The Seattle Seahawks’ search for a third receiver led them last month to sign Phillip Dorsett, a former first-round draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts, and most recently of the New England Patriots.
But it hardly figures to end there.
As Seattle prepares for the NFL draft in two weeks, the team is widely expected to take a receiver somewhere along the way, with a few mocks sending them one in the first round.
And it makes sense.
While hope is obviously high that Dorsett can revive his career in Seattle (and he’s still just 27 despite having been in the league five years), he’s also on a one-year, veteran-salary benefit contract, and the Seahawks seem certain to continue to explore options for adding another threat to go along with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
And it makes further sense to do so given that this is being regarded as one of the best drafts for receivers in recent history.
As we continue our draft previews, here’s a look at the receiver position:
Projected starters: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf
Backups: Phillip Dorsett (likely starter for now in three-receiver sets), David Moore, Malik Turner, John Ursua, Cody Thompson, Penny Hart
Key offseason losses: Jaron Brown remains an unsigned free agent, as does Josh Gordon, who also remains indefinitely suspended and at the moment is not eligible to sign.
Lockett proved last year he could become a true number-one threat, which had been a question in the wake of the retirement of Doug Baldwin.
And Metcalf proved he probably should have been a first-round pick, which many figured he’d be coming out of the combine before he somewhat inexplicably fell to pick number 64. (Could he be the best-ever pick at that spot in NFL history? There’s stiff competition as there was one Hall of Famer taken there back in 1973: QB Dan Fouts.)
But the search for a third receiver went through Brown, Moore, Gordon and Turner, with none of the four securing it, for varying reasons (after Lockett’s 82 receptions and Metcalf’s 58 no other receiver had more than the 17 of Moore).
Moore was tendered as a restricted free agent, but that carries a non-guaranteed salary of $2.13 million, meaning he’ll have to fight in camp to make the team (he made $645,000 last season).
Turner was tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent, which comes with far less of a salary than Moore at $750,000.
Ursua is entering the second season of his four-year rookie deal, while Thompson and Hart ended last season on the practice squad and were re-signed.
That Seattle has just eight receivers either under contract or tendered, though, indicates strongly that the Seahawks plan to add 2-4 more or so before the beginning of training camp. The Seahawks have typically kept five or six on their 53-man roster.
Draft need (on scale of 1-10): 8
Potential draft fits
Predicting Seattle to take a receiver is also just going with the odds: The Seahawks have drafted at least one every year of the head coach Pete Carroll/general manager John Schneider era other than 2012 (when they quickly signed Jermaine Kearse and Phillip Bates as undrafted free agents) and 2018 (when they took two the year before and then three the year after).
Would Seattle really go so far as to take a receiver in the first round?
The strength of this year’s draft provides alternate ways to look at that. It might be a good year to do so to ensure they do not get left out of all that talent; or, the depth of the class means they could wait until those two picks at the end of the second round and still maybe get a real difference-maker, as they did last year with Metcalf.
Here’s maybe what Seattle shouldn’t do: take a receiver in the third or fourth rounds. Seattle has taken six in those two rounds since 2010, and five count as four of the bigger washouts of the Carroll/Schneider era: Gary Jennings, Amara Darboh, Kevin Norwood, Chris Harper and Kris Durham.
The other is Lockett.
Here are four receivers who could be on Seattle’s radar:
Michael Pittman Jr., USC: Here’s another player I had Seattle taking in my recent mock in the second round. Along with a 6-foot-3, 219-pound frame that could combine with Metcalf to be nice bookends to Lockett, Pittman had just five drops on 260 targets in his USC career, per Sports Info Solutions.
Tee Higgins, Clemson: The 6-2-1/2, 215-pounder has been a popular mock for Seattle in the first round of late. Higgins played only 9% of his snaps in the slot his final two years, according to SIS and has a rep for now of being “a one-dimensional deep threat,” as Athlon’s put it. But quarterback Russell Wilson obviously wouldn’t mind another deep threat.
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty: The 6-4, 223-pounder has drawn comparisons to Metcalf, including from his college position coach, Maurice Harris, who also was a coach at Ole Miss when Metcalf was there. He’s also been a somewhat popular player to mock to the Seahawks in the middle rounds. He also had little experience in the slot in college, per SIS, and also didn’t play a lot of special teams, which pretty much is a requirement for the Seahawks, and he’s regarded as fairly raw after not playing a lot his first two years in college. But his physical traits make him one of the more intriguing receivers in the draft.
Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State: Seattle would likely have to use its first-round pick to get Aiyuk, who appears to be getting increasing attention from teams after bursting onto the scene last year at ASU with 1,192 receiving yards. He also was dangerous as both a kickoff and punt returner last year (four of his 14 punt returns were for 30 yards or more and he had a 97-yard kickoff return). Aiyuk recently had surgery to repair a core-muscle injury, but that isn’t expected to impact his draft status.