With the Jaguars set to go on the clock with the first overall selection on April 29, the 2021 NFL Draft is less than three weeks away as a new class of players will be ushered into the league.
Due to a series of trades, including acquiring safety Jamal Adams from the Jets for a pair of first-round picks and a third-round pick, the Seahawks will enter the festivities with only three total selections. Making the situation worse, only one of those picks falls in the first 120 selections, limiting the possibility of landing a blue chip talent.
Based on general manager John Schneider's history, it would be an absolute stunner if Seattle doesn't add multiple picks during the draft by trading down and/or sending future draft picks to get back into the draft. But for this exercise, I will be searching for viable alternatives for the Seahawks to pick at each position group with their three native selections.
In part three of the series, the Seahawks have lost significant depth at receiver behind stars DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett this offseason. In a draft loaded with talented wideouts, which prospects could the team consider to upgrade their aerial attack?
Second Round - Pick No. 56
Rondale Moore, Purdue
A 5-foot-7, 180-pound stick of dynamite, Moore would provide a third home run threat to Seattle's passing attack in 2021 and beyond. Bursting onto the scene as a freshman, he exploded for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 213 rushing yards and a pair of scores for the Boilermakers. He also produced 662 yards as a kick returner that season. Injuries and the pandemic limited him to just seven games over the past two seasons, so there are durability red flags here and his size may scare away some teams. But when healthy, he's the type of do-it-all playmaker who can put six on the scoreboard anytime he gets his hands on the football and his positional versatility would make him a fun weapon for Shane Waldron to implement into his scheme in Seattle.
Dyami Brown, North Carolina
One of the nation's premier downfield dynamos, the 6-foot-1, 189-pound Brown torched ACC opponents during three collegiate seasons with the Tar Heels, averaging nearly 19 yards per reception and scoring eight touchdowns of 40-plus yards. Possessing 4.44 40-yard dash speed, he consistently created separation against defenders, displaying elite tracking skills and the ability to high point the football on jump balls. He's more fast than quick and primarily ran a vertical route tree, which limited his production in the short-to-intermediate passing game, and he has battled persistent drop issues that will need to be corrected at the next level. But his propensity for hitting home runs and generating big plays should make him a wanted commodity on day two, particularly for a team like Seattle that loves the deep ball.
Dwayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Eskridge has taken a unique path to becoming a viable NFL receiver prospect. After starring as a running back in high school, he bounced back and forth between receiver and cornerback for the Broncos. Playing both sides of the ball hindered his development in some regards, as he's not a standout route runner and hasn't shown consistency catching passes in traffic. But like Brown, he compensates for that lack of polish with elite track speed and big play ability, as he averaged north of 23 yards per reception and scored eight touchdowns in 2020, with three of those going for 72 or more yards. An explosive kick returner as well, he returned 17 kicks for 467 yards and a touchdown. There's boom-or-bust potential here, but his strengths and potential contributions as a runner and returner should put him in the mix for Seattle on day two.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
Unlike Brown or Eskridge, St. Brown isn't a burner, as he ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash and did the bulk of his damage with the Trojans in the intermediate game. He's one of the more refined route runners in this class, showing plenty of craftiness on his releases from the line and setting up defenders in space. He's a fluid athlete with plus-acceleration coming in and out of his breaks, which allows him to separate underneath, and he has plenty of elusiveness after the catch to make defenders miss and create additional yardage. He's not likely to take the top off of defenses as a vertical threat often and may be exclusively a slot at the next level, but he has the potential to become a top-tier possession receiver who consistently moves the chains. Given Seattle's current receiver group, that style of player may be a perfect complement to Metcalf and Lockett.
Fourth Round - Pick No. 129
Amari Rodgers, Clemson
On the field, Rodgers more closely resembles a running back than a receiver with his thick, stocky 5-foot-10, 212-pound frame. He uses a powerful lower body to his advantage, as he bounces off tacklers and breaks through arm tackles after the catch, which causes problems off short passes and quick screens as a result. While he doesn't offer elite quickness working in and out of his breaks, he also has enough juice to take the top off of defenses vertically and excels tracking the football on downfield throws. Durability concerns may be warranted after suffering a torn ACL in college and he has battled concentration lapses at the catch point, but his after the catch capabilities coupled with potential special teams value as a return specialist would make him an intriguing option for Seattle if available day three.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
Injuries were problematic for Wallace during his time with the Cowboys, as he tore his right ACL in 2019 and suffered a sprain in the same knee last season. He also had a pedestrian pro day performance athletically, as he ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and posted a 33-inch vertical jump and 6.97-second 3-cone drill. These numbers match with tape, as Wallace can have difficulty separating from defenders in coverage at times. But he's in the master class when it comes to the art of body positioning and snagging tough contested receptions, exhibiting top-tier hands making highlight-reel grabs on the regular. He's also capable of inflicting damage after the catch and ranks among the best blocking receivers in his class, two areas that would be appealing to Seattle on day three.
Seth Williams, Auburn
Built like a prototypical "X" receiver with a 6-foot-3, 211-pound frame, Williams possesses soft hands and excels at high-pointing the football out of the air, which makes him problematic for smaller corners and safeties to cover on downfield throws. He averaged more than 20 yards per reception as a junior during the 2020 season. While he's not the most explosive athlete working in and out of breaks and will need refinement as a route runner, his ability to haul in passes in heavy traffic, create after the catch, and use his size to win downfield on 50/50 balls would make him an intriguing fit alongside Metcalf and Lockett. As a former high school safety, he also could offer special teams value right away
Shi Smith, South Carolina
Offering a similar build to Tyler Lockett, the shifty 5-foot-10, 186-pound Smith dealt with poor quarterback play for much of his collegiate career but still posted over 2,200 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns for the Gamecocks. Possessing 4.43 40-yard dash speed and elite quickness, he's an underrated route runner who creates havoc after the catch once the ball is in his hands and has shown a propensity for highlight-reel grabs. He can also be incorporated into the run game on jet sweeps. His lack of size and struggles working off press coverage could limit him position-wise to playing almost exclusively out of the slot, but he has a chance to develop into a formidable third weapon in Seattle's passing arsenal.
Jaelon Darden, North Texas
While his name may not be a familiar one due to playing in the Sun Belt Conference, Darden might be the biggest superstar dark horse candidate from this year's receiving class. His size (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) will scare off some teams, but he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds and turned in an outstanding 6.67-second 3-cone drill. This quickness is seen on Darden's college tape, as he can be a nightmare for opponents to corral once he has the football in his hands, breaking a whopping 23 tackles last year per Pro Football Focus. Averaging north of 16 yards per reception and scoring 19 touchdowns as a senior, he also developed into a lethal vertical threat from the slot, further adding to his value. The Seahawks have never been averse to taking smaller receivers with playmaker traits and Darden could be in strong consideration on day three if available.
Seventh Round - Pick No. 250
Frank Darby, Arizona State
Possessing solid size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and athletic traits, Darby consistently wins contested catches, he's a tough-minded target in the middle of the field in the short-to-intermediate game, and he's more than happy to mix it up as a run blocker. He doesn't have blazing speed and isn't necessarily going to take the top off defenses at the next level, but his plus-route running skills allow him to create downfield separation at times and he can create after the catch. Offering some special teams skill as well, he could compete for snaps working out of the slot and outside right away if the Seahawks select him.
Whop Philyor, Indiana
Trekking from Tampa to Bloomington, Philyor turned in a fantastic career for a rising Hoosiers program, catching 180 passes for over 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. In terms of athleticism, the 5-foot-10, 184-pound receiver plays faster and quicker than his average pro day testing times (4.58-second 40-yard dash, 4.38-second short shuttle) suggest. Oozing with toughness, he shows no fear running routes from the slot into the heart of the defense in the short-to-intermediate game and can be a handful to bring down after the catch. While he has had a few issues with drops and has some work to do improving his route running mechanics, he plays the game with a fierce competitive fire and a chip on his shoulder, which would make him an instant favorite on the practice field in Seattle.
Josh Imatorbhebhe, Illinois
Imatorbhebhe possesses a rare blend of size (6-foot-1, 223 pounds) and freakish athleticism. He posted an insane 46 1/2-inch vertical jump and 11-foot-2 broad jump at his pro day while also running a sub-4.50-second 40-yard dash and producing 24 reps on the bench press, showcasing elite explosive traits for scouts. He's the textbook definition of raw, as he caught only two passes for 11 yards in three years at USC before emerging with the Illini the past two seasons. Though he shows reliable hands on film, with only 25 college games under his belt, he lacks refinement as a route runner and needs to polish up his releases off the line of scrimmage. He's a developmental prospect with immense upside if he takes to coaching and could be a terror across from Metcalf.
Marlon Williams, UCF
A bit of a late bloomer, Williams caught only 35 passes in his first two seasons for the Knights. But after several notable receivers such as Gabriel Davis departed for the NFL, he took on a much larger role his final two years on campus, breaking out with 71 receptions for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. At 5-foot-11, 209 pounds, he doesn't have blazing speed (4.66 40-yard dash) or great quickness (4.57 short shuttle), which could push him into the late rounds or even undrafted ranks. But he compensates for these athletic deficiencies with toughness on contested catches and excellent contact balance with the ball in his hands after the catch. As a player who seems to just be hitting his stride, he could be a fun developmental project for the Seahawks in the later rounds with the upside to emerge as a quality No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in the league.