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Rookies take center stage this weekend
Eleven draft choices. Nine rookie free agents. Forty-five tryout players. One very-tall quarterback who already has been in training camps with two NFL teams.
The sum of these diverse parts is the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp that opens Friday and features one practice each day at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
The featured attractions will be the players who were drafted two weeks ago – running backs Christine Michael (second round) and Spencer Ware (sixth); defensive tackles Jordan Hill (third) and Jesse Williams (fifth); wide receiver Chris Harper (fourth); cornerback Tharold Simon (fifth); tight end Luke Willson (fifth); linebacker/defensive end Ty Powell (seventh); and offensive linemen Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith and Michael Bowie (all in the seventh).
The intrigue factor will be supplied by which of the nine undrafted rookies might show enough to be able to join the impressive list of past Seahawks who made the team as free agents. This year’s group includes wide receiver Matt Austin; running back Dominique Whaley; linebackers Ramon Buchanan, John Lotulelei and Craig Wilkins; offensive linemen Alvin Bailey and Jordon Roussos; defensive end Kenneth Boatright; and safety Ray Polk.
Filling in the cracks, and hoping to crack the long-odds barrier, will be the tryout contingent that numbers three dozen-plus.
The QB is Jerrod Johnson, who arrived with an interesting story when he signed with the team last month and admits, “It’s kind of a blessing in disguise, the fact that I’ve been through this for a couple of years and I’m technically still a rookie.”
That’s a lot to keep track of, but here’s what offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn want to see out of the practices on Friday and Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning:
Bevell’s group of draftees includes a running back (Michael) whose physical style is a match for the way the Seahawks run the ball; a tight end (Willson) they’re hoping can supply an element of speed to the position; a wide receiver (the 6-foot-1, 234-pound Harper) who brings some size to a position that already features Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin; another running back (Ware) who will be tried at fullback; and those seventh-round linemen (Seymour, Smith and Bowie).
“You kind of want to see what you have in your draft picks. You’d like to be able to see what their strengths and weaknesses are as much as you can in those three days,” Bevell said. “Then you’re looking at a bunch of tryout guys out there and the free agents we’ve signed. Sometimes you flip them out, sometimes it’s, ‘Whoa, we really liked how that guy looked. We want to give him a chance.’ You want to be able to see that with all the guys we have coming in.”
Quinn, meanwhile, picked up two tackles in the draft who might be able to compete for playing time right away at the three-technique spot (Williams in the base and Hill in the nickel); another big corner (the 6-2, 202-pound Simon); and the versatile Powell.
“No. 1, I’m anxious to see all the players and get our first evaluation,” Quinn said. “You can see them in their scheme at their school on video, but this is a very important time for us to say, ‘OK, show us what you can do here.’ That’s our job, to try and put them in their best spot to do that. So the evaluation aspect is the most important part. This weekend isn’t about the scheme, although it’s important to see how well a guy can learn. It’s really about the movement, the quickness, the skill set and then how can we take that skill set and apply it to our defense.”