The Seahawks so valued Dissly’s potential as a blocker — calling him the best blocking tight end available in the draft — that they initially bypassed Shaquem Griffin to take him.
Former Husky-turned-Seahawk tight end Will Dissly repeated what basically everyone entering the NFL says upon arrival — he’ll do whatever the team asks.
Saturday, at the end of the team’s second rookie minicamp practice, fulfilling that pledge meant Dissly found himself lining up as a punt returner and trying to catch one of the spinning boots of fifth-round pick Michael Dickson. It was part of an end-of-practice competition between the tight ends and running backs.
Dickson, whose swirling and hanging kicks have been one of the highlights of the first two days of camp, uncorked one that Dissly needed some time to judge and had to lay out to try to catch. Dissly’s effort came up just short, the ball squirting away.
“Those rugby punters,’’ Dissly said of Dickson, a former Australian Rules Football player in his native country before turning to punting. “He put some spin on the ball. It was a tough one I had to run up and get it. I almost had it. But the tight ends came up with the win so that was the important thing.’’
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The punt was about the only thing Dissly hasn’t caught in the first two days of camp.
The Seahawks so valued Dissly’s potential as a blocker — calling him the best blocking tight end available in the draft — that they initially bypassed Shaquem Griffin at pick 120 to take him.
“A guy we’ve been very interested in for a long time,’’ Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. The reason for the avid interest should be obvious to anyone who watched the Seahawks try to run the ball last season.
“We thought he had a really unique fit that he could add to our football team,’’ said Carroll, who added that “we were keeping our fingers crossed the whole time’’ that Dissly would fall to them at 120 (Seattle had to go 41 picks after selecting at 79 in the third round).
But the early impression is that Dissly may be a little more advanced receiving than the team anticipated. Dissly’s receiving numbers were modest at UW (21 catches for 289 yards last season) and he played the position for the Huskies for barely more than two years.
“Will Dissly looked very comfortable,’’ Carroll said following Friday’s practice. “Very bright kid, obviously, could pick stuff up right away but probably looked better in the passing game than we expected. We saw him catch the ball well, but he just looked really clean running routes and all, so that was great.”
It’s always best avoiding reading too much into what is said in the giddy aftermath of the draft. There are no veteran players at minicamp, no pads and no contact and a pared-down playbook.
What Carroll’s comments may speak to most is that Seattle won’t put limitations on Dissly.
The Seahawks have just four tight ends on their 90-man roster, indicating they feel confident in the group they have. All four could make the regular-season roster.
Dissly seems a given to have a significant role as at least the number three tight end behind free-agent signee Ed Dickson and third-year veteran Nick Vannett. It’s a position that will look as different as any other on the Seahawks in 2018 with Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson — the primary tight ends the last three seasons — moving on.
Schneider handed Dissly about as much praise as he could following the draft saying that Dissly is “probably the closest thing to Zach Miller that we’ve seen.’’ Miller was the starting tight end on the 2013 Super Bowl-title team when the Seahawks operated in a manner offensively that Carroll is desperately hoping to replicate in 2018.
“We’ve really had a difficult time finding a guy that can do both,’’ Carroll said. “Who can catch the ball and run some routes for you but can be a strong blocker.’’
Dissly said Saturday he hadn’t heard Carroll’s praise of his receiving ability from Friday saying, “that’s awesome. I’m really humbled.’’
But he also said he isn’t trying to prove anything to anyone about his hands.
“I’m just trying to add value to this organization,’’ Dissly said. “Whatever coach Carroll has instilled for me, I’m open with arms. Whatever they want me to do, whether it’s blocking or catching. I think every opportunity you can to be the best football player you can, whether it’s catching the ball or blocking, you gotta do that.’’
That it’s a new era for the Seahawks at tight end was also illustrated in the jersey Dissly is wearing — the No. 88 that Graham wore the last three seasons.
Dissly wore 98 at Washington, where he began as a defensive end before switching to tight end before his junior season.
While Dissly kept 98 at UW even when moving to offense — he joked that it allowed his parents to save money in not having to buy new T-shirts — NFL rules require tight ends to wear numbers in the 80s or 40s.
“It’s just a number,’’ Dissly said. “ … It was a good college number and I’m excited to see what I can do in 88.’’
So, too, the Seahawks, who after two days think they may be receive more than they expected from Dissly.