JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Seahawks have their most impressive rookie since Russell Wilson

May 6, 2019, 11:33 PM
Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf should be in the mix to start as a rookie. (Getty)...
Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf should be in the mix to start as a rookie. (Getty)
(Getty)

D.K. Metcalf was the star of the recently-completed Seahawks rookie minicamp.

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The second-round pick put on the best show in a rookie minicamp since Russell Wilson in 2012 — he caught just about everything, and looked unstoppable.

On Friday, he made a catch along the sidelines that defied gravity. Showing off his 40 1/2 inch vertical jump, Metcalf vaulted to catch a high pass and snatched it out of the air. And it wasn’t his only incredible catch of the weekend.

At 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, the rookie receiver looked like a raw version of Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson. Maybe that’s an overstatement, but it’s pretty clear Metcalf exceeded expectations for a player taken at the bottom of the second round. If he can stay healthy and continue to develop, Metcalf could end up being the starting split end. Clearly, the Seahawks don’t have plans to rush him. Granted, he needs to get better at running his routes. But what he showed this weekend offers a lot of promise for the Seahawks’ offense.

Metcalf put in work this offseason with Jerry Sullivan, who is considered one of the best receiver coaches of the era. Though he wasn’t perfect, Metcalf ran routes well enough that head coach Pete Carroll said working the nine-route receiving tree isn’t a big factor. He’s got plenty going for him; he can get downfield and make catches, he towers over cornerbacks with his height, and his speed is incredible.

I don’t think I’ve seen a player who both gained and suffered more than Metcalf as a result of his scouting combine. In Indianapolis, Metcalf ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and lifted more 225-pound bench presses than 29 offensive linemen. Yet his bad time in the short shuttle and the cone drill made general managers feel as though he might not be effective in short routes. (Last I checked, receivers don’t have to make short back-and-forth steps and put a hand on the ground when running a route.)

Seeing his potential in the Seahawks’ minicamp leaves the impression Metcalf could be starting at the beginning of the season. That would allow Tyler Lockett to move into the slot if Doug Baldwin retires. David Moore, rookie Gary Jennings or someone else could win the other outside receiver job.

It’s not out of the question that the Seahawks could end up with three starters at the top of their 2019 draft class. First-round choice L.J. Collier will compete against Rasheem Green at 5-technique (the Michael Bennett defensive end position), and Marquise Blair will challenge Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson for a starting safety job.

The draft choices looked good in the rookie minicamp. Both Blair and Ugo Amadi showed good range and play-making ability when they were on the field together as a safety tandem. Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven offered good speed and the ability to recognize plays as they develop at the linebacker position.

Phil Haynes could be a big guard on the offensive line in the future, but he’ll need time. Coming out of a spread offense, he has not blocked by using a hand on the ground. Sixth-round pick Travis Homer showed he could compete for the job as the third-down running back. The only downer was not seeing wide receivers Gary Jennings and John Ursua, both of whom were sidelined by hamstring injuries. But overall, it was a productive weekend for the Seahawks.

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