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Identifying Types of Receivers Seahawks Need to Target in 2021 NFL Draft

The Seahawks are blessed with two star receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. However, their depth behind these two options is thin. Matty F. Brown talks about the types of tertiary options they could look to add in the 2021 NFL Draft.

In DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks are blessed with two obvious starting wide receivers. The pair accounted for 48.6 percent of the team’s targets, 47.2 percent of the receptions, 55.5 percent of the offensive yardage, and 50 percent of the receiving touchdowns in 2020.

The 23-year old Metcalf caught 83 passes for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns in just his second NFL season. What a well-spent, 2018 second-round pick coming at No. 64 overall! At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, Metcalf is a prototypical X receiver—the split end who lines up outside and on the line of scrimmage.

Lockett’s obvious outplaying of his previous deal saw him rewarded with a mega four-year, $69.2 million extension, which means the former third-round pick, who turns 29 in September, will be in Seattle for the long run. 

Lockett has the versatility to play at each outside spot and in the slot. For his career in Seattle, he has been viewed as the Z receiver - the flanker who mainly aligns off the line of scrimmage - and the X receiver, as well as a pure slot receiver inside.

“With [Brian Schottenheimer], what I learned was how to go be that slot person. Because when I first came in the league with [Darrell Bevell], I was on the outside,” Lockett told reporters in his April offseason press conference. 

"Then with Schotty, I ended up going to the slot. And so now, as we move forward with Shane [Waldron], what I’m learning is, I’m getting the chance to be able to move around and that’s the beauty of it.”

“My rookie year in the league, Doug [Baldwin] was the slot, Jermaine [Kearse] was the X, I was the Z,” Lockett narrated his NFL journey. “Then my second year, I was still in the same spot, then they moved me to X before I broke my leg. Then all of a sudden I moved back to Z because Paul [Richardson] was at X. ... So when Schotty came, that’s when I started playing the slot.”

“I don’t really know what I'mma be doing, where I’m gonna be at, where I’m gonna line up. I mean you gotta figure out if I’m on the outside or if I’m the slot or if I’m gonna go play anywhere and everywhere,” revealed Lockett in his presser. “It’s not really until we start this process of OTAs and stuff that I’ll really start to have an idea of the placement, and even that, it’s not really gonna be known until we get into camp and start actually playing the games.”

Where Lockett aligns most often in 2021 will also depend on the guys behind him. In 2020, Lockett commanded 132 targets to Metcalf's 129. The next highest targeted receiver was David Moore with a meager 47. Moore has since departed in free agency to the Panthers, while the Seahawks have also lost Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon. However, if his suspension is eventually lifted by the NFL, Gordon may very well return to play in a Moore-esque role.

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He may need to, although there are other notable free agents still available such as Golden Tate and Dede Westbrook. Whoever comes in would need to understand their place in the offense with two dominant target-share guys above them in the pecking order. Whatever Seattle decides to do, there is a real lack of established receiving choices currently on its roster:

  • Freddie Swain
  • Penny Hart
  • Darvin Kidsy
  • John Ursua
  • Aaron Fuller
  • Cody Thompson

That’s a crazy thin list given that an immediately obvious Seattle draft need was a No. 3 receiver, something that I highlighted in January. Sure, the Seahawks are happy with their starting duo, but having better depth is a necessity for the passing game’s ability to stay ahead of defenses.

Last year's sixth-round pick Freddie Swain showed himself to be a reliable blocker while contributing 13 catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns. He has some outside-inside versatility and was a bit of a jet sweep gadget for the Florida Gators. However, though he filled the hole left by Dorsett not playing, Swain appears to be more of a medium floor, similar ceiling prospect. The players behind him combine for just three career receptions (Hart, Kidsy, and Ursua all have one) and all of their contracts expire after 2021—unless the Seahawks choose to exercise the ERFA option.

Cody Thompson was the talk of Seahawks training camp last year, so perhaps he manages to win a roster spot in 2021 and establishes himself. More threatening competition would be valuable for a team that used 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one running back, one tight end) 66 percent of the time in 2020, per Warren Sharp, even if new offenisve coordinator Shane Waldron sprinkles in two-tight end looks more regularly than the 12 percent usage of Schottenheimer's last year.

I asked earlier in the offseason who can be the genuine jet sweep threat for Waldron’s attack; I don’t think Seattle has blistering pace with the ball rostered at receiver. That’s shocking given the series offense and similar play appearance that Waldron is supposedly bringing to Seattle. This could be a Z receiver or a smaller pure slot type. Check out my article for a list of jet sweep draft names. Right now, I’m liking Purdue’s Rondale Moore (might fall due to medical concerns), Clemson’s Amari Rodgers, and Western Michigan’s D'Wayne Eskridge if the Seahawks go receiver early on.

Metcalf could take jet sweeps but you ideally want him running a guy off or securing the point of attack with his frame, because he is a rather linear athlete. Lockett has that return background and shiftiness but he, as he admitted in the April press conference, has lost speed following his 2016 broken leg. 

“I tell some people all the time, ‘When I broke my leg I lost half a step,’" said Lockett. “It’s not like I need that half a step, you know, but I miss that half a step sometimes.”

Meanwhile, Wilson as a quarterback requires big body trust to hit certain windows, including the zone match and Cover 2 stuff that proved so troubling for the passer to access during the 2020 offensive collapse. That could be Gordon, second-year tight end Colby Parkinson, or exciting free agent addition Gerald Everett.

Drafting a guy who can play some outside receiver and some inside would be a great get for them, though—an X/big slot or a versatile Z. Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman is the absolute dream, with the ability to run all manner of routes and separate at will, while playing bigger than his size. A later option would be Clemson’s Cornell Powell, who has a running back build at receiver, plays physically, and showcased impressive press release footwork at the 2021 Senior Bowl.