Over the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the hopefuls on the Seattle Seahawks’ 90-man roster. Seattle had 11 draft picks and made several significant moves in free agency. These are some simple thoughts on the new players and things to look for as the athletes hit the ground running with mandatory mini-camp this week.
Roster: Ed Dickson, Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Justin Johnson, Tyrone Swoopes, Nick Vannett
Honorable Mention: George Fant. Bear with me here, this will come into play later.
Flashy newcomer – Will Dissly actually led the NFL in yards per reception last year. Sure, he doesn’t qualify for any such title, having his season cut dismally short due to a freak patellar tendon injury. But the fact remains that Dissly maintained a 19.6 yards per catch over his eight NFL receptions, surpassing Tampa Bay’s DeSean Jackson’s mark of 18.9 ypc.
Dissly remains one of the most exciting sophomore options on this roster. The report last year was that Seattle had prioritized getting Dissly, the best blocking TE in the draft. And yet, his impact was immediately felt as not only a strong receiver, but a guy with an impressive ability to break tackles. He’s a newcomer in the sense that we saw so little of him last year, and don’t yet have an idea of how heavily the Seahawks want to feature him. We’ve now had a full year of Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s Air Coryell scheme. As he continues to gain familiarity with his own players, the vertical threats of Tyler Lockett / anybody should open up ample opportunities for more tight end receptions this year.
If I can’t have it, nobody can – Jacob Hollister. The Hollister acquisition has become much worse for the New England Patriots in the last couple weeks. Mookie covered a while back Hollister’s limited experience, stating there’s not much to analyze in the trade for a 7th round conditional pick next year. He’s right, except now that Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is out and Gronk doubled down on staying retired, the Pats are left with 38-year old Ben Watson…and four guys with minimal NFL experience. Hollister is on a team-friendly deal and has impressed early, as Schottenheimer called him a “terrific acquisition” this week. He is therefore a decent chance to nab the final tight end spot, with a small, added bonus to spite New England.
Because it’s more fun when he’s a tight end – George Fant. Seattle placed a 2nd round tender on Fant, significant as he was an undrafted free agent, declaring how much they want to keep him. He’s now on a $3 million, one-year deal. He’s been playing anywhere from a third to half of offensive snaps. Fant really only sat out the first four games, as from week 5-16 he saw over 20% of the offensive snaps, and played over half 3 out of final 4 games.
I think this demonstrates his role is as at least as important this year as it was last year. He will remain important in “heavy” packages in run game and goal line situations. Pete Carroll is nothing but excited about his hybrid tight end. Given the team’s reaction when he caught his first NFL pass, it’s fair to expect more excitement out of the big guy.
Most to Prove - Nick Vannett. The fact that Vannett was a third round pick, and a 4th round rookie beat him out during training camp speaks for itself. Vannett saw an uptick in attention last year, but only hauled in 29 of 43 targets. Per former coach Urban Meyer, he was supposed to develop into quite an adept route runner, but we simply haven’t seen much consistency out of him to date. The good news is, he has the motivation and knowledge for offseason training.
End of a run? Ed Dickson is in a bit of an awkward place. He was brought in as a run-blocking tight end, but his contract is no longer as team friendly, and if Seattle wants to go with a heavy package on the end… well we just covered George Fant. He’s already been offered as a likely cut candidate, and at 31 years old, Dickson could be one of the oldest players to get the boot this summer. He was actually incredibly efficient, boasting a 1:4 touchdown to reception ratio, and made more than one memorable big play. But the fact remains that it’s probably two out of Dickson/Vannett/Hollister, not likely all three.
Talkin’ bout practice! - Tyrone Swoopes. Seattle bounced Swoopes back and forth between active roster and practice squad four times since his arrival. He has one NFL reception for twenty-three yards. With the addition of Hollister, it is highly unlikely Swoopes will be able to break the practice cycle and hold down a roster spot, barring injury.
Not this time - Justin Johnson. Johnson comes to Seattle as an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi State. Even in his most productive year as a senior, he recorded only 17 receptions and one TD. This is not the year to be an outside unproven flier, given how many draft picks the John Schneider was able to conjure, and how deep the Hawks are at multiple positions. Johnson will not make this team.
Best Dance – Nick Vannett wasn’t always invited to the WR celebrations last season, but he did get in on the surf. Even though he kind of messed it up. Maybe this year one or more TE will be able to join in on the fun in the end zone.
Best Madden 2019 rating – Ed Dickson, 77. Middling.
Most important stat heading into 2019 –
Player #1: 57, 520, 10. Player(s) #2: 49, 568, 8.
The first set is Jimmy Graham’s final line from 2017. He recorded 57 catches for 520 yards and ten TDs. Compare that to 2018, which was the combination of Dickson, Dissly, and Vannett for 40 receptions at 568 yards and eight TDs. Considering the $10million franchise tag Jimmy G played under, and the two rookie deals of Vannett and Dissly, this is sometimes why a team lets a big name walk. That is an eerily similar line for just over a fifth of the cost coming out of the tight end position last year. Even if Dissly takes the lead this year, that type of production is still a reasonable expectation in 2019 split between whichever Seahawk tight ends see the most play time.