What would the Seahawks look for in a WR/TE?

December 13th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Brandon Coleman would give the 2013 draft class some star power

Yesterday I wrote a piece about Cordarrelle Patterson and why he’s such an enigma. It got me wondering – what would the Seahawks look for in a receiver?¬†There are so many different types of wide-out eligible for the 2013 draft, so what could they look for?

Adding to the mystery is the variety with which Seattle has chosen wide-outs during the Carroll/Schneider era. They looked at big pass-catchers (Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson) while utilising Mike Williams (6-5) as a primary receiver in 2010. He was essentially replaced by¬†Sidney Rice (6-4). On the other hand, they spent a second round pick on Golden Tate (5-10) and he’s since developed into an integral part of the offense. Doug Baldwin (5-10) has also featured heavily as a third-down target, while others such as Charly Martin (6-1), Jermaine Kears (6-2), Braylon Edwards (6-3), Terrell Owens (6-3) and Ben Obomanu (6-1) have seen time on the field.

They’ve also spent big on the tight end position, investing millions in Zach Miller while also bringing along USC-grown Anthony McCoy. Kellen Winslow essentially had a ‘trial’ during pre-season and Evan Moore has taken some snaps after replacing Winslow on the roster. Seattle likes to use 2TE sets and we could see more of that implemented into the offense going forward.

There’s a variety of shapes and sizes there, making it hard to pin-down what the Seahawks might look for if they want to draft another target for Russell Wilson. Clearly, to me at least, they need to add some depth. Why else were they playing around with T.O.? Why else were they looking at Winslow and keeping Braylon Edwards on the roster until this week? There’s room for at least one more legit target and it was one of the few need areas the front office were unable to solve during the 2012 off-season.

Fortunately, the 2013 class looks rich in depth if not elite talent. There’s no A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but there’s a lot of talent to be had in the late first or second round. Working out who might interest the Seahawks is the hard part, especially since this is a front office that likes to keep you guessing.

Let’s go through some of the options…

Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)

Size: 6-6, 225lbs

Speed: Capable of running away from defenders. Certainly above average for his size

Notes: Coleman has Megatron-type potential and if he declares for the 2013 draft, he has as much chance as anyone to crack the top-ten. He could be a superstar at receiver.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)

Size: 6-1, 200lbs

Speed: Not elite by any means and he won’t run away from defensive backs on a deep route. Still quicker than fast and very sharp getting into his breaks.

Notes: Hopkins isn’t a physically dominating player, but he’s one of the smoothest receivers you’ll ever meet. He runs routes effortlessly, understands the Clemson offense and is Mr. Consistent. Fantastic production in 2012.

Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State)

Size: 5-11, 185lbs

Speed: He beat DeAnthony Thomas in a 100m race this year. Wheaton’s speed is one of his greatest assets.

Notes: Despite lacking size he’s very competitive and willing to get involved as a blocker. He’s a consistent playmaker and a big YAC threat. Compares very well to Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace.

Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)

Size: 6-3, 205lbs

Speed: He could run a 4.3 at the combine.

Notes: X-factor player who scores cheap points. He’ll be an instant threat as a kick returner. He’s also inconsistent and undercooked. Still, only Brandon Coleman has more upside.

Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)

Size: 6-6, 252lbs

Speed: As you’d expect for a tight end.

Notes: I’ve seen some people suggest he’s not a great run blocker, something I can’t agree with. Ertz is the total package at tight end and can stay on the field for any play call.

Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)

Size: 5-8, 173lbs

Speed: Maybe even quicker than Markus Wheaton. He shifts through the gears with ease.

Notes: Size will concern some people, but Austin’s speed will intrigue others. He’ll need a package of plays and he goes beyond conventional thinking – but he’s fun to watch and scores touchdowns.

Robert Woods (WR, USC)

Size: 6-1, 190lbs

Speed: He doesn’t have explosive speed, but he has other qualities that make up for it.

Notes: Woods has improved his consistency this year, he’s competitive and chirpy and can make big plays with the ball in his hands. He’s underrated due to a lack of size.

Keenan Allen (WR, California)

Size: 6-3, 206lbs

Speed: He ran in the 4.5’s and 4.6’s at high school and has since added 20lbs. This could be an issue.

Notes: Allen lacks balance and control, he’s also not a quick receiver. On the plus side, he has decent size and plays with real intensity.

Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)

Size: 6-4, 205lbs

Speed: It’s good enough.

Notes: He has a playing style and frame similar to A.J. Green. But yeah, he isn’t A.J. Green.

Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)

Size: 6-6, 251lbs

Speed: What you’d expect from a tight end.

Notes: He’s not a great blocker. He’ll go in the same kind of range as John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph.

This is just a sample, you could throw other names into the mix too. I’m not crazy about Terrance Williams at Baylor as an early pick which is why I left him out.

From the group, I think you can make a case for all. The Seahawks have looked for size at receiver and seem to like players who can win jump balls. When they drafted Golden Tate they cited his ability to compete for the ball in the air despite his size, and we’ve seen evidence of that this season.

At the same time, this is a quick-hitting passing offense that likes to take shots on play action. Getting separation downfield will help those big plays come off more often. Tate and Sidney Rice are no slouches, but there’s no true burner on the team and that’s maybe something they’ll look for regardless of size.

I also think they’d like to run a lot more 2TE sets similar to what we see at Stanford in the PAC-12. Anthony McCoy keeps showing flashes of quality that make you want to believe he can step up and become more of a consistent feature. But the fact is, the Seahawks are still using Zach Miller mostly for blocking and they’re not getting a great deal of production from the #2. A guy like Zach Ertz – who blocks as well as Miller and is a similar threat as a receiver – could help that situation and open up the offense. If you can use a formation that makes it look like you’ll run more often then not, the play action game will really threaten.

I’ll give you my take.

I like Markus Wheaton, DeAndre Hopkins and Robert Woods. A lot. And I think they’d find a way to be productive for this offense. I also think there’s a chance this team would entertain any of the three. Wheaton has the speed, Hopkins the polish and Woods the connection with Pete Carroll. However, I think three players stand out more than any others here.

Brandon Coleman could be a star in this league. He has the size and reach to win jump balls and he’s destined to be a real threat in the red zone. How do you over throw a 6-6 receiver with his wingspan? He’s an exceptionally big target with surprising speed. Look for any highlights of this guy and you’ll see him running away from defensive backs. Click here to see his 85-yard touchdown run against Louisville. He’s a 4.5 runner at 6-6 with YAC potential and I think he can run deep routes. If he declares – and he’s not indicated either way what his intentions are – then I suspect he’ll be rated very highly. A lack of pure production at Rutgers could push him into Seattle’s path. Stranger things have happened. Demaryius Thomas would’ve been a much earlier pick had he not played in the triple-option at Georgia Tech.

Zach Ertz would really open up Seattle’s offense. You could book-end Ertz with Zach Miller, play two receivers and give a run-look on most downs. It’ll give linebackers nightmares wondering whether they need to plug gaps against Mashawn Lynch or get into coverage to monitor two productive tight ends. This would probably keep things honest for Russell Wilson while also buying him time in the pocket. And he’d also have two reliable check-down options on third down – something that was an issue when Doug Baldwin was injured. The Seahawks showed a lot of interest on Coby Fleener’s pro-day last off-season. For me, Ertz is a superior player.

Cordarrelle Patterson is a pure difference maker. There aren’t many guys at 6-3/6-4 with his run-away speed and playmaking quality. He can score cheap points, change momentum and keep defenses guessing. Sure, he’s raw and needs to iron out a few kinks. He also has explosive ability to make big plays. And as we’ve seen this year more than any other, the Seahawks want quick strikes in their passing game. They seem to want to get defenses committing to the run only to beat them down field on play action. They want guys who can work within a trick play or package to get things rolling. Patterson might be one or two years away from being a consistent player you can rely on, but any time he’s on the field – even in year one – he’s a threat to score. And the Seahawks are a good enough team these days to consider a luxury like that. They’ve also shown they aren’t afraid to draft former JUCO prospects in round one (James Carpenter, Bruce Irvin).

This isn’t me committing to these three or saying the others are unlikely. I could sit here and make a case for drafting any of these guys. And as I mentioned, I have first round grades on Wheaton, Hopkins and Woods. I’m not totally convinced the Seahawks will target receivers in the first round, given John Schneider’s Green Bay background where they consistently hit on players taken in the second round. Yet I’m also not convinced they’ll avoid the position ‘just because’. It’s a need. And if value meets need in round one, there’s every chance they’ll make a move here.

I’ve included a video below for anyone wanting to learn more about Brandon Coleman. I wrote a piece about his potential a few weeks ago (click here) but the video has some background on his high-school recruitment and character.

23 Responses to “What would the Seahawks look for in a WR/TE?”

  1. Michael says:

    Coleman is head and shoulders above every other WR in this class, and is the only one I would be willing to trade up for. I really hope he comes out this year. So glad he chose Rutgers instead of Notre Dame.

    Rob, regarding Ertz. We haven’t seen a TE go in the 1st round in a couple years despite an overall growth in the utilization of the position. How does Ertz compare to say Jermaine Gresham or Brandon Pettigew when they left school? What are the chances he would be available at the top-middle of R2 instead?

    • SeaMeat says:

      Fleener made it to pick 34, but Ertz is the better player. Like you I also wonder where some of these WR’s could be picked at along with Ertz.
      I would love the Hawks picking Ertz up in the late first round since I would question him sitting there late in the 2nd. I would also love a burner, someone to stretch the field, Coleman or Wheaton perhaps?

      I still would like to see a playmaker (WR/TE), DL, LB, and some later round Cornerbacks for depth.

  2. Phil says:

    I agree that adding depth at WR/TE should be a priority in this draft and I’d be happy to get any of the guys you’ve mentioned. The guy that intrigues me the most is Tavon Austin. His quickness is amazing as is his versatility. I can’t see him playing RB for an entire game due to his size (and no matter what his size — he’s not going to threaten Lynch’s position on this team), but I’d love to see him lined up in the backfield, isolated on some poor LB who has to try to cover him on passing downs. I can also see him running draws and catching screens, playing the slot, and returning punts and kickoffs (if the league doesn’t do away with the kickoff like they are talking about).

    If one of the taller WRs/TEs falls to us, I can see PC and JS opting for height. As you have pointed out, both PC and JS seem to like tall wide-outs.

    I’m not sure that our offense emphasizes the TE position enough to justify using a #1 pick on a TE. As I’ve posted before, I remember instances this year (against the Bears) where it looked like Zach Miller was wide open in the end zone, but it looked like he was the 3rd or 4th read and RW never had time to get to him.

  3. dave crockett says:

    My guess is that Seattle would be more inclined to pick up one of the TEs, Eifert or Ertz, before a WR. Two reasons:

    1. Why spend a first round pick on the next (maybe) Tate/Rice when SEA is just as desperate for the next Baldwin/Obomanu?

    Seattle absolutely needs to groom another #1 WR, but THIS draft class is better positioned for depth. The AJ Jenkins move that SF made would be a poor one for Seattle. Jenkins is an obvious heir apparent. He will start opposite Crabtree when he’s ready. That’s far less the case in Seattle. Rice and Tate are in their primes, and probably more valuable in Seattle than on the open market. They’re not going anywhere. Now, both have injury histories so grooming a #1 isn’t dumb. But we also need to groom a replacement for Obo and a backup for Baldwin. This draft is FLOODED with guys like that. We don’t need to force it when a guy like Kobi Hamilton (Ark) could be there in the 2nd or 3rd.

    2. The need at TE is more dire. (Imagine if Rice goes down? Well, imagine if Miller goes down?)

    Miller is playing well but was already in his peak when he signed in Seattle. He’ll need to be re-structured soon or could be moved out. After McCoy there is who, exactly? Perhaps most importantly, Seattle is committed to 2 TEs as a base formation and REALLY needs two do-it-all TEs.

  4. Attyla the Hawk says:

    Seems pretty clear that they value ability to fight for the ball over other traits.

    Size typically helps with that. But they selected Tate, and cited his ability to play the ball as a major factor. And we’ve let big receivers go who don’t leverage their size into QB protecting catches.

    I would say that the recurring theme for us has been ball skills. Speed has definitely NOT been a factor in virtually every FA we’ve pursued and draft pick made.

    If you look at the Green Bay model, that’s the #1 trait they go by as well. If you can’t catch the ball, you can’t play. Period. Braylon Edwards made the team on the basis of his ability to make Wilson look good early in the season. But he had several balls thrown his way where he didn’t fight for the ball, or didn’t attack it at a high point — allowing corners to recover and make plays on the ball.

    Can’t catch, can’t play.

    I do believe we place a premium on players that go after the ball zealously. It’s the main reason why I don’t think we’re going after Patterson even if he’s there in round 2. I think it’s probably the litmus test for all 2nd tier WR prospects as we look at them over the next few months. Which ones are willing to get the ball up for grabs or at worst make sure nobody gets it. Those are the guys we seem to covet.

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      Additionally, I do believe that a prospect with size and speed who also possesses good to great ball skills is probably a guy we will gladly overpay in trade to get.

  5. Clayton says:

    When asking the question of what Seattle is looking for in a receiver, should we asking what receiver position needs to be filled or made more competitive with the draft pick? I am assuming that Sidney Rice is the Z receiver (flanker), Tate is the X receiver (split-end), and Baldwin is the Y receiver (slot). Sorry in advance if I’m asking the obvious, but with that lineup, which spot needs to be upgraded? And also, for the receivers that you wrote about recently in Coleman, Wheaton, Hopkins and Patterson, can they play all receiver spots, or only certain ones?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s quite as strict as that. For example, what position did Braylon Edwards play? According to Advanced NFL Stats he featured in five games and had 17 targets. Golden Tate has featured in 12 games with 56 targets. Per Edwards’ average, had he played another seven games it wouldn’t be unfair to argue he could have +40 targets. And yet Rice and Tate were still mainstays and Edwards wasn’t playing slot receiver like Baldwin.

      I think initially they need another player out there so when they line up in 3WR or 4WR they have another quality option, and someone who can act as good depth too for Rice/Tate. Essentially an upgrade for Braylon Edwards in year one potentially developing into a starter at flanker or split end depending on how things play out. Right now if Rice misses a game, you’re looking at Charly Martin acting as a potential flanker or split end. That is a major concern.

    • kenny says:

      i feel like one of the huge things for this team is, “can you play 2 positions?”our guards are trained at C. our Tackles are trained at guard or swing tackle.our TE’s are good blockers and good receivers. linebackers must know every linebacking position. DT must be able to play 5 tech. LEO can play 3-4 OLB. the only real difference is sidney rice. he can play flanker or split but he is going to pretty much always be flanker. and then who do we have as a backup flanker? no one that i can see. maybe tunei but he is on the practice squad. that is a huge dropoff in talent and knowing the offense. if anything, out of all the different types of receivers we need a good X/Z receiver. one that could come in and fill either spot. that way if need be, tate can be the slot, or if tate is hurt, it is ok. if rice gets hurt, then we have someone to play for him. we need a potential #1 target that would learn under rice and fill in for rice if he gets hurt. but he also needs to be able to learn the X so that we can have our best guys out on the field and be able to shake up any defense. the last thing that we want is to become the chicago bears and have only 1 target.

  6. Jim Q says:

    At least from highlight tape, Patterson has the height, speed, open field moves + he returns kicks very well. He or Coleman would be good replacements for Edwards in their first year with time to develop their extreme upsides for the future. Rice is good, but IMO, either of these guys could be even better and very well may be worth any risks associated with picking them. The health of Rice is still of concern, any more concussions and he could be toast.

    Another WR that may be available in round 3 or 4 or so (that I’ve been impressed with) that nobody has mentioned at all is – Quinton Patton, WR from Louisiana Tech, he’s 6-2, 195. He sure runs really SMOOTH routes and has some decent stats as well.

    Subsequent rounds could see picks if available, of: TE-Zack Ertz, DT-William Sutton, OLB-Khaseem Greene and maybe even the “honey bear” CB-Tyrann Mathieu, (slot CB?), if PC’s up for a challenge.

    • jt says:

      I’d be fine with Mathieu in the first. It’d be controversial, but he’s the best slot corner prospect I’ve seen in a long time. Similar to Irvin in that he’s not going to be on the field a lot, but when he does, he’s going to make an impact. Would address a need, someone to cover the Welkers of the world. Also would help with special teams. Gotta be concerned with the off the field issues, but the impact potential is huge.

  7. kevin mullen says:

    If the ‘Hawks want to implement a potent 2TE set, look no further than the team with the best 2TE set in New England. I’m pretty sure Pete was looking at NE hard at their offense scheme utilizing both Hernandez and Gronkowski. Guaranteed Pete stole some routes from that offense.

    As far as the ideal RD1 target, if Coleman declares, he’s the ideal choice. Rob didn’t have to link any videos regarding this kid, even peeps with 40/20 vision can see the potential.

    But I think some of the commentators here recently are right, all 1st round picks in PC/JS era have had dreads. Rob, interested in making a top5 list of Seahawk potential draft picks that have dreads??

  8. Attyla the Hawk says:

    Found this nugget today that was pretty interesting. I think it gives a lot of insight into how Seattle separates talented players into future seahawks and future seahawks’ opponents.

    ”I think coach (Pete) Carroll and the GM John Schneider did a tremendous job of getting guys who love to play the game and who will do everything they can to play at their best level,” Wilson said. ”Coach Carroll talks about competing at the highest level and our rookie class here for the Seahawks, we’re doing our best job to try and be great every Sunday and to work at it and learn and just understand how we can improve.”

    I do believe that the interview/vetting process is central to how Seattle separates the athletes we target, and the ones we tend to leave off the board. I think central to their thinking is the ability for a player to develop. And I suspect that the reason they view versatility very highly, is that by it’s nature, it demonstrates the ability to pick up new concepts and apply them. It’s a high indicator that a player can be made more than he is when you get him.

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      I like what you said in earlier posts about wanting players who will fight for the ball. They also need to have good hands and the ability to get open. If they have those traits then we can afford to develop them. I would hope that if we get another second or third round (like Tate) that they would contribute immediately. Baldwin did!

      If they don’t have good hands then no amount of coaching will improve them so it’s a waste of time and practice squad space. We have had a number of practice tryouts with players. More heart breaking are the borderline players who can get open but only make half the catches.

      I like the idea of size, but Tate and Baldwin are both small and speedy. I guess we need the big rangy guy just to compliment them. I really don’t like the idea of the jump ball unless it is in the endzone. Even with the new protective rules there are too many injuries when you jump up for a ball near the line of scrimmage.

      We just need consistency!

  9. nick says:

    I like Cordarrelle Patterson. I am not at all worried about him being a potential bust. Quarterbacks make receivers just as much as a receiver makes himself. I would like to see the list of quarterbacks of the “bust” receivers taken in the first round.
    Golden Tate was/is considered raw and immature. Look at what Russell Wilson has done for him or McCoy. I believe in McCoys potential as well.
    You get this guy Patterson on the team and he will be in a perfect position to transition to the teams true #1 receiver. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are playing very well and hold the #1 and #2 spots respectively. In the meantime he takes over punt returns.
    Russell could get this guy the ball, clearly Patterson knows what to do with it. We need a “separation” guy and clearly he is that dude.

  10. Jlkresse7 says:

    Pete isn’t afraid to take players who still need some development early in the draft. Patterson is similar to Tate in the sense he will need some time to mature and adjust to the NFL but his upside is greater due to his pure athleticism and return ability. Due to recent success with late round defensive players what are the odds we go TE/WR or WR/TE in the first two rounds then go for a linebacker or DT in the third?

  11. Jlkresse7 says:

    Pete isn’t afraid to take players who still need some development early in the draft. Patterson is similar to Tate in the sense he will need some time to mature and adjust to the NFL but his upside is greater due to his pure athleticism and return ability. Due to recent success with late round defensive players what are the odds we go TE/WR or WR/TE in the first two rounds then go for a linebacker or DT in the third?

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      I think it’s more than simply saying Pete isn’t afraid to develop guys. I think Pete, John and the scouting staff actually have a feel for guys that will develop and guys that won’t. Tate needed development, but what he didn’t need was tenacity, competitiveness and the ability to learn. He possessed those traits already and displayed those traits in college.

      When we look at development prospects, I think it’s important to try to see evidence that they will, and to abandon the idea that all development prospects are created equal. Obviously they aren’t. And clearly we kind of have the ability to see that DNA footprint and to collect development prospects who also have a high likelihood of actually developing.

      I’m of the opinion that it very much isn’t like throwing darts at a board and getting lucky. Trying to find the commonalities amongst the kinds of development prospects we pick could shed some light on how we pick going forward. In looking at the picks we’ve made, what strikes me is a mix of versatility, competitiveness and football smarts. Whether it’s Thomas, Tate, Wright, Wagner, Wilson, Carpenter, Moffitt. Seems the early guys we take generally rate very very high in two of these traits.

      • Aussie Rich says:

        I wouldn’t say that their is a “feel” for guys who can develop, the scouting team would have a list of skills the either come naturally and those which can be coached up. You have to remember Rob is one man who runs perhaps the best draft site as a part time hobby, NFL teams has a whole department of people working full time, their analysis of each player would be more in-depth and there would be more of them.

  12. Steven in Spain says:

    Touchdown maker – that’s what PC told us he wanted in last year’s draft, and I think that’s the one piece of unfinished business carrying over into this year’s draft.

    “Touchdown maker” gives away little, other than the suggestion of the open-mindedness with which the FO will be conducting the search. What they want is an explosive, game-changing player on offense. Position may be of secondary concern: it could be a TE, X, Y or Z receiver, or even a nominal RB. We may have special interest in one who transcends any position; someone who can line up anywhere in the offensive formation. But I think they’d be happy to “settle” for a more prototypical, dominant #1 WR if Brandon Coleman should be staring them in the face.

    Anyway, great stuff as always, Rob.