Following a meltdown in their dreadful 30-20 wild-card loss to the Rams this past January, significant systemic changes are expectedly coming down the pipeline for the Seahawks’ offense in 2021. Coming from an exciting and explosive offensive hive mind in Los Angeles, new Seattle play-caller Shane Waldron looks to turn one of the most talented offenses in the NFL into a creative and consistently effective one.
Skill players thrive in the offense Waldron derives from. We’re talking freak athletes who can move around the field, lining up in multiple spots, and keeping opposing defenses guessing. While versatility isn’t an absolute necessity to survive in the NFL, it’s a good trait to have, especially in a Waldron-led attack.
One of the most versatile players in the 2021 NFL Draft is UCLA’s Demetric Felton. Primarily a running back in college, Felton can also double as a wideout—potentially giving Seattle an opportunity to address two needs with one pick.
Felton has the potential to be a true gadget player in the NFL, contributing both in the run and pass games. In 31 games through four years for the Bruins, he put up 1,101 yards and seven touchdowns on 233 carries, and had 99 receptions for 958 yards and eight touchdowns.
As a runner, he best works out of the shotgun, displaying strong patience and field vision. Although his speed tests yielded less than desirable results, he plays faster than those numbers suggest. He explodes out of the backfield and quickly gets his feet moving, getting to the second level in a flash where he shows good agility to make defenders miss without losing much speed.
Despite his smaller build, he’s willing to get down and dirty. He won’t shy away from contact and isn’t an easy tackle. While he’s more than capable of shaking defenders before they lay a finger on him, he’s down to throw a stiff arm on occasion and has the strength to do so effectively.
Laterally, he moves well and sharply turns the corner on jet/fly sweeps. He’s a sure-handed receiver out of the backfield, hauling the ball in to completion and turning upfield quickly on screens and swings.
What’s really jumped out about Felton in the draft process, however, is his ability as a wideout. Getting a ton of reps on the outside at the Senior Bowl, his execution on certain routes was impressive. He’ll need to fine-tune his overall ability there, but there seems to be quite a bit to build upon. There were multiple instances of him flat-out burning opposing corners in workouts.
That, plus his highly praised character, gave his draft stock a solid boost.
Things can quickly change in the ‘what have you done for me lately’ nature of the NFL. Felton didn’t necessarily see his stock dive following his pro day, but he wasn’t able to further the momentum he built down in Mobile, Alabama. Appearing more ‘green’ in his route running ability while posting a 4.55 40-yard dash time, most were left underwhelmed by Felton’s performance in his final showing for team scouts.
At the very least, he should be a solid third down back in the NFL. But his 5-foot-9, 189-pound frame limits him in pass protection, putting his viability for the role into question. Given his willingness to be physical in the run game, this could be something he improves upon, but it will likely always plague him throughout his career.
Fit in Seattle
If he ends up being a pure third down back, that may still jibe with the Seahawks. Last week, they were reported to be one of the three teams involved in versatile running back Giovani Bernard before he signed with the Buccaneers, so it stands to reason they're still in the market for someone with some pass catching upside.
If he can be more than that, however, that's how Seattle could find an answer to a pair of needs in one fell swoop with Felton—in a draft where selections are particularly hard to come by for the organization. They still haven't done anything in free agency to address their group of receivers behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and have already lost potential depth with the departures of David Moore and Freddie Swain. If Felton's performance as a receiver in Mobile was real, he may be able to earn significant snaps right out of the gate on this roster.
Of course, it all depends on how many picks the Seahawks wind up with. Currently, they have just three. Figuring out where Felton will go is tough given how far opposite his Senior Bowl and pro day performances land on the spectrum, but he shouldn't fall past the fifth round at worst. If general manager John Schneider and company don't go receiver with their first pick - whether it's at No. 56 or not - Felton has the potential to be an absolute steal on day three, with Waldron's scheme being a perfect fit for someone with his unique skillset.