By Danny O’Neil
One weekend on the job is too soon to offer any legitimate progress report let alone a grade, but after three days of work at Seahawks’ headquarters it’s time to offer you some lessons learned during Seattle’s rookie minicamp as well as some questions that still need to be unraveled.
Three things we learned:
1. Cassius Marsh’s conditioning = phenomenal
After the Seahawks drafted him in the fourth round out of UCLA, Marsh said that before his senior season, he lost 7 pounds participating in a Navy SEAL training course along with his teammates. He never did manage to gain that weight back in college, and he showed up in Seattle at 255 pounds. While he does expect to gain weight as a pro, that’s not going to come at the expense of his athleticism and his speed. Marsh was the “most active guy out there” at rookie minicamp, according to coach Pete Carroll, and Michael Bennett last year showed that size isn’t everything when it comes to Seattle’s defensive line. Marsh has both the conditioning and the technique to make an immediate push for playing time.
The Seahawks’ 2014 draft class:
|• Round 2: WR Paul Richardson||• Round 2: OT Justin Britt||• Round 4: DE Cassius Marsh||• Round 4: WR Kevin Norwood||• Round 4: OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis
||• Round 5: DT Jimmy Staten
||• Round 6: OT Garrett Scott||• Round 6: DB Eric Pinkins||• Round 7: FB Kiero Small|
2. Jimmy Staten’s conditioning = not phenomenal
Staten lost 10 pounds over the course of the three-day minicamp, according to Carroll. While that speaks positively of Staten’s effort level over the weekend, it also lets you know that the defensive tackle’s fitness isn’t where it needs to be to keep up with the pace of Seattle’s practices. This isn’t shocking. Coming from Middle Tennessee State, Staten is the only player drafted out of that school in the past three years, so there’s going to be a pretty steep jump in terms of the caliber of competition. Staten does, however, have a pretty good mindset. We’ll see if we can say the same of his conditioning when training camp starts.
3. Fullback is going to be a training-camp battle royal
Most NFL teams don’t use a fullback. The Seahawks have three on their roster, depending on how you count Spencer Ware. He’s last year’s sixth-round pick, someone the Seahawks see as an incredibly physical runner and whose rookie season was cut short by an ankle injury. While Ware may figure more as a ball carrier than this year’s seventh-round pick, Kiero Small, they’re going to be battling to earn a spot on the team along with Derrick Coleman, last year’s starter. As for Small? “He’s a legit fullback,” Carroll said. “He loves the position, and he has a sense for it and a real kind of chip on his shoulder about it. We’re hoping that he’ll be a real factor on the special teams as well. And he can catch the ball really well, too.” Don’t expect the Seahawks to keep more than five running backs, which means the trio of Coleman, Small and Ware likely will battle it out for two roster spots.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Where will Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood fit into the pecking order at receiver?
Richardson showed his incredible speed during the rookie minicamp while Norwood looked so very smooth, demonstrating the kind of polish you’d expect from a 25-year-old coming out of Alabama, the country’s top collegiate program. But will either of them finish with more receptions in 2014 than Jermaine Kearse? If so, which one? Because Kearse has emerged as a major target, someone who caught four touchdown passes in the regular season – all spanning 25 yards or more – and then tacked on two more in the postseason. One of those was among the most important: a 35-yard touchdown catch on fourth down in the NFC Championship Game. The other playoff score was among the most impressive as he broke five different tackles en route to a 23-yard touchdown in the second half of the Super Bowl. So while Richardson and Norwood are both obviously talented, and receiver will be among the most spirited training-camp competitions, there’s no guarantee that either of Seattle’s rookies will project to more than 20 catches in 2014.
More coverage of Seattle’s rookie minicamp:
|• O’Neil: Sorting through the Seahawks’ rookies||• O’Neil: WR Richardson makes quick introduction||• O’Neil: DL Marsh has Bennett-like versatility||• Henderson: QB Price is up for the challenge||• Photos: Day 1
| Day 2
2. What position will Eric Pinkins play?
The Seahawks drafted him with the hope he would play cornerback, but he finished up minicamp on Sunday playing safety, the position most expected him to play in the NFL. The Seahawks are looking to see where he’ll fit best, but in the meantime, there’s no doubt about his attitude. He said his first job is special teams, which is true for most of the rookies. What role he projects into on this defense is something that will be earned over time. At 6 feet 3, he’s as tall as Richard Sherman but with a much bigger build – like Brandon Browner with a bigger lower body. For now, it’s Pinkins’ ability on coverage units that will determine not just whether he’s on the field, but if he makes the 53-man roster.
3. What in the holy heckfire is wrong with offensive lineman Garrett Scott?
The team’s sixth-round pick out of Marshall did not pass his physical examination. Carroll didn’t specify what the concern was, but the fact that one week after being drafted Scott hasn’t been given a clean bill of health is obviously a concern. This is a danger accentuated when a team drafts a player not invited to the combine, something Seattle is known to do. A combine invitee goes through a battery of questions and, if requested, tests from medical personnel from all 32 teams. The process doesn’t guarantee that any pre-existing injury or physical concern will be diagnosed, but it’s much more likely to flag a concern than one team’s solo reconnaissance on an under-the-radar prospect like Scott.