Monday, May 5, 2014

Prepping For The Draft: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

I broke down each position group immediately following the Super Bowl predicting what would happen, player-by-player. Now is the right time to see where things stand heading into the draft.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

This group panned out differently than I predicted, and nobody is happier to be wrong in this case than me.

WHAT I GOT RIGHT

  • Sidney Rice being released
  • Anthony McCoy re-signed
  • Zach Miller stays with the team




WHAT I GOT WRONG
  • Golden Tate was not re-signed
  • Doug Baldwin is not going to be traded, and may be signed to an extension
  • Rice re-signed
  • Interest shown in adding another tight end (Jermichael Finley, Terrelle Pryor?)

What have we learned?

Golden Tate was a favorite of Pete Carroll's. He was the cover boy for the team mobile app last year. He was targeted more than any receiver on the team last year, and was one of Russell Wilson's favorite targets. For all those reasons and more, I expected the Seahawks to bring him back instead of Baldwin. I valued Baldwin more because of his ability to create separation, play multiple receiver positions, and his overall combination of integrity and work ethic. This is one of those moments where you smile at the thought that the front office of your favorite football team values the things you value in a player. Make no mistake, this was a choice of Baldwin or Tate, and the Seahawks made a sound decision. It would not surprise me to see Baldwin extended before training camp.

Tate's departure opens a gap at split end. Jermaine Kearse is the likely leader in the clubhouse to fill that void, but he will have competition.

The trio of Miller, McCoy and Willson is a talented and diverse bunch. Miller had his contract split across two seasons, so he is highly likely to be around for another year, which reduces the need to draft a front-line tight end.

The key question is to figure out whether the Seahawks interest in Finley and acquisition of Pryor had anything to do with the tight end spot, or if they possibly see one (or both) of those players as potential big receivers. John Schneider's choices on draft day should be revealing. 

Draft expectations

Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, Bryan Walters, Chris Mathews, Taylor Price, and Phil Bates all have their eyes on the split end vacated by Tate. Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Kearse will battle for flanker. Baldwin, Percy Harvin and Arceto Clark will get the slot receiver reps. That is a lot of names, but really works out to two receivers who have significant starting experience (Harvin and Baldwin), one with significant game experience who has shown upside (Kearse), and a whole bunch of "happy if you get something" type of guys. Yes, even Rice fits in that category after the injury and production before injury last year.

That means Seattle absolutely must add to the pile at receiver. The body type they most lack is a large frame player, likely over 6'2" tall. They tried to add a guy like that in Kris Durham, and then again in Stephen Williams. Neither stuck. Look for them to try again. They will probably also be active in undrafted free agents, as they have shown a knack for finding their type of receivers that way (Kearse, Baldwin, Lockette, Bates, Clark, etc.).

Tight end is not a position of need. Should the team spend a pick on a tight end, it means they got great value, similar to what we saw them do last year with Christine Michael at running back.


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