Free agency, the combine and the owners meetings are in the rearview mirror and the draft is just a few days away. But it’s time to get back to football on the field. Here’s a quick look at the Seahawks as they open their offseason workout program Monday.
Biggest challenge facing head coach Pete Carroll: Keeping everybody happy. Last summer, strong safety Kam Chancellor was unhappy with his contract. He held out, and there's no denying that it presented a distraction. Players and coaches were asked about Chancellor on a daily basis. Marshawn Lynch wore Chancellor's jersey to a practice. And the Seahawks lost their first two regular-season games without Chancellor. This offseason he seems to be more content, but what about other players? Michael Bennett has not hid the fact that he feels underpaid, and he switched agents this offseason. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, meanwhile, is coming off a career year and is entering the final year of his deal. Coaching is about more than just the X's and O's. Carroll knows he has to manage personalities, and with teams that have a lot of success, that can be difficult.
Player on the rise: It has to be second-year wide receiver Tyler Lockett. His 664 receiving yards last season ranked third among rookies, and his six touchdown catches were tied for first. Lockett scored two touchdowns as a returner, earning a Pro Bowl berth. Overall, he played 61.5 percent of the offensive snaps, and that number figures to increase in Lockett's second season. He's versatile enough to play inside and outside, can be a true vertical threat, and the coaches have raved about his work ethic.
Player who has the most to prove: Let's go with two: tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Thomas Rawls. Both players suffered season-ending injuries late last season. For Graham it was a ruptured patellar tendon; for Rawls it was a fractured ankle. General manager John Schneider said recently that he's not sure if either guy will play in the preseason, so it's unlikely that Rawls and Graham will be very active this spring. But the team will get an opportunity to further assess their progress in their respective rehabs. Graham's injury is more serious, and even when he does return, it's unclear how much of his athleticism he'll retain. Rawls led the NFL in yards per carry and average yards after contact last season. He'll be counted on to carry the torch after Lynch's retirement and be the lead back.
Surprise player to watch: The organization seems to be really high on second-year player Frank Clark. With Bruce Irvin having signed with the Oakland Raiders, Clark is in the driver's seat to get plenty of work at right defensive end when the Seahawks go to their nickel package. Clark played on 33.5 percent of the Seahawks' defensive snaps last year and had three sacks. The coaching staff is counting on him to bolster the pass rush in 2016.
Position that should be addressed in the draft: The team will look to upgrade talent on the offensive line. The Seahawks lost left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy in free agency. They signed two journeymen in J'Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell. The team came out of last year's draft with three offensive linemen, and the focus seems to be on athletic prospects that offensive line coach Tom Cable can work with. It would be a surprise if the Seahawks came out of the first two days of the draft without at least one offensive lineman.