Seattle Seahawks: Never pass on a playmaker

Published on April 26, 2011 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

At first blush, wide receiver and running back are not need positions for the Seattle Seahawks in this year’s draft.

After signing starting receivers Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu to three-year extensions at the end of last season, the Seahawks have their top four receivers returning under contract.

They have their top four running backs locked up, as well – including talented return specialist Leon Washington, who signed a four-year, $12.5 million deal this offseason and is expected to see an expanded role on offense.

However, the Seahawks could use a home-run hitter on offense – someone who can create an explosive 80-yard reception or run to make it easier to get some quick points on the scoreboard.

“When you have an offense that struggles to make big plays, you have to find some playmakers, and this draft has some,” said Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com. “So it makes some sense for the Seahawks to add a playmaker at wide receiver or running back at any point of this draft.”

The top two receivers in this year’s draft, Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones, likely will be long gone when Seattle selects for the first time at No. 25 overall. But two others who could provide some big plays and might be available in the first two rounds are Maryland’s Torrey Smith and Pittsburgh’s Jon Baldwin.

Another running back who offers quick-strike ability is Eastern Washington’s Taiwan Jones, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds on his pro day and reportedly could go as high as the second round.

However, a more likely scenario for Seattle is to develop someone currently on the roster such as Golden Tate or Deon Butler to meet that need.

Butler, a third-round pick in 2009, is one of the fastest players on the team. The Penn State product finished second in receptions in 2010 with 36 for 385 yards and four touchdowns but suffered a broken right leg at San Francisco with three games remaining in the regular season. Butler’s rehab reportedly is going well, and he should be ready for training camp in July, assuming the labor situation is settled.

Tate, a second-round selection last year, did not live up to his potential, finishing with 21 catches for 227 yards.

Tate failed to play regularly because of struggles with route-running and picking up the intricacies of the pro-style offense. But during practices last year, he showed the most ability of any receiver to consistently make plays deep down the field.

However, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he has high expectations for the Notre Dame product, and believes he can develop into a consistent playmaker.

“I think Golden is a very talented player,” Schneider said. “I think he recognized that he needs to improve as a route-runner and with his preparation. He was a young guy that never had spring ball, and was just out there just playing on pure ability.

“And so for him to come into camp and have all this stuff thrown at him, different route combinations and all that, was a lot for him. But I think guys like Ben Obomanu and definitely (Brandon) Stokley when he came in, those guys really helped him out in terms of helping him recognize what he needs to work on. My expectations are high for him. I think he’s a very good player.”

Someone else Schneider has high expectations for is University of Washington product Isaiah Stanback, who intrigued him coming out of college. Stanback suffered an Achilles’ tendon tear during training camp while battling for a spot at receiver. But Stanback signed a deal to be on Seattle’s roster this season, and Schneider thinks because of Stanback’s athleticism and leadership he can develop into a core player for the Seahawks.

“Isaiah had a great camp when he was healthy,” Schneider said. “And if he can get over the injuries, he’s a big, strong, physical run-after-the-catch, take-the-ball-out-the-air core guy that’s played quarterback. And he just has a very strong, natural leadership aura about him. He’s a great guy in the building. He’s a great guy in the community. He wants to be there. He wants to be a really good player.”

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