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.