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DK Metcalf’s big-play ability gives Seahawks draft…

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DK Metcalf's big-play ability gives Seahawks draft...


DK Metcalf began the regular season with 89 receiving yards in the opener, the most ever by a Seattle Seahawks rookie in his NFL debut.

He finished it with 58 catches, tied for second among rookies in 2019 and second most by a rookie in franchise history.

Metcalf then set a Seahawks playoff record with 160 yards in the wild-card round, which also was an NFL postseason record for a rookie in the Super Bowl era. He had a touchdown in that game, to go along with seven in the regular season.

Of all the noteworthy numbers he posted during his spectacular rookie campaign, this might be as important as any: 18. Metcalf didn’t miss a game, playing in all 16 during the regular season and two more in the playoffs. That alone was an accomplishment after he saw his college career get cut short by a serious neck injury, then needed knee surgery 19 days before the Seahawks’ opener.

The Seahawks couldn’t have expected anything more out of Metcalf in 2019.

They couldn’t have gotten much less out of first-round pick L.J. Collier than his three tackles and zero sacks.

Even with Collier’s forgettable season — and an even more forgettable one from fourth-round pick Gary Jennings — Pro Football Focus still ranked the Seahawks’ rookie class as the NFL’s 10th-most productive based on PFF’s new wins above replacement metric and where each player was selected in the 2019 draft. Metcalf, a steal as the final pick of the second round, was the main reason why.

Here’s a review of what the Seahawks got out of their 11 draft picks and a look at what’s next for each:

DE L.J. Collier, Round 1 (29 overall): Including the playoffs, Collier was a healthy scratch six times and missed Week 1 because of an ankle sprain suffered early in training camp. No rookie can afford to miss all the time he missed, but it was an especially costly setback given the rawness in his game after just one season as a college starter. The Seahawks’ 28 sacks were tied for the second fewest in the league, and no one on their defense had more than Rasheem Green‘s four. While that is a reflection of how weak Seattle’s pass rush was, it also is another reason to not write Collier (142 defensive snaps) off. Green, a 2018 third-round pick, had a similarly nondescript rookie season, then played the third-most snaps of any Seattle defensive lineman in 2019. The Seahawks need Collier to take the same second-year jump.

S Marquise Blair, Round 2 (47 overall): Blair lived up to his reputation as a thumper and made a key play in one of his three starts when he forced a fumble at the goal line to help preserve a win over Atlanta. It was curious that neither Quandre Diggs‘ sprained ankle nor Lano Hill‘s struggles could get Blair (219 defensive snaps) back into the starting lineup late in the regular season. Pete Carroll might have had more confidence in Blair’s readiness had he not missed so much time during the spring and summer due to hamstring and back injuries. The Seahawks didn’t draft Blair in the second round just so he could remain a depth piece, but Diggs and Bradley McDougald are each under contract for one more season, so it might take Seattle releasing McDougald or another injury for Blair to start in 2020.

WR DK Metcalf, Round 2 (64 overall): An area of Metcalf’s game he can improve is his efficiency. His 58 catches came on 99 targets for a catch rate of 58.6% that ranked 57th among wide receivers, per ESPN charting. For context, Tyler Lockett was third at 73.9%.

LB Cody Barton, Round 3 (88 overall): Barton (148 defensive snaps) made four starts at strongside linebacker for Mychal Kendricks. That will help the Seahawks gauge Barton’s readiness to take over that job full time next season, if need be. Kendricks, a pending free agent, is coming off a torn ACL and is headed toward sentencing in his insider trading case, so there might be a need. Barton led the Seahawks in special-teams snaps.

WR Gary Jennings, Round 4 (120 overall): You don’t often see teams move on from fourth-round picks as quickly as the Seahawks moved on from Jennings, and his spot on the roster seemed tenuous well before they waived him in November. Jennings had trouble picking up the playbook and lost valuable time during the spring with a hamstring injury. He was a healthy scratch for every game before he was waived and claimed by Miami.

G Phil Haynes, Round 4 (124 overall): Haynes spent half the season on physically unable to perform list, didn’t see the field until the playoffs, then had to take over at left guard in the divisional round because of injuries to Mike Iupati and Jamarco Jones. That isn’t enough playing time to leave anyone with a strong sense of how viable of an option Haynes would be to start if Iupati, a pending free agent, isn’t back.

DB Ugo Amadi, Round 4 (132 overall): Amadi was one of Seattle’s top special-teams players, and it appears he will be an ace there, if nothing else. Can he grab hold of the nickelback job and do it well enough to compel the Seahawks to not remain in base personnel as often as they did in 2019? Amadi (75 defensive snaps) didn’t become Seattle’s primary option there until late in the season.

LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Round 5 (142 overall): BBK, as he is called, didn’t see much meaningful action outside of special teams, where he played the second-most snaps. He projects as a backup in 2020 and core special-teamer.

RB Travis Homer, Round 6 (204 overall): Homer went from the Seahawks’ No. 4 tailback to their first option after injuries hit their backfield hard. He combined for 92 yards on 15 touches in Week 17 but wasn’t effective outside of that game, leading Seattle to start Marshawn Lynch in the divisional round. Homer will compete with whichever tailback(s) the Seahawks add to reinforce their depth with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny coming off injuries.

DT Demarcus Christmas, Round 6 (209 overall): Christmas spent all year on PUP, and he will be competing for a roster spot next season. He is more of a run-stuffer than a pass-rusher.

WR John Ursua, Round 7 (236 overall): Ursua’s only catch came in the final minute of Week 17, when he converted a fourth-and-10 but came up about a foot shy of what likely would have been the game-winning score. The Seahawks were so high on Ursua’s potential and so afraid of losing him to waivers that they kept him on their 53-man roster all season, even though he was a healthy scratch for all but four games. Jaron Brown will be an unrestricted free agent, David Moore will be restricted and Josh Gordon is suspended, so Ursua will compete with Malik Turner and whichever other receiver(s) Seattle adds for the No. 3 role behind Lockett and Metcalf.

http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/305590/dk-metcalfs-big-play-ability-gives-2019-seahawks-draft-class-a-solid-grade

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