After the Seahawks traded back into the seventh round and selected receiver John Ursua with their final pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, he faced somewhat long odds to stick on the team's 53-man roster as a rookie.
But despite being the 19th-to-last pick in the draft and being buried on the depth chart, the 5-foot-9 Ursua caught the attention of Seattle’s coaching staff early on in training camp and made some impressive plays during the preseason to improve his stock.
In total, Ursua played in all four exhibition games and caught four passes for 100 yards. Further showcasing his quickness, speed, and versatility, the former Hawaii star also recorded one rushing attempt that resulted in an 11-yard carry.
As a result, Ursua snagged one of Seattle's final roster spots, but the rookie receiver struggled to earn an opportunity to showcase his talent during the regular season. Overall, the 26-year old played in just three games, producing a single reception for 11 yards.
Following the signing of veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett on Tuesday, some may believe Ursua will be challenged once again to find the field next season. However, it’s clear that the Seahawks still think highly of him as an organization and expect big things from him moving forward.
Prior to Seattle’s Wild Card matchup against Philadelphia in January, less than a week after nearly catching a game-winning touchdown to beat the 49ers in Week 17, coach Pete Carroll expressed his excitement about Ursua’s potential.
“He’s such a natural athlete. He’s got magnificent body control and quickness. He’s got excellent quickness, the kind you get in and out of your breaks and change direction stuff that the best guys have. He’s got a terrific catching range,” Carroll explained. “He scored more touchdowns than anybody in college football his last year. You can see why. As soon as it all clicks and he’s in, he’s going to be a factor.”
Like Carroll mentioned, Ursua stood out during his final year at the University of Hawaii. During his junior year, the former Warriors standout reeled in 89 receptions for 1,343 receiving yards and led the FBS division with 16 touchdown receptions.
Franchise quarterback Russell Wilson also spoke very highly of Ursua before heading to Philadelphia during the opening round of the playoffs. The six-time Pro Bowler added that he isn’t surprised by the attention the young receiver received based on the impressive work ethic he displayed during the preseason.
“He knows how to get open. He understands the game plan. You guys saw him in the preseason, he was making a lot of great plays,” Wilson discussed. “He’s been a tremendous football player for us. If he gets in there and makes plays, we won’t be surprised. He knows how to do it.”
Regardless if Seattle adds another receiver this offseason, whether it’s through free agency or next month’s draft, Ursua will already have his work cut out for him this summer whenever the team is able to return to action from the coronavirus pandemic.
Along with battling for the No. 3 receiver role behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, he’ll likely be jockeying for a roster spot against David Moore and Malik Turner. But the receiver's craftiness from the slot may give him a distinct advantage over the competition, especially if he can find his way onto special teams.
Even with the presence of Dorsett, if Ursua stays healthy, he will have a great chance to further develop his overall skills as a receiver and potentially become an impact weapon within Seattle's passing game next season.