This Guy is not just a guy

Posted May 8, 2012

Despite having the Pro Bowl tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks selected Winston Guy in the sixth round of the NFL Draft to fill the important third safety spot in their big nickel.

And with the 11th pick in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, the Seahawks selected …

A safety? Really? A team that already has the Pro Bowl tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor – the third-year tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor – selected a safety?

Well, it wasn’t just any safety. It was a safety – Winston Guy from Kentucky – that the coaches feel can step in and be the third safety in the big nickel package that has served the defense and the team so well in its first two seasons under coach Pete Carroll.

Two years ago, it was Chancellor who filled that role, which allowed starting strong safety Lawyer Milloy to step up and play more like a linebacker. Milloy had two sacks in a Week 5 upset victory in Chicago as the Bears had a difficult time blocking Milloy – or even figuring out where he was coming from on any given snap on that given Sunday afternoon in October.

Last year, it was free-agent addition Atari Bigby who was the third safety, which allowed Chancellor and Thomas to play closer to the line of scrimmage in the big nickel depending on whether they needed the coverage (from Thomas) or run support (from Chancellor). Chancellor and Thomas finished second and third on the team in tackles, as well as combining for six interceptions, 18 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

With Milloy finally retired after 15 NFL seasons and Bigby joining the San Diego Chargers in free agency, someone had to fill the third safety spot. And the coaches think they’ve found just the safety.

“All those things where we used Atari, this kid fills those roles very well,” Carroll said just after the draft had been completed. “He’s a versatile player. They moved him around in the kind of fashion that we like moving our guys around.

“We’re very excited about him. He’s a very aggressive kid. He plays a lot like Atari.”

Time has not diminished Carroll’s opinion of the 6-foot-1, 218-pound Guy, who was a three-year starter and finished with 283 tackles for the Wildcats. In addition to being productive, this Guy also is athletic. After being forced to sit out the NFL Scouting Combine in late February and the Kentucky Pro Day in early March because of a groin injury, he jumped even higher on the Seahawks’ radar by running the 40-yard dash in 4.53 records and popping a 36-inch vertical at his personal Pro Day workout.

Last week, Carroll reiterated the plan for using Guy in that valuable – and versatile – third safety role. He also emphasized the importance of the position in the Seahawks’ defensive scheme by offering that the club would have considered Mark Barron with its first-round pick if the Alabama safety had not gone to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the seventh pick overall.

But a rookie? And a later-round draft choice at that? Chancellor was a fifth-round pick in 2010 and filled that third safety spot after getting some extra prep time during the bye week. He had 12 tackles, a sack and broke up a pass. But it was Chancellor’s presence that allowed Milloy to be unleashed at times, and he tied his career high in sacks (four), produced one of his four career forced fumbles and tied for second on the team in tackles.

The coaches will get their first up-close look at Guy during the three-day rookie minicamp this weekend – when practices are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Thomas and Chancellor won’t be around, but Guy will begin his indoctrination into how the team plans to use him.

For his first trip to Seattle, let’s hope Guy packs the same do-whatever-it-takes attitude he displayed on draft day, and the skills that allowed him to do it at Kentucky.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Guy said when asked where he was most comfortable. “My sophomore and junior years, I played safety – like free and strong safety, so I was playing back 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

“My senior year, I moved up into the box because my secondary coach wanted lighter people and they felt like my body type was good for that position and that would help the defense.”

Guy played the new role so well he was voted second-team All-SEC.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “I never doubted my athletic ability to play that position, because I actually played it in high school. I just did what I had to do to help the team win.”

Now, Guy will try to take those same talents and blend them into the Seahawks’ big nickel, where he could end up playing strong safety, free safety or that hybrid on-the-move spot.

The big nickel is a big reason the defense was able to rank ninth in the NFL last season – the first time since 1997, and only the sixth time in franchise history, that the Seahawks have finished in the Top 10.

“It’s very important. It’s a defensive that allows us to put a lot of speed on the field,” Thomas said after Tuesday’s workout in the offense program. “And it allows Kam and me to use the extra ability we have.”

Thomas smiled as he offered, “I’m not sure if the linebackers like it that much.” That’s because two of them leave the field.

“But on third-and-long you can never have enough speed on the field,” Thomas said. “It just gives us a lot of stuff we can throw at people.”

And the Seahawks think they’ve found the Guy who can help them do just that.