Yesterday, the very much not good news broke that Percy Harvin has a slightly torn labrum in his hip. I am not going to claim to have much or any knowledge of what’s that’s like or really what it means. We know that Harvin won’t be participating in camp for the time being and that’s more or less the extent of what we know. I’m sure there will be updates to follow in short order, possibly even ones that come out before this article does and make it look stupid.
However, every time I put proverbial pen to proverbial paper that is a risk I’m taking anyway. For example, recently I have come into the habit of calling Cliff Avril by the moniker Clint Avril. I would claim senility if I wasn’t turning twenty two today. That’s beside the point. This article is not about my own flaws, or anyone’s flaws really, it’s about the virtues of Seattle’s receiver group.
There is a lot of hysteria regarding Percy Harvin’s injury because the thought is that he’s the piece that makes the Seahawks contenders. The fact of the matter is that Harvin was brought in as an explosive upgrade, not to plug a hole. The Seahawks already had a capable slot receiver in Doug Baldwin. When Harvin was acquired, Doug Baldwin became probably the best 4th receiver in football. Baldwin recorded 788 yards in his rookie season only two years ago and was hampered in 2012 by a run heavy offense and a few nagging injuries. It was common knowledge that Harvin has had some injury trouble in the past and the Seahawks knew that they had enough depth that he wouldn’t be indispensable the moment he arrived.
Lo and behold Harvin is injured and now Seattle may have to turn to that depth. May is the operative term here. We don’t know how bad Harvin’s injury is and how likely he is to miss time. There is quite a lot of time between now and the beginning of the season. It’s possible Harvin will miss no time. However, if Harvin hypothetically misses a game or two the Seahawks are in a good position at receiver.
Doug Baldwin is a really good slot receiver. He combines the quickness you expect from a player playing that position with deceptive long speed that has made him more of a threat down the field than one would image so far in his career. His 14.4 yards per reception in the NFL is one indicator of his ability to get open on more than just the short stuff. Most teams would kill to have a talent live Baldwin, who is not yet 25 by the way, as their 3rd receiver. I even spent some time this off-season contemplating whether he was the sort of player the Seahawks might consider shopping but the importance of quality depth on a contending team is greater than the return he would provide. Having him now is very comforting.
The other guy that makes this situation tenable is the behemoth that is Chris Harper. At 6-1 230 lbs Harper isn’t built like your standard issue receiver. That’s because he’s built like your standard issue tank. He put up 20 reps on the bench press at the combine, tops among receivers, and is an imposing physical specimen. As a former quarterback Harper is not an especially polished receiver but the Seahawks can pick their spots with him and use him in particular packages and on specific routes that maximize his abilities. I’m very optimistic about his ability to make an impact on this team if given the opportunity but he won’t get an opportunity without an injury or two. Harvin being out opens the door for Harper to be a 4th receiver who can see some real action. As the 5th guy he would probably be learning from the bench.
To clarify, I’m not hoping Harvin is severly injured. I’m not trying to downplay his talent or the kind of impact he could have both on offense and special teams. What I am doing is saying the Seahawks are well positioned to run the offense without him for as long as they have to. Hopefully that’s not very long. Keep calm and carry on.