Predicting Which Seattle Seahawks Rookies Will Make 2014 Roster
The Seattle Seahawks concluded their three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday, as Pete Carroll and Company got a first look at the team’s 2014 rookie class.
For the past two seasons, the Seahawks have stockpiled great depth and have been forced to leave some good players off their final 53-man roster. This year promises to be no different, as Seattle had another strong draft and signed a couple of undrafted free agents who will seriously challenge for a roster spot.
A lot can happen in practice before the beginning of the season, but the rookie minicamp gave an initial idea of who has a good chance of making the final roster and who might be left out.
The Seahawks lost some key depth pieces during the offseason, meaning several of these rookies will make the final cut.
Just Missing the Cut
The Seahawks may have lost some depth in free agency but are still a fairly deep team. That means there will be a fierce battle for roster spots in some positions.
Several of these battles will involve rookies and a few talented ones will be cut. These rookies could easily catch on with other teams or the practice squad but will be on the wrong side of the Seahawks’ cut line come decision time.
Dion Bailey, S
Bailey was a surprise snub, as the talented safety from USC was expected to go in the later rounds before ultimately being brought in by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. He consistently made impact plays with the Trojans from both the linebacker and safety positions, including five interceptions in 2013.
The one knock on Bailey is his speed, as he was successful at the nickel position in college but might struggle with the transition to covering NFL slot receivers. His great hands and instincts will give him a place somewhere in the NFL, but Bailey will really have to step up to beat out DeShawn Shead and Jeron Johnson for the fourth safety spot with the Seahawks.
Jimmy Staten, DT
Staten was the true out-of-nowhere pick of Seattle’s draft class. He was not invited to the combine and only accumulated 100 tackles and seven sacks in four years at Middle Tennessee State.
The Seahawks select players like Staten in every draft, and they liked his combination of size (304 lbs) and toughness. Staten will be in a position battle with Jesse Williams and Greg Scruggs, both of whom probably have more upside.
However, Scruggs and Williams are both coming off season-long injuries, and if either is not completely healthy Staten could take a spot.
Garry Gilliam, OL
Gilliam is a fascinating undrafted free agent out of Penn State. Originally used as a tight end, Gilliam bulked up and moved to the offensive line following some knee problems.
That means Gilliam has the mobility of a tight end to go with a 300-pound frame, making him an interesting left tackle prospect moving forward. Hopefully he sticks around on the practice squad, but the Seahawks’ final roster might not have room for such a project player.
Paul Richardson, WR
Any team’s first overall selection should make the roster, so Richardson is a lock barring a serious injury.
Re-signing Sidney Rice diminished the need for the Seahawks to draft a large target, allowing them to pick up a smaller, quicker receiver. As seen in his college highlight video above, Richardson’s game is all about his 4.40 speed and great body control, as he was a legitimate touchdown threat on every play.
Overall, Richardson finished his three-year college career with 2,412 yards and 21 touchdowns despite having little help on a struggling Colorado team.
Richardson is one of those dynamic players for whom opposing teams will have to game-plan. His speed complements Percy Harvin nicely, and that duo should leave the field wide-open for Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.
Justin Britt, OL
Many thought Britt was a reach in the second round, but he will make the Seahawks’ roster regardless due to a need at offensive line.
Not only will Britt be on the team, he will be in a battle for the starting right tackle spot with Michael Bowie. Britt could also move to guard, as Missouri’s system has linemen take snaps at every position in practice.
Britt has his weaknesses, but his technique is strong, and he can get nasty in the trenches when needed, making him an ideal replacement for Breno Giacomini. The video of Britt’s game against Georgia above shows him dealing with a variety of pass-rush moves well, apart from one early sack. Britt also contained Jadeveon Clowney in last year’s game against South Carolina.
Carroll was impressed with Britt at camp and talked to John Boyle of The Everett Herald about Britt’s development going forward:
He picked everything up, he's very well prepared technique wise. He's got really good footwork, his base is really good, his balance is good for a big man. He moved well off the line of scrimmage, showed good foot quickness. He won't have any trouble learning—it's going to take some time of course—but he won't have any trouble picking stuff up.
Cassius Marsh, DE
Marsh has two qualities that the Seahawks love: an in-between size allowing for versatility and a relentless competitive motor on every down. For that, Marsh will find a roster spot, although it’s not exactly clear what his role will be.
His most impressive moment in the 2012 game against Arizona State comes at the 3:09 mark, as he never stops driving his defender backwards and eventually hits Taylor Kelly in the end zone to force an interception. The video also shows that Marsh is a bit slow in pursuit and might lack the speed to be an edge-rusher.
Marsh’s playing weight fluctuated between 255 and 300 pounds in college, and his best chance to be an immediate contributor might be to gain the weight back and move to the interior.
He told Terry Blount of ESPN.com that he needs to gain weight in an effort to mold his game after Michael Bennett’s, saying “I love his game. It’s like an advanced version of mine, I’d like to think. He’s very powerful, extremely quick and great with his hands. He’s a relentless player.”
Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB
Pierre-Louis was a player the Seahawks have been looking at for a long time due to his athleticism.
He used 4.51 speed and strong tackling technique to be a productive edge linebacker throughout his college career at Boston College, finishing with 360 career tackles.
At 6’0’’ and 232 pounds, Pierre-Louis might be better suited as a linebacker-safety box hybrid and has the existing skill set to be successful in that role. He's the type of player who will ultimately win a roster spot in Seattle.
Kevin Norwood, WR
Behind the offensive line, wide receiver was the most critical need for the Seahawks heading into the draft. As such, Norwood has a great chance of making the team as the sixth receiver.
Like Richardson, Norwood isn’t big, but he brings a skill set that will allow him to take on an important role. His circus catch against Tennessee above is just one of many examples of his great body control, awareness and leaping ability.
With Doug Baldwin’s future status in Seattle unknown, Norwood could fill in as a possession receiver.
Norwood told Christian Caple of the Tacoma News Tribune that the Seahawks lined him up in short and sideline routes during camp:
They’re just lining me up and putting me in my comfort zone and just allowing me to go out there and make plays. Hopefully whenever the season comes, they just put me in that same spot to make more plays.
Eric Pinkins, DB
Pinkins is probably the most difficult player to project and could easily go either way. He has great size and was a notoriously hard hitter at San Diego State, but he lacks the ideal field vision for a safety.
That’s why the Seahawks are looking to move Pinkins to cornerback. At 6’ 3’’ and 220 pounds, Pinkins fits in well with Seattle’s cornerbacks and could become a Brandon Browner-type player.
Carroll played Pinkins at safety and corner during minicamp, telling Boyle at The Everett Herald that “We wanted to make sure we could see him at both spots so we could we get a little bit of information before we get into the next mode here.”
The fact that Pinkins may have the ability to play both positions gives him the edge over Bailey and others.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE
Jeffcoat was the biggest snub of the draft, coming off of an All-American season at Texas which included winning the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award.
His stats highlighted in the video above speak for themselves, and Jeffcoat also has the rare ability to completely take over games at times.
A major pectoral injury in 2012 hurt Jeffcoat’s draft stock, but he has first-round talent, which doesn’t come along all that often with an undrafted free agent. He is yet another player who is at an in-between size at 6’4’’ and 250 pounds, but the Seahawks could use him in a LEO role.
We don’t know how the roster dynamic will shake out yet, but Jeffcoat could end up in a one-on-one battle with O’Brien Schofield for a single roster spot. Schofield is “old” by Seahawks standards at 27, so it might be harder long-term to risk losing Jeffcoat’s talent to another team.
Garrett Scott, OL
The Seahawks needed two offensive linemen in this draft, so Scott seems likely to win a spot. He may not start right away, but Scott’s athleticism is off the charts and could allow him to develop into an absolute steal.
Scott has great size at 6’5’’ and 307 pounds with massive 34.75’’ arms, and he scored well on quickness drills at the combine. He uses that skill set effectively in run-blocking against Maryland above.
Although he is also a bit of a project, Scott is more developed than Gilliam, and his athleticism will make it hard for the Seahawks to leave him off the roster.
Kiero Small, FB
Initially after the draft, it looked like Small was a long shot to make the team. As we learn more about Small after minicamp, it now looks like he has a great chance to beat out either Spencer Ware or Derrick Coleman at the fullback position.
Small fits the definition of “smashmouth.” He’s a bowling ball at 5’8'' and 244 pounds, loves to block and broke 26 facemasks in three seasons at Arkansas. He could be Seattle's version of Mike Tolbert.
Carroll told Curtis Crabtree at Sports Radio KJR that Small is “a legit fullback, he loves the position and he has a sense for it and a little chip on his shoulder about it.”
Couple that with the fact that Small could be an impact player on special teams, and his prospects of making the roster are looking good.
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