Former Husky receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow has a shot at a contract. How the Seahawks will use Shaquem Griffin. Can new punter Michael Dickson really dropkick?
The Seahawks concluded their three-day rookie mini-camp at the VMAC in Renton Sunday afternoon.
The camp included the team’s nine draft picks and 15 undrafted free agent signees as well as roughly 50 players who took part on a tryout basis.
Here are five things that stood out, in no particular order.
The tryout player who might have the best chance of getting signed is receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow
If that name sounds familiar it should. Stringfellow was a heralded member of the University of Washington’s recruiting class of 2013, the last for former head coach Steve Sarkisian. But after catching 20 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman he was suspended from the team the following winter after being charged with three misdemeanors as a result of two altercations following the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos.
He ultimately pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault and another of third-degree mischief in altercations that erupted during Super Bowl celebrations. Stringfellow was accompanied that night by then-UW quarterback Cyler Miles, a Denver native (Miles was not charged in connection with the incidents). Stringfellow talked about that night in an interview with The Seattle Times last spring.
He transferred to Ole Miss where he played two seasons and then declared for the NFL draft following the 2016 season.
The Seahawks were interested in him then, bringing him in for one of the team’s 30 official pre-draft visits. But Stringfellow went drafted, and then signed with the Dolphins, spending all of training camp there before being waived and signed by the Jets, spending the season on their practice squad.
He was then waived by the Jets April 27 and the Seahawks — on a perpetual quest for big receivers — brought him in this week for a tryout.
At a listed 6-2, 218 pounds, Stringfellow would be as big as any Seattle receiver when combining height and weight other than Tanner McEvoy.
“We always have (wanted some bigger receivers),’’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Sunday. “The guys that do a lot of our playing are the quicker guys, a little bit smaller guys than the big receivers. So we are always looking. He had a good camp. He did a nice job. He looked like he fit in and made a really good statement about giving himself a chance here.’’
Since Stringfellow is a veteran and could immediately join Seattle’s offseason program, he could be officially signed to a deal immediately. The Seahawks would have to waive someone off the 90-man roster to make that move.
Seattle could waive a receiver or someone from another spot — the Seahawks have 10 receivers on their roster but have often had more than that heading into training camp.
Shaquem Griffin appears to have found his position
Somewhat overshadowed in the emotion of Seattle’s drafting of Griffin was the team’s statement that it planned to try him at weakside linebacker, an inside spot that currently is held by veteran K.J. Wright. While Griffin was used in a lot of different ways during his college career at Central Florida, he played primarily at outside linebacker or safety.
But Seattle wants to try him at WLB where he could back up Wright for now and maybe serve as an option down the road with Wright entering the final year of his contract.
Three days of non-contact practices hardly proves everything, but Carroll said the early impression is that Griffin will be a good fit inside.
“He looked very comfortable, very natural,’’ Carroll said Sunday. “He has a sense already for scheme and terminology. The position is the right spot for him, it looks like. We can be aggressive and use his speed. He’s already shown some sense in the passing game and he had a couple really good plays adjusting to zone coverage and man coverage and things we’ve already seen. So those were good things to take away. And we can’t really get a feel at all for special teams but we know that that’s going to be a factor so we’re excited about that.”
Khalid Hill could be a real factor at fullback
It’s no secret the Seahawks want to get back to being a physical, running team in 2018. And that also likely means adding a more traditional fullback to the offense than the Seahawks had in 2017, when they spent most of the year with Tre Madden, a former college tailback who is listed at 235 pounds. Seattle also signed former Titan Jalston Fowler (5-11, 254) to the practice squad last season and then to the 90-man in the offseason.
Seattle signed two more fullbacks as undrafted free agents — Hill, from Michigan, and Marcus Martin, from Slippery Rock.
Hill didn’t take part in many drills during mini-camp while nursing a pulled muscle. But simply walking around, the 6-2, 263-pounder — nine pounds more than any of the other three — looked the part of the kind of fullback Seattle needs to get back to the style it wants to play.
“He’s had really good background,’’ Carroll said. “He was a tight end and played fullback and their offense at Michigan is a well-rounded NFL-style offense so we have seen him already do a lot of things. Getting him with us we realize that he is really bright and does understand the motions, the shifts, the different positions that a fullback could get in, a tight end could get in. He’s going to have a chance. He’s a little nicked, had a little pull coming in here. But when he’s ready he’ll have a chance to compete and a chance to show something.’’
Could Michael Dickson really dropkick?
Dickson, a fifth-round draft choice out of Texas, became the first punter drafted by Seattle since 2006.
The Seahawks said one attraction to Dickson was the wide variety of ways he can punt the ball due to his Australian Rules Football/rugby background.
He showed plenty of that during mini-camp with daily competitions in which players at other positions were tasked with catching his punts.
But most eye-catching were the handful of times the Seahawks had Dickson try dropkicks as field goals and point-after-touchdowns (in part because there was no apparent holder in camp other than Dickson himself).
Drop kicks, defined in the NFL rule book as “a kick by a kicker who drops the ball and kicks it as, or immediately after, it touches the ground’’ are rarely attempted, with the last successful one coming in 2006 by Doug Flutie, and before that not done since 1941.
But there is an obscure rule that a drop kick can be attempted from the spot of a fair catch of a kickoff or a safety kick. And, well, as Carroll said, “you never know. There’s rules changing all the time, so you never know.’’
Dickson first has to beat out incumbent Jon Ryan for the job. But his draft standing and the early impression he left seem to make that more likely by the day.
“He’s had a chance to show us some stuff,’’ Carroll said. “You saw the competitions that were really just designed to put him under a little bit of observation and also see what he could do. We’ll see. We’ve got time. Plenty of time to figure that out. But he does have an array of things he can do with the ball.”
The Seahawks will try Jamarco Jones at both guard and tackle
Jones, the only offensive linemen the Seahawks selected in the draft at number 168 overall, played only tackle at Ohio State, He started 27 straight games at left tackle his final two seasons and said on the day he was drafted that he also played some right tackle earlier in his career.
Carroll said last week the Seahawks would try Jones initially at left tackle.
But Sunday Carroll said the Seahawks will try Jones at both guard and tackle going forward.
“He came in with a bit of a knee that he strained a little bit about a month ago,’’ Carroll said. “We were just real careful with him now. He took part in a lot of the practice that we did, just not the final team stuff. He looked good. He looked smart, aware, physically had good body control and he looks like he’s been coached very well and he looks like he has a chance to fit in. We’ll see him at tackle and guard in time, and just take in any information. But a really good start. Really liked how aware he was. He knows what’s going on.”
Jones potentially being used at guard is obviously interesting since the Seahawks seem to have more immediate need for competition and depth at guard than at tackle, assuming George Fant has no setbacks as he continues to recover from the knee injury he suffered last August.
The Seahawks have D.J. Fluker slated for right guard and Ethan Pocic at left guard. But the only other guards on the roster are Jordan Roos, Rees Odhiambo and undrafted free agent Skyler Phillips. Seattle might also consider using undrafted free agent center Brad Lundblade at guard. Lundblade was solely at center at Oklahoma State but got a few snaps at guard during the rookie mini-camp.