Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson demanded more offensive talent this offseason and he's not short of options entering training camp. Though tight end Gerald Everett and rookie receiver D'Wayne Eskridge stand out among the rest, the team has built a stable of young pass catchers with a considerable amount of upside.
But there may only be one or two spots up for grabs with nine names jockeying for position. The Seahawks have historically carried anywhere from five-to-seven receivers into the start of the regular season in years past, but four names can already be written down in pen: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Freddie Swain and Eskridge.
So which youngsters have the best chance to crack Seattle's 53-man roster? Today, we'll be making the case for each player set to do battle over the coming weeks.
The Case For Penny Hart
One of the biggest clichés in the NFL is the "what have you done for me lately" mindset both fans and organizations share, but it's very important for players trying to make it on the back-end of 53-man rosters. No other receiver in this group left more of a lasting impression on the Seahawks' coaching staff than Hart did during mandatory minicamp, shining with multiple impressive catches in the final days of the team's organized activities. Coach Pete Carroll has long admired Hart for his work ethic and ability both in the receiving game and on special teams, activating him for 13 games in 2020 and singing his praises on more than one occasion this offseason. Not only is Hart a likely member of the 2021 Seahawks, but his dynamic talent could help him etch out a legitimate rotational role in their offense this fall.
The Case For Cade Johnson
With Tamorrion Terry gone, Johnson is now the clear-cut favorite of the Seahawks' undrafted receivers to make the roster. While he got off to a slow start in rookie minicamp and OTAs due to a groin injury, the South Dakota State product should be more than capable of making up for lost time. The advanced route running and after-the-catch ability he displayed in college and at the Senior Bowl could be a boon for this team if it all translates to the NFL as expected. Earning comps to the likes of former Seattle pass catchers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, there's a lot to dream on with Johnson's profile—not just as a receiver, but in the return game as well. He could be a star in the preseason.
The Case For Cody Thompson
Putting his name in the Toledo record books as a five-year player in college, Thompson just needs an opportunity to shine. He impressed Carroll and his staff last summer, but the cancellation of the preseason partly resulted in his relegation to the practice squad for the entire 2020 campaign. Having spent the last season-and-a-half with the organization, his familiarity with the people and process in Seattle could give him an edge over some of the newcomers in this group. Plus, his size and track record of creating after the catch is a unique combo not many on the Seahawks' 90-man roster have to offer. If someone is going to upset Hart for a roster spot, Thompson's the name to watch.
The Case For Connor Wedington
Special teams is going to play a major role in whoever ends up making Seattle's active roster. That gives Wedington a pretty significant advantage over some of his peers, known more for his ability on special teams than as a receiver. But make no mistake; Wedington is no slouch as a pass catcher either. Injuries kept his opportunities limited in college and his route running unquestionably needs work, but the athleticism is there and he did produce when healthy, particularly in 2019 to the tune of 506 yards and a touchdown on 51 receptions in 11 games for Stanford. If he can stay on the field, he's a dark horse to make the team and provide an immediate impact in the third phase of the game.
The Cases For John Ursua, Aaron Fuller, Darvin Kidsy, Darece Roberson and Travis Toivonen
Of the final five names to go over, Ursua likely has the best shot to make some noise. But his inability to grasp former play-caller Brian Schottenheimer's playbook doesn't bode well for his chances of correcting course with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, whose system has been defined as "super complex" this offseason. Fuller, like Thompson, is a player that impressed last summer, especially in the team's mock scrimmages at Lumen Field. Kidsy is a bit underwhelming from an ability perspective, but he's a solid special teamer who's played well in past preseasons for Washington. Toivonen is coming off a strong performance in the Fan Controlled Football League. And Roberson, who recently signed with the team on July 26, recorded a 4.33-second 40-yard dash time in the spring and boasts a successful track record in the return game.
If I had to put money on it, I'd pick Hart and Johnson to make it right now. That is, if there are actually two spots up for grabs. In the event there's only one, I'd put Hart above Johnson, but that really just comes down to recency bias and this situation is very much fluid. If the woes that dropped Johnson from early day three pick to the undrafted free agent market reoccur here, then look out for Wedington and Thompson to make a push. Same goes for Hart if he struggles to follow up his strong performance in June, though I suspect he has a bit more leash than others. Overall, having all these intriguing wideouts is a good problem to have for the Seahawks.