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From Mobile To Seattle: Seahawks Continue to Lean On Senior Bowl in NFL Draft

Taking a look at the relationship between the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the Seahawks organization after Seattle selected six Senior Bowl participants in the 2024 NFL Draft.


Over the last 75 years, the Reese's Senior Bowl has developed into the premiere showcase for prospective NFL talent at the collegiate level. Since being appointed executive director in 2018, Jim Nagy has run the show for Mobile, Alabama's biggest annual football event. After serving five seasons as a regional scout with the Seahawks franchise (2013-2018), Nagy's event continues to help Seattle in its quest to build another championship contender.

In April, the Seahawks selected six participants in the 2024 Senior Bowl, starting with University of Connecticut offensive guard Christian Haynes in Round 3. The Seahawks also selected Senior Bowl players Tyrice Knight, AJ Barner, Nehemiah Pritchett, Sataoa Laumea and D.J. James. In Round 1, Seattle selected University of Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II, who received an invite to the Senior Bowl but didn't participate. It marks the second time in three seasons that Seattle has selected five-plus players from the event.

Seattle later signed 16 undrafted agents following the draft, with Senior Bowl participants Nelson Ceaser (OLB - Houston) and Carlton Johnson (CB - Fresno State) signing deals. On Monday, Nagy used the social media platform Twitter to break down how each selection will help Seattle in 2024. Following the 2022 draft, Nagy predicted that the Seahawks' six senior bowl selections would become key contributors.

He proved to be right, as ESPN’s No.1-ranked class helped the 9-8 Seahawks climb to a playoff berth. Fifth-round selection cornerback Riq Woolen would go on to earn a Pro Bowl invite as a rookie, after tying for the NFL lead with six interceptions.

Dating back to 2010, Seattle has selected at least three Senior Bowl participants in nine of 14 drafts. For seven-consecutive drafts, the Seahawks have selected a player from the Senior Bowl roster within the top-three rounds. It's been nearly a decade since Nagy made the transition from scout to director for one of college football's biggest events, changing his approach, but not his passion for helping teams including his former employer.

"I'm just happy that our (Senior Bowl) guys are getting an opportunity with a great organization like this one, honestly. I know what John (Schneider) and Pete (Carroll) built there; I know what John and Coach (Mike) MacDonald are building together - it's going to be a great building for all of our guys that played in our game that are heading out to Seattle. I'm just happy for those guys. Without being intentional, it's part of where I spent my time in the league. I grew out there, and have been around John for a long time. Philosophically, there's probably more alignment in that building than some of the others, but I'm just happy that those guys are starting off their careers with a great culture in a great building."

Nagy continued with his praise, beaming about a pair of Senior Bowl participants that were picked up by Seattle as undrafted free agents in Ceaser and Johnson.

"They're both really good players," said Nagy. "We don't invite anyone to the Senior Bowl we don't think isn't a draftable talent... but we liked both of those guys. We thought they were both good enough to make NFL rosters, so it never surprises us when our undrafted guys do make a team. Nelson (Ceaser) has some natural pass rush ability to him, you can see the production over his career. Little bit of a tweener, that's probably why he slipped a little bit, in terms of what his ideal position fit is. But I think with the expanded kickoff rules this year, that's going to put more of an emphasis on special teams. I think Nelson is more than athletic enough to do that, and that should help him. With Carlton, he had a great week in Mobile. He was kind of an under the radar guy through the fall (season), caught a little steam late. I know a lot of west coast guys were hoping he would fly under the radar and were bummed we invited him to the Senior Bowl. He had a great week - he was feisty, he probably broke up as many passes as any corner in the game that week during practice. Then he goes to the combine and the guy can fly. I think he's our second-fastest Senior Bowler since we started doing this Zebra Technology stuff behind Tariq (Woolen). So you've got a feisty guy that can really run, those are two good starting points for a rookie to make your football team. I was glad to see both of those guys end up there."

As the 2024 class prepares for their upcoming rookie year, Seattle's front office hopes their annual investment will lead to finding more pieces to the puzzle that will lead the Seahawks back to the postseason.

The Seahawks invited girls flag football players to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center for a photoshoot on Monday, May 13, 2024.

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