A Look at the Wide Receiver Group
In 2017 most of the Seahawks fans criticised the quality of the wide receiver core, a lot of drops, lack of separation, and most importantly, most of the time there was a lack of sync between Russell Wilson as his receivers.
As of right now I think most Seahawks fans aren’t very hopeful as they’ve just lost Paul Richardson to the Washington Redskins. However they’ve already acquired Marcus Johnson from the Michael Bennett trade and been linked with players like Jordy Nelson (who was recently cut by the Packers to make room for former Seahawk Jimmy Graham) and Jaron Brown (former Cardinal). Those players could bring something to the the table but will they significantly improve the overall quality of the wide receiver core? That’s something I’ll be looking to answer at the end of the article.
Before I talk about possible signings, let’s look at what the Seahawks have in house. The first thing that pops out looking at this chart is that this position is actually a bigger need than it looked to be at first. Yes, Doug Baldwin is pretty amazing, Lockett can continue to improve and Darboh has a good upside but Cyril Grayson is a former LSU track runner turned wide receiver, David Moore is still very much inexperienced and Marcus Johnson had little to no game time in Philadelphia.
Let’s look at the numbers those players posted this past season though.
Injuries, lack of rotation and little time spent on offence didn’t help Darboh showcase much, if anything, this past year. He made 8 catches out of 13 targets (meaning he’s caught 61,5% of his passes) and tallied up a total of 71 yards but maybe the most interesting stat out of all is that his yards per catch is set at 8.9 yards and if he keeps up those numbers he could prove to be what Seahawks fans hoped, a reliable chain mover.
It’s also worth nothing that I thought that Darboh would be a very good Kearse replacement and despite many Seahawks fans already giving up on him I think that with continuous game time he’ll keep improving as more time not only means more experience but also more opportunities.
Tyler Lockett ended the 2016 season injured. He fractured his Tibia and Fibula, a horrifying injury I think most Seahawks fans remember.
He started this past season shaky, he was pulled in and out of games and you could see he was still getting back into form, which I don’t think he ever peaked this year. Yet, he still managed to record 500 + yards in just 45 catches, out of 71 possible grabs, meaning he caught 63,4% of his passes.
Averaging 13.3 yards per catch and with a 74 yards grab Lockett showed he can still burst the top off the defences, and I felt like he could have done it more regularly if Russell Wilson didn’t overthrow him a few times per game, I recall one overthrown pass against the Packers in week 1 where Tyler is wide open, that play would have a been a touchdown. Which brings me to Tyler’s 2 touchdown grabs, a clear subpar number yet I feel like most of it had to do with Richardson’s great year (caught 6 touchdowns and played Tyler’s role this past year) and Russ’ overthrown passes due to poor protection.
I personally don’t think we should fret over Lockett, I think he’s going to bounce back big time and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends with the most touchdowns on the team.
Doug has always been a reliable pass catcher and this year he continued to prove why he’s a top 10 to 15 wide receiver. Despite most of our wide out having a bad year Doug was just shy off one thousand yards, tallying up 991 yards. He caught 64,7% of his passes (75 catches in 116 targets).
8 touchdowns means Doug was Russ’ favourite target when it came to wide receivers, his ability to juke and shimmy past defenders is still criminally underrated and it doesn’t matter if he has a lot of space or not, he’ll make things happen. It is also worth noting that he’s the best target for Russ when he’s scrambling, their chemistry is undeniable but it’s a clear result of working together for several years now.
Baldwin still had a down year given he went over one thousand yards two years ago but he was still, by far, the best offensive player in Seattle (bar Russell, obviously).
His 13.2 yards per catch proved that Baldwin was a constant chain mover.
Also, according to PPF, Doug Baldwin led the NFL in drops, only dropping 1 out of 76 catchable passes.
The Seahawks have a number one wide receiver but it’d be nice to see Lockett compliment Baldwin’s work by blowing the top of the defences more regularly.
There’s not a lot on Marcus, he caught 5 passes out of 9 targets meaning he hauled in 62,5% of his passes yet he still averaged 9 yards per reception and his longest grab was of 16 yards.
It’s obvious that the Seahawks wanted Marcus because of his height and speed. He’s 6ft1 and ran a 4.38 40 yard dash. His biggest issue has been injuries as he was a decent pass catcher and a big play threat.
Clearly the Seahawks see something in him, or else they wouldn’t have picked him up, I think if he impresses in pre-season, he has a real shot at making the roster.
It’s worth noting that both Grayson and Moore don’t have any stats but David was a standout in pre-season and Cyril appears to be an interesting project, specially if he can overtake Tyler’s kick return duties. I expect Moore to have a real shot at making the squad and Grayson’s spot highly depends on his special teams play.
As I’ve said a bit earlier, Jordy Nelson was rumoured to fly to Seattle for a meeting but it’s likely he’ll sign with the Raiders as they’ve just released Crabtree. Michael Crabtree to Seattle anyone?
Also Jaron Brown has a meeting scheduled with Seattle, a player I’ll also look over, stats wise, also sharing my opinion on his play.
No matter if Nelson signs with the Raiders or not, let’s look over his stats first.
Jordy Nelson had a clear down year in 2017. He had less than 500 yards receiving in just over 50 catches, he was targeted 88 times meaning he only caugh 60,2% of his targets. He caught 6 touchdowns and averaged 9.1 yards per catch. This very much proves that Nelson is still able to move the chains, even on a down year and playing without Aaron Rodgers.
Obviously Nelson’s past seasons will talk higher than a bad year in 2017, and rightfully so, specially because he had two plus one thousand yards seasons the past two seasons but I can’t help but to wonder if he’ll be able to do as well as he did in Green Bay with the Raiders. I’m not huge on Derek Carr and with Jordy aging, you have to wonder how much he’ll be able to do with an above average QB instead of an elite quarterback.
Before we fully dive into Brown’s stats, let’s remember that Arizona’s offensive line situation isn’t better than Seattle’s and their quarterback position was just as bad, he had to play alongside Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert.
Still, Brown went just under 500 yards but his catch percentage was of 44,9% but how much does that fall on the quarterback and Arians’ big play offence? Yet, he still averaged 15.4 yards per catch and hauled in 4 touchdowns so all in all I think given what he had to work with Brown still had a decent year.
He is also a big guy at 6ft2 and also ran a 4.40 on the combine, see the trend here? I think there’s a solid chance that the Seahawks sign Brown, probably a one year deal heavily incentive based.
I think the Seahawks will have about 5 or 6 wide outs in the final roster, there’s a possibility we keep 5 and play J.D. McKissic as a receiver depending on the moment of the game or the personnel. We can’t forget he was a big part of the passing game, specially in big plays.
I see the Seahawks wide receiver depth chart be:
#1 Doug Baldwin.
#2 Tyler Lockett.
#3 Jaron Brown (or another free agent).
#4 Amara Darboh.
#5 Marcus Johnson / David Moore / Rookie.
#6 Cyril Grayson (if he’s a special teams standout).
I still think we need more players, more competition, more quality, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an influx of wide outs specially after the draft.
There’s one thing I truly believe in though, with Lockett bouncing back and a more stable #3 receiver the Seahawks wide receivers will have a better season than last year.