So, I was once happy (and I don't just mean that time five years ago). The Seahawks went from being the Seabears to losing Marshawn Lynch and Brandon Mebane this offseason, meaning there were finally no more reasons for a normal Cal fan to root for them. But, good things just never last and they went ahead and drafted WR Kenny Lawler in the seventh round, forcing me to once again support that team from the worst place in the world.
But alas! We must push forward and look to Lawler's phenomenal opportunity to make an NFL roster and whom better to ask about the Seahawks than our SBN cousins Field Gulls and Danny "Not Donkey Kong" Kelly?
1. How does the depth chart look at receiver? Is there a dire need to upgrade at that position or is your team pretty stacked?
Danny Kelly (DK): No, there was not a dire need to upgrade with Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jermaine Kearse all figuring in as the starters for the Seahawks, plus Paul Richardson is still out there waiting in the wings and trying to stay healthy. There are also a couple of other young guys that got some experience last year, like Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams, so receiver was generally considered to be more of a bonus pick. I think that's why we saw Seattle wait until the 7th round to select one. That said, I don't think the depth is so solid that Lawler has no shot to make the team—he looks like a guy that could be their No. 5 receiver or better and could carve out a niche for himself as a red-zone threat.
2. What kind of skill set do your coaches look for at wide receiver?
DK: Seahawks receivers have to have great hands first and foremost, I think. Simply based on the low volume of passes to go around in this offense, there's a lot of emphasis on making the most of your opportunities when they come to you. Obviously, Lawler checks that box for Seattle and John Schneider has said a couple of times that they thought he had maybe the best hands of anyone in the entire draft.
Otherwise, blocking ability is a big necessity, separation skills are key, and quickness in and out of cuts is a big deal. Seattle's receiver corps is made up of a bunch of quick guys that can separate, for the most part, but I see Lawler more like a Jermaine Kearse type—a guy who can win at the catch point and is prone to make big plays. He's a red-zone threat.
3. What role does the receiver play in the Seahawks' scheme?
DK: Blocking is probably more heavily emphasized in Seattle's scheme than in most other offenses. Also, they're an explosive-play offense and they like to push the ball downfield, so an ability to separate downfield and win contested passes is a huge bonus. An ability win on sideline throws is big as well and versatility in the ability to play the X, Z, or slot is a must.
4. How have the fans or critics responded to drafting Lawler in the seventh round?
DK: People are generally pretty intrigued by it, I think. The guy scored tons of touchdowns in college and while the lack of speed may be a concern, they like that he has great hands and can go up and get jump balls. Seattle is a low-volume passing offense and Pete Carroll has talked about "touchdown makers" a lot in his years here in Seattle, and Lawler seems like that kind of guy. He might not get a ton of looks here, but he seems like the type of player who could figure in to the offense inside the 20-yard line.
5. What is your evaluation of Lawler?
DK: He will have to gain some weight, I think, but his body control and hands are what stood out to me first and foremost. Someone threw out a Brandon Lloyd comparison and that really struck me as an interesting one—he seems like a guy who is very aware of where he is on the field and on the sideline and has innate ability to concentrate on the football even when he's in traffic. He doesn't look like he's going to kill anyone with pure speed, but he looks pretty quick. I am really looking forward to watching him in training camp because he's going to be going up against some very tough defensive backs on Seattle's D.
6. Is there any early indication or do you have a guess if Lawler has a chance at making the Seahawks roster?
DK: I do think he has a chance. He'll have to beat out some other developmental–type guys who have been on the roster, but I don't think anyone in that group past Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, and Richardson really stand out. That gives him a great chance to impress coaches. I think he'll have to really shine in special teams, though, if he wants to make the roster.
7. What are your favorite memories of Beast Mode?
DK: There are so many, that it's hard to make a list. Obviously the first BeastQuake run against the Saints is an all-timer and probably the most fun run I've ever watched (not to mention probably the best playoff run of all time). His play in the NFC Championship game against the Packers two years ago—especially a couple of big plays (including a touchdown to put them ahead) in the 4th quarter—will always be special to me. And you could make a highlight reel of awesome plays he made against the Niners over the years, which always seemed to be more viscerally enjoyable because of that rivalry. The dude is a legend. We're really going to miss seeing him play here in Seattle. He embodied the word "cool". You can check out my farewell column to The Beast right here.
Our sincere thanks to Danny for answering all of our questions and our condolences that he has to cover a team centered in such a hellhole. (And a second thanks for being a good sport and putting up with me talking mad crap about the city that he chooses to cover.) Visit Field Gulls for all your Lawler news and follow them all on Twitter (@FieldGulls).