Seahawks draft prospects: WR weapons from 3 groups that could help Russell Wilson
The NFL Draft is almost here and the Seahawks have seven picks going into Thursday. But who might be available to the Seahawks that could help Seattle on its way back to a Super Bowl? That’s the question we’re looking to answer in our third phase of our Seahawks offseason project on Tom, Jake and Stacy: draft prospects.
While this year’s draft class falls short of expectations for one of Seattle’s needs – edge rusher – it’s stocked at another. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said 2020 brings the deepest wide receiver class he’s ever seen. And if the Seahawks are looking to add more weapons for Russell Wilson, there will be plenty of talent through seven rounds.
Jake Heaps highlighted nine receivers who could be a fit for Seattle, breaking them up into three groups. You can listen to his profiles in the Tom, Jake and Stacy podcasts embedded on this page, but here’s a cheatsheet:
“Guys that can stretch the field, and are anywhere from speed demons to possession receivers.”
Justin Jefferson, LSU
Hometown: Destrehan, La.
2019 season: 111 receptions/1,540 yards/18 TDs
College career: 165 receptions/2,415 yards/24 TDs
Notable: 4.43 40-yard dash, 37.5 vertical jump
Jefferson was the favorite target of projected No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow during the Tigers’ championship season in 2019. He finished the year with a team-high 111 receptions and 18 touchdowns.
“He has all the tools you’d look for in a receiver,” Heaps said.
The big question: Did he benefit too much from LSU’s scheme? Jefferson was part of a prolific offensive system and there could be a question about whether that system more often allowed him to find open space.
Tee Higgins, Clemson
Hometown: Oak Ridge, Tenn.
2019 season: 59 receptions/1,167 yards/13 TDs
College career: 135 receptions/2,448 yards/27 TDs
Notable: First-Team All ACC (2019)
Higgins will likely be one of the first receivers to go after the top prospects – Ceedee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs III – are off the board. He’s projected to be a late first-round or early second-round pick.
Heaps had a chance to coach Higgins a few years back at the Nike Football Opening.
“I really loved his demeanor,” Heaps said. “He was a great kid and a tremendous athlete.”
He’s continued to shine at Clemson.
“He has freakish body control and knows how to go up and use his body to his advantage and pluck the ball away from defenders.”
The big question: Higgins is a slender player, carrying 215 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame, which could cause some teams to question his overall durability and toughness against bigger NFL defensive backs.
Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Hometown: Reno, Nev.
2019 season: 65 receptions/1,192 yards/8 TD
College career: 98 receptions/1,666 yards/11TD
Notable: 4.5 40-yard dash (unofficial), 40.0 vertical jump
Aiyuk made a successful transition from Sierra College to play two seasons at Arizona State. In his first year at the Division I level, he finished second on the team in receiving yards and touchdowns (behind N’Keal Harry), and he went on to lead the Sun Devils in receptions (65) and yards (1,192) in 2019.
“He’s got a 4.5 40-yard dash, but he has blazing in-game speed,” Heaps said. “He was also one of the best and most prolific punt returners and kick returners in college football. He was deemed a yard-after-catch king… He’s not just a one-trick pony. I think this is a guy who can be dynamic in terms of reverses, fly sweeps, and he has great route-running ability. He’s quickly becoming my favorite receiver in this draft and one that I think would be a tremendous pairing with Russell Wilson and would complement Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.”
The big question: Can he regularly find separation and create space? That was his biggest critique from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who compared the former Sun Devil to Robert Woods.
Michael Pittman Jr., USC
Hometown: Woodland Hills, CA
2019 season: 101 rec/1,275 yards/11TD
College career: 171 rec/2,519 yards/19TD
Notable: 4.52 40-yard dash, 36.5 vertical, All-Pac-12 First Team (2019), AP All-American second team (2019), finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and semi-finalist for the Lombardi Award.
Pittman finished his college career ranked 12th all-time in receptions at USC, and ranked fifth nationally in receptions in 2019.
“He could be the most polished NFL prospect outside of Ceedee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy,” Heaps said. “He’s a guy I believe will be a productive plug-and-play talent for the Seahawks. He’s a perfect fit for what they want to do; they’re not asking him to come in a be the No. 1 guy and take possessions away from Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Instead he would be asked to come in a be a reliable receiver, a guy who can go up and get the football and run the full route tree. He and Brandon Aiyuk are my two favorite guys out of this group.”
Calling all DK Metcalf fans, this section is for you.
Denzel Mims (Baylor)
Hometown: Daingerfield, Texas
2019 season: 66 receptions/1,020 yards/12 TDs
College career: 186 receptions/2,925 yards/28 TDs
Notable: 4.38 40-yard dash, 38.5 vertical jump
Mims has a rare combination of size and speed that was on full display when he had a season-high three touchdowns in a Sept. 7 win over UTSA (you can watch his targets in that game here) and a 125-yard performance against Texas on Nov 23.
“He’s not a muscled-up guy like DK Metcalf,” Heaps said. “But this guy certainly has the size and the length and his catch radius and wingspan are out of control. He’s tall and rangy, he obviously has great speed, he’s a long strider down the field so his speed is deceptive. When the ball is in the air he knows how to attack it with those long arms and be a true red zone threat, which is where he did a lot of damage in 2019.”
The big question: Scheme fit. “The scheme he was in at Baylor didn’t really ask him to be a detailed route runner,” Heaps said. “And at times you saw him struggle with press coverage. Those are the two things he’s definitely going to have to improve on when he gets to the next level.”
Chase Claypool (Notre Dame)
Hometown: Abbotsford, British Columbia
2019 season: 66 rec/1,037 yards/13TD
College career: 150rec/2,159 yards/19TD
Notable: 4.42 40-yard dash (unofficial), 40.5 vertical jump
Claypool, who hails from two hours north of Seattle just across the Canadian border, led all Notre Dame receivers in 2019 with 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. Like Mims, Claypool boasts a combination of length, size and speed that gives him a physical advantage against most corners.
“The true freakshow of this draft – a guy who’s scary similar to DK Metcalf,” Heaps said. “He’s big, he’s fast, and he has great hands. Very impressed watching him on film. He does a phenomenal job in one-on-one coverage and is a legitimate vertical threat. So, if you pair him in a one-on-one go ball with Russell Wilson, I love that opportunity there for the Seahawks.”
Another thing Pete Carroll would love? Claypool’s run blocking.
“Go watch those highlights,” Heaps said. “He is manhandling DBs.”
The big question: Where does he fit? Is he an outside receiver or inside receiver? “The thing I love about this is that he’s savvy enough to play inside,” Heaps said.
The Gadget Guys
What’s a gadget guy? It’s a player who can fill multiple roles, and as Heaps explains it, is really only limited by his team.
“They’re guys who are only limited by the limitations of your offensive coordinator’s creativity,” Heaps said.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Hometown: DeSoto, Texas
2019 season: 56 receptions/764 yards/6 TDs (plus 161 rush yards and 2 rushing TDs)
College stats: 149 receptions/1,943 yards/10 TDs (280 rushing yards/7 rushing touchdowns)
Notable: 4.58 40-yard dash (unofficial), First Team All Pac-12 (2019)
“He’s one of the more dynamic receivers you’re going to see in this draft. In 2018 he would’ve been a surefire first-round pick,” Heaps said. “In 2019 you saw his production dip… but this is a guy who lined up everywhere: outside, inside, even at wildcat quarterback. On the goal line in short yardage they’d put this guy at quarterback and have him run quarterback.
“He’s explosive in his playmaking ability, he’s got strength, he’s got good wiggle – what I mean by that is he’s got the ability to make moves and make people miss. He’s got the ability to catch a short pass and take it the distance, and that’s something not every receiver has.”
Heaps calls Shenault “a bully” who attacks the ball when it’s in the air.
The big question: Durability. That in part stems from the multitude of ways he was used and his physical style of play. Shenault underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury earlier this year.
Jalen Reagor, TCU
Hometown: Waxahachie, Texas
2019 season: 43 rec/611 yards/5TD
College career: 148 rec/2,248 yards/22 TD (324 rushing yards/2 rushing TDs)
Notable: 4.47 40-yard dash (unofficial), 42.0 vertical jump
“This is more of a pure receiver,” Heaps said. “He’s lightning in a bottle.”
Raegor saw a dip in production in 2019, but Heaps puts that on quarterback play rather than a dip in ability.
“I see this guy being successful, actually, on the outside. He’s shown the ability to make leaping 50-50 go-ball catches and he’s an explosive, explosive player in the return game.”
The big question: There’s the production dip in 2019, but more than that there are a few questions about his route running. It’s worth noting that critique hasn’t always held players back, notably Metcalf, who faced questions about his own route running in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Devin Duvernay, Texas
Hometown: Sachse, Texas
2019 season: 106 rec/1,386 yards/9TD
College career: 176 rec/2,468 yards/16TD
Notable: 4.39 40-yard dash, 35.5 vertical, played in all 52 games, All Big 12 First Team
Duvernay, a favorite of 710 ESPN Seattle host and FOX college football analyst Brock Huard, should be taken in the fourth or fifth round, according to Heaps. He’s already got a link to the NFC West – his cousin is Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
“This guy is as tough as nails. He literally looks to run people over every time he’s got the ball in his hands,” Heaps said. “He’s got serious speed, a big knack for making big plays in a variety of different ways, not just as a receiver down the field but also in the screen game and the fly sweep game.”
The big question: Is he a true receiver? Critiques include tight hips – that he looks more like a running back playing at receiver than a natural receiver – and that he needs to work on his route running. But that style isn’t always bad.
“He’s got toughness, grit, and he’s an attitude guy,” Heaps said.
More Seahawks draft profiles
• Tom, Jake & Stacy: Would Auburn DL Davidson fit in Seattle?
• Tom, Jake & Stacy: Could Seattle take DEs Gross-Matos or Okwara?
• Tom, Jake & Stacy: Which running back could Seattle select?
• Huard: Why Boston College RB A.J. Dillon is a good fit for the Seahawks
• Brock Huard’s draft prospects that fit what the Seahawks need
• Brock Huard breaks down 7 picks from Boy Howdy’s Seahawks mock draft
• Should Seahawks draft a RB in 2nd round? If so, Brock Huard has his pick
• Wyman: Examining if ‘boom or bust’ Bama CB Diggs works for Seahawks
• Wyman: Breaking down projected Seahawks pick DT Justin Madubuike