Seahawks Insider

WR Obomanu headed for a breakout season?

Post by Eric Williams on July 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm with 30 Comments »
July 6, 2010 3:16 pm
Seattle Seahawks WR Ben Obomanu (AP file photo)

With the Seattle Seahawks reportedly interested in free agent Terrell Owens and San Diego’s Vincent Jackson, one person likely hoping neither of those players ends up in Seattle is Ben Obomanu.

Entering his fourth season and embroiled in an intense battle among 12 receivers for a roster spot, Obomanu believes this could be the year he gets a chance for some consistent playing time.

He mostly worked with the first unit this offseason, along with Deon Butler, Mike Williams and Golden Tate, with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch nursing injuries. Obomanu has been playing X, or split end, but he has enough versatility to move inside and play the slot, as he did during Mike Holmgren’s tenure in Seattle.

At 6-foot, 206 pounds Obomanu has decent size. He’s not a burner, but possesses enough speed to get deep and create separation against man defense. He’s got great hands, and is a good blocker in the run game. He’s a smart receiver who can read defenses and find a soft spot in a zone. Essentially, Obomanu is a good, all-around receiver who does not do one thing particularly well.

Obomanu says he’s comfortable with offensive coordinator Jermy Bates’ new offensive system.

“Coach (Jeremy) Bates has a pretty big playbook,” Obomanu said. “And I think the biggest thing is once you learn the concepts, then you get to define all the little nuisances of formations and things like that. So I feel pretty good going into our little summer break right now, knowing that I know the plays and I know some of the checks and audibles.”

A seventh round pick by Seattle in 2006, Obomanu has had to fight for a roster spot every season he’s been with the Seahawks, so head coach Pete Carroll preaching competition is nothing new.

“The biggest thing is making a play,” Obomanu said. “Sometimes I think with competition it gets kind of skewed a little bit because somebody makes a big play or has one good day and then you think that they are beating you out. But at the same time, you just have to wait for your day.

“And in my position, I think that I have taken advantage of the opportunities that I’ve had to make plays and on certain days when the ball is just coming my way and I get 10 balls in practice. I think I’ve taken advantage of that. So the thing is, you just want to make sure that you’re involved and not forgotten about.”

Obomanu said he looks to T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s ascension up the depth chart in Cincinnati for inspiration. Like Obomanu, Houshmandzadeh was a seventh round pick who had to battle for more playing time each season.

“I already admired T.J. before he even got to Seattle,” Obomanu said. “But once he came to Seattle, it was kind of like the same situation. He was a seventh round pick, and he talked about how he had to work. How he had to play special teams. How he had to play third and fourth receiver. Then eventually he became a starter, and the contracts and stuff came, too.

“So it’s one of those things where you have to weather the storm, and just deal with all of the competition every training camp until you get to the point where he is.”

Houshmandzadeh finally broke through in his fourth season in the league, starting 13 games and catching 73 balls in 2004.

Obomanu would have had his opportunity two years ago when the Seahawks suffered a rash of injuries at receiver. However, he was one of the injured, suffering a broken collarbone during preseason play.

Obomanu played mostly special teams last year and finished with only four receptions. But he believes that given an opportunity he can contribute. In order to stay in shape for training camp Obomanu returned to the intense heat in his home state of Alabama to train.

“The heat index is always up to 110,” he said. “So I figure if I go out, I like working out in the middle of the day when it’s the hottest that it will get, so when I come back to the Pacific Northwest I can just breeze past guys because it’s actually cool for me.”

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  1. Tompage says:

    Interesting thoughts Eric, although I don’t necessarily agree with the thinking. I think Ben Obomanu is a versatile teammate, but he doesn’t have any unique characteristics. Coach Carroll has said all along he looks for players with unique skill sets. You said it in your article, there is nothing really unique or special in the way Ben plays. Guys like Mike Williams (big and tall), Deon Butler (fast), Sean Morey (dominant special teams), or Golden Tate (RAC) all have unique skill sets. I like Ben, but I think he ends up on the outside looking in when the final roster comes together.

  2. chuck_easton says:

    Now that my calendar on my desk says July and we are within a month of training camp I guess it’s time to start the numbers game…

    So, I’ll take the first dive off the board and test the waters.

    Seattle keeps 6 WR’s.

    Locks:
    TJ
    Branch (will stay healthy just long enough to take one of the spots and THEN the season ending hangnail hits)
    Tate
    Morey (he was signed to be the ST gunner and will get the 6th spot on that alone).

    In the running:
    M. Williams
    Butler
    Obomanu

    Everyone else is on the outside looking in.

    For Obo to make the team he has to beat out Williams and Butler.

    I hate to say it, but he’s going to finish 7th in a six man race.

  3. Dukeshire says:

    Tompage – I would disagree that he’s not unique. The one thing that he can do, that others you mentioned can’t, is everything, including returning kicks where he is very underrated. You need players at every position that have the ability to fill in at multiple spots. Not unlike Herring at LB, or Babs in the secondary, or Lock on the line. A team full of specialists is very limiting on a 53 man roster and for all but those with elite talent. I have always liked Obo and am rooting again for him to make this roster.

    If they keep 6 this year (averaged 5.8 since ’02, as Eric has pointed out) my 6, as the roster stands today, are:

    TJ / Branch / Tate / Butler / M. Williams / Obo. (Morey will not make this roster, IMO.)

  4. Come on guys, Deion Branch will make this team? Oh, that would be such a sad sign of things to come. Let’s all splash a little cold water on our faces here and reconsider. I sincerely hope that Deion Branch, the permanently injured smurfette, will not make it to the final 53 on Coach Carroll’s team. We’ve seen enough of his b.s.

    My 6:
    Housh
    M. Williams
    Butler
    Tate
    Obo
    Stanback? V. Jackson?
    no Branch

  5. BobbyAyala says:

    He’s a pretty dope special teamer.

    Alex Bannister.

  6. Dukeshire says:

    Stevos – I don’t disagree. But as the roster stands right now, he’d be hard to dump. I am hoping they find a way to jettison him somewhere, before the season.

  7. chuck_easton says:

    Stevos,

    History on Branch is he’ll come in and dazzle at camp. The injuries won’t hit until he’s guaranteed that spot and the payday.

    That is what is so frustrating. He’ll ensure that some other deserving player is let go and then he’ll have an injury.

    You can’t let him go because he’s got that talent but talent is only good if it actually makes it onto the field.

  8. Hope I’m wrong, but i don’t expect much from Obomanu.

  9. Chuck, yes it would be just like Branch to dazzle in training camp and them wimp out and during the reg season. I’m really hoping Coach Carroll has higher standards and Branch’s lack of dedication will show up early. Plus, he looked slow to me last year and I’m not sure he has the talent he used to have.

    Obomanu was the star of last year’s preseason, both as gunner and receiver. Now that Burleson is gone, I think Obo only becomes more valuable.

  10. rgbuckl says:

    I hope you guys are right about Branch ultimately not making the roster. Call me an optimist or naive, but I think we have plenty of talented, tougher guys fighting for roster spots than Branch.

    Do you guys know if it’s too late to try and showcase him, then somehow trade him?

  11. rgbucki,
    Although Branch could be showcased in the preseason, it seems to be it will be nearly impossible to trade him since his contract includes guaranteed money of $5.47 in 2010, and $5.95 million in 2011. Thanks, Tim Ruskell.

    IMHO, Branch needs to lose the competition in preseason and get cut. Some other team will likely pick him up and sign him to a more reasonable contract, but he isn’t worth $5M a year.

  12. superduk says:

    “Obomanu is a good, all-around receiver who does not do one thing particularly well.

    I think you said all there is to say right there.

  13. chuck_easton says:

    The problem is that if Branch shows up and participates his talent and ability will win him the job. Nobody else will beat him out if he’s a full participant.

    The only real hope of getting rid of Branch once and for all is to have him have another setback on the knee during camp which would then not allow him to compete.

    He’ll push through all of that to earn that spot but then the knee will flare up sometime around September, once the final cuts have been made. It’s becoming predictable. Death, taxes, Branch’s annual knee injury.

    What is even more frustrating will be the fact that whatever injury he eventually gets will be just bad enough that he can’t ‘go’ on Sunday but it won’t be bad enough to put him on IR so we will once again be playing with one less WR each and every week.

  14. Dukeshire says:

    That is a pretty good assessment, Chuck.

  15. Hammajamma says:

    I think the receiving corp will look dramatically different by the time they break camp. August cuts will place one, maybe two new faces from other teams on the roster before opening weekend, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see MW, BO and SM gone.

    Agree with all the Branch will tantalize enough for a roster spot. Obo has an uphill climb, since they already have mid zone possession receivers without elite speed. They don’t need another TJ.

  16. CowboysP says:

    Seems like virtually every discussion about the Seahawks WR’s, no matter which receiver(s) are the subject of discussion, turns into a blasting of Deion Branch. Seahawks fans really seem to dislike him.

  17. yankinta says:

    I have heard this before…..Won’t fall for it this time…..

    Fool me once, Shame on you
    Fool me twice, Shame on me
    You won’t fool me the third time….

  18. CowboysP says:

    My guess is the Seahawks will keep 6 WR’s. And unless they trade for V-Jack (a definite possible), or sign TO (less likely), the 6 WR’s will be:

    TJ (starter)
    Branch (starter)
    Tate (#3, moving to starter role)
    Mike Williams (#4)
    Obomanu (ST, and #5)
    Sean Morey (consistent ST, and a distant #6)

    Deon Butler is just not big enough, and Mike Williams will beat him out as the #4 guy. Butler is really only a small slot receiver, and Branch is more skilled, at this point. Butler will be cut, IMO.

  19. chuck_easton says:

    CpwboysP,

    I don’t dislike Branch. In fact I drafted him on to my fantasy team last season because he couldn’t have ANOTHER injury marred season…

    I think you are sensing frustration more than anything. IF he stayed healthy he’d be a stud WR and we’d all be singing his praises. After 4 seasons of him having more appearances on the weekly injury report than he has catches and TD’s we are tired of the act.

    As stated, the guy makes 5+ million a season to miss almost half and sometimes more games.

  20. CowboysP says:

    I hear you Chuck.

    I still think a deal for Vincent Jackson is a real possibility for the Seahawks. The Hawks need a playmaker WR very badly, and Jackson can be had for the right price, IMO. And at that point, Branch would be the one to go, IMO, as the Seahawks would have the other starting WR.

  21. Dukeshire says:

    CowboysP – You would have Morey over Butler? That’s crazy. Butler, by the way, is not a Y or slot receiver, he’s a true flanker. Unfortunately, Mora had him at slipt end last year where he would get banged around at the line. Carroll is smart enough to know he needs that buffer to make the most of his speed. No chance they cut him.

  22. CowboysP says:

    You may be correct Dukeshire.

    But I believe that both Morey and the Seahawks signed for a reason. Plus I don’t think that Butler is in Carroll’s plans at flanker in the long term, as he was Ruskell’s pick, and is very small.

    For those reasons, I could see both Morey, who was a PB Special Teams Pro Bowl player last season, and Branch, a better flanker today, beating out Butler…..

  23. Dukeshire says:

    Very small? Branch is 5’9 195ish. Butler is 5’10 185ish. We’re not talking about Mike Williams here. And Branch was a Ruskell addition as well. I just don’t think Seattle is deep enough at receiver to keep just 5, which is what they would be doing, in essence, by keeping Morey over Butler. But we’ll know soon enough…

  24. CowboysP says:

    I read something similar today.
    The thinking was keeping 6 WR’s AND Morey. Now that does sounds logical.

  25. Dukeshire says:

    By the way, where the hell have you been? Haven’t seen you around in a while, stranger.

  26. williambryan says:

    If you guys can remember Holmgrens last preseason here, Obo looked awesome and was going to be a weapon in the hawks WCO. If it weren’t for the injury I imagine Obo would be a solid starting WR pushing pro bowl numbers. Of course if it weren’t for injuries the hawks would have never relinquished the NFC west either… I think if Obo gets a fair (equal) amount of opportunities in the preseason he will make the team easy, because oas others have noted, he can do everything. If branch gets injured he can play that spot, if TJ gets injured he can play that spot, If williams gets injured and so on and so on.

  27. mojjonation says:

    Saw on ESPN the other day that San Diego is no longer shopping Jackson since he “cleaned up his act”. Yes it’s ESPN and everything you see and hear is pretty much garbage until it actually happens, but maybe they are truly going to keep him.

    Branch needs to go. $5 mill/yr to sit on the sidelines is a waste of a roster spot. Cut him, eat the contract, and give the spot to someone who will actually be dressed in our colors on Sundays.

    TO was quiet in Buffalo last year. Didn’t make waves, didn’t complain much, didn’t do a whole lot of producing. But he would be an improvement over the bottom 3 of our 6 receivers.

    How tall was Ruskell? Was he 5’9″ or 5’10″? Was he afraid of drafting a corner or receiver taller than him? Maybe they can turn Butler into a corner since he fits the old Ruskell mold of being undersized in a division full of monster receivers. Getting burned by Warner and Fitz for 400 yds a game got old. Then again, having Frank Gore running over, around, and most likely, through you, got old too.

    Just checked some rosters. Arizona only has two receivers shorter than 6’0″, and they are both listed as 5’11″ (yes I know the numbers are massaged). San Francisco only has 2 recievers under 6 ft., and one of them is 5’11″. San Francisco, 3 guys listed under 6. Seattle, only one guy listed over 6 ft. who will make the roster and thats TJ. All the guys that are listed as WR and are over 6 ft. probably won’t be on the 53 man roster. Throw in that we have cornered the market on undersized corners and secondary and you’d think we were running a scrimmage with a bunch of midgets, or trying to have a bunch of Steve Smith’s. Did we miss the boat here?

  28. mojjonation says:

    Screwed up there and mixed up my numbers by listing San Fran twice. St. Louis only has a couple of guys over 6 ft at WR. Now that mite be part of the reason that Seattle and the Rams have been cellar dwellers the last few yeas. It’s not the most glaring issue of either teams failures, but it definetely didn’t help them.

  29. chuck_easton says:

    mojo,

    Mike Williams is looking like a good bet to make the final roster and he’s well over 6 feet.

    Also in regards to Branch. Right now he’s #1 on the depth chart with TJ as number two.

    You don’t just cut your #1 receiver because you don’t want to pay him or you are afraid he might (or in Branch’s case, will) be injured.

    As I’ve said before, the only way Branch doesn’t make the final roster is if he suffers an injury during camp.

    So, (thinking out loud), how do I get ahold of Tanya Harding and her crew?

  30. Dukeshire says:

    mojjonation – The notion Seattle has under sized corners is wildly overstated.

    Josh Wilson: Any guy that wants to talk about height or how you can’t be a certain height to cover in this league, just look at every team’s web site and see how talk the majority of the corners are in this league. But if you want somebody 6-0 instead of Antoine Winfield or Asante Samuels, I don’t think you would coaching long in this league. It’s not about height, it’s about playing football and playing the ball.

    Oh, and M. Williams will make the 53 man and he’s 6’5″.

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