As the Sunday night showdown wore on and the Seattle Seahawks began to pull away from the Indianapolis Colts, J.D. McKissic served notice that he is ready to compete for snaps as a dual threat back.
Scoring both as a runner and as a receiver against the Colts, McKissic showed skills only previously on display in the preseason and in Sun Belt competition. In particular, on his 27-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, McKissic demonstrated the hands that let him accumulated 300 receptions while playing wide receiver at Arkansas State. His 289 catches there were college receptions than any other player on the Seahawks roster. More than Doug Baldwin's 96 at Stanford, more than Amara Darboh’s 151 at Michigan or Paul Richardson's 156 at Colorado. It’s way more than Tanner McEvoy’s 10 catches at Wisconsin, but also even more than Tyler Lockett's 249 total at Kansas State.
One player in particular who may have taken notice of McKissic’s play is another multi-purpose weapon, C.J. Prosise. Prosise has had trouble staying healthy so far in his short NFL career, after after also having health related availability issues in college. While Prosise remains out for an extended period of time with what was described by Pete Carroll as a significant ankle injury. McKissic capitalized on the opportunity, scoring two touchdowns against the Colts on Sunday night in his first significant playing time for the team.
McKissic also brings value in the return game. While they don't need him at the moment because of Lockett's Pro Bowl level return capabilities, McKissic does have experience returning kicks. Specifically, during the 2016 preseason he returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins. While Lockett should hold onto the job so long as he remains healthy, it is nice to know Seattle has someone with experience and explosiveness ready to step in if needed.
In case you, like Al Michaels Sunday night, never knew who McKissic was before Sunday, here’s how he made his way to the Seahawks: After going undrafted out of Arkansas State in 2016, McKissic went to training camp with the Atlanta Falcons that summer but was cut at the end of camp, spending most of last season on Atlanta’s practice squad before being added to the Falcons’ active roster before week 15. Three days later, however, the Falcons cut McKissic again. Seattle claimed him on waivers, and he spent the remainder of the season with the team.
But because McKissic was only on the active roster of the Falcons and the Seahawks for a combined three games last year, he is technically a rookie when it comes to computing team control and free agency. As such, while he is only signed for now through this season, McKissic is under team control through 2020, and could prove to be a massive value for the team as an explosive weapon on an inexpensive contract if he keeps developing.
Further, with the injury luck Seattle has suffered at the running back position over the past couple years, including already in 2017, McKissic’s availability and potential as a dual threat out of the backfield provides a nice insurance policy for the team.