There were two standout players in the Seahawks’ 2021 preseason games who will be pushing hard for a roster spot and real playing time in 2022. This couplet may not match the typical “breakout” descriptor and it’s also worth acknowledging that development is not linear. However, if these two Seattle players continue their trajectory, they will break out in 2022. The duo is right on the cusp.
Here’s the 2022 offense’s top breakout candidate:
WR Cody Thompson
The former Toledo receiver, who broke the Rockets’ receiving yards record in 2016 and their career receiving touchdowns record, re-signed with the Seahawks in 2020 after landing with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and bouncing between the Seahawks and Bengals as a rookie.
Now 26 years old, Thompson is receiving rave reviews for another offseason, having wowed reporters in 2020 and 2021 camps.
"He's had the best spring of any receiver and a lot of the things I was saying about DK [Metcalf] about being diligent, taking practice to the team reps, he's done that,” praised Seahawks receivers coach Sanjay Lal following day three of 2022 minicamp.
Metcalf’s continued absence from camp will only raise Thompson’s opportunities.
Whether Metcalf's contract situation is resolved or not, Thompson’s style should benefit from Seattle’s quarterback change. His glitzy pair of 2021 preseason catches on the drift/strike concept, running an in-breaking route at 14-16 yards, exhibited what he can bring to a passing attack.
Here’s an efficient break pressing into the off, outside leverage cover 3 cornerback, complete with catch-and-tuck:
Here’s Thompson selling vertical off the line of scrimmage with his low pad level before using his big frame to make a similar catch:
Of course, with Russell Wilson as his quarterback, Thompson was less likely to be targeted on this type of route and in this area of the field. Geno Smith and Drew Lock, however, are likely to see Shane Waldron run more of these concepts—and for Seattle’s offense to look far more “Rams/McVay-like”.
That could see Thompson emerge into a Cooper Kupp-style role
In the Seahawks’ offense, Thompson's size and smooth breaks compliment Metcalf and Tyler Lockett nicely. Beyond being, well, white, there are some athletic similarities between Thompson—a former high school quarterback—and Kupp:
Thompson’s existing relationship with Lock will also help; the duo worked out together earlier this offseason in Dallas. Their chemistry has already shown up in practices and should help Thompson shine in preseason action.
There are lots of receivers for Thompson to get through on the depth chart. You’d think he’d have to at least beat out Penny Hart, although they are stylistically opposed. Freddie Swain would then be next up. Meanwhile, 2021 second-round pick Dee Eskridge is going nowhere, while 2022 seventh-rounders Bo Melton and Dareke Young will be battling.
Thompson will be able to lean on his existing special teams resumé as well. It feels like this third year is "now or never" territory for him.