Rampaging rookies

The numbers Joey Galloway put up during his rookie season were almost as stunning as his speed: 67 receptions for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns; as well as an 89-yard punt return for a TD and an 86-yard scoring run on a reverse of a reverse – in back-to-back games.

Galloway, if you remember, had reconstructive knee surgery while at Ohio State. But he came back faster. Timed in 4.52 seconds for 40 yards before the injury, Galloway clocked a 4.38 at the scouting combine in 1995 and then lowered that at his Pro Day workout – where the Seahawks had him in 4.2, but other stopwatches caught Galloway at 4.16 and 4.18.

Scouts at that workout were reluctant to say what time they had for Galloway, because they didn’t want to be the first to offer a time few would believe.

But during a pre-minicamp 40 in the spring of 1999, Galloway ran 4.15 – with a slight rolling start.

Fellow receiver Sean Dawkins had heard about just how fast Galloway was, but his eyes widened to the size of two fried eggs as he offered, “I was like this, just looking at the clock.”

Added Dawkins, “Speed kills in this league, and Joey’s got a lot of it.”

Regardless of which time you go by, Galloway was fast – and had the uncanny ability to shift into an extra gear while seemingly already running at full speed against cornerbacks who were supposedly as fast, or faster.

But did his speed-infused ’95 contributions comprise the best rookie season in franchise history?

Here are some others to consider, before you cast your vote below:

Steve Niehaus, 1976 – Yes, Steve Largent and Jim Zorn where in this same rookie class during the team’s inaugural season. But Niehaus, the defense tackle who was the team’s first-round draft choice, trumped their efforts. He had 8½ sacks among his 90 tackles.

Terry Beeson, 1977 – A second-round draft choice, he started 13 games at middle linebacker and led the team with 136 tackles, including 110 solo stops. He also broke up five passes.

John Harris, 1978 – A steal of a sixth-round pick, Harris started all 16 games at free safety, collecting 113 tackles, four interceptions and 15 passes defensed.

Kenny Easley, 1981 – The fourth pick overall in that year’s NFL draft, he started 14 games opposite Harris. Easley finished second on the team in tackles (107) and interceptions (three).

Curt Warner, 1983 – Coach Chuck Knox traded the team’s first-, second- and third-round draft choices to move into the third spot so he could select the back needed for his Ground Chuck offense. Warner did not disappoint, rushing for 1,449 yards (on 335 carries), catching 42 passes and scoring 14 touchdowns to earn AFC offensive player of the year honors.

John Kasay, 1991 – A kicker? Yes, but not just any kicker. In his rookie season, Kasay scored 102 points and hit eight of his 10 field-goal attempts from 40-plus yards. Josh Brown scored more points (114) as a rookie in 2003, but he also missed eight field goals – include five from 40-49 yards in 11 attempts.

Steve Hutchinson, 2001 – The second of the team’s two first-round picks stepped in and started all 16 games at left tackle. The offense averaged 121 rushing yards (up from 107.5 in 2000) and Shaun Alexander ran for 14 TDs.

Lofa Tatupu, 2005 – The Seahawks traded up in the second round of the draft to select the middle linebacker. He not only solidified a spot where the team had started seven players in the previous six seasons, Tatupu led the team with 105 tackles and also had four sacks and three interceptions.

Why aren’t Largent (54 catches for 705 yards and four TDs in 1976), Darryl Turner (35 for a 20.4-yard average and 10) and Darrell Jackson (53 for 713 and six in 2000) on this list? Because Galloway pulled away from the wide-receiver field in his rookie season – when he became the 10th rookie in league history, and first since 1986, to catch passes for at least 1,000 yards.

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