Assessing the Seahawks' Roster: Wide Receivers

In my armchair GM series of posts I gave you my take on what I think the Hawks should or could do at the wide receiver position. I think just because the Seahawks signed Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu to new contracts, many people believe or perceive the wide receiver position "set" as it were. I don't share this belief; I think we have the makings of a good start but if you ranked the Hawks receiver corps against some of the top teams in the league it would pale in comparison. With this in mind, I think the Hawks will attempt to build that position through rookie free agency and a possible trade or free agent signing in the offseason. 

In my offense article, I indicated the Hawks should invite 11 wide receivers to training camp: Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Kris Durham, Golden Tate, Dominique Edison, Isaiah Stanback, Dwayne Jarrett, Tori Gurley, Jeff Maehl, and Courtney Smith. I actually did think about this quite a bit and I'll explain each selection later in this article. But first, I'll lay it out for you:

On the roster:
Mike Williams
Ben Obomanu
Kris Durham
Golden Tate
Dominique Edison
Isaiah Stanback
Deon Butler
Chris Carter
Patrick Williams
Ruvell Martin

Possible options via trade or free agency:
Sidney Rice
James Jones
Braylon Edwards
Malcolm Floyd
Randy Moss
Mike Sims-Walker
Brandon Stokley

Possible signings to come in and compete in camp:
Dwayne Jarrett
Jeff Maehl
Terrance Tolliver
DeAndre Brown
Tori Gurley
Courtney Smith
Ricardo Lockette

The lowdown:

Mike Williams is a very good number two possession receiver but I don't think should be expected to play the role of a number one, vertical threat, attract the attention of the opposing defense at all times kind of guy. Ben Obomanu is a reliable flanker that has good hands and solid speed but at the moment doesn't jump off the screen at you as a pro-bowl caliber deep threat. Golden Tate is raw but talented, and could have potential as a very good slot receiver in the mold of Percy Harvin. Kris Durham was drafted, I believe, to be a deep threat on the outside by using his speed and length to attract the attention of opposing safeties. He is, however, very young and shouldn't really be counted on until year 3 or so.

Past those four players, what I see is a mish mash of potential and theoretical talent but no real locks to even make roster. Dominique Edison is a speed outside threat with potential to surprise some people, but has yet to show the general public anything of note. Deon Butler looks great on paper but hasn't produced in his short career and is recovering from a gruesome leg injury - his future is tenuous based on the injury alone. Chris Carter and Patrick Williams are two practice squad guys that I don't know a lot about but don't project to make the final cuts in 2011. Isaiah Stanback was a college QB that converted to WR once in the NFL and has yet to show us what he can do at either position. While I believe he's got a lot of potential, he tore his achilles tendon warming up for practice last training camp and his future remains in doubt based on that - often achilles injuries can rob an athlete of his quickness - Stanback's main draw. Ruvell Martin is a practice squad guy that made the most of his opportunities in 2010 and has rapport with Whitehurst, but lacks upside as he's already 28 and isn't going to win any footraces as the fastest guy on the field - he projects as a possible backup to Mike Williams in case he gets hurt again in 2011.

With that in mind, what do the Seahawks do? They could try and sign Sidney Rice as their number one receiver, but it would cost them an arm and a leg and Rice is injury prone to an extent. He's got experience with Darrell Bevell so I'm not ruling it out, but it would be a gamble nonetheless. I would, however, welcome his addition with open arms.

They could sign Braylon Edwards, a prototypical deep threat that has a history of drops and is a character concern. Because of the latter problem I don't see this happening. Same with Randy Moss.

The Hawks could pursue guys like James Jones, Malcolm Floyd, or Mike Sims-Walker and any one of those players would probably start day one opposite BMW. I wouldn't rule out Jones or Floyd but for some reason I just don't see Sims-Walker in Seattle. James Jones has a history with John Schneider and is looking for a team that would have him start. He has shown a problem with the drops but is a very physical and aggressive wide receiver whose upside is Anquan Boldin if he can eliminate some of those miscues. I wouldn't be sad if Jones were signed here - he plays sporadically in Green Bay and it's possible that playing every down could help with his drops. Perhaps a metaphor to baseball would be to compare him to an everyday player that has more success and comfort at the plate over a pinch hitter or platoon type player that gets only spot at-bats and situational playing time. Just a thought.

Floyd is a speed threat with size - he's 6'5 225 or so but I don't really see it happening since we just drafted similar athlete Kris Durham. Furthermore, Floyd was inconsistent as the number one receiver in Philip Rivers prolific offense so I'm not sure how much he projects to help in the Seahawks impotent passing offense. Finally, though I'd like to see Brandon Stokley back, my best guess is that he'll retire do to his history of concussions. He could definitely be the darkhorse though. 

I gave you my take on Dwayne Jarrett - I believe he has pretty good upside if he can get himself together, so I would be in favor of a tryout in training camp to assess. He scored 41 touchdowns in 3 years at USC under Pete Carroll. That is seriously ridiculous. Give him a shot, you lose nothing if he doesn't stick.

As for UDFA's - I split them into a couple categories. First, the outside, speed deep threat guys: Terrance Tolliver, Courtney Smith, and DeAndre Brown. Tolliver may be the best choice on paper but I believe that Smith and Brown have a much higher potential as all-around receivers. Brown, though possessing probably the most untapped potential, is a character concern and his work ethic has been questioned so in my take I went with Courtney Smith. If you remember the name it's because I profiled him pre-draft as a sleeper candidate. Also, the Seahawks were present at his pro-day (along with Greg McElroy) so there could be an interest there. He's a 6'4, 225 physical specimen with a good work ethic and desire to succeed. He was originally touted by some scouts because they believed he would run in the 4.3s at his pro day but only ran a 4.6. Because this was such a surprise to some, I believe it when I hear that he plays faster than that. He's got huge hands 9.5" and a ridiculous arm length of 33.75" that make him a huge target both over the middle and in the redzone. He's a solid downfield blocker and has the ability to gain separation that could set him apart from other similar athletes. He struggled with drops at the Senior Bowl, which may have led to him going undrafted. He's a good choice as a UDFA signee because of his upside and physical abilities. 

The second category for the UDFA's would be slot or possession receiver targets. Jeff Maehl was a solid producer at Oregon and has elite shiftiness and agility for a player his size. He wow'd a lot of people with his combine performance in the agility drills and I believe has the potential to be a very good slot receiver because of his ability to come out of his breaks and stop on a dime on his routes. He's still quite long for a receiver at 6'1 but potentially has that Wes Welker ability to get open underneath with his crisp route running and field awareness. He's a former safety that understands defensive coverages and has shown a fearlessness over the middle. He likely fell out of the draft due to limited physical upside at 6'1 180 and a sub-par 4.6 40. If I were the Hawks I'd give him a tryout.

The other slot guy that I'd consider bringing in is South Carolina's Tori Gurley. Gurley is another guy that suffered due to his slow 40 time and relative inexperience. He is however, a physical beast at 6'4 220 and has no fear over the middle. He has very solid hands and didn't drop a pass in 2010. He is good in yards after the catch and uses his body well to shield away defenders. He would be a perfect candidate as a slot receiver as he runs crisp routes and catches everything. He's also a red zone threat because of his size and physicality. Would create matchup problems lined up in the slot and is also a good run blocker. He'll catch on with an NFL team and I don't see why it shouldn't be the Seahawks. 

Ricardo Lockette is a guy that has been linked to the Seahawks and could very well end up out here. His main strength is his speed and explosive athletic ability. He was timed in the low 4.3s in the 40 and has good size at 6'2 211. He had a 39" vertical jump and has shown the ability to gain separation against corners. His physical potential will lead to some team taking a flyer on him as a deep threat but he has shown some limitations. First off, he was 3rd on his team in receptions at a lower level school. As a future NFLer you'd hope a guy would be blowing up the competition. He played in a wildcat offense though so that could have dampened his numbers. Overall he's an intriguing prospect with through the roof potential but at this point seems to be a project. 

There are countless other options as well but those are the guys that are on my radar at the moment.

Conclusion: 

Right now, to me, the locks to make the roster to start the season are Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, and Kris Durham. After that, I'd say that Dominique Edison has a lot of potential and physical upside so he has a shot. It wouldn't surprise me to see Deon Butler on the PUP list and I wouldn't be surprised to see a free agent wide receiver signed like James Jones or Malcolm Floyd. 

The receivers after that are muddled into a group of guys with potential but no one really stands out of the crowd at this point. Training camp will be exciting in that regard because a lot of guys will most likely be fighting for roster spots like we saw last season. The Hawks kept 6 WRs last season and if I had to pick that group I'd probably say Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, Kris Durham, Dominique Edison, and Tori Gurley. I have absolutely no confidence that this will happen though.

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