Quarterbacks (2) – Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin
One of these goes without saying, the other could have lost his job earlier in the offseason especially with a certain former 49ers quarterback coming in for a workout. Having seemingly weathered that storm, and provided he can keep his nose clean, these two positions are locked in for the foreseeable future. We can't discount Austin Davis in all of this, but I feel Boykin mirrors Wilson much better and holds the advantage.
Running Backs (4) – Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins
I have ranked these guys in starting order and you may feel that Lacy has been bought in to be the starter, but I feel you have to go with what you know — and we know Rawls to be a light version of Beast Mode. The Lions game alone proved what the guy can do when fully fit and firing. The signing of Lacy is intriguing though, as once he recovers from his surgery and is a full participant we could have two legitimate number one running backs (which with the money they are both being paid this season is a nice problem to have). Prosise and Collins both are secure with their jobs with Prosise being primed for a 3rd down role to rival the best in the NFL.
Tight End / Fullback (3/1) – Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett, Marcel Reece
Not much to say about the tight end room as these 3 guys are locked in. Fullback, however, is a different proposition. I think we could go into the season without a defined player here with the option, providing no one else picks him up, to bring back Marcel Reece to fill the role after he ably demonstrated last season.
Wide Receivers (6) – Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Jermaine Kearse, Amara Darboh, Tanner McEvoy
The first two are set in stone. The battle really comes from who's the third guy to fill that role. After holding the position down for most of his career to this point Jermaine Kearse saw a drop off in play which drew the anger of a lot of ‘Hawks fans last season, whereas P-Rich excelled in making spectacular, if suspicious (Lions game), catches after Lockett went down. I'm a big fan of McEvoy, but his toe surgery this offseason has left Pete sounding less than enthusiastic of his chances to make the final roster.
Offensive Line (9) – George Fant, Luke Joeckel, Justin Britt, Mark Glowinski, Germain Ifedi, Jordan Roos, Ethan Pocic, Oday Aboushi, Rees Odhiambo
I have placed the first 5 in position order so as unhappy as it will make Adam. George Fant will continue as the left tackle. The rest of the starting line fills itself in for me with healthy backups/competition for all roles with the versatile other 4 guys.
Defensive End (5) – Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark, Malik McDowell, Cassius Marsh
Maybe the easiest group to pick. After initially being high on Dion Jordan when he was drafted, if a guy looks like a bust and plays like a bust he is probably a bust so unfortunately for him he misses the cut. McDowell makes it into my 53 at DE just for his sheer athleticism and Cassius is the best player on the team, I just need everyone else to catch up to my way of thinking here.
Defensive Tackle (4) – Jarran Reed, Ahtyba Rubin, Quinton Jefferson, Nazair Jones
Reed and Rubin are your clear starters here but its nice to have a some backup in the shape of space eater Nazair Jones and second year prospect Jefferson who if he can get fit can be in my opinion a real asset to the DL.
Linebacker (5) – Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Michael Wilhoite, Arthur Brown, Kevin Pierre-Louis
Bobby was and still is the best linebacker in the entire NFL. KJ Wright isn't too far from that level either. All we need is solid play from the other starter if we decide to go that way. Last season KPL failed to really establish himself as the clear starter so Pete and John went out to try and solve that problem bringing in numerous linebackers. I'd expect Wilhoite to make the role his this year.
Saftey (5) – Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill
Along with defensive end, this is the clearest defined position group on the team with the best tandem of safeties still just in their prime. McDougald is a clear improvement on last seasons backups and can play both safety positions — that's a major upside. Two rookies make up the rest with Thompson having the higher upside of them.
Cornerbacks (6* 1 potentially on PUP) – Richard Sherman, Desahwn Shead (potential PUP), Jeremy Lane, Shaquill Griffin, Neiko Thorpe, Mike Tyson
The chances of Shead being back for the opener are at this stage 50/50, Lane failed to impress me personally opposite Sherman last season i can see a shock here with Griffin taking the starting spot if not by the start of the season definitely by the end of it.
Special Teams (3) – Blair Walsh, Jon Ryan, Tyler Ott
Not much to go in to here. Ott performed better than Freese when he took over last season and even with an arguably better kicker in Dan Carpenter still walking the streets it looks like we are going with the Jipp-Master Blair Walsh as our kicker this year. Remember last season when you were getting on Hauschka's back for missing kicks …… yeah that!