Here we go with another look at what another of the pre-season magazines is saying about the Seahawks. Today, it’s Athlon’s (that’s the regional Seattle cover above).
A year ago, Athlon’s picked the 49ers to beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl, after predicting that San Francisco would beat the Seahawks in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
This year, Athlon’s is picking the Seahawks to get back to the Super Bowl — but this time, they see Denver getting revenge and beating the Seahawks. Athlon’s pegs the Seahawks to win the NFC West and then beat the Cardinals in the Divisional round (picking both the 49ers and Arizona to make it as wildcard teams) and then beat the Packers in the NFC Title game.
“Defending champs have very few weaknesses,” Athlon’s writes in its overview of the Seahawks. But in picking Denver to win the Super Bowl, Athlon’s writes: “Improved D will carry the Broncos to Super Bowl crown.”
Athlon’s doesn’t foresee the Seahawks winning any of the individual honors, picking LeSean McCoy and Ndamukong Suh as the NFC Offensive and Defensive players of the year.
Like some of the other magazines, Athlon’s rates players at each position (using the rankings of Ourlad’s NFL Scouting Services). You can actually find some of those rankings here).
Here is what they say about some of the Seahawks:
— Russell Wilson is picked as the No. 6 QB with Athlon’s writing: “Has now officially answered all of the questions about his height, arm strength and ability to win from the pocket.”
—Marshawn Lynch is the No. 4 running back, with Athlon’s writing: “His physical running style is catching up to him despite being only 28.”
— Percy Harvin is the No. 12 receiver (but with no comment, those reserved for players at the top of the rankings).
— Max Unger is the No. 19 center and Russell Okung the No. 16 tackle, the only two Seahawks ranked among the top 20 at any of the offensive line positions.
— Brandon Mebane is the No. 13 defensive tackle and Tony McDaniel No. 26. Also, Kevin Williams, listed as a free agent but having since signed with Seattle, is at No. 22.
— Bobby Wagner is listed as the No. 10 middle linebacker, with Athlon’s writing: “Battled an injury in 2013 after an outstanding rookie campaign. A quick and explosive reactor who attacks blockers. Has good range and takes good downfield angles in pursuit.”
— Malcolm Smith is listed as the No. 11 and K.J. Wright the No. 20 OLB.
— Richard Sherman is the No. 1 cornerback, with Athlon’s writing: “No one has more than the 20 interceptions he has collected since 2011. A smart and aggressive playmaker who is highly competitive. Good hands and hip flexibility. Uses height (6-3) and length to his advantage.” Bryon Maxwell also comes in at No. 12.
— Earl Thomas is rated as the No. 1 safety and Kam Chancellor comes in at No. 12. Writes Athlon’s of Thomas: “The best free safety in the league and a defensive leader. A safety with corner skills. Has an inside feel for secondary play. Competitive and aggressive. Can force the run coming downhill or play the ball deep down the field.” And of Chancellor: “One of the largest safeties in the league and has had several splash-type collisions over his career. His coverage skills have gotten better each year has been in the league.”
— In its overall ratings of the top 50 players, Sherman comes in at No. 9 with Thomas at 12, Wilson at 24 and Lynch at 35.
And as the cover indicates, there is a Q-and-A with Sherman in which he says, among other things, that Doug Baldwin is the toughest receiver for him to cover, but that if he has to pick an opponent it would be Calvin Johnson and that Dallas is his favorite opposing stadium to play in.