"At least for mini-camps, the undrafted free agent [that has the best chance to be this year's 'Doug Baldwin' story] was undoubtedly Phil Bates, the wide receiver from Ohio. 6'1, 220 pounds, he played quarterback most of the time while with the Bobcats, and you know, he wasn't very successful as a quarterback -- he was more of a read option quarterback -- he's athletic, has a big arm, but sometimes wasn't very accurate. He moved over to wide receiver -- he wasn't very productive, I think he only had one touchdown and maybe a few dozen catches on the season -- but at the same time, I gotta tell you: When I watched him in mini-camp, I thought -- 'This is a grown-ass man."
"[Bates] is an impressive looking physical specimen, who, really, if the Seahawks had invested a middle-round draft pick in him, I would have been pleased as punch, based on what I saw at mini-camp. As an undrafted free agent playing at the wide receive position, it's easy to make a good, quick first impression, but what was most impressive, I thought, about him, was that he was truly working on his routes, he showed the natural burst out of his breaks that you're looking for. Obviously, he's still going to be, very much, a work in progress as a route-runner, but I never saw him drop a pass, I never saw him shirk from the physicality of running over the middle, I did see him go up and make some big time catches, so there was a lot of reasons to be pretty excited about him."
"Again, [he's] 6'1, 220, as he's listed by the Seahawks, and he's carrying all of that. Now, most receivers in this day-in-age are running at the 185 pound range, so you know, to see a guy who's 220 and still has some motor to him, you know, was impressive."
- Rob Rang, on with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett, SportsRadioKJR on Wednesday.
This isn't the first we've heard of Phil Bates -- he was talked about a good deal during the Seahawks' rookie mini-camp and really caught the eye of several of the beat writers and reporters at practices over the last few weeks and months. PFW recently wrote that "After hitting a home run with the signing of undrafted free agent WR Doug Baldwin last season, we hear the Seahawks have had a hard time keeping their eyes off of Phil Bates, another undrafted free agent out of Ohio." With the Seahawks set to open up their Training Camp this weekend, he's one guy to keep an eye on.
Now, let's take a step back. Assuming Bates continues to impress at the wide receiver position, it's possible he could begin to threaten for the Seahawks fifth or sixth wide receiver spot on their final 53-man roster, depending on the number the team intends to keep at that position group. He'll be in close competition with Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler, and Ricardo Lockette, likely, and will be looking, to leapfrog them all on the depth chart. Now, if you're a fifth, or even sixth string wide receiver on an NFL roster, it's absolutely imperative that you can contribute on special teams, and this is a big reason that Obomanu has stuck around for so long -- he's dependable and skilled on return units. With Bates, this is somewhere that he could really find an edge -- he's big, physical, and explosive, -- 'a grown-ass man' at 6'1, 220, who ran a 4.49 40 and broad jumped 10'8". If he can prove himself on special teams, his size and speed could really set him apart from the Obos and Butlers and you could really see an upset.