Home Editors' Picks Analyzing The Seahawks’ Positional Needs: Running Backs

Analyzing The Seahawks’ Positional Needs: Running Backs

The Seahawks front office combines a tantalizing use of forward-thinking personnel acquisition methods with a blend of regressive offensive scheming. The offseason is a time for us 12s to revel in the former though and not think at all about the latter. As we dive into the  Seahawks running back group it’s important to keep something in mind. 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.

With that established, let’s take a look at what the Seahawks already have in-house. Both Whitman and Staton  identify 4 key traits that the Seahawks look for: height, weight, vertical jump, and broad jump. I differ with them by adding in the 10-yard split of the 40 yard dash as a trait that the Seahawks feature — although Whitman somewhat acknowledges it as being of some importance. I’d put their ideal 10-yard split for running back at roughly 1.58 seconds. Staton gives us the other measurements in his “Ideal size” section of the previously linked piece: 5’11”, 220lbs, 36”+ vertical jump, and a 10’+ broad jump. For the height and weight figues, consider them ballpark averages. For the performance measurables, consider them preferred minimums. For example,  9’8” broad jump wouldn’t necessarily disqualify a player even though they might like to go for 10’. As you’ll see, a 1.60 10-yard split is perfectly acceptable too. That being said, they certainly wouldn’t have a problem with a player drastically exceeding these numbers. You will notice the largest exception to the ballpark numbers is Rashaad Penny’s vertical jump. Do not let that distract you from the fact that by and large, these men physically mirror each other in a multitude of prioritized athletic attributes.

How do the current Seahawks stack up?

The estimated ideal measurables:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 220lbs

Vertical Jump: 36”+

Broad Jump: 10’+

10-yard split: 1.58 seconds

Chris Carson 

Height: 6’

Weight: 218lbs

Vertical Jump: 37”

Broad Jump: 10’10”

10-yard split: 1.6 seconds

Rashaad Penny

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 220lbs (although he got a bit hefty during the season)

Vertical Jump: 32.5”

Broad Jump: 10”

10-yard split: 1.58 seconds

Mike Davis

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 217lbs

Vertical Jump: 34”

Broad Jump: 9’08”

10-yard split: 1.53

C.J. Prosise

Height: 6’

Weight: 220lbs

Vertical Jump: 35.5”

Broad Jump: 10’01”

10-yard split: 1.57 seconds

J.D. McKissic

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 187lbs — for what it’s worth, the Seahawks’ website has him at 195lbs. Still well below normal but he was brought in as an emergency fill-in for C.J. Prosise. They took what they could get.

Vertical Jump: 37”

Broad Jump: 10’02”

10-yard split: 1.59”

Bo Scarbrough

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 228lbs

Vertical Jump: 40”

Broad Jump: 10’09”

10-yard split: 1.56

Notable Past Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 215lbs

Vertical Jump: 35.5”

Broad Jump: 10’05”

10-yard split: 1.6 seconds

Robert Turbin

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 222lbs

Vertical Jump: 36”

Broad Jump: 10’02”

10-yard split: 1.6 seconds

Christine Michael

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 220lbs

Vertical Jump: 43”  — Unreal.

Broad Jump: 10’05”

10-yard split: 1.56 seconds

Eddie Lacy

(*Note: Lacy was injured during combine and was coming off a pulled hamstring at his Pro Day. Of course, he ballooned to whatever appalling weight during his pro career — it was a weird signing. I attribute the move to Pete Carroll’s affinity for signing former early round picks/incorrect belief that running backs make the running game work. He’s being included on this list so as to avoid “Why didn’t you put Cheeseburger Eddie?!?” comments. For deductive purposes, he shouldn’t be considered. Do with this information what you will though.) 

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 231lbs (250+ when we signed him)

Vertical Jump: 33.5”

Broad Jump: Did not test — presumably the hamstring injury.

10-yard split: 1.65 seconds

Of the Seahawks currently on the roster, Mike Davis is the only one with an expired contract. It’s doubtful he’s re-signed given the Seahawks’ lack of cap space (assuming Frank Clark gets extended)  and Pete Carroll’s obsession with the ever-hurt C.J. Prosise, the front office’s preferred pass-catching back. Davis was 5th on the team in targets, however, Carson showed well through the passing game, coming in just behind Davis at No. 6. With Prosise theoretically returning to health for 2019, a new deal for Davis would be too costly in for an already crowded running back room.

It’s unlikely that the Seahawks will spend money in free agency for the aforementioned reasons. On top of the financial issues, Carroll has already begun pontificating on the assumed progress of last year’s 1st round pick:

Just for kicks though, let’s take a look at some free agents that might be a potential fit. We’ll circle back after the combine and add a few incoming rookies next week.

Ty Montgomery

Height: 6”

Weight: 221lbs

Vertical Jump: 40’1””

Broad Jump: 10’01”

10-yard split: 1.59 seconds (Combine) — 1.51 (Pro Day)

If we’re interested in tripling down on the wide receiver-to-running back conversions for our pass-catching backs (both C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic were largely receivers in college), we could take a look at Ty Montgomery. He fits the Seahawks bill.

Javorius Allen

Height:6’

Weight: 221lbs

Vertical Jump: 35.5”

Broad Jump: 10’01”

10-yard split: 1.58

Allen is a mildly talented pass-catching back, which works just fine for Seattle’s purposes. He’s also a former student of USC — that can’t hurt in Pete Carroll’s eyes.

Karlos Williams

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 230lbs

Vertical Jump: 33.5”

Broad Jump: 9’09”

10-yard split: 1.6 seconds

I will forever hold Karlos Williams near and dear in my fantasy football heart for two reasons. His 2015, 9-touchdown rookie campaign was integral to me winning a championship. And this Rotoworld post that I screenshotted 3 years ago in the hopes that I would one day get to use it in an article:

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