The Seahawks concluded their 2023 Rookie Minicamp this weekend, giving first-year players their first taste of life in the NFL. Following camp, the 10 rookies talked about their journeys and introduction to the NFL at the team presser. Here are 10 quotes to remember from the 2023 class.
"Everything is about making an impression" - Devon Witherspoon
"Everything is about making an impression," said Witherspoon. "It's the first time getting out here with the guys and coaches. And being able to perform in front of them, like I said, you can't take your first impression back. So it's everything."
All eyes will surely be on Witherspoon, who as the No. 5 overall pick became the highest-selected Seahawks pick since Aaron Curry was picked fourth overall in 2009. The University of Illinois alum was a 2022 Consensus All-American, after allowing just 22 receptions and not surrendering a touchdown.
"Hopefully, I can make his life a little easier" - Jaxon Smith Njigba on Geno Smith
"I seen Geno yesterday," said Smith-Njigba. "Talked to him for a little bit. Hopefully, I can make his life a little easier. Great quarterback, can sling it. I'm excited to be out here with him when that day comes."
As the Seahawks prepare for offseason OTAs starting May 22, we inch closer to the first look at Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith on the field with No. 20 selection wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The NCAA FBS record-holder for receiving yards in a bowl game (347) looks to help Seattle become a more-dynamic offense. Draft expert Matt Miller joined Seattle Sports 710AM’s Brock and Salk Show last week to discuss the value the team got out of its 2023 draft class, with high praise for Smith-Njigba.
"Like a Cooper Kupp," said Miller. "Like a Justin Jefferson, there's some versatility to be an inside-outside receiver. He's the future at that position for Seattle, in my opinion.
"To be a Seahawk" - Mike Morris on why he gained 20 pounds after the NFL Combine.
"To be a Seahawk," said Morris. "I met Coach Pete Carroll, I met Coach Hurtt, and this is the place I wanted to be. Coach John has really registered with my agent, they said 'Bro, we want you to get bigger and we'll draft you.' So I got bigger and they drafted me. This is the place I wanted to be, so I just want to fit in and get to work."
En route to winning the 2022 Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Award, Morris was a nightmare off the edge. After weighing in at 275 pounds for the 2023 NFL Combine, Morris' 20-pound weight gain gamble between the Combine and April's draft paid off, as Seattle called his name in Round 5. Now, he gets a chance to prove his versatility on the defensive line through the offseason.
"Always having that chip on your shoulder" - Jerrick Reed II
"Always having that chip on your shoulder," said Reed. "We were just talking about that yesterday in the team meeting. Coach Carroll said it himself, the type of players he's looking for are guys who have a chip on their shoulder, something to prove. You read the reports, they say I'm a sleeper guy, they say he's too small, they say he's not fast enough. All those things that reporters and "experts" say. It's just like, you know who you are, you know the work you put in. You know what you're capable of. The route I took built me for where I'm at right now. Just going to keep on going. I was a late-round draft pick, I wasn't a first-round guy, I wasn't a second-round guy. So I have to work myself up on the totem pole; that comes from special teams, to rotating, to getting to where I want to be at. So, just the whole route I took, it just built me to be a tougher guy. And I face a lot of adversity, so not too much can have me down and in my feelings to not be able to come out here and give my best game."
Reed, Seattle's sixth-round pick, is no stranger to adversity. The road to becoming a day-three selection started with overcoming not having any offers out of high school. After shining at Northwest Mississippi Community College, Reed transferred to the University of New Mexico. After starting occasionally over his first 17 games, Reed emerged as a key factor for the Lobos as an upperclassman.
"Just being able to trust my hands" - Kenny McIntosh
"Just being able to trust my hands," said McIntosh. "I've been catching the ball since I was yea-high. I can remember catching the ball with my dad, so just having that confidence in my hands, and knowing that ball not going touch the ground if it hits my hands. Also, I know I'm not going to do the pushups he'd make me do if I dropped the ball, so I might as well just catch it."
Former Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh brings his receiving abilities out of the backfield to Seattle. In 2021, McIntosh led all Division I running backs with a 92.1 receiving grade from Pro Football Focus after catching 22 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think it gives me the ability to stay in my gap longer, hold on double teams for guys like Bobby Wagner to make plays" - Cameron Young on bulking up since the NFL Combine
"I think it gives me the ability to stay in my gap longer," said Young. "Hold on double teams for guys like Bobby Wagner to make plays. So it really just gives me an opportunity to kind of play that gap in our scheme."
Former Mississippi State defensive tackle Cameron Young weighed in at 306 pounds at the 2023 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, but has noticeably put on some pounds in the following months. Seattle will depend on Young to help improve their run support, as well as get to the quarterback from the interior. Since 2021, Young accumulated 34 quarterback pressures for Mississippi State.
"I would say I was always a good communicator" - Olu Oluwatimi
"I would say I was always a good communicator," said Oluwatimi. "Took pride in making sure everybody's on the same page. But at Michigan, I learned the game from a different lens, and learned it from a pro-style. Had to communicate to two or three tight ends, whether we're in 12 personnel or 13 personnel. So, having more people listen me and more people needing to rely on what's the point, who's the MIKE, and things of that nature. That definitely translates more to the NFL."
New Seahawks center Olu Oluwatimi spent time with the Air Force and at the University of Virginia before settling in at Michigan. His ability to adjust on the fly helped him earn All-Conference honors in both of his upperclassmen years. In 918 total snaps for the Michigan Wolverines in 2022, Oluwatimi didn't allow a single sack.
"Just realizing, at the end of the day we're just playing football" - Zach Charbonnet
"At the end of the day," said Charbonnet. "We're just playing football you know, we've been doing this our whole life. Like we said earlier, there's no school anymore, so I can put all my energy into football, and that just made it easier."
A change of scenery only helped new Seahawks running back Zach Charbonnet when he transferred from Michigan to UCLA in 2021. In two seasons with the Bruins, Charbonnet rushed for over 2400 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground.
"Just continue to peak" - Derick Hall
"Just continue to peak," said Hall. "I feel like there's a lot of growth left in my game of football, and having Coach Carroll, a guy who is energetic and loves the game of football. You know, I've never seen a guy that's more hyped than, you know, that's more enjoyable to be around as a head coach than him. He's been in the business a long time, I think he's going on Year-14 here, and learning from Coach Hurtt, you know having an opportunity to learn from those guys. I mean, it's just very, very special and knowing that I'm getting the best coaching possible that there is playing in the National Football League is really what I'm looking forward to."
Hall was born four months premature, weighing just 2 pounds and 9 ounces. After spending the first five months of his life fighting to live, everything Hall's done since is nothing short of a miracle.
"I'm from a small city in Michigan" - Anthony Bradford
"You don't even understand," said Bradford. "I'm from a small city in Michigan, nobody really knows about it. So, me being able to rep my city where I was at and now expanding it to where I can rep at, it means a lot to me. I know my city, they got me on their backs, supporting me."
Former LSU guard Anthony Bradford hails from Muskegon, Michigan, home of former Seahawks wideout Ruvell Martin, and he's looking to make his hometown proud in the NFL.
Seahawks rookies were treated to blue skies and mid-80 degree weather in Seattle for day two of rookie minicamp on May 13, 2023 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.