Wednesday cyber surfing: Baldwin earns mention as NFL’s top prospect

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 18.

At ESPN.com, Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders gives us his list of the 25 top prospects in the NFL – noting that to be included the player must fit the following criteria:

• Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent
• Entered the NFL between 2009 and 2011
• Fewer than five career games started
• Still on their initial contract
• Age 26 or younger in 2012

And who do you think sits atop Schatz’s list? Well, that’s none other than Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Also on Schatz’s list are fellow Seahawks receivers Ricardo Lockette and Kris Durham. You can read what Schatz had to say about Baldwin right here, but the full piece requires an ESPN Insider subscription.

Pete Prisco, Pat Kirwan and Rob Rang of CBSsports.com provide a three-part Seahawks piece, as they make predictions for the team in 2012, break down the team’s X’s and O’s and recap Seattle’s 2012 NFL Draft. In his prediction for the Seahawks in 2012, Prisco calls wide receiver Sidney Rice the team’s ‘X-Factor’, “The Seahawks signed him last year to a big contract with the idea he would become their go-to guy in the passing game. He played in only nine games last season and caught just 32 passes because of shoulder issues. He had screws inserted into both shoulders during the offseason and said the doctors told him it was like having two new shoulders. We’ll see. Rice has to become more of a threat in the passing game and if he stays on the field, I think he can.”

Also at CBSsports.com Prisco gives us a list of his Top-100 NFL players, and the lone Seahawk to make his list is safety Earl Thomas, who checks in at No. 97. On Thomas, Prisco provides, “This rangy player has all the tools to be a dominant safety in a passing league. His cover skills are impressive.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth continues with his 2012 Seahawks positional outlook, this time turning his attention toward the defensive line. For all of the success the Seahawks enjoyed at the position last season – a position that was a big part of the Seahawks turning in the ninth-ranked defense in the league – Farnsworth notes that one area that could use a boost is the line’s ability to get to the quarterback, “The Seahawks generated just 33 sacks in 2011, their second-lowest total in the past nine seasons. A closer look, however, really shows just what was missing. While Leo end Chris Clemons led the team with 11 sacks – for the second time in his two seasons with the Seahawks – the rest of the linemen combined for 10. What’s a coach to do? Sign pass-rushing tackle Jason Jones in free agency and then select pass-rushing end Bruce Irvin in the first round of the NFL Draft. ‘We just see the increase in athletic ability upfront with the addition of those two,’ said Todd Wash, who is in his second season as coach of the D-line. ‘So you add them to what Clem already brings and we’re going to be not only big but also fast, to hopefully increase our ability to get to the quarterback.’ “

Also here at Seahawks.com former Seahawks quarterback Jeff Kemp provides this heartfelt piece honoring his center in Seattle, Grant Feasel, who passed away over the weekend. Kemp remembers, “Grant was the quintessential sacrificial warrior. He wrapped himself up in the duty to clear the way for and protect his teammates. He took his job so seriously. Our families grew up together and Grant deeply loved his family. He had a great sense of humor but never during the heat of battle.”

Brock Huard of MyNorthwest.com breaks down the strengths, weaknesses and expectations for the Seahawks wide receiver group heading into 2012, and also provides a thought on each Seahawks wideout and how they can improve going forward. On Golden Tate, Huard offers, “It’s a make-or-break season for the former second rounder. The light bulb appeared to go on at the end of last season, and Tate must avoid the injury and inconsistency in route-running that has slowed his development. He should be able to play all three wideout spots in spurts, and he has the breakaway speed to be a difference maker.”

Finally, sticking with the wide-receiver theme, Ian Furness and Hugh Millen at 950 KJR AM analyze the Seahawks wideout group in this nearly 18-minute audio link. Furness and Millen explain the differences between the ‘X’, ‘Z’ and ‘slot’ receivers and they discuss how the Seahawks current wide receiver personnel fits into each of those designations.