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The Road Back, Part 2: The Weapon

Seattle traded big to land Warner and for one season the wager paid off. Curt Warner played like a man possessed in 1983. The next season, he blew out his knee. The eighties marked a big shift from run-first to pass-first offenses like Don Coryell and Bill Walsh's respective versions of the West Coast. It wasn't until much later that Knox reluctantly embraced the pass, and as it often is with things one is forced into, the results were ugly.

The 2010 Seahawks do not have a Curt Warner. Justin Forsett's talent, profile and career path better resemble Chris Warren's. Short of a superstar rusher like Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson, the NFL is moving away from the type of rushing talent a team can run its offense through. With one profile fading, another is gaining speed: the superstar possession receiver.

Think Wes Welker, now forget he's white. What makes Welker special? A huge volume of high-percentage receptions coupled with excellent run after catch. The next Welker will not likely look like Welker. At least not superficially. The next Welker will play like Welker.

Welker was an All-State running back at Heritage Hall. He slowly transitioned from rusher to receiver at Texas Tech. By his senior season, the Wes Welker we now know had emerged. He caught 86 passes for 1,054 yards. The key to Welker's development was how he was used by Mike Leach in Leach's Air Raid offense. He was put into space and trusted to produce run after catch. Welker thrived in New England running many of the same routes. Leach and later Bill Belichick saw Welker for what he was and what he could do and maximized his production. Welker, by any scouting report, is not a complete receiver, but what he does, he does exceptionally well.

Mike Shanahan is credited by some with innovating the shallow cross. The shallow cross is a staple in spread offenses and is now a part of about any modern passing attack. Want more? Chris Brown of Smart Football can impart more about football strategy than I ever can or ever will. For our purposes, we only need to know a few things: the shallow cross doesn't require exceptional route running from the receiver, it doesn't require great or even good arm strength from the quarterback, and it succeeds by attacking a defense horizontally and putting a receiver into space. Oh, and one more important fact, new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates patterns his playbook after his mentor's: Mike Shanahan.

Golden Tate's rivals profile lists his position as "athlete." Like Welker, he played running back in high school. Not exclusively, like Welker and about every standout recruit, Tate played everywhere and anywhere his coach could fit his talent. But Tate was a special running back. He ran for 2,191 yards on 305 rushes as a junior and, maybe more impressively, 1,413 yards on just 140 rushes as a senior. He is built like a running back: short and thick. 5'11", scraping 200, is not an atypical wide receiver profile, but it's a successful one. Tate is not a typical wide receiver though, and that is partly why he was available at 60.

I won't cannibalize too much of my scouting report on Tate, but he can be a weapon every bit as valuable as Warner was to the 1983 Seahawks. Criticism, be it scouting or movie review, sometimes mistakenly overvalues that which can do all things well and undervalues that which is unbalanced but sensational. Tate is not yet an every route, every pass receiver. He has holes in his game, but what he can do with every reception, anywhere on the field could make him a superstar.