A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 20, as the Seahawks kicked off the OTA portion of their offseason program:
Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback made it difficult to not watch him, and coach Pete Carroll summed up the situation when asked how much farther along Wilson is this year compared to last year – when he had just been selected in the third round of the NFL Draft and still was competing for the starting job with the since-departed duo of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.
“There’s no way of even calculating that,” Carroll said after a crisp, spirited practice on yet another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. “His awareness and his sense for the finest details, we jumped offside today and he’s working on hard counts on the first play of team (drills).
“He didn’t know what a hard count was last year at this time.”
That might be stretching it just a tad, but saying that Wilson had a very impressive outing in the first of the team’s 10 OTA practices is not.
In that first team segment Carroll mentioned, Wilson completed passes to wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and also scrambled twice, before throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson remained almost as sharp, and aware, for the rest of the session.
“It’s really hard to equate what it is, because he’s applied himself so much that he’s taken an extraordinary amount of information and he’s processing it,” Carroll said. “He threw a couple of balls today – things that we’ve talked about over the offseason we’d like to take a shot at – and he did it today just to see what would happen. With full awareness of why he was doing it.”
Before the OTA session was over, Wilson had completed passes to 10 receivers – running back Robert Turbin; Baldwin and McCoy; Tate, running back Derrick Coleman, rookie tight end Luke Willson, Percy Harvin, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
The pass to Kearse was vintage Wilson – and that’s saying something, as well, that a second-year QB already has established trademark nuances to his game. It came on the final play, as Wilson avoided pressure and got off a pass that caught Kearse as much as Kearse caught the pass.
“Russell is the kind of players that will affect other guys,” Carroll said. “He affects everybody around him and hopefully that will help everybody play better.”
Offensive line. Right tackle Breno Giacomini participated fully, after being limited in Phase 2 of the offseason program following elbow surgery. His returned allowed the No. 1 offense to field the same line that closed last season – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger, right guard J.R. Sweezy and Giacomini.
Comprising the second unit, from left tackle to right: Mike Person, who had been working for Giacomini with the No. 1 line; Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, John Moffitt and Michael Bowie. In the third unit: Alvin Bailey, Johnson, Jared Smith, Ryan Seymour and Jordon Roussos.
Cliff Avril. And that’s what the defensive end who was signed in free agency was doing – watching, because he’s dealing with plantar fascia that he got a month ago.
But with Bruce Irvin facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season and Chris Clemons still recovering from surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee from the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in January, Avril is slated to be the starter at the Leo end spot in the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina.
“I like the fact that Cliff is here because he gave us a cushion for Clem,” Carroll said. “That now changes for the first month of the season.”
Today, Irvin continued to work at Leo end in the No. 1 nickel line, with Mike Morgan taking over with the second unit and Ty Powell going with the third unit. In the base defense, Michael Bennett was the Leo end with the No. 1 line.
Tight end Darren Fells was re-signed this morning, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.
Fells, a basketball player in college who also played professionally in Belgium, Ireland and Argentina, was released two weeks ago. But he attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Steiner had been claimed off waivers last week.
Also, running back Christine Michael, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, signed his rookie contract.
The players also have OTA sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week. Next week, they’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
YOU DON’T SAY, PLAYER EDITION
“We really don’t care. Coach said we’ve got a lot of hype, but he also said let’s make it natural. Everybody around here expects us to win, but we expect ourselves to win, too. We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose. With a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.” – Harvin, when asked how the players were handling the heightened expectations that have come from being regarded among the “favorites” in the league this offseason by the national media
YOU DON’T SAY, COACH EDITION
“It was a very, very good first day for us.” – Carroll
Pete Prisco has his annual list of the Top 100 players in the NFL at CBSSports.com, and guess who checks in at No. 9?
It’s Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback. Says Prisco, “He is cocky, brash and plays with a nasty edge. Oh, he can also cover. He had eight picks and led the league with 32 passes defended. …”
Other Seahawks on Prisco’s list include an All-Pro free safety who just turned 24; a pair of Russells; an All-Pro running back; and a recently acquired receiver/runner/returner. Here’s where those players are ranked, as well as Prisco’s comment:
FS Earl Thomas (51) – “He is the centerfielder on a good defense, showing off both range and the ability to tackle. He is just now getting to his prime.”
QB Russell Wilson (82) – “Despite his size, he showed in his rookie season that he has what it takes to be a top-level quarterback. It’s early, but he gets it.”
LT Russell Okung (86) – “He is the anchor of the Seattle line, the guy who protects Russell Wilson’s backside. He is coming off his best season.”
RB Marshawn Lynch (87) – “He had 1,590 yards and averaged 5 yards per rush. He is a big reason why Seattle made the playoffs.”
WR/RB/KOR Percy Harvin (97) – “He is an explosive playmaker when he’s on the field. But he’s had trouble staying there and his per-catch average of 10.9 needs to be better.”
Prisco also has a Top 10 of players under 23, and Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is ranked No. 4. Says Prisco, “He finished seventh in the NFL in tackles playing in the middle on one of the best defenses in the league. He is a rangy linebacker who can also play the pass. He had three interceptions as a rookie.”
The Seahawks already have one player in the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players for 2013 and they’re about to get another.
Players No. 90 through No. 81 will be profiled Thursday in the weekly series, which starts at 5 p.m. PT. We know who that player is and where he’s ranked, we just can’t say. But make sure you tune in early to see who it is.
Among the candidates: All-Pro and Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas, All-Pro and Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin, Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung and Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.
All-Pro and Pro Bowl center Max Unger? He was at No. 95 when the series kicked off Saturday following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.
Unger was the Seahawks’ second-round draft choice in 2009. He started at right guard that season, becoming the first rookie lineman to start all 16 games for the Seahawks since Ray Roberts in 1992. Unger was back at right guard in 2010, but he got a season-ending toe injury in the opener. He moved to center – the position he had played at the University of Oregon – in 2011 with the arrival of line coach Tom Cable and has only gotten better by the snap.
“I knew Max when he came out of college,” said Cable, who was with the Raiders at the time. “I thought he would be a fine, fine center when he got to this level. … So we put him there from Day One and his development has been second to none on this team.”
When we get to the end of the three-day NFL Draft on Saturday and you still haven’t had enough football, the NFL Network will be there.
The network will begin unveiling its Top 100 players of 2013, beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. PT with those ranked 91-100. At least one Seahawk will be included in the opening look at the Top 100, but the network isn’t saying who.
But the Seahawks have several players worthy of consideration at some point during the 11-week countdown: the All-Pro quartet of running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas; left guard Russell Okung and quarterback Russell Wilson, who joined Lynch, Unger and Thomas at the Pro Bowl; and perhaps even strong safety Kam Chancellor, nose tackle Brandon Mebane and recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin.
Additional information is available here.
In past years, we’ve asked you to weigh-in on the best selections by round in the NFL Draft for the Seahawks, and also to vote on the best draft choice in franchise history.
But which was the single best day in the draft for the Seahawks?
The idea for this poll was planted during a hallway conversation at Virginia Mason Athletic Center with one of the team’s scouts, as we discussed what the team was able to accomplish on the second day of the 2012 draft.
That’s when Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson were selected in the second and third rounds. If you’re not familiar with their contributions to the team going 11-5 during the regular season and winning the franchise’s first road playoff game since 1983, well, you probably have no business voting in this poll.
But as a not-so-subtle reminder: Wagner led the Seahawks’ No. 4-ranked defense in tackles and finished second in balloting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; while Wilson tied the NFL rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes and finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
But was that the best single-day draft performance in club history? Here are three others to consider:
1990: The Seahawks began the day by trading up to the No. 3 spot in the first round with the Patriots to select defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who became the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer. But before that first day was over, the Seahawks also had added linebacker Terry Wooden and strong safety Robert Blackmon (second round) and eventual Pro Bowl running back Chris Warren (fourth round).
2010: In the first draft under GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, in the first draft where it was expanded to three days and the first round only was conducted on the first day, the Seahawks selected Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung with the sixth pick overall and then added All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick.
1997: The Seahawks also had two first-round picks this year, and used them to selected Pro Bowl cornerback Shawn Springs (third pick overall) and All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones (sixth pick). While Springs was a solid starter for seven seasons, Jones was voted to more Pro Bowls (nine) than any player in franchise history and already has had his No. 71 retired. The 1-2 punch of Springs and Jones also trumps the other two years when the team had two picks in the first round – 2000 (Shaun Alexander and Chris McIntosh) and 2001 (Koren Robinson and Steve Hutchinson).
But which one day was the best day? You make the call …
NFL.com Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal recently ranked what he considers to be the five NFL teams that are the best when it comes to finding talent in the NFL Draft.
Rosenthal stresses that his list is in no particular order, but the Seahawks, under the direction of general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, are conveniently Rosenthal’s first mention.
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, NFC West rival San Fracisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and New York Giants round out Rosenthal’s top five.
On the Seahawks, Rosenthal writes:
“GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll have only been together three years, but their track record is outstanding. They see players differently than other teams. Last year’s three-pack of Bruce Irvin,
Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson were all controversial picks that didn’t fit the traditional mold. They were all outstanding.
2011 was a shakier draft, but they found an All-Pro cornerback in Richard Sherman in the fifth round. That’s also the round they found Kam Chancellor in their first draft in 2010. That crop included Earl Thomas and Russell Okung. The spine of the Seahawks were built in three drafts.”
Twenty-two of Schneider and Carroll’s 28 total picks from the last three years remain on the Seahawks’ current roster. Four of their picks have been named to the Pro Bowl (Okung, Thomas, Chancellor, Wilson). Three have been named first-team All-Pro (Okung, Thomas, Sherman). And 10 of their 28 picks were listed as starters on the Seahawks’ depth chart heading into last year’s divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Below is a pick-by-pick rundown of the Seahawks’ drafts guided by Schneider and Carroll.
|1||6||Russell Okung||6-5||310||T||Oklahoma State|
|2||60||Golden Tate||5-10||202||WR||Notre Dame|
|4||127||E.J. Wilson||6-3||289||DE||North Carolina|
|5||133||Kam Chancellor||6-3||232||S||Virginia Tech|
|7||236||Dexter Davis||6-1||244||DE||Arizona St.|
|7||245||Jameson Konz||6-3||234||WR||Kent. St.|
|4||99||K.J. Wright||6-4||246||LB||Mississippi St.|
|5||156||Mark LeGree||6-0||211||S||Appalachian St.|
|1||15||Bruce Irvin||6-3||248||DE||West Virginia|
|2||47||Bobby Wagner||6-0||241||LB||Utah State|
|4||106||Robert Turbin||5-10||222||RB||Utah State|
|6||172||Jeremy Lane||6-0||190||CB||NW Louisiana|
|7||225||JR Sweezy||6-5||298||G||North Carolina St.|
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on April 22:
1990: The Seahawks trade up to the third spot in the first round of the NFL Draft and select defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy. He would be voted to eight Pro Bowls and named NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1992) during his career, and last year the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006, had his No. 96 retired last season and was voted the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team.
1995: Joey Galloway is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Galloway would lead the Seahawks in receptions for three consecutive seasons (1996-98) and catch 37 touchdown passes before being traded to the Cowboys for a pair of first-round draft choices in 2000.
2008: Shaun Alexander, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, is released. After being named league MVP and leading the NFL in rushing with 1,880 yards in 2005, injuries limited Alexander to fewer than 1,000 rushing yards in 2006 and 2007.
2010: Russell Okung and Earl Thomas are selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Okung, a left tackle and the sixth pick overall, started 15 games in 2012 and was voted to the Pro Bowl. Thomas, a free safety and the 14th pick overall, was voted Al-Pro last season and has played in the Pro Bowl the past two seasons.
Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.
Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.
It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:
Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”
Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”
Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”
Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”
Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”
Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”
Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”
Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”
Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”
Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”
Russell Okung, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl left tackle, is among 21 current and former NFL players who will participate in the first NFL Franchising Boot Camp at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan on April 26-29.
The participants will hear from business leaders and professors during the four-day camp, including Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who spent more than three decades in the restaurant business and will serve as the keynote speaker.
“As both a former player and one who is still active in the food industry, I am excited and honored to address these players,” Richardson said in a statement. “There are many parallels to success in business and football and the opportunity to provide whatever insight I may have to this select group is appreciated.”
Richardson was a receiver for the Baltimore Colts (1959-60) and then purchased a Hardee’s franchise in 1961. He accumulated more than 600 Hardee’s and 200 Quincy Steak Houses before selling the business and becoming president and CEO for the new ownership.
Head coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, left tackle Russell Okung, offensive guard John Moffitt, and cornerback Richard Sherman represented the Seahawks’ We Day contingent this morning at Seattle’s Key Arena.
The event, inspired by Craig and Marc Kielburger of Free the Children, motivates the power of youth to create positive change in their local and global communities. The more than 15,000 middle school and high school aged students that packed the arena earned their ticket to We Day through service, taking on local and global initiatives and reporting their progress back to Kielburger and Free The Children.
“The power to change the world is yours to own, but anything this great does not come easy,” Carroll said to the youth on hand. “It takes commitment. We Day has shown you that. It’s shown you that the power is yours, and every one of you has the power. I hope you can feel that today as you share it with your team.”
Wednesday’s gathering marked the first-ever We Day on U.S. soil and included special guests in NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former Seattle SuperSonics star Gary Payton, recording artist Jennifer Hudson, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and more.
You can watch a live stream of We Day at www.weday.com/webcast