The Seahawks wrapped up a three-day rookie minicamp Sunday, and while there are always some inevitable miscues when so many players take the field for the first time together, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was very encouraged but he saw overall from his team's rookie class.
"We had a terrific weekend," Carroll said. "This was really fun. So many good things showed from the kids coming in and some of the free agent kids as well. Attitude was great. Their buy-in to make this a really successful camp worked out just the way we hoped. So we saw a lot of good things. I'm not coming out seeing a lot of negatives, which I don't anyways… I was really fired up and I think the draft class just showed the kind of stuff that we would like to see in this camp in general—really serious intent about learning and understanding what we want and trying to take that to the practice field from the meetings. We gained a lot out of this and really good first step with the young class."
In addition to Carroll's overall positive assessment, here are seven things that stood out Sunday and over the entire minicamp:
1. Seattle's two drafted defensive linemen made a good first impression.
Seahawks second-round pick Malik McDowell was noticeable throughout minicamp not just because of his 6-foot-6 stature, but also because of his play and his athleticism for that size.
"He's a different looking athlete than we've had," Carroll said. "So his stature—he's taller, longer than guys we've been able to coach. He's really quick. He understands what we're talking about. We played him a lot at the five-technique spot just so that we could see him there. He looks really natural in his movement and kind of his coordination. So we saw nothing but great stuff. It was a highly successful weekend and him showing us what we're getting so it was fun to see that."
McDowell was often on the field with third-round pick Nazair Jones, a combination that the Seahawks hope can be a big part of their future, with the two offering different skillsets that could both prove valuable.
"They're really different, they're totally different guys," Carroll said. "Naz is really a guy we picture to play three-technique and back up at nose and be a big, heavy dude on first and second down, that's what we're looking for. We think we can teach him pass-rush stuff and advance his game there, but really, we want to see if we can make him a first- and second-down guy. He's really long, he's 300-something, and he's got good quickness to him as well, and he's a nice athlete. So we see a really good package there. I really see that he could fit into the rotation as adding that big element that we like. He'll also play five-technique at times against teams that are really hammering the football and want to run it a lot. It'll be a while before that occurs, but they're really different in that regard, they're different in what they bring us."
2. Second-round pick Ethan Pocic impressed, but so too did undrafted lineman Jordan Roos.
Ethan Pocic, one of Seattle's two second-round picks, worked at right tackle in this minicamp, and while there's a good chance he'll stay there for a while, Carroll is still open to moving Pocic around because the former LSU center is so versatile.
"He can fit in all three spots," Carroll said. "One of the things—he's played a lot of center, he's played the next most at guard, and then at tackle. So we wanted to make sure we could see him at tackle. He had no problem. All of the film we watched, it was always impressive how from game to game or even within the game he could demonstrate that he was comfortable at other spots. He's got a really good background. He was raised great by their program. He's technique-sound. He's very bright. He can make a new concept or the way we may talk about a scheme or technique just come to life for you. So, we'll see how this goes but we know we have flexibility. That's why he was our favorite guy in the draft because he could play anywhere. He looked very comfortable at right tackle. So we'll see how this goes. We would most likely keep him on the right side for right now but he's played on both so that's not an issue either. He'll continue to work at center, thinking that he could be a backup for us there. We'd like to see how he does at guard and tackle, starting with the tackle spot. So we'll see what happens."
But while Pocic and tackle Justin Senior were the only offensive linemen Seattle drafted, they're not the only rookie linemen with a chance to make the team. Right after the draft, Carroll and general manager John Schneider talked about how excited they were to land Purdue guard Jordan Roos as an undrafted free agent, and that excitement was only backed up by what they saw on the field this weekend.
"Yeah, I really liked Jordan Roos," Carroll said when asked if any undrafted free agents stood out. "I thought he looked really good. That was a really important signing for us, we had targeted him through the draft, and we weren't able to get him, but he looks like he fits right in. I was really, really happy about that, because we're trying to keep that whole position as competitive as possible. He looks like he'll be able to battle, I'm talking with the guys who are going to do the playing, so I think he made a great first impression. We've got to get the pads on for those guys, which is a long ways away, but his first impressions were excellent in this thing."
3. The defensive backs might have a bright future in Seattle.
Four of Seattle's first eight picks were defensive backs, and those four players, Shaquill Griffin, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson and Mike Tyson, have already started to form a bond together off the field while also showing skills on the field that could help the Seahawks this year and beyond.
"Yeah, they're kind of hanging together and I think that's a good thing for them to do," Carroll said. "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 a be a kind of formidable accent to our football team, 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."
4. Second-year receiver Kenny Lawler "had a really good camp."
Because Kenny Lawler, a seventh-round pick in 2016, spent last year on the practice squad, he was one of several veterans allowed to take part in minicamp. Lawler's experience, as well as a bit more weight put on in the offseason, helped him stand out throughout the weekend.
"Kenny had a really good camp," Carroll said. "Kenny came back maybe 15 or 17 pounds heavier than he was when he came here last time around. He just has worked out really hard, he's more powerful coming off the football and running. He has always had great catching range and skill catching the football. This camp was really good for Kenny, because he really shined throughout the whole thing. We can see him differently than we saw him last year at this same time, so that's really good for him."
5. The experienced players helped things operate more smoothly.
Lawler was one of several players who has past experience with the Seahawks, but who could participate in rookie minicamp because they lack regular-season experience. And the presence of players like Lawler, quarterback Jake Heaps, center Will Pericak, tight end Marcus Lucas, linebacker Kache Palacio and defensive end Tylor Harris helped everyone else function better in what can be a challenging practice environment.
"It makes a big difference, those guys really just quickly assume the leadership in their positions they just are so much more familiar, you can see them helping the younger guys," Carroll said. "It's really a great opportunity for those guys to express themselves, and they did a really good job, it really gives us a continuity. Jake is always just so on his stuff that he really elevates the play of people around him. That's what those guys basically do."
6. The Seahawks have decisions to make at quarterback.
The Seahawks had three quarterbacks take part in this weekend's minicamp, Heaps, recently-signed undrafted rookie free agent Skyler Howard, and Tennessee Tech's Michael Birdsong, who was participating as a tryout player. After watching all three quarterbacks this weekend, Carroll said Birdsong actually graded out the best and that the Seahawks will have tough decisions to make.
"Jake has always been a guy we really like, he has been really good for us and we can really count on him," Carroll said. "Skyler did a nice job, worked at it. These guys coming under center a lot more makes a difference to them. I thought Birdsong did very well. Probably graded out the best of those guys in terms of completions percentage and things like that. He competed well to show there, he threw some really good footballs. So they did good stuff, we've got decisions to make."
7. Rookie minicamp is "refreshing and fun" for coaches.
Coaching a group of rookies who all arrived only a day before minicamp began is a very different challenge than coaching veterans who know the system well and are used to playing with each other. And while a practice full of veterans is bound to run more smoothly than what took place this weekend, Carroll and his coaching staff enjoy the different challenge of bringing these young players together for the first time.
"It very much is (a fun challenge)," Carroll said. "Like we go out here today and we move the ball up and down the field to simulate like you're playing and see how they react to situations, but that's after three days of work, you know? But it is kind of a weekend with the fellas, working it out and all that and then coming together at the end of it, and they did very well. It is really fun for the coaches. These guys are so eager, you know, and they're just so ready. I can't tell you how early they are to meetings and we're all waiting here for the time to come out to practice so they're just ready and raring to go. It's really refreshing and fun for all of us."
Photos from the third and final day of Seahawks rookie minicamp at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.