Seahawks TE Sullivan details emotional draft day experience, his skill set
Just when it looked like the Seahawks were done drafting, they made a late trade in the seventh round, shipping a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins so they could add Stephen Sullivan.
Sullivan, a tight end from LSU, was surprised by the selection as he expected to become an undrafted free agent. If he did gt picked, he thought it was going to be by the Miami Dolphins. Sullivan told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant that he was going through a lot of different emotions during the final round of the draft before he got the call from Seahawks general manager John Schneider.
“I didn’t even want to watch it no more. So I was outside talking to my roommate and we were just saying how I could just find a team and work my butt off as a free agent – and I’m going to do the same since I got drafted also – but just work my butt off as a free agent and find the team that fits me,” he said. “And I was already at peace with that, that’s just where my mind was. My mind was just me being a free agent.”
Sullivan said he wasn’t just ready to turn the TV off, he was ready to throw it “out the window.” That anger soon turned to relief and joy as Schneider gave him the news that would change his life.
“I was so excited because like I said before, in my mind, I was already a free agent,” Sullivan said. “So when he called me and he told me (I was drafted), it was crazy”
Even a few weeks removed from the draft, Sullivan still has a hard time grasping that he’s now a professional football player who was selected in the draft.
“It’s been unreal, man. It hasn’t been able to really, really sink into me yet. I haven’t shed any tears yet,” he said. “I was just so excited that day that I really couldn’t even cry … I’m excited for it. I’m excited for the new chapter. I’m excited for everything.”
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 28, 2020
Sullivan’s story has been widely publicized since he became a Seahawk. His parents were both incarcerated while he was growing up and he experienced bouts of homelessness. He became a top high school player and actually lived with his high school quarterback’s family for three years.
“Growing up, I was always moving from house to house, moving from family to family and staying with different families, so it wasn’t really something that I wasn’t used to,” Sullivan told Danny and Gallant. “My quarterback’s family took me in my sophomore year of high school and I ended up staying with them my whole high school career and I left high school early just to get out of their house.”
Sullivan said he was never told by his friend’s mom that he needed to leave or that he was a burden on their family, but he felt he needed to get out on his own and start the next chapter of his life. He graduated high school early and enrolled at LSU, starting his collegiate journey.
While at LSU, Sullivan had 46 catches for 712 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a rushing score. A receiver in high school, Sullivan moved to tight end. When he was initially drafted, one of the Seahawks’ official social media pages listed him as a wide receiver. Head coach Pete Carroll said Sullivan will stay at tight end in the NFL.
“I’m all good for it. I have no problem playing tight end. I have no problem playing any position that helps the team at all,” Sullivan said. “I’m ready to learn under (quarterback Russell Wilson), I’m ready to learn under all those guys on offense. I’m ready to pick their brains. I’m excited about it and I have no problem putting my hand in the ground and getting dirty, so I’m ready for those mismatches and I’m just ready to get after it.”
Sullivan has the potential to be a major mismatch for opposing defenses given his size and speed combination. He’s 6-5 and weighs about 250 pounds, but he ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, third best of all tight ends. He also has extremely long arms, measuring in at 35 and 3/8 inches long.
Sullivan said that his speed and another trait make him unique.
“I would have to say me being my size, just my speed and my route running,” he said when asked what he was proud of in his game. “I know that a lot of guys my size and my height can’t really move how I move. I guess it’s God-given talent. I feel I move pretty quick and I run pretty decent for my size and for my weight.”
Those traits earned high praise from former Seahawks scout Jim Nagy, who now runs the Senior Bowl.
“They got a chance of really hitting on Stephen Sullivan,” Nagy told 710’s Tom, Jake and Stacy recently. “Going back to player comps, the first time I watched him he reminded me of (Raiders tight end) Darren Waller … For 6-5, he’s a really fluid, easy moving guy. Huge catch radius, long arms, can go up and get it”
Waller had a breakout season for the Raiders in 2019, catching 90 passes for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns.
Sullivan will join a loaded tight end room, featuring veterans Greg Olsen and Luke Willson, young guys Will Dissly and Jacon Hollister, as well as fellow 2020 draft pick Colby Parkinson and undrafted rookies Tyler Mabry (Maryland) and Dominick Wood-Anderson (Tennessee).
Listen to Danny and Gallant’s full interview with Sullivan, which features his best Ed Orgeron impression, at this link or in the player below.