Projecting 53-man rosters in the NFL can be a futile practice, as teams constantly make tweaks and changes to personnel from the beginning of the offseason all the way through training camp.
However, there’s a good chance most of the players currently on the Seattle Seahawks roster will still be with the team when training camp practices begin later this month.
As that date approaches, the Seahawks Wire staff will be taking a stab at which players will make Seattle’s final roster on a position-by-position basis.
Shifting away from running backs and fullbacks in the backfield to receivers on the perimeter, the Seahawks will be attempting to replace production from now-departed receiver Paul Richardson and tight end Jimmy Graham, who accounted for over 30 percent of Seattle’s total receiving yardage last season.
After making a few thrifty free agent signings in Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall, Seattle has a vastly different receivers room than it did this time a year ago. Along with these veteran additions, the Seahawks will be hoping for growth from young receivers Amara Darboh and David Moore to provide a plethora of quality targets for quarterback Russell Wilson.
With a bevy of options to choose from, which receivers have what it takes to stick with the Seahawks in 2018?
“Angry Doug” has emerged as the quintessential NFL slot receiverduring seven seasons with the Seahawks. The former undrafted free agent out of Stanford rarely drops passes, he’s one of the best pure route running receivers in football, and he’s far more efficient as a vertical threat than advertised. In addition, he’s one of Seattle’s most important voices in the locker room and in the community.
Over the past three seasons, Baldwin has averaged 82 receptions, 1,063 receiving yards, and nearly 10 touchdowns per season. With consistently elite production, there’s little doubt he’s evolved into a top-ten receiver in the league. Due to his incredible on-field chemistry with Wilson, expect him to post big numbers once again, especially without Graham’s presence in the red zone.
After suffering a devastating broken leg late in the 2016 season, Lockett looked like a shell of himself for much of last season. Playing at less than 100 percent, he still managed to play in all 16 games and finished with 45 receptions for 555 yards and two touchdowns. He also earned All-Pro distinction as a return specialist for the second time in his career, leading the league in kick return yardage and scoring one touchdown.
Without Jermaine Kearse or Richardson, the Seahawks will need the now-healthy Lockett to find his fastest gear and enjoy a breakthrough campaign as a receiver. If his pre-injury speed has returned as indicated by the team, he will resume the role as Seattle’s premier vertical threat alongside Baldwin, but he must show growth as a route runner to take the next step. To help him focus on his craft, Seattle may turn to rookie Rashaad Penny to take over kick and punt return duties.
For most of his five-year NFL career, Brown served as a complementary piece for the Cardinals passing game. During his first four seasons in Arizona, he never surpassed 229 receiving yards and produced only one season with more than 11 receptions, often playing in the shadows of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown.
In 2017, however, the six-foot-two, 205 pound Brown produced career-highs in receptions (31), receiving yards (477), and touchdowns (4) while averaging over 15 yards per catch. Intrigued by his size and speed, Seattle signed him to a two-year, $5.5 million deal to fill Richardson’s prior role moving forward. With nearly $3 million guaranteed, the Seahawks won’t be cutting him during camp and he’s expected to an integral part of the team’s passing attack.
Should Be In
After joining the Seahawks as a 2017 third round pick, Darboh battled injuries during the preseason and only appeared in the exhibition finale. He never seemed to recover from the missed time and rarely saw the field in the regular season, producing an underwhelming eight receptions for 71 yards while suiting up for all 16 games.
Despite the disappointing performance, the Seahawks are still enamored by Darboh’s size and athleticism. The organization drafted the six-foot-two target out of Michigan believing he could develop into a quality replacement for Kearse and remains optimistic he will still be an impact player. This will be a critical camp for his development, and unlike last year, if he doesn’t perform well, he’s not guaranteed a roster spot heading into his second season.
Unlike Darboh, Moore spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad, but Seattle had no choice but to promote him as other teams started to show interest in signing him to their active rosters. The Seahawks clearly have high hopes for the ex-Division II standout in the future, as the team willingly released defensive end Dwight Freeney to create room for him on the 53-man roster.
After adjusting to NFL competition during a “redshirt” season, Moore has enjoyed an excellent offseason, with coach Pete Carroll calling him a special talent. Boasting a powerful six-foot-two, 219 pound frame and sub-4.45 speed, the Seahawks hope he develops into a well-rounded receiver capable of beating opponents vertically as well as wreaking havoc as a receiver after the catch. He may not be quite ready for extended snaps, but he’s a dynamic athlete Seattle simply cannot afford to cut.
Only a few short years ago, Marshall would’ve been a no-brainer to make Seattle’s roster. He has assembled a Hall of Fame worthy resume with 959 receptions, 12,215 receiving yards, and 82 touchdowns in 12 NFL seasons. On eight different occasions, he’s eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, most recently in 2015 with the Jets.
Now 34 years old and trying to bounce back from multiple injuries, however, Marshall has entered the latter stages of his career. In his lone season with the Giants in 2017, he caught only 18 passes for 154 yards and didn’t score a single touchdown before succumbing to a season-ending ankle injury after five games. If there’s anything left in the tank, it didn’t show in New York, and he’s squarely on the roster bubble in Seattle.
Though his athletic skills have declined, the Seahawks hope Marshall’s elite size can allow him to remain a factor. Standing six-foot-four and weighing 230 pounds, he’s still a load for defensive backs to cover and could serve as a short-term replacement for Graham’s red zone production. If he stays healthy in camp and quickly meshes with Wilson, Seattle will likely keep him around due to his value winning contested catches and providing a large target in the end zone.
Practice Squad Bound
Acquired in the Michael Bennett trade with Philadelphia, Johnson might be the sleeper to watch at the receiver position during camp. He didn’t get a ton of opportunities in Philadelphia, but that’s not necessarily a knock on him as a player. The Eagles were loaded with talent at receiver and simply didn’t have snaps available for him. In 10 games, he caught five passes for 45 yards in limited playing time.
An elite athlete, Johnson posted a 4.39 40-yard dash time at his pro day prior to signing as an undrafted free agent with the Eagles. He also has adequate size (six-foot-one, 204 pounds) to take advantage of this speed as a vertical threat on the outside. Seattle envisions Brown being Richardson’s replacement in the short-term, but Johnson could be the long-term answer. If he makes major strides as a route runner, he’s got a shot to unseat Moore or Marshall.
A former All-American track star at LSU, Grayson may be the most athletically-gifted player on the Seahawks roster. Despite not playing football since high school, Seattle took a chance on him and signed him last spring. Built similarly to Lockett, the five-foot-nine, 183 pound speedster caught only one pass for 20 yards in the preseason and spent the entire season bouncing around on both the Seahawks and Colts practice squads.
Though still very raw as a football player, Grayson has spent this offseason continuing to learn the nuances of route running and returning kicks, and he’s light years ahead of where he was a year ago. He’s a long shot to make the team, but with his rare athletic ability, Seattle would be wise to develop him for another year on the practice squad. Heading into 2019 with two years of training under his belt, he could be a threat to finally earn a roster spot next season.
Outside Looking In
Though the six-foot-six McEvoy provides elite size for the receiver position, he endured an awful second season with the Seahawks. He appeared in 15 games, but only caught five passes for 113 yards and rarely played on offense. Even considering his special teams contributions, he’s fallen too far behind the rest of the competition to last a third season in Seattle.
A former Heisman finalist as a quarterback at Navy, Reynolds would be a high-character addition to Seattle’s locker room and by all accounts has been impressive since signing with the team in May. After bouncing around on the Ravens and Redskins practice squad the past few years, however, he’s not polished enough as a receiver to justify keeping on the roster.
Standing six-foot-two, Scott’s size provided enough intrigue to warrant signing him as an undrafted free agent. While he played with below-average quarterbacks during his time at Vanderbilt and battled through injuries, he only produced 1,061 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 31 career games. His run as an NFL player will likely be a brief one.
Once a promising prospect at Washington, police arrested Stringfellow after he and quarterback Cyler Myles assaulted Seahawks fans following the team’s Super Bowl XLVIII victory. He transferred to Ole Miss and opted to forgo his senior season, eventually spending most of his rookie year on the Jets practice squad. As a former Under Armour All-American, the six-foot-two receiver has plenty of size and skill, but the addition of Marshall minimizes any chance he’ll make the team.