Asked to describe rookie defensive end Obum Gwacham, the first word Seahawks coach Pete Carroll came up with was, "Raw."
That's hardly a compliment, but what Carroll said next about the sixth-round pick from Oregon State was about the highest praise a coach could offer a player.
"He's raw, and he's the hardest working guy that maybe you can find," Carroll said. "He unbelievably gives it up every snap."
Gwacham isn't offended by Carroll's "raw" assessment. After all, he was a receiver at Oregon State until moving to defensive end as a senior, so he still knows there's plenty of room for growth. The Seahawks didn't draft Gwacham because he is a finished product, but rather because the 6-foot-5, 249-pounder is athletic enough to have played receiver and been on the track and field team at Oregon State. Big men who can move that well are among the rarest commodities in sports, which is why the Seahawks were intrigued by Gwacham despite limited experience.
"Each and every day I'm out there, I'm learning something new," he said. "I'm learning new technique, something that will allow me to maximize my potential, so I'm taking it all in, I'm learning as much as I can and trying to put my foot on the pedal right now."
As for the effort part of the equation, Gwacham is glad that has shown up to his coaches, because it has been a big focus of his. If Gwacham is going to make the team, it's not going to be because he takes Cliff Avril's starting job, but rather because he shows he is a hard worker who can contribute on special teams right away and have potential to be an effective pass-rusher down the road.
"The coaches here, they talk about effort just about every single day, so I try to put forth my best effort every single day," said Gwacham, who was born in Nigeria and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 7. "I try to chase the ball if it's 30, 40 yards down the field. I definitely want to show the coaches that I can be that person."
In addition to showing effort on the field, Gwacham is also putting a lot of effort into eating well, and eating a lot. Right now he says he fluctuates between 243 pounds and his listed weight of 249, but the goal is to play at 270 pounds. The man who describes himself as "Chipotle's number 1 customer"—seriously, that's the entirety of his Twitter bio—has "been getting after it, eating as much as I can, trying to put on as much weight as I can as soon as I can." And he's open to suggestions for new restaurants in the Seattle area, so hit him up at @obumg.
With the 209th pick the Seahawks choose Obum Gwacham from Oregon State.
The hope is that a few more pounds, as well as more time to learn his craft, will help Gwacham go from raw to polished, but until then he'll continue to work on making an impact with his effort and his play on special teams.
"He's done a great job on special teams," Carroll said. "Because he's such a new player to the position we have to be patient with his growth. One thing we know is he's going to come and bring it, he's going to bring the effort and chase the football like crazy. He's long and he's fast, there's a lot of potential there."