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Seahawks takeaways: Three observations from Seattle's preseason performances

Geno Smith wins the quarterback job, a pair of rookie cornerbacks make their mark and other observations as the Seahawks' preseason schedule wraps up.

SEATTLE — Editor's note: This story is part of KING 5's Seahawks season preview series. 

The Seahawks wrapped up their trio of preseason games Friday night in Dallas with a 28-27 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Although the Seahawks failed to win a single one of their exhibition games in August, preseason successes or failures tend to offer little indication of what a team will be capable of once the regular season gets underway.

For example, the Los Angeles Rams, who won the Super Bowl in February, also went 0-3 in the preseason prior to their title run. Their opponent in that Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals, went just 1-2 in their exhibition slate.

So what did we learn from Seattle's three preseason games? Here are a few takeaways as the countdown begins to Week 1 and a matchup with former Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos on national television.

Geno Smith wins QB job ... for now

After beginning training camp atop the depth chart, Smith indeed will be under center for Week 1 at Lumen Field. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll officially declared Smith the starter following Friday night's game in Dallas.

“He’s going to start the opener,” Carroll said postgame (h/t The Athletic). “He’s earned it, he’s won the job.”

Smith finished the preseason with 256 passing yards, throwing no touchdowns and no interceptions over 39 passing attempts. Smith also added a rushing touchdown, and ended up with an impressive 90.4 overall Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade.

Lock attempted the same number of passes as Smith, throwing three touchdown passes but also three interceptions, all of which came in the preseason finale against the Cowboys. Lock's final preseason PFF grade came in at just 70.5.

Missing the Seahawks' second preseason game due to a positive COVID-19 test, Lock played the majority of Friday night's game, but ultimately didn't do enough to outlast the veteran Smith for the starting job. Carroll long has put great value into not turning the ball over, and Smith's steadiness made him the clear choice coming out of the preseason. 

“It’s a huge statement, taking care of the football,” Carroll said. “We’ve been one of the best teams in the NFL over the last bunch of years taking care of the football and owning it. It’s really hard to get it away from us with the fumbles and stuff like that; our guys are fantastic at it. Decision-making goes along with that, treasuring that football. It’s so hard to win when you turn it over. We’ve lived for a long time with a big conscience about it. We’ll keep going.”

Carroll did acknowledge that Lock simply ran out of time to win the job, and if Smith struggles out of the gate or begins to turn the ball over with regularity, don't be surprised if the team makes a midseason change. Lock offers more potential at the position, but also brings with it much more volatility than Smith.

Rookie cornerbacks offer promise

The Seahawks used two of their nine draft picks earlier this year on cornerbacks, grabbing University of Cincinnati product Coby Bryant in the fourth round and University of Texas-San Antonio defensive back Tariq Woolen in the fifth round.

Both saw a lot of playing time throughout training camp and the three preseason games, and appeared to demonstrate starting potential.

Bryant has spent a lot of time at the nickel cornerback position, and that is likely where he will make his most significant impact in his rookie season. Bryant finished his first NFL preseason with a 56.7 PFF grade, and just a 51.1 mark in coverage. Bryant's run-stopping ability was much better, earning a 75.5 grade. NFL Network's Jason McCourty also named Bryant as one of his 5 "rookie defenders that are turning heads in preseason" list on Friday.

Woolen, whose size at 6-foot-4 and remarkable vertical leap and speed made him one of the draft's most athletic players, has drawn praise from many who have watched training camp practices at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center as well as the team's three preseason games.

Former Seahawks K.J. Wright believes Woolen should not just make the Week 1 53-man roster, but believes the rookie is talented enough to start against the Broncos.

“I fully expect him to start Week 1 at corner. He looks very, very good. So he’s been my favorite since Day 1,” Wright said to Stacy Jo Rost and Michael Bumpus on Seattle Sports 710 AM on Thursday.

Neither has been perfect, but both should be expected to make an impact on the Seahawks' defense early in the 2022 season.

Future looks bright at tackle spots

Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas both have made waves in their first NFL training camps, and both could wind up being Week 1 starters for the Seahawks.

Cross is a given after being selected No. 9 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. He has been the starting left tackle throughout training camp, and the organization hopes he holds down that position for many years to come. Cross' PFF grade was a 62.0 for the preseason, with a 72.2 pass-blocking grade and a 66.7 run-blocking grade. Cross did have 5 penalties called against him in the preseason, which will have to be cleaned up if the offense hopes to effectively sustain drives.

Locked On Seahawks host Corbin Smith logged 163 combined pass-blocking reps for Cross and Lucas, and they allowed just six QB pressures and no sacks between them.

Lucas has fought his way into the conversation to start at right tackle after being a third-round draft pick. The Washington State product started the preseason finale at right tackle with Jake Curhan playing right guard, indicating that Lucas likely will be in that spot once Week 1 rolls around. 

Lucas had a 74.3 PFF grade in the preseason, with a 73.8 pass-blocking grade and a 70.4 run-blocking grade.

Having a veteran at quarterback will be helpful with two rookies starting at the tackle spots, but both Cross and Lucas could just be the future of those critical offensive line positions going forward if they continue their development.

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