Seattle Seahawks

"It's unbelievable": Seahawks take UW Huskies' converted DL Will Dissly at TE in fourth round

Will Dissly (98), the tight end from the University of Washington, was celebrating Saturday after the Seahawks made him their fourth-round choice in the NFL draft.
Will Dissly (98), the tight end from the University of Washington, was celebrating Saturday after the Seahawks made him their fourth-round choice in the NFL draft. jbessex@gateline.com

Will Dissly's unique path into the NFL has led him...home.

He's staying in Seattle, and in his native Northwest.

The University of Washington tight end went to the Seahawks in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday morning, as coach Pete Carroll continued to act on his promise to improve Seattle's running game this year.

"It's unbelievable. It wasn't the perfect story by any means. I'm just glad it worked out. And it's not over yet," Dissly said. "That's awesome. Four years at U-Dub, and now right across the water there.

Dissly was speaking by telephone Saturday morning from his family home in Bozeman, Mont.

"It feels like the whole town is here," he said.

"When I heard I got the call, I was just really excited to be a Seahawk. ... I'm ready to grow."

When he first got the call, he told Seahawks general manager John Schneider: "No s**t?"

"No s**t," Schneider said.

"Hell, yeah," Dissly said.

Dissly is widely regarded as the best blocking tight end in this draft class.

Dissly was a sophomore defensive end for Washington late in 2015. He was messing around at a practice for UW's Heart of Dallas Bowl at the end of that season, a big number 98 playfully jumping into a pass-catching, seven-on-seven drill with the Huskies' offense. He made a difficult, twisting catch of a pass—just as UW coach Chris Petersen was walking past on the Huskies' East Field behind Husky Stadium.

Petersen noticed Dissly reaching for the ball and pulling it in with more skill than a defensive linemen should have.

"Hey, you want to have a package (of plays on offense)?" Petersen asked Dissly.


That's how Will Dissly became a Seahawks tight end.


"I had a couple of plays (in that bowl game), did well," Dissly said last month. "Then kind of in the offseason (before Dissly's junior year of 2016) Coach Pete approached me and was like, 'Hey, would you like to try this full time in spring ball?'"

Dissly was all ears. And all in, to borrow Carroll's favorite phrase for his Seahawks.

After getting drafted, Dissly thanked his position coach at UW, Jordan Paopao, for all the extra time he spent with him to make him a tight end.

The admiration is mutual.

At last month's NFL scouting combine the 6-foot-4, 267-pound Dissly again showed his athleticism and his deft hands catching the ball. It surprised those who don't know he played multiple sports including basketball growing up in Bozeman, Mont. His time of 12.12 seconds in the 60-yard shuttle was fifth-best among tight ends and showed he can change directions quickly. He ran a 4.87 40-yard dash at the combine, 12th among tight ends.

The only reason Dissly was at UW was because Petersen left Boise State to become the Huskies' coach. Petersen had recruited Dissly to a commitment to Boise State. Dissly then re-committed to UW when Petersen took that job.

To exemplify Carroll's priority to fix the run game, Seattle let its top two tight ends leave in free agency last month, Jimmy Graham (to Green Bay) and Luke Willson (to Detroit). Graham and Willson are pass catchers, almost more wide receivers than suited for being tight at the end of the line. The Seahawks signed free agent Ed Dickson from Carolina for up to $14 million over three years because he is a blocking tight end.

But Dickson is 31 years old. And the Seahawks can get out of the final two years of his team-friendly deal at a cost of only $1.7 million in 2019.

So Dissly becomes the second tight end Carroll and general manager John Schneider have selected in the last eight drafts, after Nick Vannett in 2016.

The Seahawks began their draft by addressing two of their biggest needs. They selected San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny in Thursday's first round, then USC defensive lineman Rasheem Green in the third round Friday night. They traded down within each round before making those picks, the 55th and 56th trades affects draft choices in general manager John Schneider's and coach Pete Carroll's nine-year tenure leading Seattle.

The Seahawks have seven more choices Saturday, the next at 141st overall in round five. As of late in the fourth round, Shaquem Griffin was still available to pick.

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