In the Seattle Seahawks’ first season post-Jimmy Graham, the leading receiver on the tight end depth chart was Nick Vannett, who posted 29 catches for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. Career-best numbers for Vannett, but hardly inspiring stuff over the course of a 16-game season.
Enter Will Dissly.
The University of Washington product gave us reason to be excited about him as a pass-catcher — something he seldom was in college — with 8 catches for 156 yards and a pair of teeders before a season-ending patellar tendon tear. Not only has Dissly come back from such a devastating injury, he looks the part of someone who could be one of the NFL’s premier players at the position.
Through five games, Dissly has caught 23 passes (on 26 targets) for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns. Alongside DK Metcalf, Dissly is tied for second behind Tyler Lockett in targets, and obviously Dissly has been way more efficient with his opportunities. Dissly is tied for 6th among all TEs in receptions and yards, and tied for the league lead for touchdown catches. Roughly 60% of his receptions have also gone for first downs. While we won’t get a DVOA/DYAR update until next week, Dissly entered Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams ranked 4th in both categories.
Will Dissly was drafted primarily because he excelled as a blocker. What Brian Schottenheimer has untapped is something remarkable. With all due respect to Jimmy Graham, he’s not really your classic tight end. He was very productive towards the end of 2015 (prior to his own patellar tendon rupture) and for much of 2016, all while simultaneously never looking like a great fit for Darrell Bevell’s offense. Dissly looks like a tremendous fit for Schotty’s system because of his versatility.
As to not beat up on Bevell while he’s long gone, Dissly represents somewhat of a flashback to how Zach Miller was used in 2012-2013. Miller was 3rd in team receptions in Russell Wilson’s rookie year, then dipped to 4th the following season when they won the Super Bowl. Dissly is closer to Miller than he is to Graham, which may explain why he has succeeded so well so quickly in his career. I’d argue he has some pass-catching elements that are akin to John Carlson, who himself was a particularly valuable player on an otherwise dying Seahawks offense that needed a new quarterback.
Dissly has rapidly become one of the most important pieces of the Seattle offense, and when you add in the fact that this is the best Russell Wilson that we’ve ever seen, the NFL better be on notice. More of this is coming your way.