Today was only the fourth day of training camp for our 2014 Seattle Seahawks, but in the Pacific Northwest that means it’s football season. And already there are several storylines revolving around the VMAC:
- ESPN’s SportsCenter aired live at the Seahawks training facility this morning in a Tuesday edition of “Competition Wednesday.”
- Marshawn Lynch is holding out in the hopes of renegotiating his current contract, which the Seahawks front office seem unlikely to do.
- And NFL Players Association president Eric Winston has signed with the team.
We can only expect more headlines to come our way as the preseason approaches, but in the spirit of the new season coming up, I’ve decided to preview this year’s team by choosing my predicted MVP’s, Rookies of the Year, and Breakout Stars of the Year. I’ve provided highlight videos to accompany each description.
Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball.
MVP – Russell Wilson, QB
This one is probably the easiest to pick, especially with the uncertainty regarding “Beast Mode.” Wilson has been absolutely brilliant in his first two years at the helm of the Hawks offense. Entering his third year in the league, he has won more games than any other quarterback in their first two NFL seasons. While the running game is the juggernaut of this team, Russell’s play-making ability is what makes the offense truly dangerous. He makes something out of nothing, and does so routinely. With Percy Harvin healthy, expect Wilson to create even more explosive plays for the Hawks this year (remember the Super Bowl?).
Rookie of the Year – Paul Richardson, WR
Two words: pure speed. Seattle’s 2nd-round pick out of Colorado is a major deep-threat that will help the Seahawks stretch out opposing defenses. His ability to get behind secondaries will make this offense even more deadly. At the very least, opponents will have to account for Richardson’s 4.2-speed, which will open things up for the running game or short passes underneath. Expect this burner to make an immediate impact and get lots of playing time, because even having him on the field is an effective threat.
Breakout Star of the Year – Christine Michael, RB (Michael’s highlights are the first 2:50 of the below video)
This pick also largely depends on the outcome of Marshawn Lynch’s holdout. We didn’t see much of Michael last year because he was injured for most of the season and we didn’t need him. But with the possible exit of “Beast Mode,” Michael may be called upon to carry the running game. Even if he comes back, Lynch’s carries are already likely going to decrease this year, which means that Michael and Robert Turbin are going to get more chances – and I’d expect the Texas A&M-product to get the bulk of the remaining carries. Without a doubt, Michael’s combination of speed and power makes him the unanimous choice as the running back of the future for this organization. Is that time now? Is he ready? Those are both questions that will get answered in the coming weeks.
We’ll move on to the defense now.
MVP – Kam Chancellor, S
You can easily argue that Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas are rated as better players than Chancellor. But this award should go to who is most valuable to the team – i.e. least expendable. The L.O.B. as a whole is really the most valuable piece to this defense. However, the player who is least expendable in the Seahawks secondary is Chancellor in my opinion. Why? The guy is a bone-crushing enforcer and, perhaps more importantly, the tone-setter of the entire D. His hit on Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl set the table for the entire game. Suddenly, Peyton Manning couldn’t just throw short passes over the middle of the field, a staple of their passing game. That one hit changed the entire game plan for Denver’s record-setting offense and, as a result, they were never able to get going. I look forward to “Bam Bam” putting the hammer on many more receivers coming over the middle this year. That kind of impact is deserving of MVP.
Rookie of the Year – Cassius Marsh, DE
The fourth-round pick out of UCLA has been one of the most impressive players in offseason workouts. His incredible quickness and pass-rush savvy have left Seattle’s coaches drooling, including Pete Carroll. He has already seen a large amount of reps with the first-unit. A pass-rush specialist, Marsh anticipates getting some solid playing time this year, something that is difficult to do for a rookie on this defense.
Breakout Star of the Year – Tharold Simon, CB
Who? Most of you may not remember last year’s fifth-round choice out of LSU because he was on the injured reserve list last season. Simon is another late-round gem for which Pete Carroll and John Schneider have become so well-known. He has all the characteristics of a “Carroll Corner,” meaning he’s tall, lanky, and extremely athletic. His 6’2″-frame has been picking off passes regularly in many of the offseason practices. While Sherman and Byron Maxwell may have secured a starting spots at cornerback for now, look for Simon to get some first-unit reps in nickel-situations. If all goes well I could see him taking Maxwell’s spot by the end of the year.
There ya have it, folks. It’s obviously really early to be thinking about end-of-the-year awards, but I expect all of these names to be making an impact on this team this year. Obviously, Marshawn Lynch’s holdout affects some of the picks I have made. Hopefully, this situation gets resolved sooner rather than later and the organization can move on in the appropriate way.
Until then…GO HAWKS!!!