Seattle Seahawks

As Doug Baldwin considers retirement, Seahawks draft a receiver: Hulking Ole Miss’ D.K. Metcalf

For one of the few times in recent years, if not their Seahawks tenure, Pete Carroll and John Schneider drafted the people’s choice.

They traded a third- and a fourth-round pick to move into the final spot of round two and selected Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, an internet sensation for being a testing freak at the NFL combine and pre-draft workouts.

Metcalf is a hulk. He’s 6 feet 3 1/2 inches tall and weighs 229 pounds, according to #Seahawks. He has 34 and 7/8-inch arms. He runs a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. He reportedly has 1.9-percent body fat, though that claim has been disputed. His arms look like Popeye’s.

“My life has changed by people noticing what I’ve been able to do with my body,” Metcalf said. “It’s time for me to show what I can do as a football player.”

He became such a phenomenon since the NFL scouting combine in early March, many expected Metcalf to get drafted in the first round.

He was a phenomenon at the combine with the Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll, too.

One of the Seahawks’ staffers there in Indianapolis in late February had Metcalf enter the room at the Crowne Plaza hotel in which the receiver was meeting with Carroll, general manager John Schneider and Seattle’s decision makers. Metcalf did as requested.

“Kind of pissed me off, so I took my shirt off, too,” Carroll said Friday. “Not too long.”

“Too long,” Schneider interjected.

Metcalf said when Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll called him Friday night at his mother’s home, it was the first time his phone had rung during the draft.

“Just to have a phone call was amazing,” he said.

“I’m just happy Seattle took a chance on me.”

They had to.

Receiver is a need. Doug Baldwin, age 30, coming off three offseason surgeries. His future is unknown—and Friday sounded ominous. Schneider said Baldwin has informed the Seahawks he’s considering retirement.

In December, at the end of an injury-filled 2018 that caused him to miss his first games in 6 1/2 years, I asked Baldwin if he thinks about how much longer he will be playing.

“I do,” the Pro Bowl veteran said.

“You know...” Baldwin said Dec. 14, before a long pause, “you go through the process, you go through the processes of feeling immortal when you are younger. I think we all go through that process, then contemplating where you take this. Then when things start to change and priorities outside of football change and life changes, you start to think about things in a different picture.

“Football is such a small sliver of your lifetime.

“I’ll leave it at that...”

Easy to take that as a yes, that he felt his football mortality, more than ever.

Then, since his and the Seahawks’ last game, January’s playoff loss at Dallas, Baldwin has had surgeries on his knee, shoulder and, this month, for a sports-hernia. Coach Pete Carroll said this week Baldwin has a long road back to getting on the field, at a time still to be determined. Carroll said Baldwin has been rehabilitating from his surgeries at team headquarters.

Seattle’s wide-receiver corps is basically Baldwin, Tyler Lockett coming off a career year—and a bunch of guys.

None of them have the buzz of Metcalf.

He had five touchdowns in his first seven games of his final, redshirt season at Mississippi last fall, then had a neck injury that ended his season.

Earlier Friday, Seattle traded down from the top of round two to the middle Friday then selected Marquise Blair, a safety known as an aggressive, near-the-line tackler at the University of Utah.

Blair, 6 feet 1 1/2 and 196 pounds, was a strong safety known as a hard hitter at Utah. He was ejected for targeting in the Utes’ game last season against the Washington Huskies. Many draft assessors pegged him a third- or fourth-round pick.

Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley gave this one-word description to the Salt Lake Tribune of Blair: “Nasty.”

This is the highest the Seahawks have drafted a defensive back since 2010. Seattle selected Earl Thomas 14th overall that year.

“I’m just grateful,” Blair said by telephone Friday evening from his family draft party in his hometown of Wooster, Ohio, outside Canton.

He said he played strong and free safety “50-50” at Utah, sometimes alternating by the play per the Utes’ defensive scheme.

Seattle loves such versatility in their safeties.

“Marquise will fit in great with our style, and he’s what we covet from a safety,” Seaahwks west-area scout Tyler Ramsey said. “He’s a guy that can play either position. He’s got great speed on the back end, but really loves to be physical and mix it up in the box near the line of scrimmage.”

The Seahawks watched Thomas, who of course blossomed into their All-Pro free safety, leave last month in free agency for Baltimore. They have Tedric Thompson, a 2017 fourth-round pick, poised to be their free safety with veteran Bradley McDonald starting again at strong safety in 2019.

McDougald has played both strong and free safety in his first two seasons with the Seahawks, but has said his favored spot is strong safety and feels he plays better there. He was brilliant there last season.

Blair sustained a season-ending knee injury in 2017, but returned ahead of schedule to become a second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2018.

“I can be physical in the box,” he said, “and I can cover in the back area.”

Asked which aspect of is game he takes most pride in, Blair didn’t hesitate.

“Definitely my physicality,” he said.

Blair has a favorable precedent being drafted at number 47 by Seattle.

The last time the Seahawks had and used the 47th-overall pick in a draft it worked out OK: Bobby Wagner, in 2012.

Earlier in round two the Seahawks traded down for the third time in less than 24 hours. They moved down 10 spots from the top to the middle of round two and gaining their 10th choice in the 2019 draft.

Seattle traded the second-round selection it got late Thursday night from the New York Giants to get into round two. It sent the 37th-overall choice, the fifth pick of the second round, to Carolina and received the Panthers’ 47th-overall selection in round two and Carolina’s 77th-overall choice, in round three later Friday.

Carolina used the 37th pick to select Mississippi offensive tackle Greg Little.

The Seahawks traded down twice in round one to gain four choices.

They started the week with an NFL-low four choices in this draft.

The Seahawks moved up to the fifth spot of the second round Thursday night when they traded their 30th pick in round one to the New York Giants. Seattle received the second-round choice they lacked and really wanted, plus choices late in rounds four and five on Saturday.

Seattle’s other choice Friday was to be late in the third round, at 92nd overall. That is from Kansas City, in Monday’s trade that sent Seahawks’ top pass rusher Frank Clark to the Chiefs.

Seattle used the additional first-round pick they got in that trade, at 29 in round one, to draft Texas Christian defensive end L.J. Collier.

So why all the trading down?

Carroll firmly believes he can coach/mold/maximize every prospect he gets into that player’s unique skill set. Just give him athletic talent and speed, he’ll do the rest.

First round (Earl Thomas). Seventh round (Chris Carson). Undrafted free agent (Doug Baldwin). Whatever.

So, the more picks the better.

Plus, seven Seattle’s 10 total pick in this draft are now in rounds 3-5. The team has zero picks in rounds six and seven. This is a historically deep draft in middle-round talent. Carroll and general manager John Schneider are targeting that.

Friday night’s part of the draft began with the Arizona Cardinals selecting cornerback Byron Murphy from the University of Washington to lead off round two. Murphy will be reunited in Arizona with UW teammate Budda Baker.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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