Seahawks facing dilemma at running back this offseason

The Seattle Seahawks have a lot of talent at running back, but health questions leave them needing to add additional depth.

The Seahawks have some work to do on their roster this offseason. Their offensive line is still a mess. The need at least one cornerback, a pass rusher, and depth at linebacker. They also have to figure out what they want to do at running back.

After Marshawn Lynch retired a year ago, the Seahawks spent three draft picks on RBs. Unfortunately, that left them with more questions than answers as they prepare for the 2017 season.

CJ Prosise looked like a potential star last season. Seattle’s offense was a net 1.25 yards per play better than the NFL average when he was on the field. Even with the terrible offensive line, Prosise made Seattle’s offense look explosive.

The problem is that the team still has no idea if they can count on Prosise over a full season. A pair of serious injuries limited Prosise to only 30 rushing attempts in 2016. Asking him to carry the load all season in 2017 would be a serious risk.

The same is true for Thomas Rawls. His rookie season ended early with a broken ankle. His 2nd season started late after he broke his leg in Week 2 (he barely played in Week 1). He also missed time with various minor injuries throughout the season. Rawls never has a season in college where he didn’t miss games either.

Overall, the biggest issue with Rawls was that he was mostly ineffective in 2016. Rawls was amazing as a rookie in 2015, but in 2016 he was a below average player. Seattle averaged 0.42 fewer net yards per play with Rawls on the field than the NFL average. That’s 1.67 yards per play less than with Prosise in case you didn’t want to do the math yourself.

The only other back currently on the roster that played a significant role last season is Alex Collins. He struggled early on and then was a healthy scratch for a few games around midseason. He did some good things at the end of the season, but it is impossible to say that he did enough to know he can be counted on to be the lead back next year.

That puts the Seahawks in a tough spot. They have three backs who are all young and talented. They also all have major questions marks hanging over them.

These are the same three backs who were on the roster a year ago when Christine Michael led the team in rushing yards and TDs. Now the Seahawks look to enter 2017 counting on that trio to do what they couldn’t do in 2016: carry the offense.

Drafting another RB would help ease the concerns, but it would also create another problem. The Seahawks would be forced to choose between carrying an extra RB on the 53 man roster, or losing one of their young runners at the end of the preseason.

Ultimately, Seattle will probably bring in a low-priced veteran free agent to be the safety net. It would have to be someone they be comfortable with carrying part of the load should of the trio fails. It would also have to be someone who the team would be ok with cutting if all three youngsters are heathy and ready to contribute for Week 1.

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