Clayton: With speed and size, Seahawks have some interesting options at WR
The week started with some concerns for the Seahawks’ receiving corps.
Doug Baldwin couldn’t practice because of a sore knee and is expected to miss a couple of weeks of training camp. Brandon Marshall was getting closer to practicing but still trying to recover from toe and ankle surgeries from last season.
There were more question marks than answers. Tyler Lockett was the only sure thing for quarterback Russell Wilson at receiver, though but there were plenty of speedy options.
Fortunately for Wilson, the week turned out to be encouraging. Let’s break down the Seahawks’ receiving unit and where it stands.
For Wilson, there shouldn’t be any panic. As Seattle’s offense grew under his control early in his career, Wilson worked with a bunch of undrafted receivers who developed into dependable targets – guys like Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, etc.
This new group in training camp is fast. The Seahawks have added several receivers with speed and some with height and size. Marcus Johnson, Jaron Brown and Lockett run 4.4 40-yard dashes or faster. Amara Darboh runs a 4.45. David Moore is big and fast. Cyril Grayson and Marvin Bracy are accomplished track sprinters. Keenan Reynolds is also fast.
As it turned out, receivers grabbed a lot of attention this week. Darboh didn’t stand out during the OTAs and minicamp, but he did well during this first week of training camp. Moore continues to be one of the surprise stars and is competing to be the No. 3 receiver, as well.
Perhaps the biggest news, however, was the 34-year-old Marshall’s return in Thursday’s practice. Wilson made a back shoulder throw to him that he turned into a touchdown. The offense celebrated around him, and it was the type of play that was exactly the reason why the Seahawks signed him.
Marshall said the trainers and doctors wanted to ease him back onto the practice field. He’s had a borderline Hall of Fame career, and the Seahawks are trying to find out how much he has left in the tank.
Though no one expects him to play at a Pro Bowl level, Marshall offers plenty to the offense. He’s 6 foot 4, 230 pounds and can fill some of the void created by the departure of tight end Jimmy Graham, who was really Wilson’s No. 2 passing option the past couple of years.
Unlike the other receivers who can offer speed, Marshall is the one receiver who will be asked to beat cornerbacks with his size and physical strength. As he showed on the touchdown pass from Wilson, he can be a factor in the red zone.
Marshall came to Seattle humble. With few teams offering him a contract, he felt a good portion of the league felt his tank was running empty at his age. That wasn’t the feeling of the New York Giants when they signed him last year, though; they wanted him to be the No. 2 receiver on the other side of Odell Beckham.
Marshall had no problem accepting that role. After being a No. 1 receiver for years and getting double-teamed, he thought it was a good fit with Beckham. Unfortunately, his season was shorted by an ankle injury.
Moving on, Jaron Brown is currently running as the No. 3 receiver, and he’s an intriguing option. He’s 6-3, 204 pounds. Brown got his most expansive playing time last year in Arizona because John Brown went week to week not knowing how much he could play because of a sickle cell issue.
In 2017, Jaron Brown caught 31 passes for 477 yards and four touchdowns. He joked the other day that he caused problems for fantasy fans. Those who had John Brown on their team thought that was who was making those big downfield catches, but it was Jaron.
At the end of the offseason program, David Moore looked like a lock to make the team. He continues to improve each week to a point where he might get significant playing time. Like so many young receivers, the seventh-round choice was lost last year as a rookie. He was on the practice squad but when teams started trying to sign him, the Seahawks put him on the active roster to make sure they wouldn’t lose him.
Marcus Johnson came over from Philadelphia in the Michael Bennett trade and he offers great speed. He runs well out of the slot and can break out for long completions. Don’t count him out.
Two sleepers are Keenan Reynolds and Damore’ea Stringfellow. Reynolds, who went to Navy, is small and fast and could be valuable in the return game. Stringfellow, a onetime UW Husky, is 6-2, 212 pounds with speed, and he has made some impressive catches in practice.
For the moment, I’d say Baldwin, Lockett, Brown, Moore and Marshall are the top five, and the Seahawks could keep six depending on how the competition shakes out among Darboh and the other pass-catchers.