There’s (understandably) lots of hype that accompanies OTAs. But I’m here to bring two warnings.
Be wary of the impressive offensive skill player
It’s exciting to hear tales of a young offensive wide receiver or running back looking good. Heck, the Seattle Seahawks really need some talent for Russell Wilson to hit after the retirement of Doug Baldwin.
Yet OTAs are practices that are basically done “on air.” No pads are worn. Defensive backs aren’t allowed to contest catches. It’s at a very basic stage schematically.
Essentially, these practices are designed for the offense to win. So: when Travis Homer is getting praised for looking good catching, it’s no surprise. One of his strengths in college was as a receiving back, where he could catch the ball and then transition into a ball carrier quickly.
That Homer is catching well in practice should be the expectation. The sixth rounder’s chances of making the final 53 will likely come down to his ability on special teams—something we will discover in preseason football.
OTA reminder:— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) May 21, 2019
Don't read too much into a receiver catching on air
Be wary of the “game within the game”
Pete Carroll mentioned Amara Darboh unprompted in his OTA press conference.
One guy Carroll mentioned unprompted today is 2017 third-round pick Amara Darboh. "Darboh looks great. He's back in the fold now, so he goes right back into the competition of it.''— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) May 21, 2019
There are many potential reasons for this. One way it can be taken is at face value. Darboh does have a decent chance of making the team given the need at wide receiver and his former status as a third-round pick of Seattle. Carroll’s encouragement can do no harm.
However, the more cynical take is that the Seahawks are attempting to generate some trade interest. After Seattle waived Darboh, he failed a physical with the New England Patriots—who tried to claim him—and reverted to the Seahawks’ IR.
If Darboh is on the roster bubble in the preseason with some impressive catches, would Seattle still choose to quit on his development and take a day 3 pick in return? It’s still likely. Much speculation was had over this tweet from former Seahawks scout Jim Nagy, with some (including me) guessing that Darboh was the mystery player Nagy was alluding to.
Rookie mini-camp is an exciting time for NFL staffs but there are some “oh, crap” moments where teams immediately know a player they just drafted isn’t what they thought he was. I was with a team once that took a skill player in Rd. 3 and we knew right away it was a bad pick.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) May 4, 2019