What to expect from the Seahawks’ receiving corps in 2017

Seahawks show confidence in Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett by trading Jermaine Kearse and waiving Kasen Williams

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks
January 7, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions during the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

After the Seattle Seahawks traded homegrown wide receiver Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets for Sheldon Richardson, many assumed that Kasen Williams was a lock to make the 53-man roster. Williams, a Washington-state native, hauled in nine impressive receptions over the preseason for a total of 208 yards and a touchdown. He showed his ability to climb the ladder and make catches in traffic, which made Kearse expendable. Despite his success and promise, Seattle waived Williams; he was subsequently picked up by the Cleveland Browns.

Seattle has selected Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, Amara Darboh, and Tanner McEvoy to represent their receiving corps out of the gate in 2017. Their formula is not much different than in recent years: quick, physical, and disciplined route runners with a knack and tendency to get open. Instead of rolling with Kasen Williams as their receiver for Russell Wilson to simply throw it up to, they will be relying on Jimmy Graham and McEvoy, both much larger receivers than Kasen Williams. Simply looking at the sizes of their receivers suggests that they will be relying on McEvoy’s and Darboh’s size advantage over Williams’s demonstrated success in the preseason.


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So how exactly will Seattle’s passing game be affected by the loss of Kearse?

In the redzone in 2016, Wilson targeted Doug Baldwin 17 times and completed passes 12 times, tallying seven touchdowns. Wilson targeted Kearse 15 times, completing one pass for a touchdown. All other 14 targets were incompletions. Needless to say, Kearse was an abysmal target when it mattered most. Graham brought in four touchdowns in the redzone last year, with 20 targets. While McEvoy looks poised to be a big redzone target at 6-6, Wilson will likely throw to receivers he trusts more. Expect Baldwin’s and Graham’s redzone targets to increase, resulting in a higher success rate in the endzone in 2017.

McEvoy will certainly gain more opportunities in 2017. He has the ability to make plays in traffic, and 2017 will be his year to prove himself. At this point, it’s difficult to determine what Darboh’s role in the offense will be, as McEvoy is more likely to see snaps early on.

Paul Richardson will become a regular receiver for Seattle. When Lockett went down with a broken leg injury in 2016, Richardson stepped in and contributed in a huge way. Richardson runs crisp routes and gets open in clutch situations. Expect him to convert quite a few third and long plays in 2017. He also has the potential of becoming Seattle’s breakout offensive star.

Seattle certainly loved Jermaine Kearse. Fans will never forget some of the amazing, clutch plays he made throughout his career, especially in 2014 and 2015. But Seattle has no shortage of talent in their receiving corps. Enough so that they were willing to let preseason standout Kasen Williams walk. Trading Kearse will open the door for talented receivers Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett to complement Doug Baldwin’s playmaking ability on a consistent basis.

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