Free Agents vs. NFL Draft - Wide Receivers

In the first article of this series I looked at free agents and draft hopefulls at defensive end. This time I'm going to take a closer look into wide receivers. It can be argued that we don't need any wide receivers. Baldwin was an undrafted rookie that led the team, Sidney Rice the high priced free agent signing of last off season, not to mention the new contracts that Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu signed last year. I haven't even mentioned Golden Tate who started to show life mid/late season, Deon Butler who was promising in 2010 but missed most of 2011 due to injury, Kris Durham drafted last year, and the wild card Ricardo Lockette. That's a pretty deep bunch of wideouts. I don't think it's good enough, but more importantly I dont think Pete Carroll thinks so either. Here is the quote from Pete Carroll:

"You're always looking for touchdown makers on offense," Carroll said. "You always want to get guys that can score. So if there's a wide receiver in the draft that would be cool, if there's a big-time running back that would be cool."

We'll address the running back portion of that quote at a later time, Pete Carroll mentioned specifically draft, but do you wait and hope your guy isn't taken or if there is a guy sitting there in free agency, do you take him? Well you take him. First though, you have to determine who on the roster you are going to keep and let go. My list of WRs to let go are as follows: Mike Williams - vanished this year, love his height in the redzone, but he can't seem to get open or targeted there. He played in 12 games and got 18 receptions... 18!! For our #2 WR, unacceptable. Ben Obomanu I would also let go. Nothing wrong with the kid he's been great for a 7th round pick, he's just not better than the guys I'm keeping. Deon Butler - First, I hate that he is on my cut list. I really like him. A 3rd round pick in 2009, good hands and work ethic, but it's a numbers game and slot receiver is full. That's my cut list for now, but depending on how free agency and draft go, there may be more.

So what does that leave us with? Rice is your starting #1, as it stands Ricardo Lockette would be best option at #2, your slot receiver is Baldwin, #4 is Tate and your what call your possession receiver is Kris Durham. Rice as we know is injury prone. Lockette although has tremendous potential is untested. Our slot guys are awesome, Baldwin and Tate likely to rotate, with Tate getting in as well when we are in a 4 WR set. Kris Durham in my opinion is the best route runner on this team, and has great hands. He's 6'6" and should get a lot of looks in the redzone as well. So in my opinion we need a starting #2 at least, and that is where I'll focus. There are some big name WRs out there, but I will avoid going into those here, I don't think front office would consider adding: Vincent Jackson, Wes Welker, Marques Colston, or Mike Wallace (RFA)... although any one of them would be awesome I admit. OK, here you go:

Free Agents:

Dwayne Bowe - KC Chiefs - back to back 1000 yard seasons. He didn't come close to his playmaking 15 TDs he had in 2010, but he's a good wide receiver to compliment Rice. I know he's a #1 in KC, but I don't see him in the same league as the ones I mentioned above. He can also slip into #1 when (or if... can't assume) Rice goes down with injury.

Mario Manningham - NY Giants - Nicks and Cruz are your main targets in NY and I think they let Manningham go due to not wanting to tie up more money in WR. Manningham missed some time with a knee injury this season, but it's nothing major. Last year 60 receptions and 57 the year before that. Consistant.

Pierre Garcon - Colts - Probably one of the more interesting names on this list. He can break off long receptions and is a playmaker. His main problem is dropping the football. He's only 26 and lightning fast. 765, 784, 947 were his receiving yards the last 3 years.

Reggie Wayne - Colts - What? News flash, Wayne is no longer a #1 WR. He's 34 years old but will still have a lot of value to someone as a #2... us. Why? Lockette, Baldwin, Tate and Durham were either rookies or 2nd year guys. They need a veteran WR to help them out. What? Rice? He'll tell the kids how to deal with being injured. Wayne would be perfect for that roll and can still play football... maybe he just had a down year but that along with age will scare some teams away. 75 receptions for 960 this year.

Stevie Johnson - Bills - I actually really like him. I'm on the east coast so I get a few more opportunities to see him play than maybe those out west. The knock on him... he's undisciplined. He plays with emotion which isn't bad, but it is if you cant channel it. He's not a true #1 WR, his skills are best suited being #2 and next to Rice, would be great.

There were a few others I didnt put here (Laurent Robinson - injury prone, Desean Jackson - headcase, and Brandon Lloyd - interesting but can't list everyone).

NFL Draft:

This draft class is pretty interesting. I think this class is deep, not deep in elite WRs, but deep in good solid WRs. Now because of the depth here, I'll write up a couple that could be our first round pick if Carroll descides to go there, a couple of potential 2nd round potentials and a couple of sleepers to spread it out a bit.

Justin Blackmon - Oklahoma State - 6'1" 208lbs - It is very possible that he could be there at 11/12. With this class and it's depth, you could see teams in need like the Rams or Jags pass on WR in the first and take one in the 2nd round and still get a solid prospect. Blackmon makes plays, he's got wheels and is a good route runner. Blackmon constantly received double teams and still wound up with 100+ yard games consistantly. He's the best hands down, no doubt about it in this draft class.

Dwight Jones - North Carolina - 6'3" 228lbs - Don't let the weight fool you, he is a very fast, physical receiver and is tough to bring down. He has good hands, 85 receptions 1196 yards and 12 TDs this year. Watch his combine and proday... you'll be impressed. His 85 receptions may seem low compared to others projected in 1st round (Blackmon - 121; Kendall Wright - 108; Michael Floyd - 100), but he does everything well and didn't have a good QB throwing him the ball.

Marvin McNutt - Iowa - 6'3" 216lbs - Remember this name in the 2nd round! He does everything well: good hands, good speed, good routes and good blocker. He finds another gear to beat you downfield. He averaged more yards per catch than any of the wide receivers I mentioned in the first round with 16 yards per catch and had 12 TDs.

Nick Toon - Wisconsin - 6'3" 217lbs - Toon will be a 2nd round pick because of his NFL roots. His father Al Toon played for 8 years with the Jets. This version is a bit of a puzzle. Wisconsin is a running team so Toon's production may not be up there, but from what I've read is likely the best blocking WR in this class. Don't misunderstand, yes he can catch too. He's a good route runner as well. I do like him from what I've seen... I want to see more at the combine.

Jordan White - Western Michican - 6'0" 215 - I admit I didn't know anything about him until I started looking over wide receivers this week. In hindsight, how could I have missed him? He led the nation in receptions with 140! He also posted 1911 yards and 17 TDs. So umm why isn't he first overall pick in the draft? Small school syndrome, but there is some talent to be sure. He can stretch the field but virtually untested. 3rd round or later sleeper.

Risard Matthews - Nevada - 6'2" 215 lbs - Another smallish school kid with skills. Colin Kaeperneck's main target before he was drafted by the 49ers last year. His production without an NFL calibre QB throwing him the ball this year? Even better... 91 receptions 1364 yards, compared to 56 rec 879 yds with Kaepernick. I havent been able to find much film on him, but oddly enough was able to find a 40 time of 4.5. 4th or 5th round.

Well there you have it. These are the players I think would fit well with the Seahawks in that #2 WR position. If nothing else, we need depth at #2, and that has that skill set to slide over to number #1 in the case of injury. I ask you, which way should the Seahawks go? Free Agency or Draft? Or make your arguement for keeping what we have. Personally, I think for WR that the free agent option is better, unless we can draft Blackmon, but even then is WR what we want from our 1st round pick? He's likely the best player on the board if he's there at 11/12 so yes you take him. Any of the WRs I mentioned I'd take over a drafted WR. I like what we have with young WRs and Lockette is no different than bringing in a WR from the draft... he's just as fresh, but has 1 more year with the playbook. We need the veteran WR though to compliment this group... we are very young. What do you think?

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