Home Seattle Seahawks Analyzing the Seahawks Positional Need: Safeties

Analyzing the Seahawks Positional Need: Safeties

[Update 3/13/19]: Adam Schefter has just reported that the Kansas City Chiefs have just released Eric Berry. He should immediately take over as every safety-needy team’s priority signing at the position.

The Seahawks enter 2019 with a conundrum at the safety position. This morning, Earl Thomas and the Baltimore Ravens struck a deal that will take the All-Pro safety away from Seattle, once and for all. At the strong safety position, Bradley McDougald is far from the model of intelligent thumper that Pete Carroll truly desires for his enforcer. He’s playing to position well enough though that they’ll probably live with him for 2019 while selecting a possible long term replacement in this year’s draft. In the Pete Carroll defense, strong safety is important, however, the role that must be up to snuff is free safety — now vacant with the departure of future Hall of Famer Earl Thomas. The importance of the free safety in Pete Carroll’s system cannot be understated. Davis Hsu was on this well before Thomas’ injuries began keeping him out of starting lineups as he got older. Without a game-changing talent roaming center field, Carroll’s system suffers. Will inhouse options Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson pan out, or do we need to be looking elsewhere? First, we need to establish what PCJS are looking for at free safety.  

An excerpt from my article on Seattle’s prototypical running back: The aim of this piece is not to identify players that I think the Seahawks should draft or sign. It’s not about identifying who you think the Seahawks should draft or sign. The aim of this piece an attempt to identify who the Seahawks’ front office will want to draft or sign. We’ll draw on the excellent work of Zach Whitman, founder of 3 Sigma Athlete and Rob Staton, founder of Seahawks Draft Blog , for this purpose.

In 2014, Whitman shared with us the meaning of a term he had developed: Roster Mirroring. While studying the Seahawks roster he had noticed something “The striking this about the process is just how similar their athletes end up being at each position… Seattle isolated a very specific athlete for a very specific role, a phenomenon we’ll see throughout the roster”. Whitman’s conclusion? The Seahawks’ front office drafts players who mirror each other’s physical traits, at each position. My hypothesis on this? Seattle plans on being a winning team. They plan on drafting after top-tier talent is already off the board. Rather than settling for a player with a solid floor, they look for high ceilings. A player with superior physical attributes has a higher ceiling than a less athletic player. That does not mean that the more athletic player will be better. It simply means that they have to potential to be. Two players, playing the same position, with the same cognitive abilities, will be similar players in theory. However, if one of those players is bigger, faster, and stronger, that player (assuming they are lucky enough to play with a coach who knows how to deploy them) will have the better career. Yardage, scoring, tackle, sack, and winning totals all point to this being true. So, the Seahawks aim for the fences by setting athletic requirements (drawn from the NFL Combine and Pro Days) for each position. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have given us a roadmap to their personnel decision making. We just have to follow it.  

Similar to running backs, there appears to be a roughly defined athletic mold that the Seahawks target for both safety positions. Generally speaking they are hover around 6’ tall and tip the scales between 200-220lbs. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the two faces of Seahawks safety-dom, were on opposite ends of both spectrums. Thomas at 5’10”, 208lbs. Chancellor at 6’3”, 231lbs. Other Seahawks safeties have mostly stayed safely within the aforementioned range. You’ll find a full breakdown of athletic profiles further down the page.

There are other athletic traits PCJS looks for, however, our aforementioned analysts differ in this regard. In his Ultimate Seahawks Combine Preview 2019, Staton lists the following under the “Ideal size” safety section: 6”+, 200-220lbs, 4.4 forty, 39”+ vertical jump, and 10’5” broad jump. Conversely, in the piece from 2014, Whitman points out “that the team values speed and agility over explosiveness, which is typically defined by the vertical and broad jump”. He also notes that while most “Seahawks generally don’t have great bench press results, but are excellent broad jumpers”, this isn’t the case at safety. Seahawks safeties put up big numbers on the bench while both the vertical and broad jumps appear to be left at the wayside. Similar to his running backs assessment, Whitman does briefly touch on the importance of the 10-yard split, but I appear to be alone in highlighting its weighty importance in the Seahawks draft analysis for nearly all positions. Whitman does find more common ground with me, however, by highlighting the importance of the 3-Cone and Short Shuttle drills. What’s my overall take on who nailed the Seahawks’ parameters for safety? Zach Whitman, by a landslide. The Seahawks value agility, speed, and the ability to thump — not the ability to get vertical.

Let’s dig into the numbers.

What I believe to be the Seahawks ideal athletic profile for safety:

  • Height: Roughly 6’
  • Weight: 200 – 220lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.55 – 1.65 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.00 – 4.30 seconds
  • 3-cone: 6.70 – 7.10 seconds
  • Bench Press: 17 – 24 reps

Earl Thomas

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 208 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.56 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: N/A
  • 3-cone: N/A
  • Bench Press: 21 reps

Kam Chancellor

  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 231 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.60 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: N/A
  • 3-cone: 7.36 seconds
  • Bench Press: 22 reps

Jeron Johnson

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 212 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.55 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: N/A
  • 3-cone: N/A
  • Bench Press: 23 reps

DeShawn Shead

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 200 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: N/A
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: N/A
  • 3-cone: 6.76 seconds
  • Bench Press: 24 bench reps

Dion Bailey

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 201 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.64 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.15 seconds
  • 3-cone: 6.97 seconds
  • Bench Press: N/A

Bradley McDougald

  • Height: 6’
  • Weight: 215 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.72 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.44 seconds
  • 3-cone: 7.07
  • Bench Press: 19 reps

Tedric Thompson

  • Height: 6’
  • Weight: 204 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.63
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.36 seconds
  • 3-cone: 7.11 seconds
  • Bench Press: 17 reps

Delano Hill

  • Height: 6’
  • Weight: 216 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.58 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.27 seconds
  • 3-cone: 6.96 seconds
  • Bench Press: 17 reps

The question now is, which free agents fit? Top safeties on the market with the required numbers are as follows:

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight:  208 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.60 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.16 seconds
  • 3-cone: 7.16 seconds
  • Bench Press: 11 reps

Clinton-Dix meets all requirements other than the bench press. That could be enough to exclude him.

Eric Berry

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 211lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.54 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.23 seconds
  • 3-cone: 6.80 seconds
  • Bench Press: 19 reps

Tre Boston

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight:  204 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.60 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.31 seconds
  • 3-cone: 7.04
  • Bench Press: 18 reps

Glover Quin

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight:  204 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.50 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.43 seconds
  • 3-cone: 7.39 seconds
  • Bench Press: 22 reps

Jimmie Ward

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight:  193 lbs
  • 10-yard Split: 1.56 seconds
  • 20-yard Short Shuttle: 4.24 seconds
  • 3-cone: 6.89 seconds
  • Bench Press: 9 reps

Similar to Clinton-Dix, Ward falls short of the bench press requirements. This could make him ineligible in the Seahawks’ eyes.

Of the group above, Tre Boston and Glover Quin most fit the mold of a Seahawks free safety. Both would be strong acquisitions and could come at a discounted price, now that the rat race has concluded for the in regards to the other big name Tyrann Mathieu and Adrian Amos. That being said, the All-Pro Eric Berry should unquestionably be Seattle’s No. 1 target to replace Earl Thomas.

Although Combine data is out, Pro Days still need to be completed so we’ll circle back in the lead up to the draft to see which rookies the Seahawks might be taking a look at.

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