After dominating opponents out of the slot for nearly a decade, the recent retirement of receiver Doug Baldwin created a monumental void for the Seahawks offense heading into a new season.
Well-aware Baldwin could hang up his cleats following three offseason surgeries, general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll worked proactively to add talent to the receiving corps, using three draft choices on D.K. Metcalf, Gary Jennings, and John Ursua.
While Jennings and Ursua could be in line for significant play time working out of the slot as rookies and veteran Tyler Lockett will likely see an increased role there, receiver David Moore may also be a surprise candidate to take some of the snaps left by Baldwin’s departure.
Seeing his first extensive action in the NFL after “redshirting” his rookie season, Moore appeared in all 16 games with seven starts in 2018. While he struggled down the stretch, he flashed immense potential during a torrid seven-game stretch in the middle of the season, catching 20 passes for 374 yards and five touchdowns in that span.
Thriving as a downfield threat lining up exclusively on the outside, Moore averaged more than 17 yards per reception catching passes from Russell Wilson a year ago. To hasten his progression heading into his third season, the Seahawks have been sliding him all over the formation, hoping additional versatility will help him blossom into a star.
“He’s so much more comfortable right now.” Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said on Tuesday. “Last year, he was kind of a one position kind of guy. Now we’re moving him all over the place.”
It’s understandable why Seattle would give Moore some reps in the slot, as the 6-foot, 215-pound receiver possesses excellent athletic traits, size, and after the catch ability. Though his route running skills remain a work in progress and drops were a bit of an issue at times last year, he could be a legitimate force on short and intermediate passes with subtle improvements in both those areas.
With the presence of Metcalf, Jennings, and Jaron Brown, Moore will be challenged for playing time on the outside. And as expected, there’ll be ample competition for snaps in the slot as well with the arrival of Ursua and return of Keenan Reynolds.
It’ll all come down to finding consistency for Moore, who will have to prove the late-season slump he endured last December was an anomaly and he can perform at a high level for an entire season.
By providing him the chance to learn multiple positions in the offense, including the slot, Moore should have his best chance yet to take the next step forward in his maturation as an NFL receiver and still possesses enough upside to emerge as Seattle’s number two receiver alongside Lockett.