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Seahawks Undrafted Rookie Free-Agent Success Stories

A look back at undrafted rookie free agents who have excelled in Seattle.

The Seahawks will hold a rookie minicamp this weekend at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, a three-day event that's expected to feature the eight players the team took in the 2015 NFL Draft.

But the 12 other players that agreed to terms with Seattle as undrafted rookie free agents are also expected to be on display.

That group includes long snapper Nate Boyer - a 34-year-old former Green Beret, strong safety Keenan Lambert - half-brother of Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor, offensive tackle Jesse Davis, wide receiver Austin Hill, strong safety Ronald Martin, linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, running back Thomas Rawls, cornerback Trovon Reed, linebacker Alex Singleton, defensive end Tory Slater, running back Rod Smith, and free safety Triston Wade.

Since Executive VP/General Manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll took over in 2010, the Seahawks have been a very good landing place for undrafted rookie free agents.

With rookie minicamp about to get underway, we thought it would be nice to take a look back at success stories Schneider and Carroll have enjoyed via acquiring players on the NFL's undrafted free-agent market. Time will tell if there's another Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse lurking in the Seahawks' 2015 undrafted free-agent class.

WR Doug Baldwin

Undrafted out of Stanford in 2011, Baldwin led the Seahawks in receiving his rookie year, when he made 51 grabs for 788 yards and four touchdowns. He was again the team's top receiver this past year, when he made a career-high 66 catches for a career-high 825 yards and three scores. He's emerged as one of the team's go-to targets on the all-important third-down and has even factored into the team's punt and kickoff return game.

WR Jermaine Kearse

A former Washington Husky and native of Lakewood, Wash., Kearse joined the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie in 2012. He started the season on the practice squad, but that October was promoted to the active roster, where he's stayed the past two seasons. He started 14 of the 15 games he played in 2014, recording career highs in catches (38) and yards (537). He made three grabs for 129 yards and a touchdown in the team's divisional-round playoff win over the Carolina Panthers this past January and hauled in the game-winning 35-yard touchdown in overtime of the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers.

WR Chris Matthews

Originally undrafted out of Kentucky in 2011, the wideout signed a reserve/future contract with Seattle following the team's Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the Denver Broncos in February 2014. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Matthews spent two years with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, earning the Most Outstanding Rookie Award in 2012. He was on the Seahawks' practice squad this past season and signed to the active roster in December. His first NFL catch came in Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots, when Matthews made four grabs for a game-high 109 yards and a touchdown - a performance that came one week after he recovered a pivotal onside kick in the team's conference title win over the Packers. After the 2015 NFL Draft, Pete Carroll said he expects the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Matthews to be the "big receiver" in Seattle's offense moving forward.

WR Ricardo Lockette

He signed with the Seahawks in 2011 as an undrafted rookie out of Fort Valley State, but didn't stick on Seattle's active roster until midway through the 2013 season following a one-year stint with the division rival San Francisco 49ers. Lockette appeared in all 16 games as a reserve receiver for the Seahawks last year, tallying 11 catches for 195 yards and two touchdowns - all career-highs. With his straight-line speed, he's excelled as a 'gunner' on the Seahawks' special teams unit, where he's made seven tackles and forced two fumbles the past two seasons.

Photos of the Undrafted Free Agents the Seahawks signed after the draft.

OL Garry Gilliam

He was part of the Seahawks' undrafted free-agent class last year after playing tight end and offensive tackle at Penn State. He was active for 14 games in 2014 as a reserve offensive lineman and special teams contributor. Gilliam made a name for himself in this past January's NFC Championship, when he found himself on the receiving end of a 19-yard touchdown pass from Seahawks punter Jon Ryan on a fake field goal, a play that sparked the club's come-from-behind victory against Green Bay. In 2015, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable said he would like to see Gilliam battle this year's fourth-round picks Terry Poole and Mark Glowinski for the team's "swing" O-line spot, reserved for a player who can jump in and play guard or tackle in a pinch.

CB DeShawn Shead

He joined the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie in 2012 after starting for four years in the defensive backfield with the Portland State Vikings. He began 2013 on Seattle's practice squad and was promoted to the active roster that November, appearing in 21 games the past two seasons, including all 16 matchups last year. Most of his snaps have come on special teams, but at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds he's provided depth at both cornerback and strong safety, starting the first game of his career this past November in place of an injured Kam Chancellor and Jeron Johnson.

LB Mike Morgan

He's another player who signed in Seattle as an undrafted rookie in 2011 after playing part of his USC career under Pete Carroll. He's been a key contributor on special teams ever since, racking up 19 tackles and returning a blocked punt for a touchdown.

FS Dion Bailey

Another USC product, Bailey joined the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He spent training camp in Seattle, but was waived with an injury ahead of the regular season. Bailey signed to the Seahawks' practice squad last November and inked a reserve/future contract with the club this past February.

LB Brock Coyle

The 6-foot-1, 243-pound Coyle signed with the Seahawks after going undrafted in 2014 out of Montana, where he led the Grizzlies in tackles his junior and senior seasons. Coyle impressed through the 2014 preseason and was able to secure a spot on the team's 53-man roster. His rookie-year snaps were primarily spent on special teams, but he did fill in for Bobby Wagner when the middle linebacker first suffered a toe injury against the Dallas Cowboys.

S Jeron Johnson

Johnson signed with the Washington Redskins in free agency this offseason, but he originally entered the League with the Seahawks in 2011 as an undrafted rookie out of Boise State. Through his four seasons in Seattle, Johnson served as the primary backup to both free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor. He also played valuable snaps on special teams.


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