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The Seattle Seahawks are set to report to training camp a week from today, and when they do there is no question who the top two wide receivers on the roster are. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf has carved out their role at the top of the depth chart, but behind them are ten youngsters nine youngsters and John Ursua competing to stake claim to the third wide receiver role.
The fan favorite, of course, is rookie second round draft pick D’Wayne Eskridge, who many seem to anticipate will make an instant impact following the remarkable performance of Metcalf after joining the Hawks as a second round pick in 2019. The key question for Eskridge, though, when it comes to staking his claim as the third guy could be how quickly he picks up the offense and how quickly the Seahawks work him into the rotation with playing time.
It’s no secret that Metcalf hit the ground running and made an immediate impact on the field, however, his case is more the exception for the receivers Seattle has selected in the second round since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived. That is in no way saying that Eskridge won’t play or have an impact this season, just that it may not come as quickly as many fans hope. Eskridge is the fourth wide receiver that Carroll and Schneider have drafted since taking over the Seahawks roster, and here is a look at how the three prior receivers – Golden Tate, Paul Richardson and DK Metcalf – have been eased in over the course of their rookie season.
As is evidenced by the table, Tate was used rather sparingly except in games where Seattle was missing Mike Williams due to injury, or the 33-3 drubbing at the hands of Tom Cable’s Oakland Raiders in Week 8. Richardson, likewise, played just 38 snaps for the Hawks prior to the team trading Percy Harvin to the New York Jets, at which point his playing time saw a dramatic jump. Meanwhile, Metcalf claimed a starting role from the get go and never looked back. However, even in spite of earning significant playing time from the get go, of the three times Metcalf has ever played fewer than 50 offensive snaps in a game so far in his career, two of them came in the first four weeks of his rookie season, with the third being the 40-3 destruction of the Jets in December.
So, all three of the prior second round receivers the team has drafted have seen their playing time become more significant over the course of their rookie season. The continuation of this trend for Eskridge would make a good amount of sense given the adoption of the new collective bargaining agreement. The new CBA not only gave the owners the opportunity to turn one preseason game into a regular season game, it also once again reduced the amount of practice time available during training camp.
Specifically, teams could previously hold up to 28 practices up to 3 hours in length during training camp to go along with the four preseason games. However, practice time during camp is now limited to 2.5 hours a maximum of 16 times, meaning the number of reps a player sees in practice is likely cut in half. Add to that the loss of a preseason game further cutting into the valuable developmental time, and it’s a recipe for younger players to see the field less and less early in their career.
That, of course, leads to the question of who would see the field if the Seahawks do indeed ease Eskridge in. Freddie Swain could have the inside track on that, with his 351 career snaps played, while Penny Hart (62), Darvin Kidsy (37) and John Ursua (11) are the only other receivers on the roster who have logged offensive snaps in the NFL. Whether that could open things up for one of the undrafted free agents on the roster, whether that player went undrafted this year (Connor Wedington or Cade Johnson), 2020 (Aaron Fuller or Travis Toivonen) or even 2019 (Cody Thompson).
It will be an interesting competition to watch play out in camp, as well as to continue to monitor over the course of the season.