The Seahawks kicked off rookie minicamp on Friday with their nine draft picks, 14 undrafted free agents, several players who were on the practice squad last season, and a handful of tryout players taking the field for the first of three days of on-field work.
"It's really good to get out on the field and work with some guys," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "This is really the first shot that we can feel like it was a practice. These guys did really well today—they came in charged up, and coaches did a nice job of getting them out there so that we could make it look like we could play some football, even though we only ran a couple of plays here and a couple of looks on defense. But all in all, we got a chance to get on film and we'll get a chance to look at them and start the process of evaluating guys and really opening up opportunities for guys to make it in the NFL. It's a really exciting time."
And while, as Carroll notes, it is far, this is just the start, meaning it's all but impossible to make significant evaluations based on the first day of rookie minicamp, there was still plenty to take away from Day 1 of rookie minicamp:
1. This rookie class could make big contributions early.
While predicting what the team will look like in September this early in the offseason is a bit of a fool's errand, it is reasonable to look at the players Seattle drafted, as well as some of the team's needs on the roster, and come to the conclusion that several members of this year's draft class could be starting or seeing significant playing time as rookies.
"It feels a little bit like that in that we really hit it with the guys we picked in spots that are available to compete for," Carroll said when asked if the Seahawks could have more rookies contributing right away than in past recent seasons. "There's not like an incumbent, long-term guy at a couple of these spots. So I wouldn't be surprised to see some guys have a shot at pushing for a lot of playing time out of this class. I don't know how much different that is, but it seems really specific that we can all kind of visualize how that's going to happen. So I think that's likely that people would come to that conclusion."
2. The rookie tackles are adjusting quickly to playing in a pro-style offense.
The Seahawks drafted two of the top tackles in the 2022 class by selecting Mississippi State's Charles Cross in the first round and Washington State's Abraham Lucas in the third round, but if there was any cause for concern about either player coming into the NFL, it was that both played in Mike Leach air-raid offenses that call for linemen to constantly pass block out of a two-point stance. In the NFL, and especially playing for a Seahawks offense that will strive to be balance, linemen will need to be able to run block and play out of a three-point stance. Carroll and general manager John Schneider both said after drafting Cross and Lucas that the two were both good enough athletes to handle the run-blocking aspect of the game, and the first day of minicamp only strengthened that belief for Carroll.
"Shoot, you would never even have known," Carroll said. "I already got a chance to look at half of the film of some of the team (walkthrough) work that we did. They've been working hard at it and they look very comfortable. They'll get better. I saw a couple of little false flinches and stuff, which is really normal, but these guys are too good athletically, they're really comfortable in their bodies and can move and they're well-proportioned and they're quick, and they can run fast for big guys. It's just not going to be a big transition like we might think."
And considering how important pass blocking is for an NFL tackle, Carroll likes that both had to do so much of that in college.
"I don't think the experience of being in the offense they've been in is going to be a detriment at all," Carroll said. "The area we would most be concerned about (with a rookie tackle) is pass protection and being able to pick up the speed—these guys have thousands of snaps of protecting on the edge. And they knew they had to, the coach put them in that position, that was their style, the guys coming in were all rushing the passer, so that all adds to it. I think we're fortunate they've come through that program."
3. Running back Ken Walker III was "a rocket" on his first day.
A running back can't truly be evaluated until he puts on the pads and has to run through contact, but on his first day of minicamp, second-round pick Ken Walker III made a good early impression both with the way he moved and also how quickly he's picking up the playbook.
"Ken, he took off, he's a rocket," Carroll said. "He caught the ball really well today too, which we're really excited about. Our offense and the terminology and the concepts that we run, he has run before. He was well-prepared at Michigan State coming to us. He understood even the terminology to some extent, so that's going to really facilitate him being comfortable with the transition. So we'll expect no issues there at all, he'll be able to go. He's very bursty, very quick."
4. Carroll "can't wait to get working" with the rookie cornerbacks.
Long before he was a head coach, Carroll established himself as an NFL coach by coaching defensive backs, so even though he has an entire program to run nowadays, he still enjoys doing some one-on-one work with defensive backs, particularly those new to the team.
"Oh yeah, I love the corners," Carroll said. "I can't wait to get working with (Woolen) and Coby and the other guys… It's pretty exciting. I'm really pumped about these two guys coming in, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds in time."
Fifth-round pick Tariq Woolen has a minor hamstring injury so he wasn't able to participate in Friday's practice—he did go through the walkthrough earlier in the day—but fourth-round pick Coby Bryant was on the field, and Carroll likes what the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award winner is showing so far.
"Coby Bryant made a real nice first day of it," Carroll said. "Really an accomplished college kid coming out. He just seems like he's comfortable, he understands it, he gets it. That's probably why he was recognized for a couple of years being a leader in that program and all. That's just an early impression, but a really good first impression.
"He's very comfortable and accomplished at the spot. He's got feel and sense, you can just tell. You can't hide that. So that just gives him a leg up on getting started. There's no transitioning going on here, it's going to be very smooth for him."
As for Woolen's injury, Carroll said keeping him on the sideline was precautionary and he should be back to work soon.
"He's just got a little bit of a hamstring thing that's bothering him that showed up in the physical," Carroll said. "We just don't want to push it until we know it better. He was able to get through the walkthrough which was really good early in the day, so he was breaking the huddle and getting lined up and moving around enough. He's not hurt-hurt, but he's got a little bit of soreness in his hammy that we don't want to push right now. We don't know him well enough to know what to do with that, so we'll take a couple more days. By next week when he returns, we'll have a much better feel."
5. The two quarterbacks "are good competitive guys."
While the Seahawks did not select a quarterback this year's draft, they did add one after the draft, signing Louisiana-Lafayette's Levi Lewis. The Seahawks also invited former Western Michigan quarterback Kaleb Eleby as a tryout players.
Asked about those two, Carroll said, "They both are leaders. They did a nice job in their programs. They're strong people, they handled what we asked them to do today well, they threw the ball around the yard pretty good, and both of them are good competitive guys. That came through really clearly."
Photos from the first day of Seahawks Rookie Minicamp at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Friday, May 6, 2022.