Depth at the wide receiver position has been an issue over the last few years for the Seattle Seahawks to say the least. A steadying force for nearly a decade, Doug Baldwin was considering retirement before being cut this morning due to failing a physical. In 2017, we saw Paul Richardson have a breakout season in a contract year before jumping ship to the Redskins in 2018. With Baldwin out of the picture, that leaves return man and former Mountaineer killer Tyler Lockett as Russell Wilson’s number one option on the outside. It is this lack of depth that led Pete Carroll’s team to select three wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft, including WVU’s Gary Jennings in the 4th round.
With Doug Baldwin having been released, the Seahawks would appear to be in the market for a strong-handed receiver who can catch the ball across the middle of the field and stretch the defense from an inside position. Does that description sound familiar to any of you Mountaineer fans? Obviously, the Seattle coaches aren’t just going to hand a starting spot to Jennings, especially after he went down during rookie minicamp with a hamstring injury, but he brings a hard-nosed toughness that no one else in the wide receivers room does for the Seahawks. With Russell Wilson having just signed a four year, 160 million dollar contract, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is going to have to surround his star with a variety of targets to keep him happy. Gary Jennings can be a valuable safety valve in 2019.
Seattle added three receivers to their room in the 2019 draft and each brings a different skill set than the other two. The first receiver off the board for the Seahawks was Ole Miss product D.K. Metcalf. Metcalf was the story of this year’s combine, measuring 6’3″ and 228 pounds while running a 4.33 40 yard dash with 27 reps on the bench press and a 40.5 inch vertical. Despite his physical attributes, Metcalf fell to the second round as a result of concerns over the extremely limited rout tree he ran in college as well as a perceived level of stiffness due to poor lateral movement numbers at the combine. He was followed by Jennings in the fourth round and then Seattle took their third receiver of the weekend when they selected Hawaii’s John Ursua in the seventh round. Ursua was a prolific target out of the slot in college and is expected to provide depth as an undersized inside receiver at the next level.
The Seahawks solved their receiver depth problem and added some good prospects to a thin room. The leading returner to the squad is Kansas State grad and old Big 12 foe Tyler Lockett. Lockett stepped into the number two receiver role last year after Paul Richardson’s departure and must take another step forward this year. However, Lockett is about it when it comes to returning receivers with a safe roster spot. David Moore was a pleasant surprise last year with 445 yards and 5 touchdowns while making seven starts. There are concerns as his production tailed off considerably at the end of the season. Jaron Brown was the fourth option at receiver for Seattle a year ago and provided solid production for the snaps he got, but would take a $3,725,000 cap hit off the books if he is cut. There are two receivers who are almost certain to be cut at this point if those above them produce in training camp. Those players are Amara Darboh and Keenan Reynolds. Darboh was a third round pick from Syracuse but has never really developed his raw skills into production so far. Meanwhile, Reynolds has bounced around the league since coming out of Navy as a sixth round pick. A dynamic option quarterback in college, he has struggled to convert to an NFL caliber receiver. It can certainly be said that Gary Jennings will be given every opportunity to get on the field as the returning receiver group in Seattle is rather uninspiring.
Gary Jennings has proven over his time at West Virginia that he is never afraid to bet on himself and his own abilities. On a team with a wide open depth chart at receiver, he’s got the chance to make an impact right away for the Seahawks. Jennings brings a lot of qualities and he will have the opportunity to replace Baldwin sooner rather than later.