Seahawks rookie progress report: How all 11 draft picks grade out so far
As the Seahawks approached the 2019 NFL Draft, the team had just four picks. After trading defensive end Frank Clark to Kansas City just days before the draft, and some typical maneuvering by general manager John Schneider, the team ended the draft with 11 selections.
Some have been instant contributors, some have been disappointing and some are biding their time until their number is called. Heck, one guy isn’t even on the team anymore.
So with the Seahawks on bye this week and not in action until next Sunday when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles, how is the 2019 draft class doing? We graded each of the Seahawks’ 11 draft choices through the season’s first 10 weeks.
First pick: L.J. Collier, DE, TCU, first round, 29th overall
It’s not a secret that the Seahawks like to trade down in the NFL Draft, especially in the first round, so it wasn’t super surprising when Seattle traded down from pick 21 to 30 while also accumulating extra picks, and then traded pick 30 for pick 37 and even more selections.
While the team had traded their own first-round pick, they also had pick 29 from the Kansas City Chiefs in the Frank Clark deal. The defensive line was already a position of need before the Clark deal, so when the Seahawks used the 29th pick to take L.J. Collier, a defensive end from TCU, the name may have been a surprise but his position was not.
What has been surprising, however, is how little Collier is seeing the field given his notoriety as a first-round selection.
Before the team’s Monday night victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the pass rush from the defensive line was mediocre at best. The line, aside from defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, hasn’t generated much pressure this season, and had only 15 sacks through the team’s first nine games.
Surely that meant Collier would at least get some looks, right?
Collier has no sacks, no tackles for loss and just two total tackles this year. He has also been a healthy scratch in four of the team’s 10 games. And while he stood on the sidelines against the 49ers in street clothes, the Seahawks gave linebacker Shaquem Griffin snaps at edge rusher.
Collier did miss time in training camp and the preseason because of a sprained ankle in early August, and there’s always the possibility that Seattle is using this as a sort of redshirt season for Collier rather than rushing him into things, but the early results haven’t been very encouraging.
Seattle’s 2018 third-round pick Rasheem Green had a similar path last season and has contributed more this season, however, so maybe 2020 is when Collier starts to make his mark.
The grade: D
Second pick: Marquise Blair, S, Utah, second round, 47th overall
Many Seahawks fans had high hopes for second-round safety Marquise Blair, especially because of his reputation as a hard hitter in college.
The team needed to add to the safety position as Tedric Thompson has been inconsistent through his career, Lano Hill hasn’t seen much action and battled injuries and star safety Earl Thomas signed with the Baltimore Ravens in free agency.
There was hope that Blair and Bradley McDougald would open the season as the team’s starting safety tandem, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps the biggest reason was that Blair battled a hamstring injury during the offseason, and he left the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings with a back injury.
So aside from some plays on special teams, we didn’t see much of Blair until Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens, where he recorded eight tackles. But the next week against the Atlanta Falcons, Blair was arguably the team’s defensive MVP, racking up 11 tackles and forcing a fumble in the red zone. That earned him another start in Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When the Seahawks acquired safety Quandre Diggs from the Detroit Lions prior to the game in Atlanta, it wasn’t abundantly clear whether Blair would stay in the lineup. Diggs has played both safety and nickel corner throughout his career, and McDougald has been banged up in recent weeks. But when Week 10 rolled around, Blair was on the sidelines and Diggs and McDougald manned the back end of Seattle’s defense.
Blair is healthy, played well in the three games he started and will be ready if the situation arises, but with how well McDougald and Diggs played against the 49ers, Blair may have to make his mark on special teams the rest of the way barring an injury.
The grade: B+
Third pick: DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss, second round, 64th overall
DK Metcalf was the star of the 2019 NFL Combine.
Standing 6-foot-3, weighing just under 230 pounds and looking absolutely shredded, he tore up a number of different workouts. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, had a 40.5-inch vertical leap and a 137-inch broad jump. But there were issues, mainly about his durability – he had to redshirt his freshman year because of a foot injury and was limited to just seven games because of a neck injury in his last year at Ole Miss – and his route tree, as he mostly rand deep routes in college.
Metcalf was thought to be a first-round pick by many but slid to the end of the second round, where the Seahawks selected him with the final pick of round two (64). He was the ninth receiver taken in the draft.
Despite that, he has done nothing but impress over the first 10 games of the season and has arguably been the best rookie receiver in the league.
Mercalf has become a true No. 2 option in the passing game for quarterback Russell Wilson behind Tyler Lockett, and aside from two lost fumbles, has had about as good of a start to his NFL career as possible.
People who had high hopes for Metcalf may have seen him having a solid rookie season, but did they envision this? Through 10 weeks, he has 35 catches, 595 receiving yards and five touchdowns, and he could potentially reach 1,000 yards this year.
He had his best game of the season in Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he racked up six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a two-point conversion. Most of his statistics came in the fourth quarter and overtime, which shows the level of trust Wilson has in his big rookie wideout.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 4, 2019
Even with the acquisition of receiver Josh Gordon, Metcalf will still be both a deep threat as well as a weapon in the red zone, like we saw in Atlanta Week 8 when he had just two catches for 13 yards, but both were touchdowns. He is currently among the league leaders in red zone targets.
The grade: A
Fourth pick: Cody Barton, LB, Utah, third round, 88th overall
The Seahawks clearly liked what they saw with the 2018 Utah Utes defense, as they selected both Blair and his teammate, linebacker Cody Barton, who had 116 tackles in his senior season.
Barton played mostly inside linebacker during his time at Utah but did see some time at outside linebacker as well. He’s listed as middle linebacker Bobby Wagner’s backup on the Seahawks’ depth chart, but when K.J. Wright missed a play with an injury during Monday’s contest, Barton filled in on the outside for one snap.
Barton, however, has mostly made his mark on special teams. Before Seattle’s first loss of the season against the New Orleans Saints, Barton threw a ball that hit coach Pete Carroll in the nose. Carroll was shown on the sidelines with a gash and tape on his nose and joked afterwards that Barton was in his doghouse. Barton did make up for the pregame blunder, however, recovering a fumble on a botched punt return.
Overall, Barton has made five tackles this year to go along with the fumble recovery. He continues to be a frequent special teams contributor. According to @hawkschronicle on Twitter, Barton is tied for first on the team in special teams snaps with 195.
Barton will continue to get nearly all of his snaps on special teams unless Wagner, Wright or Mychal Kendricks get hurt, but he could make more of an impact on defense next season depending on Wright and Kendricks’ futures.
The grade: B-
Fifth pick: Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia, fourth round, 120th overall
The pick of West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings made a lot of sense at the time.
He had over 1,000 yards his junior year and had 13 touchdowns his senior year. He also had a relationship with Wilson, as Seattle’s quarterback coached Jennings on a YMCA basketball team when he was younger.
But once he got to Seattle, it sort of fell apart.
He struggled in the preseason and never played a snap in the regular season. When the team brought in Josh Gordon, the receiver room became too full and the team placed Jennings on waivers, hoping they could maybe sneak him onto the team’s practice squad.
That didn’t happen, and Jennings is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.
The Seahawks have had historically bad luck when it comes to drafting receivers in the fourth round under general manager John Schneider, and unfortunately, the Jennings selection wasn’t any different.
The grade: F
Sixth pick: Phil Haynes, OL, Wake Forest, fourth round, 124th overall
The Seahawks were excited to take a big offensive lineman from Wake Forest in the fourth round in guard Phil Haynes, but the team hasn’t gotten to see him in action very much.
Haynes was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list before the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery during the summer. He was activated Nov. 5 but was inactive Week 10 against the 49ers because of an ankle injury.
Haynes likely won’t be called into action anytime soon, so for now, it’s too hard to give him any sort of grade thus far.
The grade: Incomplete
Seventh pick: Ugo Amadi, DB, Oregon, fourth round, 132nd overall
Schneider and Carroll snagged another PAC-12 standout for the team’s third fourth-round selection when they took versatile defensive back Ugo Amadi.
Amadi has mostly played special teams this year and hasn’t had a defensive snap since Week 2, but he could be a bit of a Swiss Army Knife for Seattle’s secondary going forward.
Amadi played safety at Oregon while also returning punts, and Seattle has tried him out at both nickel cornerback and safety during the offseason and in practice. For now, he’s listed as a free safety on the Seahawks depth chart.
He’s been a force on special teams, making several tackles on kick and punt returns, and he’s constantly one of the first players downfield on a kickoff or punt. He’s fifth on the team in special teams snaps with 143.
He has eight tackles this year and went viral for a big, perfectly-timed hit he laid on the Minnesota Vikings’ punt returner during the preseason.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) August 19, 2019
After nickel cornerback Jamar Taylor’s rough start on Monday Night Football, maybe that opens the door for Amadi to play in the slot. But for now, he’s a solid special teams contributor.
The grade: B-
Eighth pick: Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, UW Huskies, fifth round, 142nd overall
The Seahawks didn’t have to look too far for the team’s fifth-round selection, as they stayed local with UW Huskies middle linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven.
Burr-Kirven was one of the best linebackers in the country during his senior year. He was a first-team All American, the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year and had 176 tackles to go along with two interceptions and four forced fumbles.
Burr-Kirven has appeared in all 10 games for Seattle this year as a special teams player and has six tackles as well as a forced fumble. He ranks third on the team in special teams snaps with 194.
BBK: at the start of that pile I had one hand on the ball. I was just…
Cody: who punched it out?!
Shaquem: (points at BBK) HE DID!
BBK: (simultaneously) I have no idea
me: this is amazing pic.twitter.com/DILS4yT28I
— Lydia Cruz (@TheLydiaCruz) September 11, 2019
He’s listed as K.J. Wright’s backup on the Seahawks’ depth chart, but Carroll has shown that if a linebacker leaves the field, Barton is his first choice to take those snaps.
Burr-Kirven will continue to be a major special teams contributor for the foreseeable future, and, like Barton, his future as a contributor on defense may be dependent on the futures of Wright and Kendricks.
The grade: C+
Ninth pick: Travis Homer, RB, Miami, sixth round, 204th overall
Running back Chris Carson has emerged as a top 10 back in the NFL, fumbling issues aside. Because of that, there isn’t much room for other backs to get many touches. Just ask last year’s first-round pick, Rashaad Penny.
So, the fact that rookie Travis Homer, the sixth-round selection out of the University of Miami, doesn’t have any rushing attempts or receptions this year is not surprising at all.
Currently, Homer is fourth on the depth chart behind Carson, Penny and C.J. Prosise, but he has been active in all 10 of the team’s games, which is something neither Penny or Prosise can say.
Homer has the potential to see a bigger role going forward this season, as he was the Seahawks’ kick returner for the opening kickoff in overtime Week 10 with Lockett on the sidelines nursing a leg injury.
While Lockett has been one of the better kick and punt returners since entering the league in 2015, he has emerged as the team’s true No. 1 receiver and is one of the best receivers in the NFL – he ranks fifth in receiving yards heading into the Week 11 bye with 793 and has six touchdowns – so maybe it’s time for him to give up those duties. He’s too valuable to the team’s offense to risk losing to special teams.
Maybe Homer takes over kick and punt return duty going forward.
The grade: C
10th pick: Demarcus Christmas, DT, Florida St., sixth round, 209th overall
The Seahawks won’t really know what they have with sixth-round pick defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas until next offseason.
Christmas was placed on the PUP list because of a back injury that sidelined him for the entire preseason and the team didn’t active him before the eligible window expired, meaning he can’t return in 2019.
Christmas started 38 games during his last three seasons at Florida State and finished his career with 105 tackles, including 3.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss.
One thing we do know is the man is all about holidays. Christmas was born on the 4th of July while his last name is self-explanatory.
The grade: Incomplete
11th pick: John Ursua, WR, Hawaii, seventh round, 236th overall
With Doug Baldwin’s impending retirement, there was some uncertainty with Seattle’s receiving group going into the 2019 NFL Draft. Clearly the team thought so too, as they selected three wide receivers, including John Ursua from Hawaii after they traded back into the draft in the final round.
In his final year at Hawaii, Ursua snagged 89 catches for 1,343 yards and 16 touchdowns in 13 games.
Ursua was one of the oldest draft prospects at 25 years old. He graduated from high school in 2012 and between high school and attending Hawaii, he took a mission trip to Paris and didn’t start his collegiate career until 2015, where he redshirted.
Some thought that Ursua could fight for playing time as a slot receiver since Baldwin was gone, but so far, he’s been active for just one game despite being healthy.
It’s tough to knock Ursua too much because of his low draft selection, as well as the emergence as Tyler Lockett as one of the best receivers in the league and fellow rookie Metcalf’s great start to the year. Maybe he’ll emerge as a weapon for Wilson next offseason.
The grade: C-