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Seahawks draft choices filling roles they were drafted to fill
When asked about wide receiver Chris Harper after Friday’s first practice in the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp, coach Pete Carroll quipped, “He is what we thought he is.”
As it turned out, that Denny Green-esque assessment would work for any of the 11 players the Seahawks selected in the NFL Draft two weeks ago – from top pick Christine (like 'kristin') Michael to seventh-rounder Jared Smith, a defensive linemen from New Hampshire who spent the weekend working at center.
“We’re real pleased with the guys we brought in in the draft,” Carroll said Sunday after the third and final practice. “Everybody looked like they fit in the role that we had hoped for.”
Here’s a closer look at those players, their roles and how they filled them in three rookie minicamp practices where the draft choices should have stood out in a group that also included eight rookie free agents who were signed after the draft; nine players who have been participating in the veterans’ offseason program, but were eligible for this camp; and 37 players who were here on a tryout basis:
Defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams – Excuse us for lumping them together, but they’ve been seemingly joined at the hip – and hype – since arriving on Thursday. At this camp, where they were roommates, they worked side-by-side in the No. 1. Hill, a third-round pick, was at nose tackle; Williams, a fifth-round pick, at the three-technique spot. Each showed the ability to man those positions that they played at Penn State (Hill) and Alabama (Williams), as well as the versatility to move to other spots.
“The defensive tackles look nice and fit in right,” Carroll said. “They’re both different players.”
On Hill, Carroll added, “Jordan is an accomplished nose tackle. He knows how to play the position. He’s been coached very well. … He’s got good, long arms for his size (6-1, 303) and uses his hands really well. He got in the backfield, penetrated a lot. He looks like he could be a really good addition to complement what (Brandon) Mebane does in there.”
The coaches also plan to look at Hill as the three-technique in the nickel line, and Williams also is a candidate to backup Red Bryant at the five-technique end spot.
Michael and Spencer Ware – Again, this is a two-fer because both are running backs. Michael, who was selected in the second round of a draft where the Seahawks traded away their first-round pick, is being looked at as a complementary third tailback to team with All-Pro Marshawn Lynch and incumbent backup Robert Turbin. Ware, who was drafted in the sixth round, was working at fullback as well as tailback.
“The running backs are going to be factors,” Carroll said. “I was really happy with Spencer Ware playing fullback and tailback. That worked out well for us.”
Chris Harper and Luke Willson – Each made some nice catches, Harper while playing wide receiver; Willson from the tight end position. And each brings something to his respective position that was missing from the returning players at those positions. With Harper, a fourth-round pick, it’s his size (234 pounds). With Wilson, a fifth-round pick, it’s his speed.
Carroll on Harper: “He can really catch it, and he’s running some good routes. He’s a big, solid dude, like we thought. He really has great hands. He has really classy hands. I don’t think there’s any ball that he’s out of. If he can get his hands on it, he has a chance to catch it. We’ll really work to make him a physical receiver and make space for himself and work with our big corners. … He’ll be right in there. We will not hesitate to throw him in.”
Carroll on Willson: “We really did give him a chance in this camp to show stuff. We really gave him a lot of balls. What we wanted to see was if his speed will show up downfield, and it certainly does. He’s very fast. He’ll be our fastest tight end in camp and we’ll continue to develop him. We don’t know anything about his blocking ability at this point. We won’t know that until we get to (training) camp. But as far as calling on him to fill a role – to be a downfield type of guy and mix in with these fellas (Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy) and compete for it – it’s pretty cool.”
Tharold Simon – Another big cornerback (6-2, 202) who plays the physical style that Carroll likes. That’s why he was drafted in the fifth round.
“He fits the profile of the big guys that we like,” Carroll said. “He’s long. He’s an aggressive kid. He has good savvy, can anticipate routes and things. By the time we get him to (training) camp, I would think he can compete with our guys. He looked kind of in the fashion of guys that we like.”
Ty Powell – A linebacker at Harding, the second of the team’s four seventh-round picks was playing the Leo end spot in the No. 1 line. It’s a bit of a transition for the 6-2, 249-pounder, which is why Powell didn’t make the kinds of plays that allowed some of the other draft choices to standout.
The rookie offensive linemen – The other three picks in the seventh round were Vanderbilt guard Ryan Seymour, Smith and Northeastern tackle Michael Bowie. They spent the weekend manning the right side of the No. 1 line – Smith at center, Seymour at guard, Bowie at tackle.
“The offensive linemen did OK,” Carroll said. “This is a big, big jump for Jared Smith – a lot to ask of him early. We gave him some problems out here, but physically he’s going to have a chance to do what we want so we’ll have to see how long it takes him to transition.”
For the most part, the draft choices were able to show just what the coaches expected when these players were selected.
“We knocked out three good days here,” Carroll said. “We made a lot of progress.”