SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25: Sidney Rice #18 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch in front of A.J. Jefferson #20 of the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The wide receiver group should be an interesting one to watch during training camp and preseason, with ten current roster spots occupied by that position. The Seahawks started last season with six receivers on their initial 53-man roster in 2011 - Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, Kris Durham, and Doug Baldwin. Deon Butler started off on the PUP and Ricardo Lockette went to the practice squad. After the season, the Seahawks added Charly Martin and Isaiah Williams to the practice squad and they now make up a piece of the Seahawks offsesason roster, which is limited to 80 players but is made up of 74 players, presently, by my count.
I expect the Seahawks will make forays into the undrafted free agency ranks to try and strike gold with another developmental prospect or two in 2012, and the group of receivers in this year's draft class is very deep, from everything that I've been reading. Whether they'll use one of their six draft picks on a wideout remains to be seen, but I wouldn't put it past this front office, as they've made it known they're looking for 'touchdown' makers and will look to add as many weapons to Matt Flynn or Tarvaris Jackson's arsenal as possible to take pressure off the QB.
Final Roster Spot Projection:
This is a toughy. I'd say the only locks at this point are Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate. I would probably include Kris Durham in that group as well. After that, there are players I definitely think will be around, but wouldn't be shocked at a trade or release - Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler being the main 'bubble' guys in my mind. After that, Ricardo Lockette has a shot to make the 53-man roster this year, but it's certainly not as much of a sure thing to me as it appears to be to some. Two catches on straight line streak routes doesn't equate to much at this point; I'm waiting to see a guy that can run a variety of routes, change direction, with precision, with timing, block downfield, and/or go up and get a ball in a crowd. This front office talks about Lockette enough that it makes me assume he has some of those skills, but I haven't seen it yet. Certainly something to watch in the preseason.
Mike Williams is another divisive character when it comes to his roster spot and for what it's worth (so, so much, I'm sure), I sit firmly in the camp that believes he should and will stick around and play a key role on the team in 2012. I am aware of his struggles last year and his inconsistencies, but I think his overall talent and physical abilities still provide the team some very cheap potential and he still has quite a bit of upside. We shall see about that, I suppose.
My final roster projection is kind of a stab in the dark, but I'm going with:
Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Kris Durham, and a draft pick/UDFA. People like Obomanu a fair amount, and many would take him over BMW, but I honestly just don't see it with Obo. I see too many dropped passes, I think he's too passive in fighting for jump balls, he's not overly physical, he's a low-ceiling veteran, and I just don't think it's worth a roster spot to keep him if it means dropping a guy with higher upside like Durham, Tate, or an eventual draft pick, whoever that may be. I know I might get some flack for that, but that's my take.
Seahawks' Draft Interest:
The Hawks have hosted Oregon wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei (6'5, 220), Northern Illinois' Nathan Palmer (5'11, 195 4.3 40), Appalachian State's Brian Quick (6'4, 220), and Florida's Deonte Thompson (6'0, 195 4.3 40) to the VMAC for pre-draft visits, according to our tracking. These are all mid to later round/UDFA prospects with size and/or speed, and just hints that they are looking to hit that area hard again this year. I expect this position in particular will get a lot of attention after day three is over, due to the relative depth this year there. The Seahawks might have an edge too just from an attractiveness to prospects point of view, with the success of both Baldwin and Lockette last year as undrafted rookies.
Players to Watch:
The two main guys to watch early are Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd. If Blackmon falls to 12, there's enough reason to believe that the Seahawks would consider taking him then and there, and Floyd's been rising since the end of the college season, even peaking above Blackmon on some analysts' lists, (namely Greg Cosell).
Both players are big, downfield threats that would add a nice dimension to the Seahawks' offense but it's my personal opinion that they'll look to add these playmakers in the later rounds, looking for under the radar, value picks. Jay Glazer was on Brock and Salk this morning and was pretty adamant that the Hawks will take a pass rusher at 12 - and when Glazer talks, we all perk up and listen (though many around here, Rob Staton in particular, have been saying this for some time).
Regardless of projection, I just think that this front office probably thinks they can get more value in the later rounds at the receiver spot so a couple of guys you could keep your eyes on, in my opinion, include Cal's Marvin Jones, Illinois' A.J. Jenkins, Iowa's Marvin McNutt, Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, Miami's Tommy Streeter, UNC's Dwight Jones, South Dakota State's Dale Moss, and Wake Forest's Chris GIvens, to name a few. There are so many guys in this draft to like that it's hard to nail down a short list.
In the late rounds and rookie free agency, Chris Owusu is an intriguing prospect, though risky because of his history of concussions.