The Seahawks’ stockpiling of defensive backs continues.
Seattle made Mike Tyson -- no, not that one but the safety from the University of Cincinnati -- its initial pick of two in the sixth round of the NFL draft on Saturday.
“I just burst out in tears, to be honest with you,” Tyson said of his call from Seahawks general manager John Schneider Saturday afternoon.
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And, yes, “I actually get that question at least once a day... ‘Can I fight like Mike Tyson?’” he said of the 50-year-old former heavyweight champion of the world who has the same name.
You ever get sick of that question?
“Sure can,” Mike Tyson the football player said. Quickly.
Tyson made a pre-draft visit to the Seahawks; he said it was his only one with an NFL team. He said Seattle’s coaches “told me to get ready to play press corner...in my first season.”
A job is open there. DeShawn Shead, the 2016 starter opposite Richard Sherman, had major knee surgery following his injury in January in Seattle’s divisional-playoff loss at Atlanta.
Tyson is from Norfolk, Virginia, the same hometown as Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor.
“He’s a legend down here,” Tyson said.
The 187th-overall pick, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Tyson is the fourth defensive back and third safety the Seahawks drafted in their first eight picks. They had three more after him.
Tyson transformed from a fringe pro prospect into likely being drafted with a strong senior season at UC. He had five of his seven college-career interceptions last season, plus 4 1/2 tackles for loss as part of a career high in spots. That and his use in college suggests he could be a strong safety, though some scouts see him more at free safety.
Again, he says the Seahawks see him as a potential cornerback, at least, it sounds like, until Shead returns from his injury. The cupboard is bare behind Shead: nickel back Jeremy Lane, coming off a down 2016, special-teamer Neiko Thorpe and 2016 undrafted rookie free agent DeAndre Elliott. Elliott replaced the injured Shead late in that playoff loss to the Falcons.
Tyson said he played plenty of nickel defense inside because Cincinnati usually played a scheme with two linebackers and five defensive backs.
As for safety -- as I wrote Saturday morning after Seattle drafted Colorado safety Tedric Thompson in the fourth round -- Seattle’s three-time All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas is coming off his first major football injury, a broken tibia last December. He vows to be ready for the September season opener at Green Bay, and the team expects that.
Steven Terrell started for Thomas at free safety through January’s divisional playoff loss at Atlanta, then the Seahawks let his contract expire without re-signing him.
In the third round Friday night Seattle selected Michigan safety Delano Hill. He’s 6-1, 216 pounds, and known as an aggressive tackler against the run. That’s more in the mold, if not quite the size, of Chancellor.
Tyson’s about the same size as Hill.
Chancellor just turned 29, is coming off consecutive seasons limited by injuries and is entering the final year of his contract Seattle has yet to extend (though I still expect them to). Kelcie McCray replaced Chancellor last October when Chancellor was out injured, but Seattle let his contract expire, too. He’s also a free agent right now.