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Carroll: Seahawks ‘found something special’ in 1st-round pick L.J. Collier

The Seahawks selected TCU DE L.J. Collier with the 29th overall pick Thursday. (Getty)

The Seahawks did just about everything you would expect from them in the first round of the NFL Draft.

NFL Draft tracker: Where the Seahawks stand after the 1st round

They traded back twice from their initial No. 21 pick, no surprise given how few draft picks they owned heading into the night (five). And they added to their defensive line, selecting a defensive end to fill a hole long since vacated by Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and more recently, by Frank Clark.

The defensive end they chose, however, was not expected: TCU’s L.J. Collier at 29th overall, a pick they acquired earlier this week when they traded Clark to Kansas City.

Granted, Collier is no reach, and he was far from the biggest surprise of the day. The 6-feet-2, 276-pound defensive end had a career-high six sacks last season and earned a First-Team All-Big 12 nod. Collier was projected as a second-round pick, taking knocks primarily for limited starting experience.

For Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, though, Collier brings plenty of intangibles. That combined with Collier’s Senior Bowl performance, versatility and aggressiveness seems to be what was behind Schneider’s summation of Collier as “just our kind of guy.”

“L.J. fits us,” Schneider said. “He’s a heavy-handed, tough, chip-on-his-shoulder guy. He lost his mother when he was a freshman in college and he didn’t play well in the last game that she saw. And he’s always used that (as motivation).”

Collier got the Seahawks’ call while in Frisco, Texas, surrounded by friends and family members.

“I didn’t know where I was going to go, but man, it’s truly an honor,” Collier said. “I really appreciate Coach Carroll and those guys up there that took a chance on me.”

Who is L.J. Collier?

Collier hails from Munday, Texas, a small town with a population of about 1,300.

“Everybody loves football out there,” Collier told reporters Thursday evening. “I graduated with 25 people and it was a great place to grow up. I loved it.”

TCU gave Collier his sole scholarship offer coming out of high school. He racked up 82 tackles, 14.5 sacks, and one interception in four seasons with the Horned Frogs. Collier’s senior season, his first as a full-time starter, was his most productive, with six sacks, 45 combined tackles (11.5 for loss), four passes defended, and 54 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

Collier described himself as a hard-nosed, physical player.

“I play every down. I’m not just a pass rusher, I’m an overall player,” Collier said. “That’s what I bring to the game. I get off the ball and I go 110 percent every time.”

How does Collier fit into Seattle’s defense?

Carroll said Collier will play 5-technique, and compered his skillset (and role) to that of former Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.

“He has the versatility and the style and the penetration ability,” Carroll said. “He’s really slippery. Terrific pass-rush makeup. So we’re going to fit him right into the scheme in that regard. And look forward to that, think it’s going to work out great… we think we’ve really got something special with him.”

WSU’s Andre Dillard, UW Huskies’ Kaleb McGary both picked in 1st round