We asked Seahawks fans what draft prospect they wanted to hear from during Saturday’s 2019 NFL Scouting Combine media availability, and University of Washington defensive tackle Greg Gaines was the winner. Fans asked to hear from other Huskies throughout the week, so highlights from their press conferences are below as well.
For the fourth time in the last five drafts, the University of Washington could have a defensive tackle selected when the 2019 NFL draft takes place in April.
Greg Gaines isn’t as high profile of a player as former first-rounders Vita Vea (12th overall pick last year) or Danny Shelton (12th overall in 2015), but like those two and 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls, Gaines does have a good shot to hear his name called in the draft.
Asked why the Huskies keep producing so many quality interior linemen, Gaines said, “I think we just have really good coaches is what it comes down to. They recruit well first of all, then they just develop good players. Our strength program is incredible, we have the best strength coaches in the country and they just develop massive, strong athletic guys.”
Gaines, who describes himself as a “pretty athletic” guy who prides himself on versatility, backed that up with a solid showing in his on-field workouts.
And not that Gaines probably needed it, but he is extra motivated for this pre-draft process because his wife is expecting a son on March 28.
“It’s definitely extra motivation for me,” he said. “Every day I think about it—I have to provide for my family now, and this is the way I’m going to do it. It just motivates me to work harder every day.”
Safety Taylor Rapp is comfortable being a role model.
Taylor Rapp has a chance to go early in the draft because he is a talented and versatile safety.
“I think I can do everything on the back end,” he said over the weekend. “I think my biggest asset is my versatility, and I think I can do everything. I can cover a deep third, I can cover a deep half, I can roll down to the box, I can go the alley and tackle. I can blitz, I can cover receivers, I can cover the slot, I can cover a tight end. I think I'm the complete package.”
But Rapp is also a unique prospect, not just because he is from Bellingham, hardly a football hotbed—he said Sehome “wasn't a big football school. The biggest sports there were track and cross-country.” He is also unique as an Asian American—his mother is from China—who is about to be in the NFL.
Rapp said he is embracing a chance to inspire kids who look like him and who might not have a lot of NFL role models.
“You don't see a lot of Asian pro athletes anywhere, not just the NFL,” he said. “It's just an opportunity to inspire young Asian-American kids in the states who didn't have a role model to look up to or someone to connect to. I want to be able to inspire them and show them that we can do it no matter what. If you put your mind to it, things can happen.”
Running back Myles Gaskin has a chip on his shoulder.
In 2018, Myles Gaskin rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the fourth straight year, making him the first player in the history of the Pac-12 to accomplish that feat. Yet for all his production, Gaskin isn’t being talked about as one of the top backs in this draft, and he’s definitely using that for motivation.
“It’s very motivating,” he said. “Keeps a chip on my shoulder. And I think that's how you have to play. It just gives me another reason to get better every day.”
Asked to evaluate his game, Gaskin said, “I think I'm one of the most elusive backs in this class. I think I'm as fast as just about any back in this class. I will work hard. Just have a lot of football under my belt. I've made a lot of plays. I've got good hands. I just love the game of football, ready to work each and every day. I think that's the biggest thing."
Tackle Kaleb McGary has lived “a country song.”
Asked about his background, McGary warned, “It's basically a country song, so get ready,” then told the story that he says has given him a lot of perception on life.
“We had a family farm in southern Washington, and in 2008 and 2009 recession, we lost it. We just couldn't keep up with the payments anymore, the company kept trying to charge us more and more. We got to a point where we just couldn't afford to live there. So, sure enough, instead of working with us they foreclosed on us. Couple weeks later, dad got involved in work accident, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. My girlfriend broke up with me, my dog died, and then we had to move into an RV at my grandfather's front yard because we couldn't afford to rent an apartment. We couldn't afford to buy a house. We didn't have good enough credit to take out a loan, and the house my grandfather had was unlivable because him and my grandmother were hoarders during their lifetime. So, if you can imagine 60 years worth of hoarding, it was quite literally stuff from the ground to the ceiling. So for the last two years of high school, I lived in an RV with four other people. Eventually, they did get my grandfather's RV that he owned cleaned out on the side of the yard that my parents moved into. So my siblings were able to stay in the other RV and there was a little more space. Fast forward a few years, last January, my parents had just managed to clean out a room in the house that they could move into and out of the RV.
"A couple of weeks after that in the end of January, the RV they were living in, a wire combusted and the RV actually burned to the ground and caught half the house on fire. And they woke up, the only thing that woke him up was the ammunition in a house and an RV going off, and that's the only reason they woke up for a fire. I got a phone call from my neighbor at 5 a.m. saying, ‘Hey, you know your house on fire?' (I said) ‘No, no I did not. I do now, though. Thank you.’”
Eventually, McGary said, “we were able to clear a GoFundMe through the NCAA, and we got some money raised to help. The unfortunate thing, though, and I didn't realize is just how expensive home repairs is. Holy crap, you would not believe how fast $16,000 can just vanish.
"It did. And soon as the money ran out, labor dissipated, material, everything just grind to a halt, really. So we've been kind of stuck for a little while. Slowly but surely, now piece by piece, I believe they have now repaired a room in the upstairs and the half of the house that was not burned that they have moved back into now. So they are in a house, sort of. Half a house. Room of half a house again.”
Asked what those experiences did to him, McGary said, “More than anything it gives you perspective that someone who hasn't had these experiences just doesn't or can't have. Because, experiences is experience. You have to have it to have it. It's something that I've taken from a lot of that is perspective and resilience. Fortunately, nothing tragic happened. Yeah it was pretty crappy at the time and scary and all that, but no one died. Everything that can't be replaced made it. Nothing that couldn't be replaced was lost.”
Photos from inside the Seattle Seahawks' suite overlooking the Lucas Oil Stadium turf during Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, the first day of on-field workouts featuring some of college football's top professional prospects.