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Jaron Brown, not DK Metcalf, could be Russell Wilson’s 2nd option

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

We told this story about a year ago when the Seattle Seahawks were looking to fill the void left by the departure of Paul Richardson. Though not a well known commodity, Jaron Brown did have 477 yards in 2017 with the Arizona Cardinals and would now have a reasonable chance to not only start, but to obtain targets from one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. In his evaluation of Brown last summer, our own Alistair Corp wrote about the possibility of Brown replacing Richardson, coming to the following conclusion:

Ultimately, Brown doesn’t move as fluidly as Richardson does, and we’ve yet to see the complete game from Brown that Richardson developed over the course of his time with the Seahawks. Despite that, Brown should be used in similar ways to Richardson in 2017: Sent vertically to stretch defenses, working the deep and intermediate levels of the field over the middle, and providing Wilson with an above the rim target. The parts of Brown’s game where he excels are encouraging.

Brown’s game can be frustrating and his inconsistency at the catch point leads to him disappearing from games, but the ability to get into good positions and create after the catch will earn your quarterback’s trust, and earn yourself targets. Those are two traits Brown possesses, and that should make his debut season in Seattle one with promise as the team looks for a newcomer to fill the void left by Richardson’s departure.

The good news is that Brown wasn’t without merit on the throws from Wilson that went in his direction: 73.7% catch rate, 8.7 yards per target, and five touchdowns. The bad news is that he only merited 19 targets all season indicating that the team itself didn’t view Brown as a viable replacement for the 80 targets that Richardson received in 2017. However, his usage was called into question this week — by Pete Carroll. The head coach expressed regret for not using Brown more last season, when they instead forced their attention to Brandon Marshall and David Moore, both of whom had a stretch of games that are in competition among the most awful of any receivers.

Marshall caught 4 of 11 targets in his last five games for the Seahawks, while Moore caught 4 of 16 in the last five games of the season. He received zero targets in the playoff loss to Dallas. Brown was also MIA against the Cowboys as far as targets go, and he was uninspiring in volume, but he seems to have an advantage this year in a room full of players who combined don’t have near the experience he has. Only Tyler Lockett is anything close to a receiver with real game pro experience, followed way off in the distance by Malik Turner, Keenan Reynolds, and Amara Darboh.

Coaches are now much higher on Brown — and Moore — with those two taking reps on the outside in OTAs with Lockett in the slot. Not to worry about the last bit though, as Lockett has been in the slot for roughly half of his snaps over the last two seasons. But does a Brown-Moore-Lockett starting three inspire confidence in you or does it sound like a typical Carroll-Brian Schottenheimer hype job that is hardly as disputable in June as it would be in October.

Instead, I imagine most are still of the hope and believe that D.K. Metcalf will end up starting on the outside with either Brown or Moore, but not both.

The good and predictable news for you is that Seahawks coaches are of course high on Metcalf too and that has continued with this report on Thursday from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:

My personal opinion is that it will be difficult for Metcalf to have a sizable impact in the NFL any sooner than December. I don’t base this on much, only decades of empirical evidence that suggests most rookies take time to get to the speed of the professional game and receivers tend not to “break in” until the middle of year two at the soonest. That may appear to be shifting recently due to the uptick in passing among NFL offenses, but does that mean that the players are better quicker or that the production is higher for some while they still make plenty of mistakes outside of just yards and catches?

Last season’s rookie class of receivers featured three players over 700 yards — D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, and Courtland Sutton — and a few others who topped 500. Certainly there are promising receivers in the 2018 class but we can’t say they were necessarily without issues. Receivers drafted in the same range as Metcalf include James Washington and D.J. Chark a year ago and neither of them made noticeable dents on 2018.

I mean, I want to hear your comments, but I don’t particularly see myself agreeing with some of the predictable thoughts about how Metcalf is a “special case” for whatever made up reason (every player that’s ever played has a “special case” if you give me two seconds to research and think of a narrative to build around him) and how this rush-first offense will increase his likelihood for being a standout rookie receiver taken at the end of round two. My prediction for Metcalf — which is as useless as most predictions — would probably fall in the range of him being about as impactful as Jaron Brown was a year ago. Luckily, Metcalf is going to be 22 going into his second season with the Seahawks, not 29 as Brown is.

A season like Brown’s might actually be quite encouraging for someone as young as Metcalf. If he gets going in the red zone, catches five touchdowns, plays a role on the team at such an early stage in his career, that would be great. It’s anything more that would be gravy.

For that to happen though, maybe they do need Brown to be utilized more and to have the impact we thought he might have a year ago. There’s also still a chance that Brown won’t even make the final roster — he’s one of the few guys here making millions — but as of now the praise is abundant. Now we will find out if the targets will be.