Who steps up?
Heading in to the 2012 Seahawks NFL draft there were three big questions for me. First, where are we going to find more pass rush? Second and third in no particular order had to do with the linebacker position and then the 3rd and 4th option at wide receiver.
Well, I quickly found out that John Schneider and Pete Carroll shared the fans concern with regards to the pass rush as they drafted Bruce Irvin 15th overall in the first round of the NFL draft.
Just like that, after the first two rounds I was all over the draft boards, who could the Seahawks be looking at for the wide receiver position?
They have to know that they need help at the position, the production outside of Doug Baldwin in 2011 was putrid and it didn’t appear that they were close to knowing who the starters were going to be heading in to 2012 outside of Baldwin and Sidney Rice.
It never came
The Seahawks didn’t draft a wide receiver, later John Schneider stated that he didn’t see the draft like any of the national “experts” did in that he didn’t think there was much talent drafted outside of the first round at the position.
Time will tell on that note, but one thing is for sure, the Seahawks really like some of the guys that didn’t play much last year or that weren’t productive more than I thought they did.
Let’s take a look at the wide receivers and I’ll give you my opinion on how it will play out.
What we know
Sidney Rice, if, yes it’s a big if, but if he can stay healthy and on the field is the team’s #1 option with little or no doubt. They paid him big money and believe he’s a game changer when healthy, as do I.
Sidney is the linchpin for this season if the Hawks are going to accomplish what they want to.
The Seahawks will play good if not great defense and I think they’ll run the ball with effectiveness much like at the end of last season, if Rice can have a dynamic year, then the sky is the limit for this Seahawks team in 2012.
Doug Baldwin is an excellent slot receiver. To be great at this position you must be a great student of the game, Doug Baldwin is a great student of the game. While many NFL players were on vacation in the off-season or headed back to wherever they call home, Doug had work to take care of, film to watch and plenty of it.
Any of you reading who follow Doug on twitter know just what I’m talking about, the Stanford product is relentless in his studies. The un-drafted rookie had 51 catches for 788 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2011, leading the team in all 3 categories.
Quick side note, if you don’t find that last line just a little sad, well, then you must be a Tarvaris Jackson apologist and there’s not much hope for you.
He’s already acknowledged that he’s focused on avoiding a sophomore slump and looks to build on a promising year, I believe he will.
A huge hole
The split end spot, occupied by Mike Williams in 2011 was among the least productive wide receiver spots in all of the NFL last season. The veteran managed just 18 catches, 236 yards and a single touchdown in the 12 games he was able to stay on the field.
On top of not being productive, he’s mentally weak.
For me it all starts with the fact that he wasn’t mentally tough enough to stay in shape to play football while being paid millions of dollars by the Detroit Lions. As a fan, I can’t even imagine what kind of a mental state I’d have to be in to blow a shot like that, and there’s rumors all over the internet that he’s got conditioning problems again this offseason.
Yes, this may have been planted in my head from day one but I know what I saw in 2010 when the Seahawks were busy getting trounced by the lowly Oakland Raiders, Williams checked out, he gave up.
This has been glossed over by too many of us fans, we all want to see good in a player, good in a person but sometimes it’s just not there.
The picture of Mike Williams sitting at the end of the bench, not saying anything to anybody with a towel on his head while his quarterback was still out there taking hit after hit will never leave the back of my mind.
Sometimes a player just doesn’t have the capacity to be great like we all want them to be. I believe this to be the case with Mike Williams.
Surely Tarvaris Jackson had something to do with the lack of production from Williams in 2011, but what does a good wide receiver do when they’re not getting the ball?
They try harder, they get in the face of the quarterback to let them know they’ve got their back and they demand the ball. Especially after the team’s top weapon in the passing game, Sidney Rice was out for the season.
Mike Williams will never be that type of player. Instead he pouted openly on the field and checked out of games mentally.
I’ve heard many of the beat writers that are in camp on a daily basis with the team say that Mike Williams is a leader as he’s always talking to the guys behind the scenes, always pumping them up when the cameras are off.
Well, frankly I don’t care about that, Williams doesn’t have what it takes on the field to pick himself up when the chips are down like they tend to get on an NFL field and persevere through it to make something happen.
What you say off the field doesn’t make any difference to me, it’s what you show on the field that matters.
The NFL is a results based business and there are many wide receivers that have tallied more stats in a single season than Williams has in a 5 year NFL career.
Needless to say, if BMW miraculously avoids the PUP list, heals from a broken leg and is starting opposite Sidney Rice this season then it’s because some of these other guys didn’t pan out like we hoped and I’ll be pretty upset.
I mean seriously, who calls themselves “The Fundraiser”? This wreaks of being in it for the wrong reasons to me.
The Seahawks should rid themselves of the 3 million dollar contract Williams is due this year before the season even starts.
The most intriguing name to me is Ricardo Lockette. He’s got good size, absolutely dynamic speed and the Seahawks need a consistent downfield threat in a bad way. Lockette has just two catches in his young NFL career in the two games he’s played, but both were game breaking deep routes.
One for 61 yards and the other for 44.
This kind of speed and play making ability is exactly what Marshawn Lynch and the running game need to spread a defense out and keep them from stacking the box.
At worst, Ricardo Lockette will be a situational guy to come in and get defenses off balance at the beginning of the season and could develop in his route running to become much more as the season progresses.
If there’s one thing I know from watching Pete Carroll at USC beating up on my Huskies all those years is that he loves running the ball, but he loves speedy receivers to get behind defenses and break games open just as much.
If Sidney Rice, eh hem, cough, cough, goes down like he has in the past, Lockette is my break out pick of the year.
The Nittany Lion
Deon Butler in my opinion will be hurt by the emergence of Lockette. The Seahawks already have undersized receivers and now they have a speed threat with NFL size. I just don’t see it working out for Deon in Seattle this year.
Top Pot Himself
Golden Tate has been a bit of a disappointment thus far in his young career. The second round pick of the 2010 NFL draft has had trouble adjusting to the precision routes it takes to be successful at his size in the NFL.
Tate did show some promise in the second half of the season in 2011 and for this, the fact that he’s acknowledged what his game is lacking and that he’s continually working hard to fix it, Tatewill have plenty of opportunities to be on the field in week one and make some plays in certain situations.
Will he make the most of them? Your guess is as good as mine, but I certainly hope so.
Tall & Fast & Raw
Kris Durham is next on the list. Kris had what appeared to be a bit of a mystery injury last season at the time, in fact some thought that the Seahawks were just clearing up roster room by putting him on IR last year.
Well, it turned out he was hurt and had surgery late last season to fix a torn labrum. Durham will be healthy and ready to rock come training camp.
Durham has that rare combination of elite size and good speed at the wide receiver position. Listed on the Seahawks roster at 6’6″ tall and 217 pounds, he also possesses 4.4 speed.
If we’re all to believe the “compete” mantra coming from Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, I believe Kris Durham will start opposite Sidney Rice in week 1 of the NFL season.
With good hands and the dynamic size/speed combo, in the end I don’t think Pete Carroll will be able to pass up putting him on the field.
Whats his name?
Ben Obomanu, now entering his 8th NFL season is what he is, an average NFL wide receiver at best. He’ll be on the team as depth, but will only see the field this season if there are injuries to other guys.
The two guys possibly fighting Obomanu for the last game day roster spot we should all know very well in the northwest. Jermaine Kearse, un-drafted free agent out of UW and Lavasier Tuinei out of Oregon.
Tuinei is a younger, tougher version of Mike Williams as he’s got size, not much speed and some pretty good hands. He’s also regarded as a good route runner with above average ball skills.
If the Seahawks are looking solely for depth at the WR position, Tuinei will make the team as he’s impressed at OTA’s thus far and we all know Pete Carroll likes size at this position.
On the flip side, Jermaine Kearse in my opinion will be the selection if the Seahawks are looking for additional help on special teams and situational play making ability.
Kearse is 6’1″ tall, 210 pounds and could be a play maker if there are injuries to the starters and he also has ideal size to contribute in many ways on special teams.
Seahawks WR Prediction
Like I said earlier, I believe Kris Durham is going to get the first shot when the preseason finishes to start opposite Sidney Rice with Doug Baldwin in the slot.
Golden Tate and Ricardo Lockette will certainly see plenty of action situationally and on the limited number of 4 and 5 wide receiver sets.
Rounding out my top 6 would be Obamanu, he’s the safe bet to be decent if needing to be called upon if and when injuries occur.
I truly believe this will be a year that a couple of these wide-outs have breakout seasons. We have an accurate quarterback in Matt Flynn, poised to make decisions quickly and create openings with his vision and his arm.
These are your weapons Mr.Flynn, let’s see what you can do with them…