By Jarrod Patterson @J_M_Patterson on June 19, 2014
In just four short seasons, the Seattle Seahawks have gone from a team with little-to-no blue chip talent to a team literally packed with superstars. Having arguably the most talented roster in the NFL top-to-bottom, it's hard to identify potential breakout candidates on the depth chart. Yet, regardless of public perception, there are a number of stars-in-the-making residing in the Pacific Northwest -- some of which you may have never heard of.
Carpenter was on the verge of being labeled a bust prior to Seattle's Super Bowl run last year. A first-round draft pick in 2011, Carpenter was supposed to lock down the right tackle spot for years to come. Unfortunately, it appeared a series of injuries derailed his once promising career -- until last season that is. Carpenter was not only impressive throughout the playoffs; he's coming off the best offseason of his career and healthy as ever.
Hill was a third-round draft pick from Penn State in 2013. As a rookie, playing time was sporadic due to inexperience and injuries, but the 6-foot-1 303-pound defensive tackle flashed potential at times, posting 1.5 sacks while playing sparingly in four games. He now appears ready to take on a much larger role in 2014, which is seemingly a strong possibility given the fact Seattle allowed Clinton MacDonald and Red Bryant to walk via free agency.
Kearse, a former University of Washington superstar, signed as a priority free agent with his hometown Seattle Seahawks after going undrafted in 2012. While most people didn't even think Kearse would make the team, he managed to persevere against all odds. Two years later, Kearse had four receptions for 65 yards and a TD in the franchise's first ever Super Bowl victory. That likely earned him a few extra reps this summer.
It may be strange to see the reigning Super Bowl MVP as a potential breakout candidate, but the fact is Malcolm Smith may be the least known recipient of the award for some time. Heading into the playoffs, few fans knew who Smith was. He had split time at several linebacker positions and was often only featured on passing downs. However, regardless of his relative obscurity, Smith has earned every opportunity with his playoff heroics.
Byron Maxwell may very well have earned his place within the NFL's most prestigious Defensive-Backs-Only Club known league-wide as The Legion of Boom in just five regular season starts. Incredibly, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound cornerback proved a star-in-the-making last year posting an amazing 28 tackles, 12 passes defensed, four interceptions and one forced fumble, managing to not only replace Brandon Browner but upgrade the position in the process.
Seahawk fans worldwide breathed a collective sigh of relief as starting RB Marshawn Lynch decided not to hold out but rather to play in "good faith", hoping management will give him a new contract soon. In the meantime, fans got a close-up view of the Seahawks' future at the position in Christine Michael. With the vision, strength and elusiveness to be a three-down back in the NFL, Michael's time in Seattle is coming sooner than later.
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