After a little bereavement leave, I’m back 12th Man. Today, let’s examine what we’re looking at as far as the Wide Receiver position heading into the 2012 season.
Let’s start with the most tenured players. I had an interesting conversation with my friend Eric, who made an interesting comment about Ben Obomanu. He’s heading into year 7, all with the Seahawks. What’s interesting is that he started under the Holmgren regime, and when healthy, never amassed more than 12 receptions in a season. When Pete Carroll took over, he upped his production to 30, and 37 receptions, respectively. Not anything that jumps out at you, but an obvious increase in production nonetheless. I would definitely put him on the bubble as far as making this year’s team. (I’m projecting we keep 6 WR’s). His special team contributions are slight, and he offers nothing in the return game. With the emergence of Doug Baldwin, I think Obomanu is on the outside looking in.
Another bubble player I can’t see making this team is Deon Butler. Now, this has nothing to do with the fact that the 12th Man despises any Receiver named Deon (Thank you very much Mr. Branch), but more of a nod towards his lack of production and the emergence of others that have produced. Heading into his 4th season with the ‘Hawks, Deon has amounted to a whopping 57 receptions for 611 yards and 4 TDs. 4 TDs…and they all came in 2010. Actually, more than 50% of his production came in that one season. What hurts is the price the Seahawks paid to get him in the 2009 draft (a 5th, 7th, and 3rd in 2010). Ouch. Not that I wouldn’t of been enamored by his 4.3 speed, and production at Penn State, but this is another player that is going to find himself without a roster spot come August. Players like Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate will see to that.
Next up, we have the BMW. Big Mike. #17 in your programs, #1 in your…oh, wait. That was 2010. The 2011 version of Mike Williams put a lot of Seahawk fans on edge. The combination of unfamiliarity with a new Quarterback, and some late season injuries left this once “Phoenix from the Ashes” story as a 6’5” question mark heading into 2012. Can he return to his 2010 form? With the inability to really do much after surgery on his leg, and ankle, can he keep the weight off that he was so infamous for in Detroit? My feeling here is that Pete Carroll knows that BMW isn’t going to go out without a fight. He’ll get the time he needs to get healthy, and come what may in July/August. But my hunch is he’ll be catching passes in a Seahawks uniform in 2012. Imagine the combination of the 6’5” Williams, and the 6’4” Rice as your outside WR’s….scary. IF they can stay healthy. That’s a big IF though.
And that brings us to our man, Sid Rice. I really don’t have to say much here. Injuries, as they have in the past, have limited this guy’s production. Let’s hope that the shoulder surgeries and some good ole R and R have Mr. Rice running on fresh legs, and a full tank. He makes the team, no question, as our one true deep threat. As 2009 showed us, if Sidney Rice is healthy, he’s a nightmare for Defensive Coordinators.
Next up is Golden Tate. Coming into year 3 with the ‘Hawks, and I’m happy to say that there may be light at the end of this tunnel. As the last 5 games of 2011 showed us, things are starting to click for this once highly touted draft pick. An increase in receptions, and more importantly, playing time, showed us that Coach Carroll is finally getting what he’s been asking from Tate. With all the time he spent in the ‘dog house’, and on the bench, it’s promising to see another explosive option outside the hashes. Another deep threat who’s not afraid to make the tough catches in traffic, or in the middle of the defense. Tate makes the club, as a weapon at Wide Receiver, as well as a returner.
Another lock for one of the Receiver roster spots is the revelation that is Doug Baldwin. We all know the story by now; an undrafted Free Agent out of Stanford, Baldwin went on to set records in his rookie season. There are a lot of WR’s that weren’t drafted this year who are going to be sending huge props to this pioneer as other teams try to cash in on the next….um, Doug Baldwin? 51 for 788 and 4 TDs. This guy is our slot receiver for years to come. And he’s now wearing the #89. Love it. Let’s hope he’s as productive as the last WR to wear the number. (At least relevant WR). Yup! Let’s hear it for the 2nd best WR in Seahawks history, Brian Blades!
That leaves 2 spots on the roster. Who makes it 12th man? I’m sure the debate will be feverish, but I think I have a good idea. I’ll start with Kris Durham. Not much is known about this guy, except he’s 6’6” tall, which goes along with the tall WR’s that Coach Carroll loves. He’s also rumored to run a 4.3-4.4. As my good friend put it, “the next Alex Bannister?” That got a laugh out of me. But when you think about it, while he develops at the WR position, having a guy like this on Special Teams, downing Jon Ryan missiles inside the 5 yard line sounds good to me. I have him as one of the six that makes the squad. I’m sure there will be some alternate theories on this one, but I can’t see us parting ways with a 4th round draft pick after he was hurt half way through his inaugural season.
And the final spot…the last man standing? I have to say, all my hopes and dreams lie with this guy. Ok, maybe an overstatement, but I can’t help but acknowledge the bromance that I have with a Mr. Ricardo Lockette. As one teammate dubbed, “Baby T.O.”. Let’s hope so, but without the attitude. From what we’ve seen in his interviews, and his demeanor on and off the field, he’s a far stretch from that. What he has shown is the ability to make All-Pro Corners look like JV squad players, as his gaudy 2 catches for 105 yards and 1 TD show. All in 2 weeks of PT mind you 12th Man. While it may be too soon to start a Rockette Fan Club, I’m definitely putting him on the 53 man roster come Game Day. I can just hear it now, my buddies are all saying…”Remember Peter Warrick? You liked him too…”
So that’s it. 6 emerging WR’s to keep your eyes on. While I could be completely wrong, I think we can all agree on a few of the locks. I wish the best of luck to the others. May the best competitor win. Who knows, maybe our boy Jermaine Kearse is the next DB! Now that would be something, wouldn’t it 12th Man? Good to be back. “See” ya soon!