Every day between now and the start of Seahawks training camp, Seahawks.com will take a look at some of the team's most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2017 season. Today, we continue the Top 10 list by focusing on the competition at receiver. The list continues Sunday with a look at what rookies are poised to contribute right away.
For fans who attend training camp practices, some positions are easier to gauge than others. It can be tough to determine who is really standing out in the trenches when players aren't in pads, or which linebackers or running backs are performing best when tackling isn't involved, but when it comes to players on the perimeter—receivers and the defensive backs covering them—even a midsummer practice in shorts can be telling.
And if your focus ends up on the receivers, get ready to witness what should be one of the most competitive position groups in camp. With 12 receivers currently on the roster, there should be serious battles not just for the final roster spots, but also for significant playing time.
In the past the Seahawks have typically kept five or six receivers on their 53-man roster, with three to four seeing significant snaps on game day. Doug Baldwin is all but a lock to be the team's No. 1 option, and it would be a pretty significant upset if Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett don't both have big roles, though Lockett needs to show he is all the way back from last year's broken leg first. But beyond that some good battles should take place for playing time.
Paul Richardson, a second-round pick in 2014, had a phenomenal finish to the 2016 season in Lockett's absence and will be looking to build off of that, but if he's going to earn those snaps and targets, he'll have to hold off challenges from the likes of Tanner McEvoy, who made the team as an undrafted rookie and showed a knack for making big plays, Amara Darboh, a third-round pick in this year's draft, and Kenny Lawler, a seventh-round pick last year who looked much improved this offseason.
"The receiver spot, we've got some really exciting guys there who are competing," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "The new guys have already made an impression that they fit in the competitive opportunity."
Those new guys include not just Darboh and seventh-round pick David Moore, but also a couple of undrafted rookies, USC's Darreus Rogers and LSU's Cyril Grayson, a track standout who last played football in high school, but whose speed has been evident in offseason workouts. Given the success the Seahawks has had with undrafted receivers, including starters like Baldwin and Kearse, it would be foolish to rule either Rogers or Grayson out of any competition.
"It's a great group of guys," Baldwin said earlier this offseason. "Again, John [Schneider] and Pete [Carroll] do a great job of bringing people in to compete and push the older guys and to push and compete with the younger guys as well. They've done a fantastic job. I think this group, specifically, speaks to the type of players that we like in our receiver room and that is the hard-nosed guys who don't come in with a lot of hype around them but they go out there and they do what they have to do. They're the tunnel workers, if you will. The dirty workers. So I appreciate the guys that we got in because they work hard."
Whether it's simply appreciating how polished Baldwin is at his craft, or looking for signs that Kearse is ready to bounce back from what was statistically a down year, or seeing indications that Lockett is fully healthy, or trying to gauge who is poised to win a job, receiver will be one of the more intriguing position groups in camp this year.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is in China this week leading a series of youth events with Nike and Alibaba Group. Follow his journey at his new website, TraceMe.com.