Rost: Superlatives for the Seahawks’ 8-player 2020 NFL Draft class
The Seahawks walked away from the 2020 NFL Draft with eight new players. Let’s take a different approach to get an idea of who they all are.
Here are six Seahawks superlatives.
Most likely to bring back the “boom”: LB Jordyn Brooks (first round)
Matter of fact, add “and the speed” to this superlative.
The decision to select a linebacker over a defensive end or another area of need brought Seattle its share of criticism and head scratching, but one thing seems certain about Brooks: the old school, hard-hitting linebacker brings exactly the type of athleticism and power Seahawks coach Pete Carroll covets on defense.
Brooks – whom ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. called “a tackling machine” upon his selection – racked up 20 tackles for loss in 2019 in addition to three sacks. Ex-scout and current executive director of the Senior Bowl Jim Nagy compared Brooks to fellow Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Seattle just took a guy that reminded me of Bobby Wagner when I watched him. Jordyn Brooks was one of the funnest players we watched this year for the @seniorbowl.
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) April 24, 2020
Most likely to get a head start: DE Alton Robinson (fifth round)
That’s because the Texas-born Robinson already has a few connections with both the Seahawks and in the Seattle area. He went to high school with cornerback Tre Flowers, but it was a former Syracuse teammate – linebacker Zaire Franklin – who inspired him to pursue training at a facility in Bellevue (Ford Sports Performance, coincidentally the same training facility used by Wagner and fellow linebacker K.J. Wright). It was at that facility that he started training with former Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril and got a bit of help understanding Seattle’s defensive scheme.
“At the facility I was training at, we would go like three times a day, six days a week,” Robinson said. “When I got work with Cliff it was one or two days out of the week, and it was very position specific, to like body mechanics and things like that, which will be the difference between getting to the quarterback and getting the sack, and getting close to the quarterback.”
Least likely to fall to Hawks (but still did): DE Darrell Taylor (second round)
Carroll and general manager John Schneider threw a couple names out when asked about guys they were surprised to have landed with their picks. Robinson and guard Damien Lewis were among those mentioned, but the most universally agreed upon surprise was Tennessee edge rusher Darrell Taylor.
Taylor was actually a day one consideration for the Seahawks, but the team went with Brooks instead at No. 27 overall. They knew Taylor wouldn’t be available for long on Friday, however, so they moved up from No. 59 to No. 48 in a trade with the New York Jets (giving up a third rounder in the process) to select the Vols rusher.
“That was a big deal because we thought maybe we had missed our chance in the sense that we really wanted to get him on the rush group (in the first round),” Carroll said Saturday. “When we were able to hang through it and get him, that was a big pick for us. As I go down the list, every guy (we drafted) had something kind of special to him.”
Most likely to push for starting time early: G Damien Lewis (third round)
There’s no real reason this list couldn’t include Brooks, Taylor, or any other number of the Seahawks’ new rookie class. There’s also no doubt in veteran right guard D.J. Fluker’s ability to hold his own in training camp, and the assumption is that Fluker would enter camp atop the depth chart. But Carroll and Schneider were asked specifically whether Lewis would push for starting reps, and one point was made clear: the competition is on at guard.
Making this tough for Lewis, though, is the fact that the starter he’ll have to overtake is under contract for this year and won’t be looking to give up his job any time soon. Not to mention the fact that Fluker has been a big part of Seattle’s success in the run game.
Still, Carroll didn’t mince words Friday.
“He won’t take a back seat to anybody,” Carroll said when asked whether Lewis will compete with Fluker right away. “He’s going to come in here and battle for it. We feel really good. That’s really part of the reason why we took him. We want him to come in here and battle to play. All of that competition will make us better.”
If Seattle loves both Fluker and Lewis on the line, is there a chance Lewis pushes for time at center? The offensive line will be one of the Seahawks’ more interesting position battles this offseason with nearly 20 players looking for a spot.
Most likely to surprise block a D-lineman: RB DeeJay Dallas (fourth round)
Dallas’ stats at Miami (693 yards on 115 carries) don’t jump of the page quite the same way as a guy like Jonathan Taylor, who racked up over 2,000 rushing yards for Wisconsin in 2019. But Dallas wasn’t the workhorse for Miami’s offense (fellow Canes running back Cam’Ron Harris had 114 attempts) and that’s not really his bread and butter. It’s his versatility that intrigues Seattle. Dallas played quarterback, receiver, running back, defensive back and return specialist in high school, and he had experience at receiver while at Miami.
“Our guys are really excited about him on special teams,” Carroll said of the Miami fan favorite. “He’s a guy with a really big attitude and personality about it and try hard and effort and all of that. That was the mix. He’s been a wildcat guy back there in the backfield. That just adds to the makeup that he brings that makes him unique. That’s kind of the guys that we love to fall for. Hopefully he will contribute in many ways. Versatility is a big deal with him.”
But there’s one note from a scouting profile on Dallas that stands out: NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah called Dallas the best pass-protecting running back in the draft, something on display in this video.
“My favorite part of third down situations is protecting the quarterback,” Dallas told a pool of Seattle reporters shortly after being drafted. “You get to kind of get to enforce your will upon the other guy across from you.”
Most likely to win fans over: WR Stephen Sullivan (seventh round)
The Seahawks were off the board completely after selecting Florida wide receiver Freddie Swain in the sixth round, but Schneider couldn’t leave the seventh round without a pick. As a result, Seattle traded a 2021 sixth rounder to Miami to jump back into the draft and select LSU wide receiver/tight end Stephen Sullivan at No. 251 overall.
The draw toward Sullivan had been in the works for awhile thanks to a conversation between Carroll and LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, who was assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator under Carroll at USC. Orgeron promise Carroll that Sullivan would become one of his favorite guys.
“I got connected, really through Coach O, as we talked about his guys, and this story, he lit up about this kid,” Carroll said.
It’s easy to see why Sullivan’s story would win over fans and coaches alike. The Texas native struggled with homelessness as a child – at one point, an 11-year-old Sullivan and his brother spent some nights sleeping under a bridge.
“I had a special eye on him throughout the time, and was hoping we would figure out a way,” Carroll said. “We couldn’t have waited a whole lot longer to pull it off. Fortunately, John made a great move late and gave us a chance to get him in the program. (Sullivan) was so excited and so pumped up about it, just like Ed had said he would be. Ed told me he was going to be one of my favorite guys. All of that added in. He’s a marvelous talent. We’ll see if we can find a good way to make it come to life and come to the front. It surely is going to be on us, because he’s going to do his part. He has so much energy for it, such a great motor. A really good guy to bring into the program.”
👏 THAT'S a reaction! 👏 @SJS_10 is coming to the PNW!
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 25, 2020
“It feels great. It feels like I’m wanted, and it brings that fire to me,” Sullivan said of Seattle trading back into the draft to select him. “It feels like I need to go in there and prove myself. I have to go in there and give them 110% every single day. They believe in me. I appreciate them for believing in me and believing in my talent. I’m ready to get to work and I’m ready to win a Super Bowl, honestly. I’m ready to get to it, for sure.”
More Seahawks draft coverage
• Clayton: How the Seahawks’ 2020 draft class points to a transition
• Moore: 10 takeaways from the Seahawks’ draft
• Groz: Draft was a badly needed break of ‘business as usual’
• Just two Huskies, one Cougar taken in draft
• Rost: The 2020 Seahawks’ draft – quintessentially unpredictable