Examining The Tight End Position In Seattle

Century Link Stadium Seattle Seahawks Week 2
Century Link Stadium, Home of the Seattle Seahawks. Photo Credit: Brett Monroe - Under Creative Commons License.

This offseason brought the departure of tight ends Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson from the Seattle Seahawks. It’s unfortunate that the team was never able to reach the Super Bowl with a healthy Graham and many fans will miss the Wilson to Willson connection. Nevertheless, life must go on. Let’s take a look at the upcoming tight end class and what we can expect from them over in the Emerald City.

Examining The Tight End Position In Seattle

Prospect On The Chopping Block

The Seahawks currently have five tight ends signed on the roster. Of the five, three have yet to make a reception on an NFL field.

Let’s start by looking at Tyrone Swoopes. He was first signed as a rookie free agent back in the 2017 offseason. Originally a University of Texas Longhorn quarterback, Swoopes has had some trouble transitioning to the tight end position. He can’t be blamed though being that he’s never played the position before in his life. Though he was able to make his debut last year against the Cardinals, Swoopes will most certainly be a backup if he’s not resigned to the practice squad.

2018 Rookies

The most recent addition to Seattle’s tight end core is Clayton Wilson who was signed back in May during a rookie minicamp tryout. In his collegiate career, Wilson had 80 receptions for 694 yards and six touchdowns. Pete Carroll and co. have a good eye for seeing potential in undrafted rookies. Perhaps Wilson will end up a better fit for special teams but as of now, the coaching staff is throwing him in the mix of tight ends to find the right fit.

Washington Husky, Will Dissly was selected in the fourth round of the draft. A former defensive end, Dissly has the potential to be a strong blocking tight end. Even as a backup he could provide the right help Seattle needs to get back to a run-first offense. Not to mention, he shows decent hands as he made 21 receptions for 289 yards and two touchdowns his senior year.

The Vet Vs. The Young Gun

There’s a potential showdown in terms of who will be the starting tight end. Seattle could go with two tight ends in their initial formations but recent history shows them going with one.

Back in March, the Seahawks signed veteran Ed Dickson. With Graham and Willson out, Dickson holds the advantage in being used in the starting lineup. Last year Dickson recorded 30 receptions for 437 yards and a catch-percentage of 62.5%. During his time with the Panthers, Dickson picked up the slack when Greg Olson suffered a broken foot. Joining the Seahawks gives Dickson the chance to secure a starting position and show off his experience.

Looking to take the job though, is Nick Vannett. He’s starting his third year with the team and has been the 3rd option behind the now-gone Graham and Willson. Vannett showed promise during a rookie year that was cut short by an ankle injury. Though he hasn’t been a consistent target he’s done quite well when he’s in and targeted. With an 80% catch rate and an average of over 10 yards per reception, Vannett looks poised to stand out.

Fresh Routes In A New Offensive System

All in all, the end result of Seattle’s tight end situation will depend on what new offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer needs. Mid-range passes from the Air Coryell offense that Schottenheimer is known for will make this a battle of who’s faster and who’s got the most dependable hands. On the other hand, a run-first offense will demand a good blocking tight end. This option seems more likely given Seattle’s history and the recent first-round pick of Rashaad Penny. The good thing going for the Seahawks is that they’ve got options to work with. In a way, finally moving on from the Graham situation opens up fresh possibilities for this key position that can do more good than harm.