With the NFL Draft coming up, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand on the Seahawks' roster, as well as the top prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.
The Seahawks currently hold four picks in the 2019 draft, which begins April 25 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Seattle's 2019 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 21 overall; Round 3, No. 84 overall; Round 4, No. 124 overall; Round 5, No. 159 overall.
So far we've covered offensive line and defensive line, and today we turn our attention to tight end. Monday we'll take a look at where things stand at linebacker.
Draft History Under Schneider and Carroll: Anthony McCoy (No. 185 overall, 2010), Luke Willson (No. 158, 2013), Nick Vannett (No. 94, 2016), Will Dissly (No. 120, 2018).
Where The Seahawks Stand
The Seahawks head into the 2019 draft already feeling like they have a solid trio at tight end in Nick Vannett, Will Dissly and Ed Dickson. Dissly, a fourth-round pick out of Washington last year, got off to a great start, but unfortunately landed on injured reserve after four games due to a torn patellar tendon. Vannett was solid all year in a starting role, and Dickson, a 2018 free-agent addition, provided a boost after returning from injury midway through the year, proving to be a valuable blocker and pass-catcher. Add to that trio tackle George Fant, who played a big role as a sixth lineman/blocking tight end, and the Seahawks have a diverse group of blockers and pass-catchers who can help them in 2019.
"Will had a really good start to the season last year," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this offseason when asked about Dissly's rookie year and recovery. "He came out, probably surprised everybody that he would be so dynamic with the ball in his hands, you know, running after the catch. He fit us exactly as we had hoped. He was one of those draft picks that we were sweating out the whole way and hoping he would get to us, because we needed him badly. And he did a great job. Will's working really hard. He's coming back. He's going to be right in the middle of the action. He can catch it. He's a nice route runner. He's a formidable blocker, 270-something pounds. And we love the big tight ends, as we showed you last year with George Fant doing a great job for us. So Will and George and Eddie Dickson, those guys are a pretty good group right there. They all are a little bit different. We will use them according to their strengths, hopefully well. We are counting on Will, for sure."
But while the Seahawks feel like they have a solid group in place for 2019, it could still make sense to add help at tight end in the draft if the right player is available. Carroll has given no indication that Dissly won't be ready for the start of the season, but the injury he sustained was serious enough that he likely won't be able to take part in all of Seattle's offseason workout program. Vannett, meanwhile, is in the final year of his rookie deal, and Dickson will be 32 this year, so while both have the potential to be big parts of the 2019 team, the long-term future at that position is less certain.
NFL.com's rankings of the top tight end prospects in the 2019 draft.
NFL.com's Top 5 Tight ends
1. T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Overview (via NFL.com): In a draft that feels light on high-end talent, Hockenson is an ascending talent with a chance to become one of the best all-around tight ends in the game. He should continue to fill out his athletic frame, but he's already a sound in-line blocker with the toughness to sustain and finish. His above-average athleticism and separation burst will help him win against linebackers while his body control and hands give him an advantage over safeties. Hockenson has standout talent and fits any scheme, but he could be coveted early by teams looking to delve more heavily in 12-personnel (two TE packages).
2. Irv Smith, Alabama
Overview (via NFL.com): Smith is still green in terms of overall experience, which shows up in run-blocking and route-running, but he has plenty of talent and is likely to get much better in both areas. He has combination tight end talent but really flashes as a move blocker at fullback or wingback spots. His buildup speed sets him apart as a big, field-stretching option and once he gets rolling after the catch. O.J. Howard was bigger, and a better athlete, but like Howard, Smith offers Pro Bowl potential as a well-rounded tight end prospect.
3. Noah Fant, Iowa
Overview (via NFL.com): Pass-catching tight end with the length, acceleration and speed to create matchup challenges both short and long. Fant is at his best in open space and on the move as his catch-focus appears to wane when coverage crowds him or he hears footsteps. He needs to get stronger and more competitive at the point of attack to help a run game, but if that never happens, his ability to uncover and hit big plays will still make him a coveted prize for teams ready to add a move tight end as their new matchup toy.
4. Kahale Warring, San Diego State
Overview (via NFL.com): Exciting and ascending, Warring is still a relative newcomer to the game, but he has the size, speed and athleticism to become a versatile, high-impact player on the pro level. He has the competitiveness to handle run-blocking duties and the talent to line up in the slot. While his production won't catch your eye, his tape does with quickness and ball skills that should make him a more productive target in the NFL than he was in college.
5. Dawson Knox, Mississippi
Overview (via NFL.com): Outstanding combination of measurables and traits, but he's much more moldable clay than game-ready prospect at this point. Knox lacks early speed and short-area quickness which could limit his ability to uncover underneath but he's much more dangerous when allowed to roam the middle of the field as a more linear route-worker. His pass-catching production may never matchup with the testing numbers, but his aggressiveness and talent as a run-blocker could provide him work as a combo tight end for years to come.