RENTON —The Seahawks began and ended the final day of the 2019 NFL draft getting more help for Russell Wilson and more potential replacements for Doug Baldwin.
In between, they also made two more trades as well as the locally popular pick of Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven while also adding the 2018 Lombardi Award winner (Oregon safety Ugo Amadi) and a man named Christmas who was born on the Fourth of July.
And when the final card had been submitted to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the Seahawks had made 11 picks in the three days of the draft, tied for the second-most of any NFL team.
Just six days ago, the Seahawks had only four picks, the fewest of any team in the league. But the trade of Frank Clark on Tuesday kickstarted a dizzying sequence of transactions that concluded with Seattle tying the most picks it has made in the 10 drafts of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era.
“It really surpassed my expectations for this week to be like we are,” said Carroll, who added that he had thought getting up to seven would be a good haul. “
Three of the 11 new Seahawks are receivers, tied for the second-most the team has ever taken at that spot in any one draft and the most since 1981, signifying the team’s desire to give the recently re-signed Wilson some help in the passing game as well as fill in for Baldwin if he indeed decides to retire, news that broke Friday night with the team then confirming he is considering ending his NFL career.
Schneider, the team’s general manager, said after the draft that it will be a matter of “weeks” instead of months before there is clarity to Baldwin’s status, citing some procedures that have to be completed first. That sends another strong signal that Baldwin has played his last down as a Seahawk after enduring an injury-filled season in 2018 that he at one point called “hell” to endure.
Beefing up the receiver corps seemed a priority with or without Baldwin, and Seattle made a big move Friday when it traded up to land D.K. Metcalf of Ole Miss with the final selection in the second round, a player some had pegged for being a first-round pick. Carroll cited the pick of Metcalf as his biggest surprise of the weekend, saying, “I never would have thought we would have a shot to get him” after initially taking defensive end L.J. Collier and safety Marquise Blair with their first two picks.
Seattle then added two more receivers Saturday, first choosing Gary Jennings of West Virginia at 120, a pick that came after yet another trade down, and John Ursua of Hawaii, also grabbed after a trade when the Seahawks dealt a 2020 sixth-rounder to Jacksonville to take him. Both players have substantial experience playing slot receiver, where Baldwin has also predominantly lined up in his Seahawks career, and Schneider said Ursua in particular was drafted to play inside.
Schneider said Jennings rose up Seattle’s draft lists when he was clocked running 23 mph on a GPS during a testing session at the Senior Bowl, a game now headed up by former Seahawks scout Jim Nagy.
Carroll said adding speed at receiver “was really important going in. That was the number one thing we wanted, to get fast and make sure we can complement the stuff that we like running down the field to take advantage of Russell’s ability to throw the ball down the field and be able to complement the work that we were able to do with Tyler (Lockett) and make sure that he’s not the only fast guy that can take the top off (the defense).”
Jennings listed at 6-1, 213, had 161 catches for 2,178 yards the last three years at WVU and played almost 81 percent of his snaps last season in the slot, according to Sports Info Solutions.
And he comes to Seattle already well acquainted with Wilson. Jennings grew up in Richmond, Va., Wilson’s hometown, and attended the same high school, Collegiate School.
As Jennings recalled it in a conference call with Seattle reporters Saturday, Wilson was the coach of his YMCA basketball team when he was in the fourth grade and Wilson in high school.
“He was a scrapper,” Jennings said of Wilson’s coaching. “…. He was a great basketball coach.” Jennings also played basketball with Wilson’s sister, Anna.
“It was YMCA so I don’t know if it was that competitive,” Jennings said. “We couldn’t even press, I don’t think. It was cool because he was a star player at the school and he had a chance to be able to coach.”
Wilson tweeted shortly after the pick of Jennings: “What’s crazy is how God works! From my dad and I coaching you and my sister @a_willy03 in basketball when y’all were young and us all going to the same school together to now! What a blessing!”
Ursua, meanwhile, impressed by leading the nation in touchdown receptions last year with 16.
“He’s just honestly been one of our favorite players through the draft process,” Schneider said.
In between the picks of the two receivers Saturday, the Seahawks grabbed guard Phil Haynes of Wake Forest at 124, also in the fourth round. And then they quickly added another defensive back, using their pick at 132 to take Amadi, who Carroll said will start out playing free safety for the Seahawks.
Then came the pick of Burr-Kirven, which capped a dizzying sequence in which the Seahawks made four selections in the span of 22 picks.
Seattle then rested a bit, waiting until number 204 of the sixth round when the Seahawks added to their running back depth by taking Travis Homer of Miami.
And then the Seahawks put an apparent bow on their draft weekend loot by taking defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas of Florida State with pick number 209 of the sixth round. The 6-3, 302-pound Christmas — who was born on July 4 — projects as an early down, or run down, tackle and had 105 tackles in four seasons with the Seminoles.
But typifying a draft in which the Seahawks kept their fans on their toes throughout, Seattle then made one more trade — their seventh in the three days of the draft — striking the quick agreement with the Jags to get the pick to take Ursua.
The three receivers drafted tied the 1976 and 1981 drafts for the most in team history. Seattle had drafted 10 receivers in the previous nine drafts under Carroll and Schneider.
Burr-Kirven, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, is the second linebacker the Seahawks have drafted, having selected Utah’s Cody Barton in the third round Friday.
“I’ve loved Seattle these last four years and I think I was definitely hoping that I would get to be able to stay up here and be with the same fans and such a great organization,” Burr-Kirven said. “I think it couldn’t really have turned out any better.”
The pick of Jennings came after the Seahawks made their fourth trade of the draft to move down and accumulate more picks, dealing pick 114 to the Vikings for picks 120 and 204.
Haynes, listed at 6-5-3/8, 322 pounds, was a four-year starter at Wake Forest and did not begin playing football until his senior year of high school, then arrived at Wake recruited to play defensive end, at the time weighing 250 pounds.
Carroll said he expects Haynes to get up to 340 pounds and said he fits the team’s new-found style under second-year offensive line coach Mike Solari of getting big, powerful, straight-ahead maulers up front.
Haynes became the leader of Wake’s “Beef Boys” offensive line and drew attention for his backstory. As Lindy’s described it, Haynes has “one of the most heart-touching stories you’ll hear about leading up to the draft, Haynes grew up with a disabled mother and was aided by a Raleigh (N.C.) man who was inspired by the movie ‘Blind Side’ and paid for his private-school tuition.”
In comments supplied by the team, Seahawks area scout Todd Brunner said: “This is a big, massive man. He gets into folks and can move people. Phil’s got a lot of power and is a disciplined player and person.”
Said Haynes of his playing style: “I’m a physical guy who loves to run block. I’m also a decent pass blocker. I think that’s why I got picked by the Seahawks because they love to run and I can definitely help out there.”
Amadi, listed at 5-9-3/8, 199 pounds, returned two interceptions for touchdowns last season at Oregon and also a punt.
Amadi said the Seahawks have told him “they want me to do everything” in the secondary and a natural thought is that he could help out at nickel eventually, a spot where the team has some uncertainty after the free-agent loss of Justin Coleman.
But Carroll said Amadi will start out at free safety, joining second-round pick Blair, who will start out at strong safety.
Amadi also figures to factor in as a returner — he led the Pac-12 last season averaging 15.93 yards per punt return, returning two for more than 50 yards, the only player in college football to accomplish that feat.
Amadi won the Lombardi Award last season, given to the top player in FBS based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency.
Homer, listed by the Seahawks at 5-10, 204 pounds, gained 1,995 yards on 334 carries in three years at Miami, scoring 12 touchdowns and averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Homer declared for the draft after his junior season with the Hurricanes.
Christmas was regarded as potentially going as high as the third round in what was an exceptionally deep year for defensive tackles.
Christmas started 38 of the 51 games at FSU and also had 10.5 tackles for a loss with 3.5 sacks, 13 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one blocked kick.
“I’m a run stuffer,” Christmas said in a conference call with Seattle media shortly after his selection.
As for his last name, Christmas said he’s gotten used to comments about it.
“I’ve been getting jokes my whole life,” he said. “I just laugh at it.”
In comments supplied by the team, Clint Hurtt, Seahawks assistant head coach/defensive line, said of Christmas: “He’s a tough, rugged run defender. Very instinctive in the run game. He’s quiet by nature but mature in his personality. Going to be a great fit in our D-line room.”
The pick of Christmas was the last the team appeared to have. But the Seahawks then made a quick move to deal a 2020 sixth-rounder to the Jags to get Ursua, who said he was already fielding calls from teams interested in signing him as an undrafted free agent when the Seahawks called to tell him he was being drafted.
Ursua, who had been following the draft closely, said he was momentarily confused because he knew Seattle had no picks left.
“Out of nowhere I get a call from Pete Carroll,” he said. “It’s just a miracle for me.”
Ursua, listed at 5-9, 182, lined up 92 percent of the time in the slot, according to Sports Info Solutions.
The pick of Ursua finally concluded a hectic haul in which Seattle added a defensive end (Collier), two defensive backs (Blair and Amadi), three receivers (Metcalf, Jennings and Ursua), two linebackers (Cody Barton and Burr-Kirven), one offensive lineman (Haynes), a running back (Homer) and a defensive tackle (Christmas).