Seattle Seahawks TE Nick Vannett’s rookie stat line was a meager 3 catches (on 4 targets) for 32 yards, with multiple healthy scratches. He did manage two starts, against the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, as part of a multi-TE set with Jimmy Graham. In both instances, Luke Willson was inactive due to injury.
At the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, head coach Pete Carroll had some glowing things to say about the Ohio State product, indicating that he’ll play a significant role in the Seahawks passing game next season.
Pete Carroll notes the #Seahawks are "really excited" about TE Nick Vannett heading into his second season.— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) March 2, 2017
Pete Carroll: Nick Vannett has a natural feel for catching and running routes...he's more than just a blocker. Will be "big factor for us"— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 2, 2017
The logical conclusion to draw from this is that the Seahawks are going to release Jimmy Graham and promote Nick Vannett to #1 TE on the roster.
Carroll’s praise of Vannett as a legitimate receiving threat, in addition to his blocking abilities, is certainly encouraging to hear. The Seahawks tight-end situation is something that should be closely monitored in 2017, as Jimmy Graham is in the final year of his contract, Brandon Williams is really just a blocker and special teams contributor, and Luke Willson is a free agent.
Speaking of Willson, Carroll said that they love Luke, and they will try to re-sign him when free agency begins next week (Thursday, March 9th). If Willson is not retained, no one from Seattle’s 2013 NFL Draft class will have lasted five seasons with the team, which is more of a microcosm of how bad that draft was for just about everyone else.
It’s worth remembering that Vannett was chosen in the third-round of last year’s draft. In John Schneider’s tenure as Seahawks GM, his third-round selections are John Moffitt (didn’t work out), Russell Wilson (he seems okay), Jordan Hill (wish it could’ve worked out better), Tyler Lockett (get well soon!), C.J. Prosise (please stay healthy), and Rees Odhiambo (work in progress). This is pretty damn good if you ask me, and if Vannett is as good as advertised next year, we can add him to Schneider’s list of mid-round gems.