Entering the offseason, the Seattle Seahawks had a number of needs to fill. The team lost starting offensive lineman Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy, as well as linebacker Bruce Irvin to free agency. These departures created needs on the offensive line and at linebacker. There was also a lack of depth along the defensive line.
However, one area where the need was less pronounced was at running back. Following the retirement of longtime starter Marshawn Lynch, Seattle was assured of having a different look in the backfield in 2016.
Thomas Rawls filled in well for Lynch last season when the veteran missed time due to injury. Rawls amassed 830 yards rushing yards and five total touchdowns in just 13 games. Of those 13, he only started seven. What’s more, the rookie led the league with 5.6 yards per attempt.
He is coming off a broken ankle that shortened his rookie campaign, but Rawls will likely lead the way again in 2016 where the Seahawks backfield is concerned. After the ankle injury, Seattle may look to lessen his workload somewhat to prevent further injuries.
After Rawls went down, the Seahawks were forced to use a combination of Christine Michael, DuJuan Harris and Bryce Brown to fill in as the lead back. Of the three, only Michael remains on the roster.
Before the draft, Michael, Rawls and Canadian Football League product Cameron Marshall were the only running backs on the team. In other words, depth was needed.
As the NFL draft rolled around, Seattle filled needs on both the offensive and defensive line with the team’s first two picks.
However, with the team’s third pick—the 90th-overall selection in the third round— the Seahawks took a running back. Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise was the pick, and right away he adds depth and a different element to the Seattle backfield.
A converted receiver, Prosise topped 1,000 yards (1,032 to be exact) and scored 11 time son the ground during his final year in South Bend. With the Hawks he’ll likely contribute in a similar fashion to Fred Jackson, who was the team’s third-down back last year.
Thanks to his background as a receiver, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the rookie lined up outside every now and again. Pete Carroll has done this in the past with Lynch and Jackson, so Prosise could be making an impact on more than just third down plays.
Another area where Prosise could make an impact is on special teams. He was recruited to Notre Dame as a defensive back, and showed well on special teams in college. He’ll play all over the field for Carroll and company.
After taking Prosise in the third round, the Seahawks added Arkansas running back Alex Collins in the fifth round with the 171st-overall pick. Collins is more of a workhorse back. In three seasons in college, he topped 1,000 yards each season, finishing with 3,703 total. The running back saved his best for last, amassing 1,577 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015. He’ll make an impact during his rookie season.
The last of the three running backs taken by Seattle in the 2016 NFL Draft was Zac Brooks. Like Prosise, Brooks is a converted receiver and is a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. He didn’t play too much at Clemson, but he has a chance to contribute thanks to his outstanding speed and upside.
Not only did the Seahawks add some much-needed depth, they drafted three running backs who bring different things to the table. Prosise can line up out wide and excel as a pass catcher, among other things. Collins is more of a like-for-life backup to Rawls in the sense that both are bigger threats to make plays on the ground than through the air. Last but not least is Brooks, who adds an exciting speed element to the mix.
With Marshawn Lynch retired, the Seattle Seahawks have a ready-made replacement in Thomas Rawls. Thanks to the draft, the team not only has depth at the running back position, but running backs who can be used in a variety of ways to attack opposing defenses