clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ESPN analyst puts Seahawks skill position talent among the NFL’s elite

More hype for the Seahawks offense.

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks offense has the potential to be one of the most exciting groups of the NFL season, and outside observers have taken notice.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranked every NFL team’s offensive arsenals based on wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends. Wide receivers are more heavily weighted than the other two positions, and the focus is on the top contributors on the depth chart. In other words, you are not going to be getting breakdowns about a team’s RB3 or WR5. These rankings are also based on projected on-field performance for this season, and will also factor in injury history and suspensions (e.g. Jameson Williams).

Last year, Barnwell ranked the Seahawks at No. 13, down from No. 8 in 2021. This year he’s bumped Seattle all the way up to No. 4, putting them firmly amongst the NFL’s elite. Why yes, he famously said the Seahawks had the worst offseason of any team in 2022, but he’s acknowledged how wrong he was and has plenty of praise for this year’s group.

From behind the paywall:

We’ve talked about one-two punches quite a few times here, but I’m so excited to see what the top three wideouts can do in Seattle this season. Buoyed by pinpoint accuracy from Smith, we’re going to be seeing highlight-reel catches from DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba. It seems worth noting Smith-Njigba outperformed teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave when those three were together in Ohio State during the 2021 season. Of course, Wilson and Olave were just the league’s two top rookie wideouts a year ago. Smith-Njigba is coming off a season marred by hamstring injuries, but if everyone stays healthy, this could be a fearsome big three.

If anything, Metcalf was unlucky to not have had a bigger season in 2022. The hulking wideout was targeted a league-high 24 times in the end zone, giving him nine more targets than any other player in the league. Unfortunately, after catching 40% of those targets across his first three seasons in the league, he caught 20% of those targets last season. If Metcalf gets that kind of usage in the end zone again, his touchdown total should spike back toward the 12 scores he had in 2021.

The Seahawks had their own candidate in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, as running back Kenneth Walker finished second behind Wilson. While Walker put a few incredible runs on tape in an impressive season, I’m not sure the 22-year-old was as impressive on closer inspection. He was wildly inconsistent and struggled to keep the offense on schedule, as his 42% success rate ranked 41st out of 42 qualifying backs. Success rate doesn’t matter if a player is hitting home runs regularly, but Walker ranked 38th out of 42 backs in DVOA.

Other metrics were more impressed. Walker ranked 24th in expected points added per rush and 11th in rushing yards over expected per carry, both of which hint toward his explosiveness and big-play ability. Given that Walker wasn’t much more than a screen option in the passing game, though, you can understand why the Seahawks used a second-round pick on Zach Charbonnet. Walker is a useful player, but I don’t think he was quite as dominant as the highlights would have suggested.

Barnwell wasn’t bullish on the tight end position, headlined by Noah Fant and Will Dissly. Frankly the addition of Smith-Njigba I suspect will result in a reduced reliance on tight end targets this season. Generally speaking, the top skill position players on the team are so young (other than Lockett, who’s now on the other side of 30) that it’s hard not to be giddy about what Seattle can accomplish.

The three teams ahead of the Seahawks in Bill’s rankings are unsurprisingly the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, and at the very top are the San Francisco 49ers. I wouldn’t argue against San Francisco whatsoever, division rivalry be damned.

Again, these are skill position rankings and not the overall offense, which includes quarterback Geno Smith and a still largely inexperienced offensive line. Besides health (duh), the performances are Geno and the OL are the two biggest variables. If Geno can sustain or improve upon last season, and the offensive line continues its development, then the Seahawks offense should be poised for greatness in 2023.