Ahead of the Raiders final preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, I spoke with Kenneth Arthur from SB Nation Seahawks blog, Field Gulls, to get the scoop on the team coming to Oakland Thursday night.
1. How much time (if any) will the Seahawks starters play on Thursday? The second teamers? Everyone else?
There seems to be only one position battle left open for the starters, and that's at right tackle. So I think you'll see plenty of J'Marcus Webb and Garry Gilliam, but Pete Carroll's not going to risk his first string for long. Don't expect to see anything notable from the starters. The QBs will be a mix of UDFA rookie Trevone Boykin and UDFA second-year pro Jake Heaps. Boykin is okay, Heaps is rather bad. At running back, I expect to see a lot of rookie Alex Collins and UDFA rookie Troymaine Pope, two guys fighting for a roster spot and playing time. On defense, I think we'll see plenty from safeties Tyvis Powell and Kelcie McCray, while they're still sorting things out at strongside linebacker now that Bruce Irvin is with you guys.
2. Each year the Raiders seem to mine players from the Seahawks' cuts. It was Benson Mayowa a couple years ago and last year Keenan Lambert (who is back in Seattle I see). Is there a talented player on the squad now who still may find himself on the chopping block?
Maybe more than ever this year. At least five or six Seahawks who get cut will end up on someone else's roster this year, I am quite sure of that. At running back there's Collins and Pope -- I expect Collins to beat out Pope, but he's shown a tremendous amount of promise as a change-of-pace back and potential returner. There are some good looking receivers that could be let go like Kenny Lawler (Bay Area guy), Tanner McEvoy, Antwan Goodley, or Kasen Williams. I don't think tight end Brandon Williams will get cut, but he looks like a good one. An injury to rookie Nick Vannett all but assured that Williams stays. On defense, defensive tackle Brandin Bryant, linebacker Eric Pinkins, linebacker Kache Palacio, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, cornerback DeAndre Elliott, and safety Steven Terrell could be on the chopping block. I'm not sure what your LB depth looks like but Pinkins and KPL seem like they could be Raider-y. I think Lambert will be released again. A surprise cut at corner would be Tye Smith, but if he gets out, someone will definitely pick him up.
3. Speaking of former Seahawks in Oakland, how have the Seahawks replaced Ken Norton Jr, Malcolm Smith, and Bruce Irvin?
All due respect to Norton, his departure opened up the door for a happy reunion with former Seattle great Lofa Tatupu. That is to say that when Norton left as the linebackers coach, they hired Michael Barrow (former players from 1993-2005) to replace him and then hired Tatupu as his assistant. I guess I hadn't really thought of it until now, but outside linebacker KJ Wright had his best season last year while middle linebacker Bobby Wagner seemed a little off. There was definitely a change in both of them but to be fair, the Seahawks had also changed defensive coordinators again when Dan Quinn left for the Falcons. They replaced him with Kris Richard, a former cornerback under Carroll at USC and then a player for Seattle.
I guess they replaced Malcolm Smith with Mike Morgan, a little bit. Smith wasn't a starter for the Seahawks, Just a super-sub and special teams guy. But Morgan's been around since 2011 (he also played under Carroll at USC, so other than one season for the Trojans, has played for Carroll for like 10 years) and he was a sub linebacker last season. Now he's actually replacing Irvin, believe it or not. He's moved to SAM linebacker and seems to have won that job over Pinkins and Cassius Marsh, though it'll be a shared position. Nobody looks like they're going to get on the field as much as Irvin did last year.
4. I really liked what the Seahawks did with their top three picks. Bulking up the lines with two first round products in Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed is smart and CJ Prosise was a dynamic talent at Notre Dame. What kind of contributions do you expect to see from them right away and/or long term?
I expect all three to have huge impacts right away.
Ifedi is the starting right guard and looks like an absolute mauler in the run game. He may end up as the best offensive lineman that the Seahawks have drafted under Pete Carroll, though that's not really saying much. Reed was showing a lot of promise as a run blocker but suffered a high ankle sprain in the second preseason game. He's not ruled out for Week 1 yet, but he could miss a game or two and it's slowing down his development. If healthy, I think he'll start getting a lot of snaps; though they drafted a DT in the fifth round named Quentin Jefferson, and he might be their steal of the draft class. He is Michael Bennett-esque in his size and style. Prosise also missed a lot of time, except he missed the first few weeks. They're starting to work him in more and I think he'll get a good amount of playing time on Thursday. I think he will be the full-time third down back almost immediately.
Long-term, I expect Ifedi to be a good tackle. I expect Reed to be a good run-stuffer in the middle who might develop a pass-rush too. And I think Prosise could catch 60-70 balls out of the backfield and be a decent runner and a great blocker.
5. Give me one intriguing player on each side of the ball who we could see a lot of playing time in this game?
On offense, I'd look for receiver Antwan Goodley. Without Tanner McEvoy (injured last week) playing, I think Goodley becomes the best receiver on the field when the starters are out. Of course, Boykin has made some really exciting plays in the preseason too that make him fun to watch. He's just very inconsistent.
On defense, it has to be safeties Kelcie McCray or Tyvis Powell. They traded a fifth round pick for McCray last year and I've heard the team really likes him and sees him as someone who could step in right away for Kam Chancellor now if necessary. Powell is an undrafted rookie free agent from Ohio State who they graded as being a fourth round pick and see as someone who could play safety or corner.
To see my answers to his questions, click here.