_With Seahawks training camp kicking off later this month, Seahawks.com is taking a look at some of the team's most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2019 season. Today, we look at receiver, a position group that should feature a wide-open competition in training camp. Tomorrow we'll dive into the competition for the backup quarterback job. _
When the Seahawks offense takes the field for the first time in the 2019 season, Tyler Lockett will be on the field barring some sort of unforeseen and unlikely circumstances.
But in all likelihood the Seahawks will have one or two other receivers on the field along with Lockett, and with training camp a week away, one of the toughest questions to answer about Seattle's offense is that of who else will be joining Lockett in the starting lineup.
For the first time since 2010, the Seahawks are heading into a season without Doug Baldwin, which means they have a big hole to fill in their offense.
Yes there is plenty to be optimistic about with this offense, from the way it played last year, scoring the third most points in franchise history while also leading the NFL in rushing, to having one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in Russell Wilson, to having a loaded backfield, led by Chris Carson, who is coming off a 1,151-yard season, to an offensive line returning four starters, to a talented and versatile tight end group, to Lockett, who is coming off of a historical season in which Wilson had a perfect passer rating when targeting him. But while the Seahawks are excited about the young talent they have at receiver beyond Lockett, no one in that group has been a regular starter at the NFL level, which means one or more players are going to have to thrive in bigger roles for Seattle's passing game to be at its best.
The two most experienced receivers in Seattle's offense are David Moore, a third-year receiver who played very well in spurts last season, and Jaron Brown, a 2018 free-agent addition who had five touchdowns last year, and who the Seahawks want to use more this year, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. The Seahawks also drafted three receivers—DK Metcalf in the second round, Gary Jennings in the fourth and John Ursua in the seventh—signed Terry Wright and Jazz Ferguson as undrafted rookies, and return Amara Darboh, Keenan Reynolds, Malik Turner and Caleb Scott. And the Seahawks aren't expecting any one of those players to come in and be the 2019 version of Baldwin—that would be an incredibly unfair expectation—but the plan is for some combination of players to elevate their games and help the Seahawks maintain a high level of play in the passing game even after moving on from one of the best receivers in franchise history.
"Obviously we're losing a Pro Bowl, All-Pro type player in Doug Baldwin and what he's able to do, but Tyler Lockett had a phenomenal year last year," Wilson said. "It's his time to step up again. He's going to have to play a major, major role this year, which he's one of the best receivers in the league and all the things he can do to separate… It's going to be an exciting competition to watch guys evolve. It's a long, long preseason and it's a long offseason and everything else, but the guys who want to work, the guys that want to be great, the guys who are going to do the extra work, the guys who at the end of the day are going to make a play and want to make a play, those are the guys that are going to make it, and we're going to have a lot of great players, so it's going to come down to seeing what happens in the preseason and then sure enough it'll be an exciting thing. I know one thing, I'm excited to play quarterback here just to be able to throw to these guys and how many guys are going to be able to get open, create separation and make plays."
And people shouldn't mistake unproven for a lack of talent when it comes to Seattle's receivers. Moore has shown tremendous upside, Brown made a bunch of big plays in limited opportunities, and the rookie class is loaded with talent, most notably Metcalf, who possesses an unheard-of combination of size and speed.
"We're going to have some real competitions rolling," Carroll said. "We added three guys to the competition just out of the draft, and also the free agent guys who just make this group really competitive. You're going to see that we're really fast, which is awesome. With DK (Metcalf) adding to it, he's as fast as you can get. They run really well, they're strong—we've got strong, tough physical, guys as well. (Amara) Darboh looks great, he's back in the fold now, so he goes right back into the competition of it. (David Moore) coming off kind of a breakout year for him, we're really counting on him to take another step here. I think it's a really good group. We have a different style of guys too. There's the guys who will be competing for the slot spot, we have size, we have speed, we have power. Jaron Brown had a terrific year for us last year—I feel like we underused him. He had a lot of touchdown catches, but we expect to get more out of him. I think it's a really good group. I have no idea how it's going to turn out, but it's going to be fun to see it happen."
While the most interesting competition will be to see who emerges as the No. 2 and 3 options behind Lockett, the battle will also be fierce for spots on the 53-man roster. In the past the Seahawks have kept five or six receivers on the roster, and just about every player listed above has a real shot to push for one of those jobs.
"A lot of talent, a lot of size—the size factor is definitely different than what we've been around here," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "… There's been a lot of guys in that room who've stepped up. Keenan Reynolds is having a great camp. Jaron Brown, he's not a young guy, but wow, talking about just an unbelievable camp, I mean, really stepping up. Those guys are growing, they're developing. It'll be fun to watch them.
"David Moore coming off of a good year last year—is exciting. Jaron Brown, I just mentioned him earlier, but he did so much of the dirty work for us last year that you kind of forgot that he's a really established receiver and he's looked dynamic out here. Of course, Tyler, monster year last year, he's going to lead the charge."
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The Seahawks rookies report back to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center for 2019 Training Camp.