Seattle third-round pick Amara Darboh has yet to make a catch this preseason but is hoping for a big game Thursday in Oakland.
History says rookie receiver Amara Darboh probably doesn’t have to worry much about a spot on the Seahawks’ roster when the team cuts to the regular season limit of 53 by Saturday.
As a third-round pick taken 106th overall it would go against a lot of NFL conventional wisdom for Darboh to be waived before the regular season.
A review of roster cutdown lists shows that no draft pick has been waived in the last five years who was taken in the first three rounds.
The highest pick to be waived in that time before the start of the regular season was quarterback Tyler Wilson by the Oakland Raiders in 2013 — Wilson was the 112th overall pick that year. The highest pick Seattle has waived prior to the season in that time was also in 2013, receiver Chris Harper, a fourth-rounder taken at 123 overall.
But Darboh says he comes to practice every day as if he has to prove he deserves to stick around.
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“Yeah I feel like every day I do,’’ he said Monday. “I mean, that’s kind of my mentality. I have to show them why they drafted me and show them why they should keep me on the team, and just as a competitor show my teammates that I’m capable of being on this team.’’
He’s had a hard time doing that in games so far.
The Seahawks have had 19 different players catch a pass in the preseason’s first three games.
But Darboh has yet to make a reception, limited to playing in just two games — and only 12 snaps overall — due in part to two injuries. He missed the preseason opener against the Chargers with a sternum injury suffered in practice and then was limited to two snaps against the Vikings after taking a hard hit and being evaluated for a concussion. He then had 10 snaps Friday against the Chiefs.
That Darboh hasn’t done much of anything in games yet has had some wondering if his spot on the roster could be in danger despite the fact that players taken as highly as he was almost always make it.
One reason why high draft picks almost never get waived is that once they are on waivers any other team has 24 hours to then claim that player and put him on their own 53-man roster. Even if a player hasn’t been overly productive the draft position alone might be enough for another team to take a flyer on that player. It’s only after players clear waivers that they can then be signed to a practice squad.
But while the potential of losing a top three-round pick for nothing before the regular season has even begun would seem to give the Seahawks pause in potentially waiving Darboh the receiver position also ranks as among the most crowded on the team.
Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse would seem to have four spots locked up. Kasen Williams has been a preseason standout, leading the team with seven catches for 151 yards. And Tanner McEvoy, a member of the 53-man roster last season, has also had a good preseason with four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown Friday against the Chiefs.
Seattle could be looking at having to decide between waiving one or more of Williams, Darboh or McEvoy (some wonder if the team could consider moving Kearse though that seems unlikely given his contract and experience) or keeping as many as seven receivers.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t do much to tip his hand Monday other than to say that decisions aren’t based solely on what happens in games.
“I can’t call it right now,’’ Carroll said. “These guys are really battling and there are a lot of positives. It’s not all the stuff that has happened in the games. Some of the guys have had better ops (opportunities) than other guys. But yeah, it is a really good position for us and it’s going to be some tough stuff to figure out.”
Carroll acknowledged Darboh is one of the players who so far has shown more in practice than games. But that will have a chance to change Thursday when Seattle closes the preseason at Oakland.
“He really hasn’t had the game ops to show you stuff and he missed one game,’’ Carroll said. “But he has shown a lot of really good stuff in practice, so he will play a lot this week and hopefully we will get the ball to him a few times.”
Darboh said the injuries were frustrating but that he feels healthy now and is looking forward to the chance to get on the field a lot in Oakland.
“Getting out there a lot will give me a chance to get into a rhythm and give me a chance to get a flow going and then get more opportunities to make plays,’’ he said.
The Seahawks were attracted to Darboh in part due to his 6-2, 219-pound frame — only the 6-6 McEvoy (230) and 6-5 Rodney Smith (225) weigh more among Seattle receivers. They also were impressed by his ability to make catches in critical situations against highly-regarded cornerbacks in college, such as when he had eight catches for 68 yards in a showdown with Ohio State, whose cornerbacks included future first-rounder Marshon Lattimore.
Besides the injuries, Darboh said learning how to work with different quarterbacks has also been a challenge.
“I think when you are with a different team you have to get adjusted to the quarterback and that’s kind of what I’m trying to do right now,’’ he said. “I think I’ve been trying to adjust to the quarterback and I think for me I need to focus on just doing what my job is and let the quarterbacks do their job and I think that’s going to help us click more.’’