3 Takes: Who will be Seahawks’ 2nd starting cornerback, 3rd wide receiver?
The Seahawks have two big holes in their starting lineup after losing cornerback Shaquill Griffin and No. 3 wide receiver David Moore in free agency to Jacksonville and Carolina, respectively. They’ve added new players at each of those positions, but will they be able to beat out returning players more familiar with Seattle’s system?
On Thursday’s edition of Wyman and Bob on 710 ESPN Seattle, those two positions were put in the spotlight.
Bob Stelton and his co-host, former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman, discussed the battles at cornerback and wide receiver and shared their personal picks to take over the openings. A bit later they were joined by Pro Football Hall of Fame writer John Clayton, who also shared his choices.
Here’s a look at what they all had to say.
No. 3 wide receiver
Stelton went with Freddie Swain, a 2020 sixth-round pick who had 13 receptions on 21 targets for 159 yards and two touchdowns last season, to replace Moore as quarterback Russell Wilson’s third WR option. He was outnumbered, however, as Wyman and Clayton both predicted D’Wayne Eskridge, Seattle’s top draft selection this year, will get the nod.
“I saw him running the fly sweep, saw him catching a pass in the little hole-shot cover 2 between the safety and corner, ran it right down the sideline, flying around,” Wyman said, referring to his time catching some of the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp last weekend. “I know that there’s a lot of other candidates. I think (Swain) is the guy that is probably the biggest threat to (Eskridge for the third wide receiver starting spot) … but I just like this Eskridge kid. I just love what I saw, I like the fact that he had played defense in the past. I think that really helps receivers, and it also just indicates a level of toughness.”
Clayton can see why the Seahawks grabbed the Western Michigan product in the second round late last month.
“He comes in with the speed. I think he comes in with the toughness that they like, the ability to also play outside even though he’s not the tallest, biggest guy,” Clayton said. “I think right now he’s going to be the leading candidate.”
Second starting outside cornerback
D.J. Reed finished 2020 as the starting corner opposite Griffin, and it’s believed he’ll get one of the starting spots to begin this season. But while the Seahawks used their fourth-round pick on a promising candidate at the position in Tre Brown, the guys see it as a two-man race between Tre Flowers, who is entering his fourth year with the team, and Ahkello Witherspoon, a pickup in free agency who comes from the 49ers.
“This to me is beyond the most wide-open (spot). This is the most competitive position group on the team,” said Stelton before revealing his pick. “I’m just going to go based on the amount of money they committed to Witherspoon. We’ll see what he actually brings to the table. It wasn’t huge money (reportedly a one-year, $4 million deal with a $2.5 million signing bonus), but it wasn’t the veteran minimum with a bunch of incentives, either.”
Wyman and Clayton again agreed on their choice.
“If they had a game tomorrow, I think it would be Tre Flowers, and that’s who I’m going to go with,” Wyman said. “I still believe in him, (though) I saw some things last year that were frustrating like not dropping into the right zone. The biggest thing with him is just trusting himself. … Some guys panic when they’ve got their back to the quarterback. You’re running with a wide receiver and you can’t see the quarterback, then you start to have a tendency to start grabbing, and that’s the thing I think is Tre’s biggest problem.”
Clayton thinks Flowers’ experience will give him just enough of an edge over Witherspoon even though the 49ers use their cornerbacks very similarly to Seattle.
“Flowers has started, he’s been with the group now for fourth years, he’s a big, tall cornerback,” Clayton said. “Witherspoon now has to make the adjustment to come over, though of course it’s pretty much the same cornerback system that he’s used to in San Francisco.”
You can hear Wyman and Bob’s initial discussion in the final segment of this podcast from the show’s second hour, and the conversation continues with Clayton at the start of this podcast from the show’s third hour.