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The dark horse candidates at tight end for the Seahawks this season

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Indiana v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Early during the offseason Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson stated that he would love to see the team add some superstars to the roster. While the Hawks didn’t exactly add superstars in the prime of their career, the front office did add multiple former first round picks to come in and fill specific roles.

Specifically, the former first round picks signed by the team in free agency are:

  • Bruce Irvin (Selected 15th overall by Seattle in 2012),
  • Cedric Ogbuehi (Selected 21st overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015),
  • Phillip Dorsett (Selected 29th overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 2015) and
  • Greg Olsen (Selected 31st overall by the Chicago Bears in 2007).

It’s the last of those names, Olsen, who appears poised to sit atop the depth chart at the tight end position this coming season given the $5.5M guaranteed in his contract, along with a cap hit of $6.906M. Behind Olsen, of course, would appear to be third year man Will Dissly, whose offseason rehab following surgery to repair an Achilles tendon tear reportedly has him on track to be ready for Week 1.

Health will likely dictate how much Dissly is able to play and how impactful he is when on the field. Behind, Dissly, however, is a trove of players fighting for the last two or three spots at the position. Of those, fourth round draft pick Colby Parkinson and 2019 practice squad promotion darling Jacob Hollister seem the most likely to come out in front. Neither is guaranteed a roster spot, but it would not be a shock to see either player on the final 53 man roster come September.

Luke Willson, who spent time with the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders prior to returning to the Hawks last fall, could be a longshot to make the roster, but the team loves him and he could easily step in and fill a depth position if necessary. In particular, in each of the past two seasons Seattle has needed to turn to its tight end depth early in the season, with Ed Dickson starting 2018 on the PUP list and going on to IR just days after final cuts in 2019. That’s not to say that Greg Olsen or one of the other tight ends is destined for injured reserve, just that it’s a possibility. Specifically for a player like Olsen who has missed eighteen games over the past three seasons and is not getting any younger as his age 35 season quickly approaches. Then at the bottom of the depth chart are the longshots, undrafted free agents Tyler Mabry and Dom Wood-Anderson.

Mabry signed with the Seahawks after a college career that saw him take over as the top tight end at Maryland after joining the team as a graduate transfer from the University of Buffalo. At Buffalo Mabry had been the starter for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and was named First Team All MAC after starting all 14 games during the season. At Maryland Mabry added 13 more catches for 155 yards, bringing his college total to 73 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns.

Lastly, Wood-Anderson also played at two different schools during his time in college. In two years at Arizona Western College he pulled in 45 passes for 476 yards and four touchdowns, leading to be named the top junior college tight end prospect in the country. Then at Tennessee in 2018 and 2019 he caught 38 balls for 408 yards and three touchdowns. He’s of a similar size to former Seahawks tight end Anthony McCoy (Anderson is 6’3-5/8”, 261 pounds while McCoy was 6’4-1/2”, 259 pounds), and put up similar numbers in the vertical and broad jumps, though Wood-Anderson tested a step slower in the 40 yard dash.

That said, Wood-Anderson was heavily sought after by many of the big name programs during his recruitment in 2017. In the end he wound up at Tennessee, where he was teammates with the Seahawks second round pick, Darrell Taylor, however, he had offers from schools such as Alabama and Oklahoma, as well as even having committed to Texas at one point before changing his mind. One of the reasons many of those schools wanted him was his high level athleticism that allowed him to be split out wide often. Putting him outside, he was often faced up against a smaller cornerback where he was able to win with speed and size. Here are some highlights from the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship between Garden City Community College and Arizona Western College.

Interestingly, the offensive coordinator for that Garden City Broncbusters team was no other than Steve Shimko. Shimko, of course, was on the offensive coaching staff for the Seahawks for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, prior to taking a position as the tight ends coach for Boston College after Seattle fell to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.

In addition, Wood-Anderson is not the only recent Seattle addition Shimko saw live during during his time with the Broncbusters. The Seahawks first of two 2019 second round draft picks, Marquise Blair, had seven tackles, including one for a loss, to go along with a pass breakup when Shimko’s offense faced off against the Dodge City Community College Conquistadors on the day before the Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals played a thrilling Sunday night football game that ended in a 6-6 tie when Blair Walsh Steven Hauschka did this:

Getting back to the topic at hand, however, while it might seem unlikely that one of the young undrafted free agent tight ends could wrestle their way onto the roster, it’s certainly possible. Injuries have waylaid the Seahawks at the tight end position over the past couple years, and if that proves to be the case yet again in 2020, the Hawks might find themselves watching another undrafted player performing at a high level on the field.