For the first time since the Seahawks drafted 10 rookies and signed 13 more undrafted free agents last weekend, coaches got their first look at this year's rookie class on the practice field when rookie minicamp kicked off Friday afternoon.
"This is really a good day," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "This is always an exciting day for everyone—for (the rookies) of course, for us too to get a chance to see guys on our field practicing in our style, that's really fun. This has been a unique offseason for us, and this is one of the big stages of it when we get our draft guys and free agent tougher to add to this team. There are a lot of really good feelings about where we're trying to get to."
Two of the biggest storylines at this camp are the three new offensive linemen and the battle at quarterback, and for more on those we have a story on first-round pick Germain Ifedi's first day, and on the quarterbacks who are battling for a backup job.
Here are five more takeaways from the Day 1 of Seahawks rookie minicamp.
1. By rookie minicamp standards, this was a clean first day.
One inevitability about rookie minicamp, and the first day in particular, is that there will be some sloppy play. After all, this is the first time any of these players have practiced together, and they come from different college systems, so there are bound to be growing pains. But while there were a few miscues on Friday, Carroll noted that it was a better first day than previous rookie minicamps.
"The first impression that was made today—this had to be the best Friday that we've ever had in rookie minicamp," Carroll said. "I know Russell (Wilson) will argue with that—he thinks (2012) was the all-timer. But this was a great Friday for us to get started in this three-day camp that we have and I'm really fired up about it."
One thing that helped was that one of the usual causes of first-day sloppiness—botched exchanges between the center and quarterback—were minimized with sixth-round pick Joey Hunt snapping to former TCU teammate Trevone Boykin.
"It was clean," Carroll said. "It had to do with the fact that the quarterback and center had worked together, so we didn't have as many quarterback-center exchanges that we had in the past. Joey Hunt and Boykin working together made a difference. But just in general, it just was a really good, solid group. We have a really competitive bunch of guys in here right now."
2. Carroll is "really fired up" about WR Kenny Lawler.
When it comes to standing out in a no-pads practice, players on the perimeter have an advantage when it comes to making an impression—there's only so much that linemen and linebackers can do without pads on—but even with that caveat, it's safe to say that the play of seventh-round pick Kenny Lawler was one of the highlights of Friday's practice. Early in practice, the former University of California receiver made a nice sliding catch on the sideline, then later he had a couple of spectacular leaping grabs, showing off the sure-handedness that had Seahawks coaches excited about him on during the draft.
"Kenny Lawler had a great day today," Carroll said. "He must have caught four balls that were terrific catches. He's a guy that is noted for tremendous catching range and he had four spectacular opportunities today, and he made them all. So I was really fired up for that. His hands are so good that we're not surprised that he can make those plays, but to get a chance to show it on his first day is pretty cool. He took advantage of that."
3. Running back will be a "very deep and competitive group."
With the Seahawks drafting three running backs—C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins and Zac Brooks—there figures to be a real battle for playing time and roster spots at that position once Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael are added to the mix. For now, however, the three rookies will get plenty of opportunities to show what they can do, and all had their moments on Friday.
"Gosh everybody did something today," Carroll said. "Everybody took off on a run or made a catch or something. Just a good effort today. Nobody jumped out in particular, but it was good to see everybody look comfortable with the position. Zac had a really nice run. Alex had a nice run, and a couple catches for C.J., so it's a good group. Very deep and competitive group."
4. Carroll is excited about this UDFA class.
As players like Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, DeShawn Shead and Rawls have shown in recent years, "A guy can kind of come out of the middle of nowhere and make a big impression and make a statement," Carroll said.
With so many current Seahawks having gone the undrafted route, it should come as no surprise that Carroll was raving about undrafted players on Friday as much as he was about his draft picks.
"We're really excited about these guys that come after the draft," Carroll said. "Maybe more than anybody, we've had so much luck with them, and John (Schneider) has done such a great job finding people for us so something's going to happen good, we'll see what it is."
Among the players Carroll discussed Friday were:
SS Tyvis Powell: "Wow, what a great looking kid he is. He had great workouts, big and strong… He looks like a tremendous athlete. He fits the mold, he ran in the 4.4s (40-yard dash)."
DE David Perkins: "Wow if you guys have watched him on film, you know what we're excited about. He is a pass-rusher. He's got a great sense for getting off the ball timing-wise, a very flexible, kind of relentless pass-rush guy. He's undersized but he was so special that I was really excited that we have him coming in here."
LB Montese Overton: "The other guy that I want to mention too is Montese Overton. He looked really good today. He's a guy that we really liked throughout the process. Fortunately, we were able to sign him in camp (as an undrafted free agent) and he's playing at the SAM spot. There's going to be a big competitive opportunity there at the SAM spot so we'll see what he does. He's a noted pass-rush guy with a lot of speed and a lot of quickness. We haven't seen him play off the ball where he's dropping and all that but today he looked okay and that's a good start for him also."
One other interesting UDFA in camp is Wisconsin's Tanner McEvoy, a versatile 6-foot-6, 230-pound athlete who played receiver, safety and quarterback in college, and for now at least, is lining up at safety.
Carroll called McEvoy a "really unique player," and that the Seahawks will "start him on the defense side and just see what happens from there."
5. It's not just rookies trying to make their mark this weekend.
While the bulk of the 68 players on the field Friday were rookies, either draft picks, undrafted free agents or tryout players, there are also some more familiar faces on the field. Participating in this week's camp were 12 players who spent time with the Seahawks last year or were signed in February to futures contracts, most of them being players who spent time on the practice squad or who missed last year with injuries. One notable player in that group is tackle Terry Poole, a fourth-round pick in last year's draft. Poole did not make the team out of camp, and spent part of the year on the practice squad before landing on injured reserve. Poole is back in better shape, Carroll said, and looking to improve upon a disappointing first year in the NFL.
"I'm really excited about Terry," Carroll said. "He lost almost 20 pounds in the offseason and kind of re-shaped his body. He's really serious about the approach to this camp. I think there were some surprises, a little disappointment that it was so hard for him last year. We'll see what happens. He has made a special effort and we'll see how that turns out."
The first day of Seahawks Rookie Minicamp at VMAC was also the first day as a pro for many of these 68 roster hopefuls.