Receiver is likely Seahawks’ top priority in 2014 NFL draft
The draft is May 8-10, which comes after the March free agency period, when the Seahawks could see some shuffling in their receiving corps.
Seattle Times staff reporter
What: Representatives of all 32 teams gather to scout and interview 335 players eligible for the NFL draft.
When: Feb. 19-25
Top national storyline: All eyes will be on Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who recently revealed he is gay. He is scheduled to meet with the media Saturday.
Top Seahawks storyline: Seattle’s contingent will be led by general manager John Schneider, as the Seahawks will look to add more players to an already-loaded roster.
Except years when they didn’t have a first-round pick, the Seahawks have never held such a deep position in the NFL draft. By virtue of winning the Super Bowl, the Seahawks will be the 32nd and last team to pick in the first round.
Not that anyone is complaining.
Making the situation better is that “deep” is also the word analysts are using to refer to the draft itself.
“This is the deepest and best draft I’ve seen in the last 10 years, and that’s been reinforced by most of the general managers and scouts I’ve talked to throughout the league,” analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters to preview the NFL Scouting Combine, which begins in earnest Thursday in Indianapolis.
Mayock said one general manager told him that having a top-20 selection this year “is very similar to having a top 10 pick last year.’’
That’s particularly true at receiver, which may be Seattle’s greatest position of need.
“It’s the best wide receiver draft I’ve seen in years,’’ Mayock said.
The draft is May 8-10, which comes after the March free-agency period, when the Seahawks could see some shuffling in their receiving corps.
Golden Tate, who led the Seahawks with 64 receptions in 2013 and also established himself as one of the better punt returners in the NFL, is an unrestricted free agent who can be signed by any team.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s second-leading receiver with 50 catches, is a restricted free agent who can field offers from other teams, with Seattle having a chance to match.
And Sidney Rice, who played just eight games before suffering a season-ending knee injury and carries a $9.7 million salary for 2014, is widely expected to be cut, or asked to restructure his contract.
Even if Seattle doesn’t suffer heavy free-agent losses, the Seahawks probably want to find bigger receivers. The 6-foot-4 Rice is the only receiver on the roster taller than 6-2.
Rob Rang, a draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com, says he thinks getting a big receiver may be Seattle’s top priority in this draft. “Pete Carroll in the past has always wanted to have real tall, lanky receivers,” he said.
Rang, like Mayock, says Seattle could have its pick of several good options in the first round. Rang cites two receivers Seattle may be watching closely during the combine — Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State. Benjamin, listed at 6-5, 243 pounds, scored 15 touchdowns for the Seminoles in 2013, including the game-winner in the BCS title matchup with Auburn.
Evans, listed at 6-5, 225, was an AP All-American.
“Depending on how they run (at the combine) they could separate themselves, one from the other,’’ Rang said.
Mayock believes each fits the new prototype of a receiver valued for being able to use their size to win one-on-one battles.
“Evans and Benjamin are kind of today’s flavor in the NFL,’’ Mayock said. “Those 6-5, 230-pound wide receivers, (capable of catching) the back-shoulder throws, outside the numbers in the red zone.’’
Each played just two years in college, though and could need time to adjust to the NFL, something the Seahawks may weigh.
Mayock said of Evans: “He’s going to have to learn how to run routes. I think that’s part of any young wide receiver.”
Should Seattle simply want a receiver, tall or not, Mayock said other possible options for the Seahawks to pick are USC’s Marqise Lee, Louisiana State’s Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Fresno State’s Davante Adams and Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks.
“There are going to be a lot better choices, depending on the position you’re looking for, sitting at 32,” Mayock said. “… There are really good football players and wide receivers who can contribute immediately.’’
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta.