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2019 NFL Draft: The case for the Seahawks drafting a wide receiver in the early rounds

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Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks have not one, but two first-round picks entering Thursday’s 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m 99% sure that they’re not staying at 21 and 29 respectively, and I’m 99.9% sure they will draft a pass-rusher/someone on the defensive line with one of those two picks.

I would love for the other pick — whether it’s still in the first-round or traded down into the second-round — be spent on a wide receiver.

Now you may be thinking, “but they have Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and the promise of David Moore!” Well in a way, yes, they have those three guys. But Baldwin will be 31 years old this year, and his contract is up in 2020. He’s coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him only miss three games, but those injuries started last preseason and have led to multiple surgeries. His 50 catches for 618 yards is his lowest total since 2013, back when Golden Tate and Sidney Rice were the top options, then Baldwin slotted in for Rice after Sidney’s ACL tear.

After a great rookie season, a broken leg in 2016, a rather uninspiring 2017 (in part because of the injury), Lockett was efficient in 2018. Historically so. He didn’t have the number of targets as top names such as Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham Jr manage regularly, but he made the most of his opportunities in ways this league has never seen before. At just 26 years old, Lockett is approaching his prime years and you hope that the best is yet to come.

I know we were all pleased to see David Moore be a reasonably solid contributor given he’s a seventh-round draft pick from a very small school. But after a hot start, Moore cooled off and was essentially benched against the Dallas Cowboys. The optimistic viewpoint is that another offseason will see Moore improve what he needs to work on, develop better chemistry with Wilson, run routes a lot more cleanly, and he’ll be a bigger factor in the offense. But there are plenty of first-round draft busts, never mind late seventh-round picks, who just don’t get better. It is not totally out of line to suggest the Moore we saw in 2018 might be as good as he’ll ever be.

Jaron Brown wasn’t mentioned initially, but while Brown racked up five touchdowns, he had 19 targets all season, and seven games he wasn’t targeted at all. That’s not even 5% of all of Wilson’s attempts. He is not likely to be a factor beyond just being a WR4, and I doubt he has much of a future in Seattle beyond 2019. If Seattle does go for a WR early in the draft, Brown saves almost $3 million in cap money if they cut him.

My long-winded argument here is that the Seahawks do not have a tremendous amount of depth at the receiver position, and one of their two top players is on the wrong side of the age-30 aging curve with legitimate question marks about his health. Seattle needs higher-end talent, and desperately so if this offense wants to improve up on last year’s top-ten mark in DVOA.

John Schneider hasn’t been shy when it comes to trying to improve the WR position through the draft or with draft picks. He took Golden Tate in the second-round in 2010, traded a first-rounder for Percy Harvin in 2013, drafted Paul Richardson at 45th overall in 2014, and while we’re stretching a bit here, Tyler Lockett has proven to be a nice player after he was chosen at #69 in 2016.

Among the pre-draft visits for the Seahawks this year are Ohio State’s Parris Campbell, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry, and South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel. I have to confess that I’m not nearly the college football watcher that I was as a child, so I defer to other experts within Field Gulls for my NFL Draft analysis. Don’t ask me which player I want the most — outside of Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the middle rounds — because it’s a pointless exercise. I do know that the Seahawks need more receivers who can do at least one of these things:

—Get open without play-action

—Excel at running routes

—Make contested catches in traffic

Make it happen, Schneider. Wide receiver is a need that needs fulfilling ASAP. And not with trying to build up seventh-rounders and UDFAs, but with first-, second-, and even third-round talent.