager in the same place at once, it's where John Schneider can start to gauge the trade market for the 21st overall pick as he tries to beef up Seattle's selection total.
But the player workouts are still the combine's main attraction. And with that in mind, here are five positions the Seahawks figure to be watching closely in Indy:
Defensive ends/tackles (workouts are Sunday)
The Seahawks have a formidable end-tackle tandem in Frank Clark and Jarran Reed, who combined for 23.5 sacks last season and who will both be only 26 in 2019. But the Seahawks need more around them, especially if they can't sign Clark to an extension this offseason and have to franchise-tag him instead. Their defense allowed the third-most yards per carry last season at over 4.9 and didn't have anyone other than Clark or Reed produce more than three sacks. (Seattle ranked tied for 11th with 43 sacks and 11th in pressure rate at 29.9 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.) Upgrading from free-agent-to-be Shamar Stephen with a run-stuffing defensive tackle would help shore up Seattle's run defense. As for finding someone to start opposite Clark, draft analyst Jared Stanger has made a good point about what Seattle should be looking for: a big-bodied player to man what is known as the 5-technique spot, as opposed to the comparatively smaller and quicker Leo, which the Seahawks already have in Clark. Think Michael Bennett and not Bruce Irvin. Or in terms of this year's prospects, think Boston College's Zach Allen (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) or Texas' Charles Omenihu (6-foot-6, 275 pounds).
Starting guards D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy both will be free agents, and while the Seahawks would like to have them back, their injury histories should preclude Seattle from getting into any sort of bidding war. In other words, don't expect the Seahawks to go anywhere close to the $5.4 million average that ex-Seattle guard Mark Glowinski just got on his extension with the Indianapolis Colts. Starting right tackle Germain Ifedi will be entering the final year of his rookie contract, assuming the Seahawks don't pick up his fifth-year option, which makes that another spot Seattle could look to address along its offensive line. Remember, Ifedi started at right guard as a rookie in 2016 and in Week 17 of last season, while Fluker and Sweezy were hurt, so moving him back there could be an option depending on what happens in free agency and/or the draft. A name to remember is Washington's Kaleb McGary, Mel Kiper Jr.'s ninth-rated tackle. McGary's backstory is full of personal hardships that he has overcome, which is something that appeals to the Seahawks. At 6-foot-7 and around 320 pounds, he has the combination of size and athleticism that will stand out during combine workouts.
Wide receivers (Saturday)
Specifically, big wide receivers. Carroll has long had an affinity for those players, even though he has had way more success in Seattle with sub-six-footers Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Big guys who can run aren't as easy to come by, especially when you're not picking early in the first round (or at all in the first round). The Seahawks signed Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall last year to fill that role, but the 34-year-old Marshall was dumped after two months, and Brown is a candidate to be released after serving as the fourth option behind Lockett, Baldwin and David Moore -- who has good size but is more of a deep threat. That means the Seahawks very well could be in the market for the type of big receiver they haven't consistently had since the days of Mike Williams and Sidney Rice. Ole Miss' D.K. Metcalf, he of the viral photo showing off his hulking physique, could be long gone by the time the Seahawks pick. Someone like Iowa State's Hakeem Butler (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) would be a more realistic middle- to late-round option; he is Kiper's ninth-rated receiver.
There's potential for quite a bit of turnover on either side of All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Longtime teammate K.J. Wright is scheduled to be a free agent, as is Mychal Kendricks, who helped fill in for Wright at the weakside spot last season. Kendricks is facing insider trading charges, with sentencing set for April 4, so he might not be available even if the Seahawks follow through on their stated desire to bring him back. Strongside starter Barkevious Mingo is under contract for another season, but the Seahawks could deem his cap charge of nearly $5 million to be prohibitive for someone who primarily played on early downs and special teams without providing much in the way of pass rush. Kiper has projected Old Dominion's Oshane Ximines and Florida' Jachai Polite to Seattle in his first two mock drafts. They're his second- and fourth-rated outside linebackers, respectively. Third on that list is Florida State's Brian Burns, another outside linebacker who can get after the quarterback.
As is the case with any position, spending a draft pick on a specialist hardly guarantees that the player will pan out. Fifth-round pick Daniel Carlson lasted all of two games with the Minnesota Vikings last season before he was released, as one example. But Seattle's selection of All-Pro punter Michael Dickson 18 picks earlier will be fresh on Schneider's mind entering this draft, as the Seahawks look for what will likely be their fourth kicker in as many seasons (the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders also drafted punters at the end of the fifth round and both won the jobs as rookies). Sebastian Janikowski was better than his predecessor, Blair Walsh, but Janikowski was up-and-down in 2018, and he is unsigned (not to mention almost 41 years old). One way or another, expect the Seahawks to bring in competition for Sam Ficken, whom they signed to a futures contract after last season.