Official Field Gulls Endorsement: Craig Stevens

Ever since the Jerramy Stevens experiment started producing noxious fumes, fans have cried for Seattle to take a top tight end in the first round. Seattle has needed a tight end since time immemorial, or at least since big papa Walrus took the reigns in `99. I mean, c’mon, we all know how essential the position to Holmgren’s offense. Funny thing is, Seattle has never needed a tight end, well, ever. They’ve done just fine with the Itula Milis and Marcus Pollards of the world.

In 2007, Seattle had the 9th best passing offense in football. The key skill position players in that offense were: Bobby Engram (20.0% DVOA), Marcus Pollard (27.4% DVOA), Leonard Weaver (16.7% DVOA), and Maurice Morris (22.2% DVOA). With all due respect, scrubs all. Matt Hasselbeck, a very good pass blocking line, two never healthy wide receivers, and a bunch of scrubs. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Perhaps the foremost reason for the West Coast Offense’s success is how undemanding it is on its receivers. If look at some of the most successful WCOs of all time, their ranks are filled with scrubs. MOR skill position players enjoying an unexpected big year. If we isolate it to the three coaches in the NFL with the most Holmgren like offenses, Jon Gruden, Andy Reid and, of course, Mike Holmgren, in year’s that team's finished in the top 10 passing DVOA, and list those teams' top 3 (as ranked by DVOA) receivers (WR, TE or RB) with 5 or more DPAR,  you’ll see a less than star-studded collection of talent:

2007

Sea:(9th) Pollard, Weaver, Morris

2006

Phi:(5th) Reggie Brown, Greg Lewis, Correll Buckhalter

2005

Sea:(4th) Jerramy Stevens, Darrell Jackson, Joe Jurevicius

2004

Phi:(10th) Terrell Owens, Brian Westbrook, Todd Pinkston

2003

Sea:(4th) Morris, Mili, Mack Strong

2002

Sea:(10th) Engram, Koren Robinson, Mili

2001

Oak:(2nd) Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Charlie Garner

2000

Oak:(5th) Randy Jordan (FB), Rickey Dudley (TE), Brown

Three legitimate HOFers that, with the exception of Owens, were all well past their prime; one superstar rusher, Charlie Garner and scrubs. The best tight end of the bunch, maybe Stevens, maybe LJ Smith (not listed). You can’t forget Rickey Dudley. 8 top offenses over 8 years and not a top tight end between them.

The next thing to consider is, why take a tight end in such a weak class? You have to wonder about a class in which Brad Cottam is receiving first day consideration. (Cottam is kind of the tight end equivalent of Jordan Kent.) If Seattle jumps into the second round run, lets need and scarcity dictate their pick rather than value, they’ll almost certainly be stuck with a tight end that couldn’t crack the third round next year. Yeah, next year is a pretty sweet tight end class.

So, in light of how little Seattle needs a tight end, and how poor this class is, is there someone Seattle could grab that would be cheap, have little downside, can contribute immediately, and won’t get in the way when Seattle drafts their starter in 2009? Better believe it.

Craig Stevens.

The fast, brutish, vicious blocker from Cal. This guy:

 

No, he’s never going to be much of a receiver, but he’ll enter the NFL a top ten blocking tight end. He’ll stick. When the Hawks reach the red zone and Jeb Putzier takes a powder, Stevens is the perfect compliment. When Seattle finally finds their "tight end of the future", Stevens will still be around, a better, faster, more talented Will Heller. And when the Hawks are on the clock in the 4th, this is who I think they’ll take, Mr. Knockdown Block, Craig Stevens. And I'd be cool with that.

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