First look at the Seahawks’ wide receiver battle
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks didn’t enter this year’s draft thinking they needed to select a wide receiver after returning all but one from 2013, adding additional options in free agency and getting Percy Harvin back from what was a season mostly lost due to injury.
They ended up taking two receivers anyway, choosing Paul Richardson with their first selection then doubling up with Kevin Norwood later.
That leaves the Seahawks with 12 receivers on their roster. Seattle hasn’t kept more than six on final cutdowns in any of the past four seasons, which means the battle for roster spots could be more competitive at that position than any other.
“It’s pretty dang stiff,” general manager John Schneider said of the competition Seattle has created at receiver.
May is no time to draw conclusions about a team, let alone establish its roster. Plenty can change between now and then, but here’s an initial look at where Seattle stands at receiver after the draft:
Percy Harvin. When last we saw Harvin, he was ripping off big gains on end-around runs, returning a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown and showing what had enticed the Seahawks to give him the biggest contract in franchise history. Barring another injury, it’s a safe bet that Seattle’s $67-million man will be on the roster.
Doug Baldwin and Percy Harvin project as two of Seattle’s top receiving targets in 2014. (AP)
Doug Baldwin. Seattle’s second-leading receiver last season, Baldwin showed both a knack for big-time catches as well as an ability to play outside after operating mostly out of the slot his first two seasons. While he’s technically not under contract at the moment, Baldwin is expected to at some point sign Seattle’s second-round tender.
Jermaine Kearse. Four of the six touchdown passes Kearse caught during the regular season and playoffs had one thing in common: they entailed him outleaping a defender and winning a jump ball. The Seahawks’ decision to not draft one of those towering receivers they supposedly like so much could have been a reflection of their belief that at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Kearse has some of those attributes without all the size.
Paul Richardson. He was the third-fastest receiver at the scouting combine, running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash that he said was slower than his best recorded time of 4.28. The Seahawks feel his blazing speed and quickness will allow him to overcome some of the issues that might be presented by his slight frame. Chosen with the 45th overall pick, Richardson is the Seahawks’ highest-drafted receiver since Koren Robinson was taken ninth overall in 2001.
Kevin Norwood. Schneider identified Norwood as the player the Seahawks felt most fortunate to be able to draft given their expectation that he would have been gone by the time Seattle took him in the fourth round. Among the stated reasons were his 4.47 speed at 6-feet-2 and 195 pounds, his saviness as a route runner and the reliability he showed as the go-to guy at Alabama. Seattle also likes his mental makeup, noting several times how he and his family overcame being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. But before pencilling Norwood in remember that Seattle has shown a willingness to move on quickly from fourth-round picks, most recently releasing receiver Chris Harper at the end of training camp last year.
Sidney Rice. Released then re-signed to a one-year deal, Rice has more experience than any receiver on Seattle’s roster and the most familiarity with Darrell Bevell’s offense when you take into account the time they spent together in Minnesota. He’s also coming off a torn ACL, which was the latest in his long list of injuries. Rice could end up being a steal at $1.4 million if he stays healthy and is fully recovered from reconstructive knee surgery, but that’s far from certain.
In the mix
Ricardo Lockette. He has elite speed and a 6-foot-2, 211-pound frame to go with it, but the fact that Lockette has been with three teams in two years is a good indication that he’s no lock to make Seattle’s roster. Working in his favor, though, is his emergence as a special-teams player last season.
Playing on special teams could strengthen Ricardo Lockette’s case for a roster spot. (AP)
Phil Bates. An undrafted rookie in 2012 who began his college career as a quarterback, Bates had a strong showing in training camp last year but ended up on Seattle’s practice squad for the second straight season. He’s a bigger-bodied receiver, listed at 6-feet-1 and 220 pounds.
Chris Matthews. He’s an even bigger-bodied receiver at 6-feet-5 and 218 pounds who signed with Seattle this offseason after two years in the CFL, where he was the league’s rookie of the year in 2012 and missed much of last season because of injuries.
Bryan Walters. He started last season on the practice squad but eventually saw some action, making four regular-season appearances and playing in the NFC title game. Walters has some return ability. He showed it in a 2011 preseason game when he was with San Diego and ran a kickoff back for a touchdown against Seattle.
Taylor Price. One of Seattle’s only free-agent additions this year has been Price, who hasn’t appeared in a game since 2011 and has only played in six games since entering the league as a third-round pick by New England in 2010. When the Seahawks drafted Golden Tate near the end of the second round that year, they reportedly had Price ranked one spot behind him.
Arceto Clark. He was signed as an undrafted free agent last year and spent much of his rookie season on Seattle’s practice squad.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.