Is DL Mike Morris the Seattle Seahawks’ next 5th-round gem?

Jun 13, 2023, 12:38 PM

Seattle Seahawks Mike Morris...

Seattle Seahawks rookie defensive lineman Mike Morris during minicamp. (Photo: Taylor Jacobs/Seattle Sports)

(Photo: Taylor Jacobs/Seattle Sports)

The Seattle Seahawks have had a knack for finding gems on defense in the fifth round in the NFL Draft.

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The obvious recent example is Tariq Woolen, who was unheralded and inexperienced at cornerback coming out of UTSA but took the league by storm in 2022, tying for the NFL lead with six interceptions and making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Before him, there was defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson in 2016, and most notably five-time Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman in 2011.

The Seahawks again went the defensive route in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and the player they selected is already garnering praise in the team’s offseason practice. Defensive lineman Mike Morris, who Seattle picked 151st overall out of Michigan, was shouted out after minicamp last week by head coach Pete Carroll.

“Mike did a really nice job, seriously,” Carroll said. “… He’s different than the other guys. He looks different, plays different, his range – he’s 6-6 and 297. You know, he’s gonna be a real factor. Mike’s a really good athlete and you can see he has really good timing to read (the) line of scrimmage, and he moves really well with blocks and stuff, which is a real plus for us.”

The big question with Morris is where he will play. He’s used to playing on the edge – the 5-technique in Seattle’s 3-4 front – but the Seahawks hope to utilize his size on the inside.

“He’s played a little bit of 5-technique for us but we’ve basically kept him inside,” Carroll said. “We want to see him make that transition. He’s been on the edge for most of his career, yet he has played the positions that we’re asking him to play but not as a focus spot. But now he just jumped right at it.”

Former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman sees Morris in a similar light to what Woolen turned out to be last year, as he shared Monday on Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“He’s kind of the X-factor,” Wyman said. “He’s somebody we don’t really know about, and the good news is I’m not expecting that much from him. There’s no pressure for him, at all.”

Hear the full conversation about Morris in the middle segment of this podcast:

In line with Wyman’s “X-factor” comment is how Carroll sees Morris.

“I always like different dimension guys because it brings something special. He’s unique, he’s different than the rest of the guys, and so we’ll see if we can find a good spot for him play,” the head coach said.

The Seattle Seahawks’ next Michael Bennett?

Where Morris could really make a difference is if he can put on additional weight on his 6-foot-6 frame.

“You’ve talked about his body before. He’s that guy that they’ve wanted him to get bigger,” Wyman and Bob co-host Bob Stelton said to Wyman. “His frame looks like it could accommodate more weight, and now especially (it would help) if they’re moving him inside there.”

Huard: The biggest adjustment for Seahawks rookie Mike Morris

Wyman is hopeful Morris could turn out to have a versatility similar to former Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who at 6-4 and 275 pounds was able to move inside and outside on the line with regularity.

“I think (Morris) can play in the 5-technique, and really even a little bit more inside – maybe a 3, which is just outside of the guard. It’s really interesting,” Wyman said. “… Supposedly he’s put 20 pounds on, and it doesn’t look it. … He could (eventually) be 310, 315. You don’t want to sacrifice speed, but the thing is, you’re moving from outside to inside (so speed) is a lot less necessary. … And the other thing, too, is that he has played out there. The story on him was that he wanted to be (Detroit Lions defensive end and 2022 No. 2 overall pick) Aidan Hutchinson – that was kind of his hero, saw him get drafted high and so he was kind of trying to be that guy at Michigan, and the Seahawks were like, ‘Nope, you’re gonna go inside.’ So it’ll be interesting to see how he plays, and maybe the comparison is Michael Bennett, both the versatility and the personality a little bit, too.”

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Is DL Mike Morris the Seattle Seahawks’ next 5th-round gem?