They have been tabbed by coach Pete Carroll as players who could put his Seattle Seahawks over the top as consistent playoff contenders in the NFC West.
And Carroll will get his first up-close look at first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin, second-round selection Bobby Wagner, third-round pick Russell Wilson and others when the Seahawks open the team’s rookie minicamp this afternoon.
The three-day camp includes Seattle’s 10 draft picks, the team’s 10 signed undrafted rookie free agents and at least 30 players invited to an open tryout – including South Kitsap High and Eastern Washington University defensive tackle Renard Williams.
Fourth-round draft pick Jaye Howard, a defensive tackle, reportedly agreed to terms Thursday, leaving fellow fourth-rounder Robert Turbin, a running back, as the only draft choice not to reach agreement. However, it’s expected that all 10 of Seattle’s selections will be signed by practice today.
All draft choices were scheduled to be at the team’s facility in Renton on Thursday to take physicals.
“It’s going to be really cool to see these guys come together,” Carroll said. “There are so many highlight players in this group of kids. We can’t wait to get them on the field with us.”
Most eyes will be on Irvin, a speed pass rusher, and quarterback Wilson, two players who were considered surprise selections by national NFL observers – particularly where they were taken in the draft.
For Irvin, the focus will be on how long it takes for him to develop into a consistent pass rusher and an every-down player in order to live up to his draft status.
In Wilson’s case, his 5-foot-11 stature and ability to deliver accurate passes from inside the pocket will be a constant measuring stick of his success in the NFL.
“The main thing is just being efficient,” Wilson said. “Being a facilitator of the football and getting there to work every single day and compete.”
While Irvin and Wilson will be focal points during the weekend, neither player is expected to immediately start like linebacker Wagner.
Carroll said after the draft the former Utah State player is likely to be the team’s starting middle linebacker, replacing David Hawthorne, who signed with New Orleans in free agency.
At 6-0 and 241 pounds, Wagner is an upgrade from Hawthorne athletically. During Wagner’s pro day, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, had a vertical jump of 39.5 inches and an 11-0 broad jump.
On the field, Wagner led Utah State in tackles three straight seasons, earned all-conference first-team honors three times, and was a four-year starter. He was also named the North team’s most outstanding player at the 2012 Senior Bowl
“He brings a unique skill set in terms of his ball sensibility and versatility,” said Eric Stokes, Seahawks assistant director of college scouting. “He’s played both inside and outside linebacker while at Utah State. He can pass rush, he can drop – the kid can run like the wind.
“We’re really excited about him.”
Wagner will be expected to serve as the quarterback of Seattle’s defense, replacing in Hawthorne a cerebral player who led Seattle in tackles for three seasons. Hawthorne also made his share of explosive plays, including seven interceptions and six sacks in three years as a starter.
Seattle signed veteran Barrett Ruud in free agency, a six-year starter at middle linebacker who is familiar with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme from his time in Tampa Bay, so they have some insurance should Wagner struggle in his transition to the NFL.
Wagner, who didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school, understands he has a lot to learn.
“I’m a hard worker,” he said. “I’m a runner, and I haven’t really been playing football that long. So I’ve still got a lot to learn and a lot to develop so I’ll be better than I was in college.”email@example.com 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks Twitter: @eric_d_williams