If you’re the Seattle Seahawks, and more specifically Pete Carroll, and you have:
- An All-Pro returner it might not be wise to use on every kick because he’s actually your WR1;
- A need at RB with serious injuries affecting your current top two backs;
- And a special affinity for something you call hidden yards, the oft-overlooked field position gained and lost on the margins of special teams —
— then you’d probably aim to draft a back who can solve all three issues. The ability of DeeJay Dallas to check all the boxes above is reminiscent of all the chatter surrounding Rashaad Penny in 2018. There was a need at the dual positions and a need for special teams pop.
Well, the Seahawks might have finally solved what ails their return game and their RB depth this draft season, only in the fourth round this time instead of the first.
In 2019 the Seahawks time-shared most kick returns. Tyler Lockett had 13 punt returns and David Moore 10. Lockett fielded 14 kickoffs, Travis Homer 5 and Penny 3. None of the four scored, and Carroll can’t have been pleased that opponents had a higher return average for both types of kicks (6.3-6.1 on punts, and a pretty sizeable 22.2-19.6 advantage on kickoffs).
Fast-forward a year, and Moore might not even make the team, Homer might be the fourth RB and not always active, and who knows when Penny will be ready to see the field again. Enter Dallas, who could very easily take a lot of heat off Lockett and the crew.
Dallas didn’t serve as the Hurricanes’ returner for 2019, but he was up to the job, and then some in 2018. On kickoffs he averaged a pedestrian 21.6 yards, but garnered 191 yards on 11 punt returns, for a 17.4 average and a touchdown.
The kicker never had a chance, poor guy.
Found some Deejay Dallas punt return footage if anyone is interested. (He's gonna win that job with the Seahawks.) pic.twitter.com/wmaEPkU2k8— John Fraley (@johndavidfraley) April 25, 2020
Going back to his kick returns, the yards per return may not have been special, but he’s shown his capability there too.
Deejay Dallas had a strong day returning kickoffs vs Boston College. Nice to see that he can return both punts and kicks. Not every return man can do both pic.twitter.com/inU8PjuuuM— Parker Lewis (@ParkerLewisJR) April 25, 2020
Excluding his 65-yard beaut on the punt return TD, complete with broken tackles, decisive cuts, and a little hand-waving for good measure, Dallas still averaged 12.6 yards per punt return. He’s going to get a chance in preseason (assuming preseason happens) to win the job. I bet he emerges victorious.