Questions that Seahawks will look to answer at NFL combine

Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider, head coach Pete Carroll and others from the organization are in Indianapolis this week to join the rest of the football world at the scouting combine.

Draft season is in full swing, and the start of free agency is just weeks away.

Below are five questions the Seahawks will try to answer in the days ahead.

1. Which offensive linemen look like potential fits?

Two of the Seahawks' five starters -- left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy -- are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in March. None of the other three starters played consistently well enough in 2015 to dismiss the idea of adding competition at their respective positions.

Put simply, look for offensive line to be the No. 1 area of emphasis in the coming months.

It's definitely worth keeping an eye on which offensive linemen test well. All three of last year's picks -- Terry Poole, Mark Glowinski and Kristjan Sokoli -- showed above-average to elite athleticism before the draft.

If I had to guess now, I'd say the Seahawks could very well have three new starting offensive linemen in 2016. And expect them to explore every avenue -- the draft, trades, free agency -- to find talent.

2. Which defensive tackles have upside as pass-rushers?

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has said this is the best and deepest group of interior defensive linemen he's seen since he's been in the business (1978). Last year's starters for the Seahawks -- Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin -- are both scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. Even if they come back, the team could use some young talent.

The key here is the pass rush. It doesn't make sense to spend a first-round pick on a defensive tackle who is going to come off the field on third down. But if the Seahawks identify a dominant run defender who has upside as a pass-rusher, that could be the pick at No. 26. Some names that have been mocked to them include Baylor's Andrew Billings, Louisville's Sheldon Rankins and Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson.

This could be a value play as well. The Seahawks could conceivably find starting-level talent on Day 2 or Day 3.

3. Who stands out among the wide receivers?

The Seahawks essentially had three starting receivers last year in Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Only one of them (Lockett) is signed beyond 2016. Kearse is an unrestricted free agent and Baldwin is entering the final year of his contract.

This one could go in several different directions. It's possible that they re-sign Kearse and extend Baldwin, keeping the group together. But there's also a pretty good chance that the Seahawks could add a wide receiver this offseason who is going to have to play significant snaps next season.

The free-agent class of pass-catchers is not impressive. The Seahawks have spent a fourth-round pick or higher on a wide receiver in five of the six drafts under the current regime. That's likely to happen again this spring.

4. Is there a Bruce Irvin replacement available?

The pending unrestricted free agent said he'd be open to a hometown discount, but it seems likely that he'll have a nice market and could end up signing elsewhere. The Seahawks, meanwhile, don't have an obvious replacement on the roster.

The keys here are pass rush, versatility and athleticism. The Seahawks asked Irvin to play strongside linebacker in their base package and defensive end when they moved to nickel. Is there a player in the first or second round who has the movement skills to drop back into coverage, but also the ability to beat left tackles one-on-one? Those types of guys will be of high interest to the Seahawks.

5. Where do things stand with pending free agents?

The combine puts coaches, general managers and agents in the same city for several days. That means plenty of informal conversations involving free agents.

The team has 17 players set to be unrestricted free agents. Among the more high-profile names are Okung, Irvin, Sweezy and Kearse. But there are other intriguing players such as cornerback Jeremy Lane, Mebane and Rubin.

Teams have an unprecedented amount of money to spend this year, and properly assessing the market will be critical. What might have looked like an "overpay" last offseason might be reasonable this time around.

The Seahawks have the core of their roster in place, but with seven starters scheduled to be free agents, they'll be able to get a handle on what to expect next month.