Seattle Seahawks: Assessing the Wide Receivers

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Hi everybody. My name is Kenneth and I write for Field Gulls. Maybe you haven't heard of me if you're a regular here, but I actually write on this website about three times per week and sometimes more! Plus videos! But it's understandable if you have no idea that I work for Field Gulls and have been doing so for awhile.

Today I want to talk about the Seahawks wide receivers and also the importance of wide receivers in today's NFL. The Green Bay model is probably the model that many teams would like to emulate, have tried to emulate, and its possible that Seattle is indeed trying to get a group as good as what the Packers have. Green Bay invested heavily in the draft in building up this group of pass-catchers and I want to take a look at exactly what it is that the Packers have in that group:

#1 Greg Jennings, 2nd round pick, 5'11", 198 lbs

#2 Jordy Nelson, 2nd round pick, 6'3", 217 lbs

#3 James Jones, 3rd round pick, 6'1". 208 lbs

#4 Donald Driver, 7th round pick, 6'0", 194 lbs

#5 Randall Cobb, 2nd round pick, 5'10", 192 lbs

TE Jermichael Finley, 3rd round pick, 6'5", 247 lbs

The Packers have not typically gone for tall players, it seems, on offense. Aaron Rodgers is 6'2", and the tallest wide receiver is Nelson at 6'3" and the shortest being Cobb at 5'10". The Packers haven't spent a first round pick on any of these players but have used second round picks on three of them, which is a high selection for any wide receiver not thought to be a prototypical "number one" wide receiver.

With that group, Rodgers had one of the best seasons in NFL history with 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns with 68.3% completions, 9.2 yards per attempt and a 122.5 QB rating. Rodgers is a great quarterback, but certainly a lot of that has to do with the wide receivers and the offensive line, not to mention having an elite tight end.

So, how does that compare to the group of receivers and tight ends that the Seahawks have collected?

#1 Sidney Rice, 2nd round pick by the Vikings, 6'4", 202 lbs

#2 Mike Williams, 1st round pick by the Lions, 6'5", 241 lbs

#3 Doug Baldwin, UDFA, 5'10, 198 lbs

#4 Golden Tate, 2nd round pick, 5'10, 202 lbs

#5 Ben Obomanu, 7th round pick, 6'1", 204 lbs

#6 Ricardo Lockette, UDFA, 6'2", 211 lbs

#7 Kris Durham, 4th round pick, 6'5", 215 lbs

#8 Deon Butler, 3rd round pick, 5'10", 182 lbs

Others: Lavasier Tuinei, Jermaine Kearse, Phil Bates

TE Zach Miller, 2nd round pick by the Raiders, 6'5", 255 lbs

TE Kellen Winslow Jr, 1st round pick by the Buccaneers Browns, 6'4", 240 lbs

Don't put too much stock in the numbers that I placed next to the names.

Rice is the ideal number one wide receiver when he's able to stay healthy. The issue is that he has played five NFL seasons but only had one season when he topped 500 yards. Believe it or not, his 2011 season was the 2nd best of his career. The best season of his career, 2009, he played in 16 games and had 1,312 yards. There were a few plays for the Hawks last season where you could see the potential that Rice has to be a dominating number one wide receiver, but he needs to stay healthy if he's going to utilize his size, speed, and hands to give opposing cornerbacks a headache.

Baldwin is the ideal slot receiver and he was one of the top five rookie receivers last season, if not the second-best, despite not being drafted. His size compares to Greg Jennings, but he's well-suited to run routes in the middle and make first down catches. Given a better quarterback, he could certainly start topping 1,000 yards every season.

The biggest issue right now is finding out who should and could play opposite Rice. Williams was supposed to be the guy but facing inconsistency in 2011 and current health issues, it's no longer his job to lose. The main candidates are probably Tate, Durham, and Lockette, all of whom bring a different set of skills to that position. Durham is the tallest of the group, but he didn't show up much in 2011. That's not a death sentence though, Jordy Nelson didn't really produce a lot until last year, which was his fourth season in the league.

Lockette is still very raw and probably could be seen more in the Randall Cobb role. Bringing speed and "big play" ability on fewer snaps per game than a player who is able to do more on the field consistently, such as blocking. It would be easy to say that Lockette could very well be ready to be a starting wide receiver, but I'm not going to make that judgment based on a guy coming off of a two-catch season. We all know about the praise that Pete and John have given to Ricardo, but he's a longshot. That didn't stop Victor Cruz from just having one of the best seasons in the NFL last season, but exceptions are exceptions for a reason.

Tate is the most interesting to me, and my best guess for a guy that could start this season opposite of Rice. He's entering his third season, a good time for receivers to typically start living up to those expectations that they had when they were drafted. He showed some excellent pass-catching abilities when given opportunities late in the season and he showed early in his rookie season that he has big play ability. It's up to Tate to compete, be consistent, fight for the job and beat out the guys that haven't done as much, shown as much, and didn't have quite the potential coming out of school that Tate had. He's quick, shifty, and he can make the "wow" catch.

I think my ideal situation would be Rice and Tate as starters, Baldwin in the slot, Durham and Lockette coming in on bigger spread formations with Obo, BMW, or Butler as depth. We've seen what Williams can bring to the table, but the question is what will he bring to the table? We had high expectations going into 2011 and we were let down. Danny Kelly showed where he still had value, but is it value that can't be shown from Durham? The Packers managed to break records without any tall receivers, and the Hawks have three guys 6'4" and taller.

Do we need all of them? Certainly, Durham could also be on the chopping block if he doesn't show something in the off-season and pre-season.

The Packers and Seahawks receivers aren't physically similar but Seattle has built up quite a core of potential but nothing much in terms of actual on-field production as of yet. We can't ignore that going into the last couple of years, Donald Driver was an established #1 or a #2 receiver for a considerable amount of time. Jennings was an established number one. Jordy Nelson was coming off of a huge playoff performance. James Jones has shown ability in the past as well.

Seattle has a lot of potential at the position but we need to see these players stay healthy and live up to their expectations, and in some cases they need to far surpass expectations. The most reliable receiver we have right now is a second-year undrafted free agent slot receiver. Over the next few months, Pete will have his receivers fight their asses off to win the starting jobs and while the potential is there, we don't quite know yet who will show up and who will get cut.

But it's going to perhaps be the most interesting and important battle of the summer.

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