With Seahawks training camp kicking off next week, Seahawks.com is taking a look at 10 of the most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2021 season. Today we look at what the Seahawks are expecting to be a very good group at tight end, and tomorrow we'll wrap things up with special teams, a unit that was a team strength last season and hopes to be again in 2021.
When it came to pass-catching options, last year's Seahawks had it pretty good thanks to the receiving duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but what the 2020 offense didn't have was a ton of production of out its tight ends.
That was in no small part due to injury, with Greg Olsen missing five games in what ended up being the final season of his illustrious career, and with rookie Colby Parkinson missing most of the season with a foot injury. Will Dissly, who led Seattle's tight ends with 251 receiving yards, was healthy and played all 16 games for the first time in his three-year career, but coming off of the Achilles injury that ended his 2019 season—his second serious injury in as many seasons—he could acknowledge after the fact that "there was something missing for sure."
And while no NFL team can guarantee the health of its players at any particular position group, the Seahawks are heading into 2021 confident they'll get significantly more production out of their tight ends in 2021. For starters, Dissly has been able to spend this offseason preparing for a football season rather than rehabbing a serious injury like he had been each of the previous two years.
"It's night and day," Dissly said earlier this offseason. "… My legs are feeling great. We worked hard on getting symmetry back, so both legs are feeling equally strong, and it's translating to route-running and getting off the line and blocking ability."
The Seahawks are also expecting big things out of free-agent addition Gerald Everett, who comes to Seattle from the Rams, where he worked with new Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
"Gerald brings some factors that we have not had here before—his route running ability, his speed," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "If you watch his stuff, his run-after-catch is excellent. He's a very, very aggressive runner with the football, which is really exciting. Catching and running, he can get the ball in his hands and make things happen. And he's been a really active, willing blocker in our scheme, as we've seen in the Rams program. So he's just incredibly exciting addition. Because of the flexibility, you can line him up out of the backfield, he can be in a slot, he can be outside, all of that stuff—he's got wide receiver ability as a tight end. So that's a real positive for us and I'm really pumped about that. He knows everything, he knows the offense too, so he's just been really pleasantly just a great addition."
The Seahawks are also excited about seeing what Parkinson can do now that he's healthy. A fourth-round pick out of Stanford, Parkinson appeared in only two games last season, but despite the setback as a rookie, he's still an athletic, 6-foot-7 target who could be a real weapon for Russell Wilson and the passing game.
"Colby is going to be a factor," Carroll said. "There's nothing to keep him from being a factor. At 6-7, he's got a target that's just obviously unique. He's got great hands, he's a natural catcher... He gets off the ground well too when he has to. He's a really bright player, he's picked stuff up. Because of the time he missed on the field with us, he really dove into the strength program, and he's just pumped up and he's better now than he was when he came active with us at the end of the year."
If the Seahawks keep a fourth tight end on the roster in addition to the aforementioned trio, the leading candidate would probably be Tyler Mabry, who spent last season on the practice squad, but the Seahawks also have a couple of undrafted rookies in Cam Sutton and Dom Wood-Anderson who will join the competition there.
As for Seattle's top three tight ends coming into camp, the Seahawks are expecting big things in 2021.
"This is a really strong group for us," Carroll said. "… Those three guys are really, really exciting for us. There's flexibility in the guys, they can all run and catch the football. I'm really pumped about that position, and I know Russell's jacked about it. He's got different types of targets. We like to do stuff with the guys that they do that's unique to them, and that's what we're working out right now with them. We're developing that."
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