The Seahawks have 13 Wide Receivers currently on their 90 man roster. It is pretty much impossible to believe that they will keep more than 6 on the final 53 man roster. That means that more than half the current group will be handed their walking papers at some point before the season begins.
Doug Baldwin, 2011’s most productive receiver, is a lock to be back, but beyond that nothing is certain.
Sydney Rice is the most dynamic player of the group and almost certain to return as well, but Rice is also injury prone and the group’s most expensive player. If Rice gets nicked up in training camp, it’s possible that the Seahawks could cut him loose and try and move on. I doubt that will happen, but itn’t completely out of the question. Still, lets assume that Rice is a lock to make the team.
That’s just 2 of the 6 spots, so 4 of them are completely up for grabs.
Pete Carroll really likes Kris Durham, and he has a tremendous amount of potential. If he takes a big step forward in his development he could end up taking over the starting job at split end. If he doesn’t, he could be one of those who lose out completely in the competition for a spot on the team.
The fans all seem to love Rickardo Lockette, but I actually don’t expect him to make the 2012 squad. He’s got great speed, but hasn’t shown he’s a threat to run anything but a go-route. In fact, if you look at the take from the games he played, Lockette appeared easy to cover on plays where he had to make some sort of cut, so I just don’t see him finding a place on this team with such a crowded field.
Ben Obomanu and Mike Williams both face an uphill battle to remain with the team. Williams had just 18 catches despite starting in 12 games. He’s a big target but struggled to get any sort of separation last season. Obomanu has always been a spectacular special teams player and decent reserve WR, but the specials teams should be loaded this season after the Seahawks drafted so much speed, and players with more upside might have to be cut in order for Obomanu to stay. In the end, I can’t see both of these 2 making the squad this season.
A similar case could be made for the duo of Golden Tate and Deon Butler. Both are extremely physically gifted, but neither has ever managed to turn those gifts into on field production. Last season was supposed to be when Tate emerged as a real weapon, but he lost his playing time to an undrafted rookie. Another thing working against this pair is their size. Pete Carroll clearly like bigger physical receivers, and those are adjectives that will never be used to describe, Tate and Butler. Again, I can’t see more than 1 of these 2 making the final roster, and I could easily see a situation where both are gone.
That’s the 8 players who are returning from last season. My tally is that 5 of them make the final roster (Baldwin, Rice, Durham, one of Williams/Obomanu, and one of Tate/Butler) That leaves 1 spot open to be claimed, and many vying for a that spot.
The duo of Phil Bates, Charly Martin, is all fairly uninteresting. Both are practice squad journeymen who’ve yet to show they belong in the league. While it’s possible they impress in camp, I doubt that will happen.
That leaves a trio of undrafted rookies to consider, Jermaine Kearse, Lavasier Tuinel, and Raymond Webber. Kearse will likely be a fan favorite in the preseason since he played for Washington, but his lack of development over his final 2 years of college makes me think he has limited upside at this level. (which is too bad, since I had huge expectations for him after his sophomore season.) Instead, my expectation is that if any of the undrafted rookies makes the team it’ll be Tuinel.
Tuniel is a big target (he’s 6-4) and is an exceptionally physical blocker for the running game. He’s also got good speed and quickness. Physically he should have been drafted somewhere on day 2, but (statement removed***) that caused every NFL team to pass on him. He could be a real steal for the Seahawks.
On the other hand, Tuniel size and blocking skills actually make him a candidate to be moved to TE, which is a rumor I’ve been hearing out the Seahawks rookie camp this week. If Tuniel moves to TE, or if his checkered past removed his name form the list of possibilities, then that opens the door for Kearse, Lockette, or one of the others to steal a roster spot.
The wide receiver position is going to be one of the most interesting roster battles to watch when training camp finally arrives.
***This article originally contained a claim about Mr. Tuinei’s past that was an unsubstantiated rumor. We received bad information and have removed the disparaging remark. We apologize to Mr. Tuinei and our readers for this error.