Here are six observations on Seahawks' rookie mini-camp from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
Here are three impressions from Seahawks’ rookie mini-camp over the weekend from beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First, from Jenks:
This could be a fun rookie class.
I’m talking about their personalities, and let me say right away: That won’t matter if they don’t turn out to be good players. Everyone knows that. But also, it’s rookie mini camp, in May, meaning we don’t have much to go on right now, not after three days of no-contact practice with a bunch of tryout players all over the field.
We also don’t have much based only on the few minutes the players spent answering questions, but on first impression alone, they’re an interesting group.
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Shaq Griffin, the third-round corner, has charisma and seems to enjoy telling stories. Nazair Jones, the third-round defensive tackle, does too (He’s roommates with second-round pick Malik McDowell, who is quiet and most definitely not a talker, which prompted Jones to say, “You guys should know that already”). Amara Darboh, the third-round receiver, has an amazing life story. And sixth-round corner Mike Tyson, who Delano Hill said was the jokester of the group, is named MIKE TYSON.
Again, it’s early and I’m not trying to make too much of a few brief interviews. But there’s potential for this to be a fun group.
It’s hard to see any of the quarterbacks at rookie mini camp beating out Trevone Boykin for the backup job.
There have been questions about Boykin’s future, particularly after his arrest in the offseason. Boykin, an undrafted free agent last season, barely played in 2016, although the Seahawks liked his upside and athletic ability. But it was expected that they’d bring in more competition, especially after the injury-prone season Wilson had.
That very well could still happen with a veteran quarterback, but in the two days of practice that I watched, none of the young quarterbacks looked ready to push Boykin.
The Seahawks had three quarterbacks throwing during rookie mini camp: Former Skyline star Jake Heaps, Michael Birdsong from Tennessee Tech and Skyler Howard from West Virginia.
Only Howard was signed as an undrafted free agent; the Seahawks talked about his ability to throw the deep ball and make plays immediately after the draft.
However, it was Birdsong who made the biggest impression this weekend with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saying Sunday that “I thought Birdsong did very well. Probably graded out the best of those guys in terms of completion percentage and things like that. He’s competing well to show there, he threw some really good footballs. … we’ve got decisions to make.”
That could mean that the Seahawks decide to sign Birdsong, which it most logical to think they’d let Howard go to clear room.
On first impression, however, none of the three looked poised to beat out Boykin.
Receiver Cyril Grayson is fast in a way that was actually surprising.
When I think of track stars, especially track stars attempting to play football, I think of straight-line burners: Guys who run fast one way but struggle changing directions. Grayson is definitely that kind of fast, but he also looked quick and agile.
You’ve probably heard Grayson’s story but just in case: A former LSU All-American and national champion in track, Grayson signed with the Seahawks this offseason having never played football. So it’s not surprising that Grayson looks fast even amongst a bunch of other fast guys. It’s kind of surprising, however, that he cut so quickly, that he looked so nimble.
He’s only 5-foot-9, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising. But it was.
Grayson was quick in small spaces (I always compare Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette when thinking about this; Lockette is faster but Baldwin has quicker burst making cuts). Grayson is raw and a long shot to make the roster, but he glides on the field. That’s a good place to start at least.
And from Condotta:
Jordan Roos might just get into the mix for the starting position at left guard.
Asked to name an undrafted free agent who stood out this weekend, Carroll quickly latched on to left guard Jordan Roos. The Seahawks have been high on Roos since the day he signed, saying they had a draftable grade on him and then handing him a $20,000 bonus, the most Seattle awarded this year to any UDFA.
The non-contact nature of mini-camp can make it a little tough to really assess much from linemen. But of what Carroll could see, he said Roos stood out and that he could make a legitimate run at a roster spot.
“Yeah, I really liked Jordan Roos,’’ Carroll said. “I thought he looked really good. That was a really important signing for us, we had targeted him through the draft, and we weren’t able to get him, but he looks like he fits right in. I was really, really happy about that, because we’re trying to keep that whole position as competitive as possible. He looks like he’ll be able to battle, I’m talking with the guys who are going to do the playing, so I think he made a great first impression. We’ve got to get the pads on for those guys, which is a long ways away, but his first impressions were excellent in this thing.”
Carroll also is excited about Ethan Pocic.
Pocic, taken in the second round out of LSU, played mostly center in college. The Seahawks, though, have him at right tackle for now where he appears set to battle Germain Ifedi for a starting spot. Carroll says the team wants to start him out there knowing he can play center.
“We wanted to make sure we could see him at tackle,’’ Carroll said. “He had no problem. All of the film we watched, it was always impressive how from game to game or even within the game he could demonstrate that he was comfortable at other spots.
“. … He’s technique-sound. He’s very bright. He can make a new concept or the way we may talk about a scheme or technique just come to life for you. So, we’ll see how this goes but we know we have flexibility. That’s why he was our favorite guy in the draft because he could play anywhere. He looked very comfortable at right tackle. So we’ll see how this goes. We would most likely keep him on the right side for right now but he’s played on both so that’s not an issue either.’’
The two drafted rookie cornerbacks appear to be adjusting quickly
Each of the players the team drafted to play cornerback — Griffin and Tyson — are being asked to do some different things now with the Seahawks. Tyson, who played safety and nickel at Cincinnati, is now being asked to try to play boundary cornerback, spending the weekend on the left side. And both players also have to adjust to Seattle’s strict fundamentals for cornerbacks, specifically the “step-kick’’ technique of first stepping with the outside foot before engaging a receiver when pressing at the line. Griffin mentioned on Friday that it is a totally different tactic than he used at Central Florida.
Carroll said Griffin appeared to be a quick study based on what he saw over the weekend.
“I don’t think he’s going to have any problem,’’ Carroll said of Griffin, who could emerge as a contender for the right cornerback spot — he played there all weekend. “I really don’t think he’ll have any problem. The guys did a really nice job starting him off and working at our stuff. He seemed very comfortable. It looked really good for the first weekend. He got some good shots on some balls down the field, we got to see him run a little bit and all.’’
Carroll also repeated his earlier observation that Tyson reminds him of Byron Maxwell, a sixth-round pick in 2011 who ended up as a starter three years later.
“I think they’re similar in their stature, they just kind of carry themselves the same,’’ Carroll said. “They have very similar characteristics of size, weight, speed and all that. And both guys came in with a real serious tough attitude. I thought Mike was real impressive in the camp. He has not been a featured outside guy. He played a lot of man coverage on slots and stuff, so this was the first time we’ve seen a lot of that, so it’s just the start, but we know he’s such a good football player and a good competitive kid, I think he’s going to be right in there, so he’s off to a good start.”