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Seahawks receiver Kenny Lawler is less skinny than he used to be

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NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Carroll has often had his best success stories at receiver come from the players who had the most to prove. Undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse can certainly attest to that, while the big shots that Carroll has taken in his time with the Seahawks -- Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Paul Richardson — have not really worked out. Carroll managed some good years from Golden Tate and some good games from Tyler Lockett, but all in all, Baldwin has been the savior of the unit. You can even trace that back to Carroll’s first season with the Patriots in 1997, when former eighth round pick Troy Brown had the first extensive action of his five-year career at the time.

It’s reasonable then to give similar chances for growth, usefulness, or even stardom, to other receivers who may have not been all that enticing during the draft, but had potential for much more. The most common concern for 2016 seventh round pick Kenny Lawler was “Too skinny, needs to add muscle” and everyone knew that unless he “Brett Boone’d” himself (the former Mariner “miraculously” gained like 30-40 pounds one winter and then became a star) that wasn’t going to happen overnight, if ever.

Thankfully for Seattle, it seems Lawler took that concern about his body composition seriously, with Carroll noting that he had gained 15-17 pounds in the last year.

“Kenny had a really good camp,” coach Pete Carroll said of the former Cal star. “Kenny came back maybe 15 or 17 pounds heavier than he was when he came here last time around (the team lists him at 6-2, 203). He just has worked out really hard, he’s more powerful coming off the football and running. He has always had great catching range and skill catching the football. This camp was really good for Kenny, because he really shined throughout the whole thing. We can see him differently than we saw him last year at this same time, so that’s really good for him.”

Lawler was listed at 203 lbs at the combine last year, so presumably that means he’d be 218-220 lbs now. What other receivers are in the 6’2, 220 lbs range? Michael Crabtree, Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, and Larry Fitzgerald, to name a few. That doesn’t mean that Lawler will become great or even make the team in September, but it would be surprising to hear that Lawler is still a “string bean” for the position at 220 lbs. Especially if he’s still making highlight catches.

It sounds like Lawler had a great three-day rookie minicamp (though not new to the team this year, Lawler was eligible because he was never active in 2016) though and could challenge for a roster spot in the preseason and training camp. The biggest competition for him could be another player who wasn’t getting much attention in the 2016 draft: Tanner McEvoy, who did make the team over Lawler and caught nine passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. It will also depend on the health of Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson, plus the chance that the Seahawks decide not to move forward with another season of Kearse. Lawler must also compete against the new blood, namely third round pick Amara Darboh (a virtual lock) and seventh rounder David Moore.

One potential area for concern with Lawler now is speed. Already considered slow (4.64 at the combine, and now he’s 15-17 lbs heavier), Lawler must show that he can still play quick on the field. If the added weight means he’s less liable to be pushed around by bigger corners, and if he can get around without looking like a 4.6-4.7 receiver, then he could potentially be a productive red zone threat in the NFL like he was in college when he had 27 touchdowns in 34 games.

Carroll certainly still has a need for a player like that.