The losses of Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson means the tight end spot will look drastically different for Seattle in 2018.
While much of the Seahawks’ offense in 2018 could look quite a bit like it did in 2017 in terms of personnel, that won’t be the case at tight end.
Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, the team’s top two players at the position the last three years, are gone, Graham signing as a free agent with Green Bay and Willson with Detroit.
The two accounted for 72 receptions, 673 yards and 14 touchdowns last season (of the 340, 3979 and 34 that Seattle had as a team),and also recorded 1,107 of the 1,387 snaps played by Seattle tight ends in 2017.
In other words, despite however you assess Graham’s overall tenure in Seattle, a lot of production to replace.
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Here’s a quick look at Seattle’s tight end as we continue our annual review of each Seahawks position group heading into the draft.
Nick Vannett, Tyrone Swoopes
Key offseason departures: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson.
OVERVIEW: The Seahawks are obviously counting heavily on free agent signee Ed Dickson, an eight-year veteran of the Ravens and Panthers who signed a three-year deal worth up to $10.7 million with $3.6 million guaranteed, to pick up much of the loss in production and snaps created by the departures of Graham and Willson.
Dickson didn’t get that deal — the richest and longest Seattle awarded to any player this offseason — to come in and back up. So plug Dickson in as the replacement for Graham, even if he won’t be a replica stylistically — the hope is Dickson will be a better overall fit as a tight end in helping the team get back-to-basics on offense even if he won’t likely be the same kind of dynamic receiving threat Graham was (or at least, was at times).
And internally, the hope is that Nick Vannett, a third-round pick two years ago, will have a breakout season and can take over much of Willson’s second-tight-end role.
But aside from those two, all Seattle has on the roster in the way of tight ends is Tyrone Swoopes, who was primarily a quarterback at Texas before switching to tight end with the Seahawks and playing two snaps last season.
DRAFT NEED (on scale of 1-10): 8.
Figure the Seahawks to add least two tight ends in the draft or undrafted free agency.
Seattle has drafted just one tight end since 2013 – Vannett two years ago — and just two since 2010, the other being Willson in 2013.
But with just three tight ends on the roster — and it’s worth remembering that Dickson will turn 31 in July — Seattle has to add to the overall group.
POTENTIAL DRAFT FITS
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State: Seattle had Goedert in for one of the team’s 30 pre-draft visits as well as attending his workout. Rated by Lindy’s as having the best hands of any tight end in the draft, but is regarded as still likely to need some time to develop his blocking skills. Still, at 6-3, 266 he has the frame to be a solid all-around tight end, one reason his stock has been rising as the draft nears.
Will Dissly, Washington: The Seahawks had a meeting at the Combine with Dissly, who NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has several times said is the best blocking tight end available in the draft. He could be a perfect mid-round pick to groom for a year or two.
Ryan Izzo, Florida State: Lindy’s draft preview tabbed Izzo as the best blocking tight end in the draft, calling him “a throwback’’ to the generation when tight ends were expected to block first and catch second. Sounds like something that might interest the Seahawks. He also figures to be available in the late rounds.
Troy Fumagalli,Wisconsin: The 6-6, 250-pounder caught 93 passes his final two seasons with the Badgers and also is regarded as a good blocker with lots of experience in what is as close to a pro-style system as there is in college football these days.