The Seahawks selected four defensive backs with their first eight draft picks not as part of some master plan to build a second version of the L.O.B., but rather because that’s where they saw value at that stage of the draft.
Even so, when Shaquill Griffin, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson and Mike Tyson all took the field together during Seattle's rookie minicamp, or when they stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the sideline while not on the field, it's hard not to wonder just how big of a role they'll have in Seattle's future.
"Yeah, they're kind of hanging together and I think that's a good thing for them to do," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said following the final practice of minicamp. "These guys are leaders from their own programs, and you could tell that they're all real serious and aware that this is a chance for them to do just that, and to be a kind of formidable accent to our football team and however that works out. All four of them were impressive. It was very good. It's kind of fun to see them in the group. You can kind of picture them coming up in years to come. Very good."
Carroll talks about the impact those players can make "in years to come" rather than speak in immediate terms because he knows how tough it will be for some, if not all, of those rookies to see significant playing time on defense this year. That's no knock on their ability, but rather a reflection of what is currently on the roster. While Griffin has a real shot to compete for a starting job at right cornerback in part due to DeShawn Shead's knee injury, he's still going to have to hold off challenges from veterans like Jeremy Lane and Neiko Thorpe, and eventually Shead, to win that job. As for the other three starting spots in Seattle's secondary, they're manned by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, players who between them have earned Pro Bowl honors 13 times, and All-Pro honors 10 times (six first-team, four second-team). The Seahawks also added safety Bradley McDougald in free agency this offseason, another talented player they see as a potential big contributor, so yes, playing time could be tough to come by, but even so, it's easy to see those four rookies together on the field and picture a time when they're core members of the defense.
"The DB group, those four guys all playing together, it's kind of like the Beatles or something, they're kind of growing up together," Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday before catching himself. "I don't know if they're like the Beatles, I'm not sure about that.
"They're going to have trouble (overtaking veterans for jobs), but they're going to have a chance to really be a factor I think. They're all really sharp, and they've already kind of banded together in preparation for the older guys."
Rookies only arrived in Seattle last week, but already the quartet of rookie defensive backs have started to form a bond. In some cases, they had a head start on process, both by playing against each other in college, and in the case of Hill and Thompson, by training together in Florida before the draft.
"We're all close," Hill said. "We talk every day, morning 'til night. We're with each other all the time, so we've got to be comfortable with each other… Once you're comfortable with somebody, you communicate well—you've got to communicate on the back end—and everybody can be on the same page."
Added Griffin: "Yeah, some of them I already knew, got a chance to meet with during the process. But I feel like our whole group, everybody's who's here, I feel like it's a whole group of great guys. You can see it in the locker room. You know everybody is comfortable talking to each other and having fun. It makes practice so much easier because everybody is out having fun. Everybody's starting to get close to each other, it's not just the DBs, but I feel like as a group who's all here, everybody's that's here they're pretty great guys."
Tyson, who Hill described as the jokester among the rookie DBs, a label he can't argue, played against Griffin in college, and he too sees a closeness forming among that group.
"Going through this process, we saw each other here and there, and we clicked," Tyson said. "And then we ended up on the same team, it's just a blessing."
Photos from the third and final day of Seahawks rookie minicamp at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.