Doug Farrar, Scout.com's Seahawks expert (seahawks.net)
Going back to his career at the University of Washington and his first-round selection by the Seahawks in 2002, Jerramy Stevens' football career can be summed up in two words: unfulfilled potential. With his 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame, great speed and impressive athleticism, Stevens is one of the most glaring recent examples of the truism that the most important "muscle" any athlete can use is the one between his ears.
Stevens started only nine games in his first three seasons, and it was tight end Itula Mili who set the franchise record for receptions by the tight end in 2003 with 46 – when Stevens was very much a part of the roster. His career in Seattle featured a litany of blown routes, indifferent blocks and dropped passes, and it didn't have to be that way. He had the raw talent of a Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates. However, the focus simple wasn't there. Games like Super Bowl XL (where Steelers linebacker Joey Porter obviously got in his head) in which he dropped three passes to match the three he caught contrasted with his penultimate game in a Seahawks uniform, when he caught two touchdown passes in the Wild-Card victory over the Cowboys on January 6th of this year. The latter moments occurred far too infrequently.
What Stevens is primarily remembered for in Seattle is a long line of off-field issues. From 1998 through 2007, it seemed that his name was in the papers as much for what he was doing on the streets, or behind the wheel, or in his own house, than what was happening between the lines. Assault, drug possession, drunk driving, hit-and-run (after crashing into a nursing home in 2001) … the list of infractions seemed to be constantly growing. The March 2007 DUI stop in Scottsdale, Arizona was simply the last straw for the Seahawks, and they ended their relationship with the seemingly talented but always frustrating tight end. The worst part for Stevens was that he voided the last year of his contract to enter what turned out to be the most lucrative free-agent market in NFL history. He was left standing in this game of musical chairs, and he had nobody to blame but himself.
From a scouting perspective, I don't know what to tell you about him that's incredibly positive. He's a tall target with some strength in traffic, and that makes his a real red-zone threat if his head's in the game. His blocking is iffy at best. He's not a complete player, and I wouldn't expect the top end of his production in anything but fits and starts.
Matthew Postins, Scout.com's Buccaneers expert (bucsblitz.com)
Opinions don't come more unfiltered than Doug's. Can't wait until that season opener in Seattle.
When Stevens came to Tampa Bay in mid-May for his first workouts, he did his best to put his past behind him, deflecting as many questions as he could about his laundry list of problems in Seattle. He said he saw Tampa Bay as a "fresh start."
If that's the case, then the first thing Stevens should do is keep his mouth shut and stay home. The less he talks, the less he does off the field, the better.
He is not only in the business of rehabilitating his football career. He's trying to rehabilitate his image. If you look at his off-the-field troubles, Stevens had not had one incident in nearly four years before his DUI arrest in Arizona. These days in the NFL it only takes one mistake to earn a rep, and Stevens has mistakes to spare.
If he keeps his nose clean off the field, it only stands to reason that his mind will be clear to try and take care of things on the field.
But here's what I fail to get. He has it all the talent and intangibles to be the equal of Gates or Gonzalez. Yet he's nothing more than a middle-tier tight end. So it must be, as Doug said, in his head.
Maybe Holmgren's system in Seattle was too complicated. If that's the case, then he's in deep waters because Jon Gruden's West Coast system — said to be the most pure WC offense in the NFL — may be more complicated.
So I believe Stevens' season will all come down to focus. He isn't the first player that has stared down the end of their career and been given one year to salvage it.
Stevens should seize this opportunity. Should he be able to block out what happens off the field and completely concentrate on what goes on between the lines, he has a chance. Also in his favor is being in Tampa Bay, almost as far from Seattle — where he was raised and went to college — as you can get. Plus, Stevens, I have to believe has a chip on his shoulder. He caught two touchdown passes in his next-to-last game with Seattle. There's something there.
Gruden likes to use tight ends liberally in his offense. Stevens probably won't see a lot of time in two tight-end sets, simply because those are blocking formations and Anthony Becht and Alex Smith are better blockers. But Stevens' size and speed lends himself to single tight-end formations and possible two tight-end formations, with Stevens split out wide or in the slot. I saw that a few times in mini-camp. If Stevens shows that he's ready to take advantage of his talent, then Gruden will find a way to use him effectively.
But that's all up to Stevens.