Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had four very clear leading targets in 2017, and half of them are gone. Doug Baldwin has been Seattle’s obvious number one for each of the last five seasons and he led the team with 991 yards, nearly 300 more than second place. That number two position belonged to Paul Richardson, who had 703 yards and left in free agency to sign with Washington.
Number two in targets but a distant fourth in yards was tight end Jimmy Graham, who signed with the Green Bay Packers. And finally, fourth in targets but third in yards with 555 — 35 more than Graham — was Tyler Lockett; it was a career-low in yards and it seems that Lockett has not improved as much as the Seahawks would have hoped since a promising rookie campaign, however the team has little choice but to consider Lockett the number two receiver for now.
There aren’t any other established options that we know of on the roster.
Baldwin is the team’s number one receiver, even if he is a slot receiver. After that, it gets really muddy. Lockett projects as the number two by default with 206 career targets and 1,816 yards over three seasons. The receiver or tight end with the next-most targets is free agent signee Jaron Brown, who had 163 targets and 1,177 yards over five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
The other five veteran receivers have combined for 41 career targets.
You aren’t going to find much receiving experience at the tight end position either, as signee Ed Dickson does have 298 career targets, but over eight seasons. Nick Vannett has 19 career targets, while Tyrone Swoopes and rookie Will Dissly have zero NFL game experience.
Filling out the back of the roster (for now) at receiver are Damore’ea Stringfellow, Caleb Scott, and Keenan Reynolds, while tight end Clayton Wilson was also recently signed. But we will skip them for now.
Though I can already sense the desire for some to get extremely literal or nitpicky about the terms or order of things, let’s just say for now that Baldwin is the number one and Lockett is the number two. I could also see a near future in which Lockett is the “number three” — he has just three touchdowns over the last two seasons combined — but let’s not make it harder on ourselves for a May 18th than it has to be. Let’s also leave tight ends out of the equation, I just mentioned them because obviously some of Wilson’s attention will have to go that way and it’s interesting that there is so little receiving experience at that position currently. It’s possible that Vannett or Swoopes becomes a regular target next season, but for now it seems that more of the responsibility to catch passes will fall on receivers and they just lost a guy who had 80 targets in 2017.
Now what? The question is: Which receiver is most likely to finish third in targets? Or, if you really don’t trust Lockett, second?
Clemson, Undrafted, 2013
6’3, 204 lbs, 4.4 40-yard dash at pro day
Brown’s career-best 2017 season included 69 targets, 31 receptions, 477 yards and four touchdowns despite nine games with Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. He had eight catches for 105 yards in a Week 4 win over the 49ers, with Carson Palmer as the quarterback. Brown is really the only receiver who has any semblance of NFL in-game experience.
Texas, Undrafted, 2016
6’, 215 lbs, 4.39 40-yard dash at pro day
Acquired in the Michael Bennett trade, Johnson had eight targets, five catches, and 45 yards in his debut 2017 season.
Is Johnson a replacement for Paul Richardson?:
As of right now, I don’t think Johnson will be ready day one to take over Paul Richardson’s starting role. He definitely has the speed and would be a cheap insurance option, but Richardson brought more to this offense than his burst off the line of scrimmage. He bailed out Russell Wilson on more than one occasion and that skill-set will be hard to imitate if they don’t re-sign him. In my opinion, this move is more about getting a developmental wide receiver and reducing cap space rather than replacing Richardson in their offense.
Wisconsin, Undrafted, 2016
6’6, 230 lbs, did not run 40 but had a 6.84 in the 3-cone
Certainly a fan favorite because of his history of playing different positions — which is always fun — and his ability to make huge plays (though rarely do they happen), McEvoy has 14 catches on 20 career targets, gaining 253 yards for an average of 18.1 per reception. Still, McEvoy has every opportunity to earn 60+ targets with the Seahawks this time around so if he doesn’t do that, the prospect of him ever transitioning into a full-time NFL receiver seems low. Is he more than just a one-play pony?
Michigan, 3rd round, 2017
6’2, 214 lbs, 4.45 40-yard dash at combine
Interesting how Baldwin, Brown, Johnson, McEvoy were all undrafted, and now we finally get to Darboh, who was drafted around the same spot as Lockett. There’s hope that because of his draft status that Darboh will be a starter on the outside and perhaps Wilson’s number two target in 2018, but it’s still a pretty big difference from being a first round pick. Darboh had eight catches for 71 yards as a rookie and I’d say he’s not guaranteed anything for next season — Pete Carroll will likely be okay with cutting him if he doesn’t show out a bit with this current opportunity. His draft status is not much different than past receivers like Kris Durham and Chris Harper.
East Central (OK), 7th round, 2017
6’1, 219 lbs, 4.42 40-yard dash at pro day
He hasn’t had an NFL target yet but plenty are intrigued by the things that make a player out of East Central a legitimate pro prospect. Moore has fans, now he needs proof.
LSU, Undrafted, 2017
5’9, 180 lbs, 4.33 40-yard dash
A major sleeper and not a player likely to ever be considered a “full-time starter” because of his size, Grayson’s odds of making the team, let alone being one of the top three receivers, are low. And yet, look at what’s ahead of him? Talented players, yes, but very little in proven talent at this level. Anything could happen.
Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, Or Another Free Agent Signee
Marshall met with Seattle, indicating that the team is aware of the lack of experience and hoping to find someone who can at least provide insurance for the time being. Bryant was released and remains on the market. The Seahawks could be interested if the price was low, as they’d be with probably any receiver right now. Eric Decker, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Coleman, Dontrelle Inman, Kamar Aiken, and Michael Floyd are also available.
Which WR do you expect to finish in the top 3 in targets in 2018?
This poll is closed