We’ll continue the Countdown with a question that may seem to have an obvious answer — which rookie will make the biggest impact on the team in 2014?
I say it may have an obvious answer because the easy choice is usually the guy a team drafts first, which this year for the Seahawks was receiver Paul Richardson out of Colorado (above), taken with the No. 45 overall pick in the second round.
Richardson should move straight into the rotation at receiver and also could factor in as a kick and/or punt returner.
Rob Rang of CBSSports.com published a good analysis the other day of how Richardson might fit in this season:
The impact that Richardson provides is likely to be on “shot” plays down the field, taking advantage of Wilson’s touch on the deep ball and defenders attacking the line of scrimmage in an effort to slow down Marshawn Lynch.
Richardson is perfectly suited to star in this role. He was clocked at 4.33 seconds (hand-held) in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and this speed translates onto the field, where despite a limited supporting cast he scored 21 touchdowns in 25 career starts at Colorado (averaging an eye-popping 40 yards per score).
In this big play, all-or-nothing complementary role Richardson won’t so much be the icing on the cake as the candle, capable of drawing oohs and aahs from the raucous 12th Man as he burns opponents.
As Rang notes, Richardson might not technically start or catch as many passes as guys like Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse. But in offering a different dimension, he’ll almost certainly have a pretty significant role this season, assuming no bumps in the road in the adjustment to the NFL and in health.
As for the rest of the Class of 2014, here’s a quick look at where each stands heading into camp:
OT Justin Britt, second round: Britt was one of the standouts of the spring, moving quickly into a competition with Michael Bowie for the starting right tackle spot. He seems a lock to make the team and likely to play in a rotation basis if he doesn’t win the starting job.
DL Cassius Marsh, fourth round: Marsh, out of UCLA, will compete for a spot as a tackle and end, the team saying they envision using him in a similar fashion to Michael Bennett. Marsh was forced to sit out OTAs, but showed good quickness and awareness during mini-camp. As with Britt, the game will change a little once camp starts and pads go on, and how well he stands up to the physical nature of the game will tell a lot more about his readiness to play this season.
WR Kevin Norwood, fourth round: Norwood, out of Alabama, looks to have a pretty solid grasp on a roster spot, especially if the Seahawks keep six. Norwood isn’t as flashy as Richardson. more of a possession-receiver type. But that’s what Seattle wanted, was a complement in styles. Norwood showed the kind of consistent hands and receiving savvy the team hoped to see during the spring.
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, fourth round: Pierre-Louis, out of Boston College, seems a pretty good bet to make it as a backup linebacker and special teamer, with the team preparing for the 2015 season when it will have a few decisions to make on its current linebacking corps. For now, Pierre-Louis is playing weakside linebacker, where K.J. Wright is the starter.
DL Jimmy Staten, fifth round: At the moment, each of the five players listed above seems a good bet to make the final 53. But the odds are longer for each of the final three players on the list, beginning with Staten, who is slated to play primarily at the three-technique defensive tackle position. The competition there is pretty stiff, especially after the signing of free agent Kevin Williams.
DB Eric Pinkins, sixth round: Pinkins, out of San Diego State, was drafted with the initial idea of playing cornerback. But after a few days of playing there during rookie mini-camp he moved to safety, where he has been ever since, playing primarily free safety.That’s a pretty wide open spot, but also a position where some others stood out in the spring, notably Terrance Parks.
FB Kiero Small, seventh found: Small will compete with Derrick Coleman and Spencer Ware for a spot at fullback. Each of the other two also has the ability to play tailback. But Small might be able to differentiate himself with powerful blocking.
(Note: OL Garrett Scott, taken in the sixth round, was waived in May after it was discovered he had a heart ailment and is currently not playing football).