Two weeks into the preseason and we don't appear much closer to knowing which receivers will make the roster. Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate are locks. After that it's anyone's guess... which is precisely what I intend to do. This is my take on how the receivers rank for the final roster spots and why.
Making the Cut
1) Ben Obomanu - Obo would be a lock except for the presence of greater talent behind him. He's carved out a career with the Seahawks through earning a roster spot each season. He's a difficult player to cut with his all around competence as a receiver, ability to play each receiver position, and contributions on special teams. I wouldn't read too much into Obo's lack of snaps this preseason. Like Tarvaris Jackson, Pete knows what he has in #87 and it's up to the other guys to show that they're better than him. Unlike Tarvaris, I don't see that happening.
Make or Break Variable: At this point I would say it's unlikely for both Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens to make the team. However, there's no denying the talent they possess so if both men indicate they're ready to contribute in a big way then our front office might view Obo as one veteran too many.
2) Braylon Edwards - Edwards was a steady playmaking presence through training camp and has carried that momentum into the preseason. We all know about Edwards' physical assets but it's his demeanour that has impressed me the most. He looks hungry. Composed. Not-needy. Making big plays without many targets is an appealing characteristic for a depth's-end receiver. He's also young enough (29) where he could earn a 2-3 year contract with the team if he does well this season.
Make or Break Variable: Edwards has demonstrated a surprising consistency so far which perhaps reflects a maturity and polish he didn't possess earlier in his career. Maintaining that consistency and finishing the preseason strong should keep him off the chopping block.
3) Deon Butler - I really believe in Butler's apparent rapport with Matt Flynn. Their skill-sets sync nicely and cutting the safety-valve of your starting quarterback is a terrible idea - especially with a rhythm passer like Flynn. It's not just Flynn who appreciates Butler either. Pete has spoken highly of him on several occasions and the fact that he's still earning looks lends creditability to those words.
Make or Break Variable: Russell Wilson. Butler has hitched his wagon to Flynn so if our coaches start thinking Wilson should start sooner than later then Butler might become expendable. Despite Wilson's impressive preseason thus far, I still think Flynn will start in 2012. Therefore, Butler makes the team. Barely.
Missing the Cut
4) Terrell Owens - Owens will play in the NFL this season. Whether he will play for the Seahawks remains to seen but he definitely looks ready to go for another year or two. The most important attribute T.O. possesses, when it comes to making this roster, is his capacity for targets as a #1 receiver. Having T.O. around could prove essential for our offense's success if Rice misses time, which I think everyone has come to terms with as being a strong possibility.
Make or Break Variable: Meshing with Matt Flynn. This is a very achievable goal but well, it sure didn't happen on Saturday. He also dropped that long pass but the separation he gained is a positive indication of where he's at physically. He's dropped plenty of passes like that in his career and yet he's still a Hall of Famer. The miscommunications with Flynn are the greater concern.
5) Kris Durham - I feel bad for Durham. He's a very capable receiver whose shot at developing a role on the team may have been dashed by a pair of high profile veterans. Flynn buddying up with Butler further drops him down the depth chart. I can't imagine these factors are lost on him, which probably further aggravates the psychological troubles he's had with drops this preseason. If he can play a bit better and get some confidence back then he'll at least remain under consideration. If he doesn't make the squad then I bet he responds well to a change of scenery.
Make or Break Variable: Unfortunately I think Durham has fallen too far behind to make the roster on his own. He needs some help from Russell Wilson. In the prior mentioned scenario where our coaches believe Wilson should start sooner than later and Butler becomes expendable, I could see our front office sticking with Durham's development. His ability to stretch the seam vertically and make acrobatic catches is an intriguing mix with Wilson's skill set.
6) Ricardo Lockette - I don't expect to see much of Lockette the rest of this preseason. He's progressed with his route running since last year but he's still probably too raw to have a real impact. Like last preseason, I think we will limit his snaps/targets in order to minimize his exposure to other teams' scouting departments. Hopefully the strategy will work and we can keep him on the practice squad for another season.
Make or Break Variable: Injuries.
The Practice Squad Battle
I would assume that Lockette has a spot on the PS if he clears waivers but nobody else has really set themselves apart in my opinion. Lavasier Tuinei and Jermaine Kearse have some intriguing tools while Phil Bates and Charly Martin are both polished and dependable. I will be very interested to see who makes it as I think any of them could contribute somewhere down the road if the cards fall right. After Saturday's game, my money is on Tuinei and Kearse. What do you think?