Seahawks go deep with mixed results

Staff writerApril 21, 2013 

Justin Hunter, who led the Tennessee Volunteers in receptions last season, vows to work on his problem with dropped passes. Hunter was a junior national champion in the high jump.

MICHAEL CONROY/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Seahawks general manager John Schneider has mixed results drafting receivers during his tenure in Seattle.

He found some success in selecting Notre Dame’s Golden Tate in the second round of the 2010 draft. After floundering his first two years in the league, Tate flourished in his first year as a starter in 2012, finishing second on the team in receptions with 45 for 688 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Seahawks grabbed Georgia’s Kris Durham in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, looking for a big receiver to stretch the field on the perimeter. Durham was dynamic and athletic, but had trouble staying healthy and catching the ball. He was released during final roster cuts before the 2012 season.

Two players who arrived outside of the conventional draft have made their marks.

Doug Baldwin, an undrafted free agent signed in 2011, led the Seahawks in receptions that season.

And University of Washington and Lakes High product Jermaine Kearse earned a spot on the active roster as an undrafted free agent in 2012 because of his versatility and production on special teams.

This year, the Seahawks would like to find a backup for wide receiver Sidney Rice. The South Carolina native played all 16 games for the second time in his six-year career last season, and Seattle would like to have some insurance in case Rice goes down again.

Tennessee’s Justin Hunter could be that guy if the Seahawks choose to pursue him in the second round with the No. 56 overall pick. At 6-foot-4 and 196 pounds, Hunter ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, posted a 40-inch vertical jump and an 11-6 broad jump at the NFL scouting combine.

A former track athlete, Hunter won the high jump at the 2010 USA Junior Championships.

He led Tennessee in receptions as a senior with 73 for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns. However, Hunter had trouble with drops last season.

“I know I had a problem with that, and that’s one of the tough things,” he said at the scouting combine in February. “I know that’s real important. You’ve got to be able to make that catch every time.”

The Seahawks have some familiarity with Hunter. Seattle receivers coach Kippy Brown recruited Hunter to Tennessee while serving as the school’s interim coach before it hired Derek Dooley.

Another possibility for Seattle in second round is Louisiana Tech product Quinton Patton. At 6-feet and 202 pounds, Patton is one of the most elusive runners after the catch in the draft, and could serve as nice backup for Harvin.

Patton ran the 40 in 4.53 seconds at the scouting combine and posted a 33-inch vertical jump.

He earned second-team All-American honors thanks to his 104 receptions for 1,392 yards and 13 TDs.

And Patton has a lot of swagger to his game, so he would fit right in with a young and boisterous Seattle team.

“I’m a confident person, confident in my abilities that God has given me,” Patton said. “My confidence level is always high.”

WIDE RECEIVERS TO CONSIDER

Rob Rang, senior draft analyst with NFLDraftScout.com, reviews receivers Seattle might select in each round of this year’s draft.

SECOND ROUND (56TH PICK), QUINTON PATTON, 6-0, 204, LOUISIANA TECH

Rob’s rationale: Savvy route runner with soft hands, competitive nature in running game. Stood out vs. top competition over his career, including at Senior Bowl.

THIRD ROUND (87TH PICK), RYAN SWOPE, 6-0, 205, TEXAS A&M

Rob’s rationale: Not as fast as his 4.3 time in the 40-yard dash indicated at combine but is very quick and possesses excellent hands. Think bigger, faster Wes Welker.

FOURTH ROUND (123RD PICK), CHRIS HARPER, 6-1, 229, KANSAS STATE

Rob’s rationale: Big-bodied receiver who hauls in passes even with defenders draped over him. Faster on the field than in workouts. Originally signed with Oregon as a quarterback.

FIFTH ROUND (138TH AND 158TH PICKS), JOSH BOYCE, 5-11, 206, TCU

Rob’s rationale: Saw production slip in 2012 because of his quarterback being suspended. If scouts do their homework, they’ll see he’s athletic, tough and very productive. Foot injury a concern.

SIXTH ROUND (194TH PICK), ACE SANDERS, 5-7, 173, SOUTH CAROLINA

Rob’s rationale: Much faster than he timed at combine (4.53). Great elusiveness and is a vertical threat despite lack of size. Viewed by some as the best punt returner in the draft.

SEVENTH ROUND (220TH, 231ST, 241ST AND 242ND PICKS), BRICE BUTLER, 6-3, 214, SAN DIEGO STATE

Rob’s rationale: Was not invited to the combine but turned heads at his pro day with his combination of size, speed and overall athleticism. Versatile.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams

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