With Seahawks training camp set to kick off later this month, Seahawks.com is taking a look at 12 of the team's most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2020 season. Today we look at the competition at receiver behind presumptive starters Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, and tomorrow we turn our attention to a pass rush hoping to take a big step forward in 2020.
It would be a pretty big surprise if the Seahawks opened the season with anyone other than Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf as their starting two receivers.
Lockett has over the past couple of years established himself as a truly elite receiver, a player who Russell Wilson has been insanely efficient when targeting, especially in 2018 when Wilson had a perfect passer rating for the entire season throwing Lockett's direction. Metcalf, meanwhile, was a sensation as a rookie, catching 58 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns, a season he capped off by setting a franchise postseason record with a 160-yard game in Philadelphia.
But while there isn't much mystery when it comes to the top two spots, the competition looks to be wide open for the No. 3 job, which in today's NFL is more or less another starting spot. The Seahawks, like most teams, use a lot of three-receiver sets—case in point, Lockett played more than 50 percent of the team's offensive snaps in each of his first three seasons before he was a regular starter, including nearly two thirds of the snaps in 2017—which means somebody has a chance to win a very significant role in the offense.
Last season the No. 3 job was somewhat unsettled. At times it was Jaron Brown, at times it was David Moore, and for a stretch Josh Gordon seemed to have that spot locked down before he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. The end result was Lockett and Metcalf dominating playing time, while Brown, Moore, Gordon and Malik Turner all had significant roles at various points of the season.
And the Seahawks don't necessarily have to settle on one clear-cut No. 3 guy, they could rotate a few players through, but as was the case with Lockett earlier in his career, if one player steps up and takes over that role, then there is a big role in the offense up for grabs when camp begins.
Of the players mentioned above, only Lockett, Metcalf and Moore are currently with the team, so Moore obviously will be a contender for that No. 3 spot, as could second-year receiver John Ursua, who struggled to get on the field as a rookie, but who made some strides late in the year. The Seahawks also drafted Freddie Swain out of Florida, but the offseason acquisition who seems most likely to push for the No. 3 spot is free-agent addition Phillip Dorsett II.
Dorsett, a former first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, brings to the Seahawks experience, championship pedigree—he won a title with the Patriots—and a ton of speed, as was evident in the 4.33-second 40-yard dash he ran at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2015.
After playing in Indianapolis, where he worked with current Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and after playing in New England, where he continued to learn while working with arguably the greatest quarterback-head coach combination of all time, Dorsett feels like he's ready to have his best season yet with the Seahawks.
"I just felt like it was the right fit," Dorsett said earlier this offseason. "Obviously with Schotty being there, and then bringing in (senior offensive assistant Sanjay Lal), I was familiar with a lot of guys on the staff. I felt like this is the right offense for me. Obviously Russell (Wilson), he's a great quarterback. The way he plays quarterback, the way this offense is, it fits my skillset.
"Honestly, the way I work, the way I learn, I feel like I've been getting better every year. Obviously, this is the third team that I'm on, and I feel like it can be my best year… I think I've been getting better every year."
For it to be Dorsett's best year, however, he knows he'll have to beat out a deep group of receivers who all bring different skillsets to the competition, from Moore's big-play ability to Ursua's shiftiness in the slot that drew training camp comparisons to Doug Baldwin both because of how Ursua moved and because he wore No. 15, Baldwin's number during his rookie season.
In Metcalf and Lockett, the Seahawks know they have a dynamic duo at receiver. Training camp will begin to show who has the best shot to make it a playmaking trio.