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Seahawks OC Waldron shares 1st impression of rookie class

May 17, 2023, 11:05 AM

Seattle Seahawks rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba...

Seattle Seahawks WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba at Seahawks rookie minicamp on Friday, May 12, 2023. (Photo by Seattle Sports' Taylor Jacobs)

(Photo by Seattle Sports' Taylor Jacobs)

The Seattle Seahawks made 10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft last month, and over the weekend they got to see those 10 players up close at rookie minicamp.

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Seattle made five picks each on offense and defense, and you can bet that offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was excited to get those five new offensive players in the mix.

Waldron joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday to share his first impressions of the Seahawks’ rookie class.

WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

The Seahawks made two picks in the first round, going first with Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon at No. 5 overall.

At No. 20, Seattle added to its receiver room with Ohio State standout Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a 2021 All-American.

“Jaxon has been great. It’s fun to get the whole rookie class in here right away and get those guys in for rookie minicamp and then staying around with the us as Phase 2 continues here,” Waldron said. “Jaxon has fit right in. He’s gonna be a guy that’s going to pick the offense up right away.

“He’s already got such a good natural feel for the defense, for coverages, how to get open, get in and out of routes. And I think even though there’s some stuff where we’re progressing him into the mix right here, you can already see some of those things flashing, even in the walkthrough settings.”

RBs Zach Charbonnet and Kenny McIntosh

In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Seahawks selected Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III in the second round, and he promptly ran for over 1,000 yards.

Armed with two second-round picks once again, the Seahawks drafted another running back in the second round this year. This time, that was UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet.

“I think Zach is a true pro right away. He’s gotten in the building and really been about his business,” Waldron said. “And again, a guy that’s really showed up. I know it’s kind of tough for the different things those guys are getting pulled in all sorts of directions in the leading up to the draft, but man, this guy came in in great shape ready to work, and you can tell that he’s a guy that will be able to work 24/7.”

The Seahawks later added Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh to the fold in the seventh round, giving Seattle a four-man group of Walker, Charbonnet, McIntosh and fourth-year back DeeJay Dallas.

“I think that second running back is, in my mind, just as important as any starter on the field right there just knowing the landscape of the league and a 17-game season-plus and knowing that the ground and pound can can take its toll on some guys,” Waldron said. “I think having balance and having multiple guys with Zach and DeeJay Dallas is going to push him with everything he’s got and he’s been doing a great job and then Kenny McIntosh coming in the door, I think that second and third running back, those guys get in, they play a lot, they contribute on special teams, and it’s an important part going back to your original point of our identity on offense and the ability to have a guy that can run it just like the starter would be.”

G Anthony Bradford and C Olu Oluwatimi

Most of the Seahawks’ Day 3 picks were used on beefing up the trenches on both sides of the ball.

On offense, that was adding LSU guard Anthony Bradford in the fourth round and Michigan center Olu Oluwatimi in the fifth round.

“I think both Olu and Anthony, you can tell those are guys that came from big programs and have played in the national spotlight there,” Waldron said. “So when they came in here, I don’t think it felt like it was too big for them. They were just able to slide right in and really get their their grasp on a new system.”

So what’s stood out with those two?

“Anthony is just an impressive physical guy as far as a big offensive lineman that really shows that ability to bend and play underneath defenders,” Waldron said. “It’ll be exciting to add him into the mix of the competition with what we feel like is a pretty good group of interior players already on the roster.”

With Oluwatimi, a big part of his came is “control” at the line of scrimmage because of what the center position requires.

“At that center position, knowing that’ll be a great competition with him and Evan (Brown) and Joey (Hunt) there to take that starting center role,” Waldron said. “So the first thing we’re looking for is what type of command and control that player can have, and he’s really demonstrated all those things in the early stages.”

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