Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 12, WR Doug Baldwin
Each day until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is talking with an NFL analyst and counting down the 25 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. “Two-a-days” continued with Heath Evans of the NFL Network as the guest and Doug Baldwin as the 12th-most intriguing Seahawk. The segment on Baldwin is embedded above. My thoughts are below.
• Position: WR
• Height/Weight: 5-10, 192
• Experience: sixth season
• Acquired: Signed as undrafted free agent, 2011
Overview: As you’ve surely heard once or twice from Baldwin himself, there was a time that he was considered by some to merely be average by the standards of an NFL receiver. That assessment was based on the bottom-line receiving numbers, and Baldwin’s single-season highs over his first four years weren’t all that spectacular: 66 catches, 825 yards and five touchdowns. Often not taken into account, though, was the efficiency with which Baldwin played in an run-first offense that limits opportunities for pass-catchers. No one is calling Baldwin average anymore after setting career highs last season with 78 catches for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns. He became the first Seahawk since 2007 to top 1,000 yards receiving, and his 14 touchdown catches tied for the NFL lead while also establishing a new franchise record. That helped Baldwin get a four-year, $46 million contract extension last month that ranks seventh among NFL receivers in annual average.
The intrigue: How good can Baldwin and quarterback Russell Wilson be together now that they’re both locked up on long-term extensions? It has been evident for a few years now that they have that all-important on-field rapport that must exist between a quarterback and his No. 1 receiver. Last season showed how strong it is. According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson’s quarterback rating when targeting Baldwin was a staggering 141.0, which was the best mark for any quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL (for context, Wilson led the league with an overall passer rating of 110.1). Asked recently which play from last season he thinks best exemplifies that connection, Wilson noted the 53-yard touchdown pass he threw to Baldwin against Minnesota in Week 13 (which Brock Huard broke down in a “Chalk Talk” video).
2016 outlook: Baldwin may have a hard time topping his receiving totals from last season, one reason being the improved depth among Seattle’s pass-catchers with players returning from injuries that sidelined them for parts of last season. Tight end Jimmy Graham missed the final five and a half regular-season games, which coincided with a massive spike in Baldwin’s production. Paul Richardson, who played in only one game, is coming back as well. There may not be enough balls to go around for Baldwin to match let alone exceed his 104 targets from last year, which was a career high. But it would still be considered a successful season if he finished with, say, 75 catches for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Most Intriguing Seahawks: 25, DL Quinton Jefferson; 24, WR Kasen Williams; 23, WR Paul Richardson; 22, G Mark Glowinski; 21, TE Nick Vannett; 20, CB Jeremy Lane; 19, DT Jordan Hill; 18, RB Alex Collins; 17, S Tyvis Powell; 16, G Germain Ifedi; 15, QB Russell Wilson; 14, FS Earl Thomas; 13, CB Tharold Simon.