To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2013, click here.
With the Percy Harvin injury, Doug Baldwin’s importance jumped up nine spots. I’m told that a lot of what they were going to install in this offense for Harvin is now being directed towards Baldwin, which may or may not be accurate. The bottom line is: he’s the third wide receiver. It’s not an unimportant spot on this team – even as run-heavy as it is – but still, Baldwin is no Harvin.
I’m on record as a man who is predicting great things for Golden Tate this year. Pro Bowl-level production, even if he’s not necessarily voted into the Pro Bowl. I also think that Number 2 receivers don’t get much better than Sidney Rice, and if you don’t believe me, take a look at some of his diving sideline grabs from last year. He’s not the big play, deep threat everyone wants, but he can move the chains and dominate as an intermediate threat with the best of ’em.
That leaves Doug Baldwin, who everyone has shoe-horned into that Slot Receiver role. I, for one, don’t think people actually understand what a “Slot Receiver” is. People seem to think that every team’s third-best receiver is automatically labelled a “Slot Receiver”. If a slot receiver is a guy who lines up – more often than not – between the outside receiver and the offensive line, then okay, whatever, Doug Baldwin is a “Slot Receiver”. But, when you think of a slot receiver, you think of guys like Wes Welker, who run nothing but slants and 8-yard outs. Who get a lot of attention from the quarterback because they’re so often covered by inferior cornerbacks or linebackers, which results in a higher number of completions (even if it’s a lower number of yards per catch).
Which, okay, Doug Baldwin is fully capable of that. Of being our new Bobby Engram. But, I think Doug Baldwin is also capable of being a down-field threat. Last year, on more than one occasion, Baldwin was able to run down the field and win the battle for the jump ball with an opposing defender. I also think he’s just as good as Tate at improvising when the play breaks down and Russell Wilson is on the move.
No, Doug Baldwin isn’t Percy Harvin. He’s not going to be as dynamic in the running game or in the screen game, but if he can be 3/4 Harvin, that might be enough to take this offense to another level. If this team can make Baldwin a weapon and not just a slot guy, then that’s just one more thing for the defense to worry about. Might take some of the pressure and double teams off of Tate & Rice.
I don’t expect Baldwin to lead the team in touchdowns or catch 100 balls. Hell, I don’t expect him to catch 70 balls! But, on an offense this stacked, it’s not out of the question for Baldwin to be the offensive MVP for a few games this year. I’ll be interested to see the impact he’s able to make this season now that he’s fully healthy. I’ll also be interested to see what he’s able to accomplish if/when Percy Harvin is able to return.