The Seattle Seahawks have a very good roster, but what's especially nice and hopeful about their team is that the vast majority of current Seahawks are young and signed through 2017, at least. This series leading up to the regular season opener on September 11 will take a closer look at 30 such players, all of whom won't be turning 30 this year.
Player: Luke Willson, TE
How acquired: Drafted in fifth round (158th overall) out of Rice in 2013 draft
Free Agent: 2017
At 6'5, 251 lbs with a 40-yard dash apparently clocked as fast as 4.46 and a 38" vertical jump, Willson was the type to make fans fantasize, salivate, and forget all the reasons he was a a fifth round draft pick. In fact, he wasn't even the first Rice tight end to be drafted that year, with the San Francisco 49ers selecting Vance McDonald in the second round.
Of course plenty of day three picks turn out to be wonderful, and Willson is the perfect example of one who could turn out to be a steal, but just because a prospect could it doesn't mean he ever will. As of now, Willson hasn't, but it doesn't mean he couldn't.
As a rookie, Willson caught 20 passes for 272 yards as a backup to Zach Miller. Perfectly good numbers given his situation. But two seasons later, as a backup to Jimmy Graham for part of the season and then as a guy who had the opportunity to make a difference, Willson caught 17 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown, with a lower catch rate and fewer yards per catch. There has been absolutely no progress as a receiver over his last two NFL seasons, and the team drafted Nick Vannett in the third round this year - and he's been getting praise from Pete Carroll already for his pass-catching abilities -- as a probable precursor to letting Willson leave in free agency in 2017 rather than pay him, even if it's a nominal amount.
Not that it will be nominal given the incredible deals handed out to Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener this year. A team could very well pay Willson the same $20 million that the Chargers paid Ladarius Green just to find out if he will reach his athletic potential. Unless they move on from Graham after this season, it seems less and less likely that the Seahawks will be the ones to pay to find out about Willson.
But he still has one more year to prove that he's more than just an athletic freak who for brief moments has looked really, really amazing.
A true Canadian presentation of Willson: