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Six Takeaways From Seahawks 2018 Rookie Minicamp

The Seahawks wrapped up their rookie minicamp Sunday, three days of practice that head coach Pete Carroll described as “a really fun camp with these guys. I thought we really captured the right tempo and the opportunity to see a lot of stuff. Maybe the best we’ve had. I think it helped us having the number of guys that we had so the depth chart kind of worked in our favor—we didn’t wear guys out too much. It was really one of the better ones we had.”

Carroll met with the media Sunday afternoon to recap the three days of work; here are six takeaways from Carroll’s press conference and from the three days of action on the field:

1. First-round pick Rashaad Penny impressed as a pass-catcher.

Rashaad Penny led the nation in rushing last year, piling up 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns for San Diego State, and while the Seahawks made him their first-round pick in large part to help the ground game, Penny also showed this weekend that he can be a weapon in the passing game as well.

“He caught the ball beautifully, really,” Carroll said. “He can do whatever we need to do in the throwing game. Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer) did a nice job of mixing some stuff in so we could see him doing different route concepts, so we had a real good variety of things that we looked at in and out of the backfield. With a couple of exceptions, he did a really good job. So that’s a real good sign. We’re going to work real hard with his pass protection and make sure that he’s up to speed there. We’d like to see if we can make him available to us on all three downs. Kind of like we use Chris (Carson).”

While pass protection wasn’t one of Penny’s strengths in college, Carroll is confident they will get the running back up to speed in that element of the game.

“It’s a really interesting phase of the game,” he said. “The running backs who have not been called on to pass protect a lot, they’ll at times look like they are way out of whack with the pass pro, until they realize what it is—the physical part of what the blocking really calls for. Just through being dedicated to making sure he’s ready for the season, he’ll get a ton of work in camp. He won’t have any problems with it at all. He’s got a great body for doing it. He’s a tough kid. So it’s just a matter of getting in the reps, understand how physical they can be, the different types of styles of rushes they get. It really comes along rather quickly. Some guys always have the knack for being the tough guys in that situation, and we’ll find out about that. I don’t know that yet. But I’m not concerned that we’ll have enough time to get him ready to pass pro because he’s going to work real hard at it in camp.”

2. Quarterback Alex McGough “did a lot of good things.”

Carroll praised quarterback Alex McGough after Day 1 of rookie minicamp, calling him “one of the surprises of the day” and the seventh-round pick out of Florida International University only continued to impress over the next two days, showing a strong arm, mobility and accuracy on the move.

“He did a lot of good things,” Carroll said. “He can throw all the passes, he’s got a big arm, he moves real well. We’ve seen him move a ton in college. I was really anxious to see him in the pocket more because he was so in and out with all the pressure he had to deal with. I thought he was very positive. We’re excited about it. I don’t see any restrictions in the types of things we can do looking at his first few days. He took a lot of reps. I talked to him quite a bit about the fact that he has not been in the huddle. He’s not been under center much at all in his career. There’s a transition there, just about the verbiage and transferring his brain from the huddle to the line of scrimmage differently from when the coaches calling it on the sideline and everyone sees what the call is and they just go out and execute the play. He did very well.”

3. Cornerback Tre Flowers “had a really nice camp.”

It’s still very early in the process, but so far the move from safety to cornerback is going well for Tre Flowers, a fifth-round pick out Oklahoma State.

“He had a really nice camp here for us,” Carroll said. “His groin got a little sore today on day three. But he looked very comfortable, very equipped to do the kinds of stuff. The film that we got off the first couple of days of practice was really positive and we’re really excited about that.”

While Flowers appears to have all the physical traits the Seahawks like in a corner, he still has to learn the position, and as Carroll explained, the biggest part of that is having the discipline to play the position the right way.

“It’s believing in the discipline it takes to do it, and really finding that patience it takes to sit on the line of scrimmage and not be jittery and all of that,” Carroll said. “Guys think that they are supposed to go up there and beat the heck out of wide receivers and that’s what they think bump-and-run is. There is so much more to it than that. It’s the discipline it takes over time to develop the patience is really what the challenge is, if they are equipped. He’s got all of the tools that you’re looking for. He’s real long. He’s feet are really quick and light and he’s got terrific speed, and he’s already show all of the abilities to make the plays by playing safety for all of those years—the tackles, the hits and the plays on the ball and all of that. That’s not even a concern of mine. Can he take to the discipline of it? Will he sit there and understand how it works? He showed like he really understood right off the bat. So it was a very good demonstration of what the future could hold. I was really pleased with that.”

4. Carroll’s thoughts on defensive ends Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin.

While it can be tough to evaluate offensive and defensive line play during a minicamp practice without pads, Carroll has seen positives out of the two defensive ends the Seahawks picked last weekend, third-round pick Rasheem Green and sixth-rounder Jacob Martin.

“Rasheem, I think I said it the other day, you could see after the first day that he’s really well coached,” Carroll said. “You could see that he’s got a real sense for rushing the passer. His movements and kind of his transitions in and out of his movements—he’s an experienced kid for a 20-year old. So that means he’s been coached really well and he’s a good natural athlete. It’s really obvious in the camp. He looks like he would have a chance to do what we need him to do. It doesn’t look like he has a million miles to go. That was real exciting."

On Martin, Carroll said. “It’s hard to evaluate Jacob because he plays so hard. He’s a motor guy and a physical guy that runs and hits and does all that, and this camp is not really suited for that. He’s really smart. He showed attention to do the details as he’s picking it up. We’ll know more about him when we see him play. He’s got the potential to play other spots too. So there might be some outside backer in his future too. So we’ll work on that when we come back to camp.”

5. Shaquem Griffin “looked very comfortable, very natural” at weakside linebacker.

Carroll joked that on Day 1 of minicamp, linebacker Shaquem Griffin was going so hard, they had to “chill him out a little bit.” Overall, however, Griffin had a good first weekend playing weakside linebacker.

“He looked very comfortable, very natural,” Carroll said. “He has a sense already for scheme and terminology. The position is the right spot for him, it looks like. We can be aggressive and use his speed. He’s already shown some sense in the passing game and he had a couple really good plays adjusting to zone coverage and man coverage and things we’ve already seen. So those were good things to take away. And we can’t really get a feel at all for special teams but we know that that’s going to be a factor so we’re excited about that.”

6. Cyril Grayson Jr. and Tyrone Swoopes have made progress since their rookie seasons.

While the majority of players on the field this weekend were rookies, there were a few players on the field who had a bit more experience, a group that included receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. and tight end Tyrone Swoopes, who were both eligible to participate this weekend because they spent last season on the practice squad and not the active roster.

Carroll noted that Grayson, who ran track at LSU, “has come a million miles. He didn’t play football since high school. The fact that he took part in this camp here was just to give him more reps, more turns trying to catch up. He’s got a lot of ability, and he’s very natural. He’s a natural route-runner, he can get in and out of his breaks, he’s got terrific speed, and he catches the ball really well too for having a limited background. So he’s just right in the middle of the competition now.”

Swoopes was in a somewhat similar situation to Grayson last year, having a bigger learning curve than a typical rookie. While Grayson was playing catchup because he didn’t play college football, Swoopes had to learn a new position, making the move from quarterback, his position at the University of Texas, to tight end.

“Both Tyrone and Cyril are in similar situations, so every chance they get helps,” Carroll said. “Tyrone, he has had a really good offseason. He’s really strong, a lot stronger. He has never really prepared to be a tight end for an offseason; this year he was dedicated to it, and I think it really shows. So he’s going to have a chance to really battle for a spot here.”

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