Even before the 2020 regular season began, the Seahawks knew the 2021 draft for them was not going to be a celebratory sort of pre-Cinco de Mayo festival. Indeed, it turned out to be a safe and sane three days that was more of a Seafair parade, minus pirates, clowns and alcohol.
They couldn’t improve on the number of picks, so the three stood as the fewest in the NFL since 1999 and a club-record low. They ended up with backup players with solid potential — WR D’Wayne Eskridge of Western Michigan, CB Tre Brown of Oklahoma and LT Stone Forsythe of Florida.
Nevertheless, the subdued outcome was, to the surprise of no one who knows him, zero match for coach Pete Carroll’s weapons-grade enthusiasm.
“If the new guys and a couple of these free agents can come in here and make a spark and give us a little flash or something, we’re gonna be a very, very competitive team,” he said on his final Zoom chat of the weekend Saturday afternoon. “We really have firepower, we’ve got big plays, we’ve got a pass rush, we’ve got the leadership, and we have competitive depth.
“I thought this off-season was really successful at situating the roster where we felt good going into a draft without the normal volume of picks . . . It came to the point we felt like we had guys at every spot. We didn’t have any holes going in. We had concerns for depth.”
Some may disagree about the absence of holes, particularly at cornerback. But given where the Seahawks were four months ago, reeling not only from a gruesome playoff exit but an unprecedented public display of laments from Russell Wilson that included a veiled threat of departure, things have picked up.
With Carroll’s claim earlier in the week that Wilson is in a “fantastic” place with intent to remain, Seattle is certainly better off than Houston and Green Bay, which, for widely different reasons, are having Franchise Quarterback Radioactive Meltdown Festivals. Each has applied to the NFL to switch from standard player uniforms to haz-mat suits.
But back to Seattle and the unresolved matters at cornerback.
Speaking of tumult: How about the return of Richard Sherman?
“We’re always open,” Carroll said. “I’ve talked to Sherm quite a few times over the off-season. We have stayed in contact. He’s out there, and I know he’s thinking about it.
“I saw where he said there’s three or four teams (including the Seahawks) that he’s considering. We’ll see what happens. He’s been a great player and he’s still got some ball left in him, I’m sure. At this point, we’re going to clear through this day and figure out what happens with the (rookies). We’ll see where it sits later on.”
Before the reunion committee orders up balloons and crepe, Carroll’s elaboration sounded more like courtesy than curiosity. Sherman, 33, was let go by the 49ers, who signed him after an acrimonious departure from Seattle in 2017, for a reason.
“I’m just going along with the conversation right now,” Carroll said. “That’s not one of our thoughts, that we’re going out and getting another guy at this spot. But we’re going to keep looking. In that sense, I leave everything open. That’s just one of them.
“Go ahead and do whatever you want with it, but that’s where it is.”
OK, then. Let’s upload it into the app on our phones marked Marshawn Lynch Memorial Health Emergency Plan, and not look at it until needed.
More tangible is the selection of Brown, a 5-9 maker of big plays taken in the fourth round (137th overall, after the Seahawks traded back with Tampa Bay from 129), to join the CB competition.
Seattle has five veteran outside corners on its roster — returnees Tre Flowers, D.J. Reed and Damarious Randall, and newcomer free agents Ahkello Witherspoon and Pierre Desir. None of them were the designated starters from a year ago. The two that were are gone, lost to free agency — Shaquill Griffin to Jacksonville and Quinton Dunbar to Detroit.
The best 2020 season among them was had by Reed, who is also 5-9, and a Big 12 Conference grad from Kansas State known to Brown.
“I have actually been familiar with his play, him being at K-State,” said Brown via video conference. “I see that we have a lot of similarities. We’re the same size. He did kickoff returns; I did that stuff. So, we have a lot of similar play.”
Carroll’s preference for tall corners with long arms has been nearly a mandatory condition of employment. Did Reed’s success change the coach’s mind, and open the door for Brown to join Reed in the starting lineup?
“Not necessarily, because I’ve coached a lot of guys over the years, all different kinds of sizes and shapes,” he said. “It could go the other way — do you want guys that are both 5-9 out there playing? We’ve had guys that have been All Pro that were 6-2, and we’ve had guys in the past that were under six feet tall. It just depends on the kid and the style of player.
“If it works, it works. But I would say that the fact that D.J. did such a nice job, it gave us a little bit more of a mold of guys: What does it take to be a smaller guy that can be successful? They have to have this mentality about them — they’re aggressive and they make plays because of the way they are athletically.”
That would be Brown. A 4.4-second 40-yard sprinter, he had 33 starts for the Sooners over four years and was a special-teams star, returning 55 kickoffs in his career for 1,207 yards. He has a history of making big plays, including decisive plays in each of the past three Big 12 championship games.
😱 @OU_Football called game pic.twitter.com/Dvrxi4OBkj
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 10, 2020
“When you say what position I play, I just say I’m an athlete,” Brown said. “I do special teams really well. When I get on the field, I’m going to give it my all — kickoff return, guarding you on the punt return. Every time I get out there I’m going to try to destroy you, be the fastest guy and just make those plays. So I pride myself on special teams just like defense.”
Brown’s innate aggression had led scouts to call him grabby — he had 14 penalties for holding or pass interference.
“That is kind of how I was taught,” he said. “Our coaches used to tell us that if we’re not getting penalties, we’re not being physical enough. I think I took that too literally. That’s something that can definitely change.
“Hands or no hands, I’m still going to be who I am, regardless.”
The Seahawks used their pick in the sixth round — their original seventh-rounder at 250, bundled with the 217 they received from Tampa, to the Bears for No. 208 — on Forsythe, a 6-9, 310-pound “monster of a man,” according to general manager John Schneider.
Forsythe was seen by some forecasters as a mid-draft talent with great pass-blocking skills but little run-blocking experience. Mysteriously, he kept falling until the Seahawks jumped up to burn their final two selections on him.
“That’s a question I kind of want to find out myself kind of why it took so long for everyone,” Forsythe said. “But I’m still grateful to get the chance to hear my name called.”
He’ll be the understudy on the left side for venerable Duane Brown, 35, who is in his final contract year.
“Duane’s been famous for that stuff for us,” Carroll said. “This will be a really competitive opportunity for Stone, but the big part of the competition is he has this great example right there in front of him to show him how to play the game. This should work out really well.
“For a big man, Stone runs well. You wouldn’t think a guy that tall would be as fast as he is. He can block on the perimeter. We’ve seen him get out and stay on his feet. He’s not on the ground much at all for a big guy.”
Nor were the Seahawks on the ground long after the Rams’ embarrassment. With relatively little salary cap room, a quarterback in a mid-career crisis and few draft picks, the Seahawks have reached the first of May in reasonable condition.
Perhaps only a Clydesdale or two short of being parade-ready.
I saw a nice start to the UDFA list as well. Cade Johnson should have been drafted, for example. And I’m intrigued by Pier-Olivier Lestage, the Canadian center (or is it centre?).
Cade Johnson may have to make the team or get poached. Based upon his film and stats I think he will likely make the team. It probably depends on how fast he can pick up the details and playbook. Another one is Tamorrion. I am amazed at how much talent gets left on the table after the draft.
Roster spots are finite. A nearly infinite new class of kids who think they’re good enough is added each year. It’s why the XFL thinks it can populate a JV league.
Watch this space: https://www.nfl.com/news/top-undrafted-rookie-free-agents-following-the-2021-nfl-draft#:~:text=Top%20undrafted%20rookie%20free%20agents%20following%20the%202021,9%20Linebackers%2010%20Safeties.%20…%20More%20items…%20
I can’t believe so many of you care about a list of guys that won’t be around by Labor Day.
Will Penny be a Seahawk on Labor Day?
If he’s fully healthy, yes. He’s still a solid RB, just not first-round-worthy.
Will Penny was a so-so western movie. But any western with Bruce Dern, Slim Pickens and Ben Johnson is worth a look. I recently saw The Last Picture Show (truly great movie) with Johnson and The Getaway (McQueen and McGraw– pretty good) with Johnson and Pickens.
You’re a brave man, cave-diving in the UDFAs.
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If Wilson wants Richard Sherman, they’ll get Richard Sherman. RW has the power now.
True enough. Age and health are great humblers.
Why wouldn’t Wilson want a guy back on defense that once repeatedly exclaimed, “You f-ing suck!!” to Wilson after picking him off in practice?
I see no potential problems with team leadership or locker room dissention, there.
Perhaps a term of endearment?
Those kind of insults are part of the daily grind, although I do think Wilson has a strong desire to be liked by everyone.
I also don’t think Sherman is the provocateur he once was. Man wants a job.
He’s not eaten a bit of humble pie and it does that.
Anyone see his last game? Ugh – not pretty
I’m thinking shadow GM Wilson would be more concerned with adding to the short list of guys up front who have shown they’re qualified enough to protect him. I can’t see Sherm as anything more than an afterthought rather than a necessity at this point.
D-Wayne is likely to start as a #3. If the other 2 receive considerable playing time – and they should in consideration of the needs of the team, it would seem the Hawks have a successful draft to say nothing of the UFA’s that will be competing for playing time. It’ll be interesting to see how Stone fits in – could he work his way into the center position? If nothing else the Seahawks have acquired the type of speed the last 2 years that would’ve made Al Davis envious.
Eskridge is nearly a lock at WR3, but football gameday designations often don’t ID the position as a starter.
Forsythe’s body is too long for center. Definitely an LT, and likely to have mostly a redshirt year to learn how to run block.
Carroll loves him some 4.4 guys. He has two more.
I think the Hawks got the three prospects they wanted. I cannot believe they thought Stone F. would be available that late, so they probably just knew they wanted an offensive Tackle, a Left Tackle of the future, but knowing they would be taking him AFTER first filling our WR3 position, which is D’Wayne’s so long as he can still run a 10 yard split in 1.51 seconds, and after they got a CB, and I expect Tre Brown was their focus since none of the taller prospects can actually cover very well.
The Hawks seemed to have relied on the Senior Bowl for their primary source of scouting. D’Wayne and Tre Brown both were standouts in the practices and in the game. Answering the question: How do they stack up against top competition? Both of them dominated their positions at the Senior Bowl.
As for Stone, the fact that Stone is evaluated by scouts as being a pass blocking stud, but dropped because of his run blocking skills, that tells us the influence of Wilson is real, and we may see more of an emphasis on passing versus running. Hopefully, with some coaching, Stone can become a great run blocker eventually. I would never have thought I could get excited by a 6th round pick at LT, but I am. I got excited when Poona Ford signed as an UDFA for much the same reason. Their film and such tell me they were overlooked. Coach Carroll has lots of reasons to be satisfied. Good job, Art.
Schneider said he tried to move up earlier to get Forsythe, but was rebuffed. He and Carroll seemed genuinely excited about getting him.
For all teams, Senior Bowl week in Mobile is where all the work gets done and decisions get made. Scouts get to see players in practice doing football drills, not just running around in underwear.
I understand picking a receiver, BUT another tiny tot? Haven’t they figured out tall receivers are a much better target? 5’9″ – really?
I’m disappointed they didn’t go for an OL prospect in the 2nd round.
Please take your complaint to Doug Baldwin.
One can always find exceptions and Baldwin was one. If this guy doesn’t pan out, maybe you will agree either an OL or a tall receiver would have been the better pick.