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Seahawks’ DC: 2019 class ‘one of the best groups we’ve had in a long time’

Ken Norton Jr. is entering his second year as the Seahawks' defensive coordinator. (AP)

Ken Norton Jr. is in his second year as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, and this offseason, both he and head coach Pete Carroll will have their work cut out for them when it comes to whittling Seattle’s pool of young defenders.

How do Seahawks draft picks fit in their defense?

There are the Seahawks’ six defensive selections from the 2019 NFL Draft (defensive end L.J. Collier, safeties Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi, linebackers Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven, and defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas) as well as a pool of undrafted rookie free agents. Joining the competition – though not until OTAs later this month – are Seattle’s second- and third-year players.

For now, though, Norton is coaching up Seattle’s newest faces at the team’s rookie minicamp, which concluded Sunday.

“They all played well,” Norton told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton when asked about his takeaways from camp. “They came in with a certain mindset, that they wanted to learn and get better and improve. And I think they did that. From day one, they came in and I gave them some tasks and some goals and asked them some questions, and they were able to answer them with their play, with their ability to come together as a group and take it out on the field. And I think every single day they got better. So as a group, I think this has to be one of our best groups we’ve had in a long time.”

Listen to Norton’s full interview with Clayton in the audio clip embedded above. Here are some notable moments:

Who stood out? “Well, there’s three levels. Obviously our number one draft pick L.J. Collier, he’s as big and strong and twitchy and quick as advertised. Our linebackers in the middle, we really like Barton and Burr-Kirven, guys that are really smart, I think they’re really athletic, they played well together and they really want to get better. On the back end, Marquise Blair is a guy we really pin-pointed early on in the evaluation process as a guy we felt was electric, he was exciting, he was fast, he was slithery, and had great instincts. And everything we thought from our guys we drafted, we’re very happy with.”

On what he sees in L.J. Collier: “I see a young man whose got a really bright future ahead of him. He came in strong, he came in feeling really good, he came in eager to prove. Very happy with what we see and we think he’s going to really help us.”

Will any rookies have a chance to start? “The central theme of our program is competition. We had such a young team last year and that team has really grown up to be a really good second-year team. So I feel like these guys coming in, they’ll certainly compete, but it’s going to be a hard team to make because we’ve got a really strong class of guys.”

Last year’s group has taken big step: “That’s the plan; to have a great competition. Have the guys playing and making each other better, and finding ways to get better every day. We really feel like our team last year was such a young team, and they’ve really taken a big step going into this year, taking it to a another level. The confidence is good, and I think adding to our group this year —  our competition, our depth — we should be happy with the result.”

Which UDFA stood out at Seahawks rookie minicamp?

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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