RENTON — The population of Munday, Texas, the hometown of Seahawks’ first-round pick L.J. Collier, is estimated at 1,324.
It’s possible Collier has heard from every single one in the eight days since the Seahawks drafted him.
“I mean everybody is just really proud of me,’’ Collier, who played at TCU, said Friday after the first day of the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp. “Everybody is going crazy. Seeing all types of stuff on Facebook. Everybody is just still overwhelmed.’’
Asked who he’s heard from, Collier said some teachers and then laughed and added, “maybe some cousins I didn’t really know, that type of thing.’’
Collier used the same word — overwhelmed — to describe what the days following the draft were like.
“It’s been the best feeling in the world,’’ said Collier, whose selection with the 29th overall pick means a four-year contract worth up to $10.8 million with $5.9 million guaranteed.
The designation of being a first-round pick also means there will be a bright spotlight on Collier.
If that wasn’t enough, the Seahawks invoked a familiar name for the type of player they hope Collier can develop into: Michael Bennett.
To be accurate, no one is saying Collier will be just as productive as Bennett was during his Seahawks career from 2013-17. But what the Seahawks are expecting is for Collier to play the same role of defensive end in the base defense and moving inside to play tackle on passing downs.
“He’ll play the spot where Michael Bennett played, and we’ll ask him to do a lot of similar things and in time, you know, we’ll see what that means,’’ Carroll said. “But that’s where we’re starting anyway.’’
It was a role the Seahawks had planned for Malik McDowell when they took him out of Michigan State in the second round in 2017. McDowell was waived without ever playing a down because of injuries sustained in an ATV accident.
The no-pads, no-contact nature of rookie minicamp means it’s hard to judge a whole lot about linemen.
But Carroll liked what he saw of Collier Friday.
“He has a style of his play that I was attracted to right off the bat,’’ Carroll said. “He plays with really good leverage and really long arms and he uses his hands really well. And you could see it in the walk through even, just in his position and he has a sense for that. That’s a special characteristic that he already has.
“So technique-wise, he’s been coached very well also, and there’s stuff that we can do with him. I think he’s going to be a really exciting guy for us to fit into the scheme.’’
Friday, Collier was not only basking in the sun of the practice field in Renton but also embracing the Carroll’s expectations.
“I think that’s a great comparison (to Bennett) because he can play outside and he can play in,’’ Collier said. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed guy. He loves to hit people. I like his style of play and his flexibility of going in and out. Obviously I can do that, too. That’s where I see the comparison.’’
Any pressure there?
“Not at all,’’ Collier said. “If anything, it drives me to get better. The guys here are going to push me. They’re going to help me get better. It doesn’t put any pressure on me at all. I’ve lived with pressure my whole life. It just pushes me to go harder and play even better.’’
The Bennett-type role is different from what he played at TCU.
“I played straight end,” Collier said. “I played a little three-technique (tackle) one season. It’s not hard at all (transitioning to a different role). It’s just about repetition and really buying in, and learning from the coach.’’
Friday, he also got a few pointers from one of Bennett’s best friends — Cliff Avril — who is working for KJR-AM 950. He stopped to share a few tips with Collier.
“He helped me out a little bit on the bags,” Collier said. “Told me to stay low and things like that. He’s going to be around here a lot, and he’s a good guy to learn from.”