O’Neil: What we’re still trying to figure out after the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp
After taking stock of what we learned from the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp, here’s a look at what we’re still trying to figure out:
Can you teach grit?
Malik McDowell has the athletic makeup of a first-round pick. He’s also got what some scouts evaluated as a third-round heart. The fact McDowell acknowledged that he wasn’t surprised to be chosen in the second round shows that he has an understanding that a sub-par junior season caused him to slide in the draft order. Now, we’re going to see if he has the perseverance and determination to exceed expectations. The Seahawks are betting that their coaching staff – and just as importantly, their culture – can keep McDowell’s motor revved when the going gets tough. One thing is for sure: McDowell is joining one of the more ruthlessly competitive position groups on the team. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril aren’t the room-mother types who are going to nurture a rookie’s sensitive side, and you can bet that Frank Clark and Jarran Reed are determined not to lose playing time to the physically gifted newcomer. McDowell must show some perseverance and some self reliance if he’s going to fulfill all that athletic potential.
Is there going to be a generation gap on the 2017 Seahawks?
Sure looks that way. It actually started last season with the 15 rookies the Seahawks kept on their 53-man roster to begin the season. Now comes another strong rookie class filling in behind a starting lineup that remains largely unchanged. The Seahawks are not rebuilding, but they are reloading behind the core of players that have brought the franchise so much success these past five seasons. That creates the possibility of friction both from veterans who are watching the franchise prepare for a future that may not include them and the young players who may not get as much playing time as they would like right away because of those veterans.
Why do the Seahawks so often switch positions for their draft picks?
It’s not just Ethan Pocic playing right tackle after spending most of his college career at center. It’s also Mike Tyson, a college safety whom the Seahawks are looking at on the outside as a cornerback. In an even more extreme example, it’s Cyril Grayson, a college sprinter at LSU whom the Seahawks are trying at receiver and kick returner. It seems an odd approach in some respects to think that moving a guy into an unfamiliar spot will result in some big leap forward, but there have been enough examples of the Seahawks tapping into a previously unknown well of potential that you can’t knock it. After all, Red Bryant, J.R. Sweezy and Justin Britt are all evidence to the value of position switches. Then again, Jameson Konz, Eric Pinkins and Kristjan Sokoli are not.