Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks draft Wake Forest run blocker Phil Haynes: “likes to finish blocks, knock guys down”

The Seahawks used their second pick of round four in the NFL draft, at 124th overall, to select guard Phil Haynes from Wake Forest. The 322-pound Haynes was a basketball player in high school.
The Seahawks used their second pick of round four in the NFL draft, at 124th overall, to select guard Phil Haynes from Wake Forest. The 322-pound Haynes was a basketball player in high school.

The Seahawks’ latest draft choice is their latest George Fant project.

Phil Haynes, Seattle’s second pick of the fourth round Saturday, was a basketball player who played just one year of high school football before becoming a football guard at Wake Forest.

Seattle used its 120th-overall selection in round four, its sixth choice of this draft, on another relatively inexperienced offensive linemen.

Fant was a college basketball player at Western Kentucky the Seahawks signed as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2016. Months later, despite not having played football since he was in grade school, Fant became a starting tackle for the Seahawks. Last season he was a key extra tackle as a third tight end for Seattle’s NFL-best rushing offense.

That’s what the 322-pounder likes to hear.

“I’m a physical guy. I like to run block,” Haynes said by telephone from Raleigh, N.C. Saturday.

“I think that’s why the Seahawks drafted me.”

He’s right.

“Phil is a guy that we targeted early because of his makeup and his style of play,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re really excited about how our guards have been playing. You saw us go out and get (free-agent) Mike Iupati to go along with what D.J. (Fluker. Seattle’s other starting guard) has done. We thought early on that this is a guy that can fit in the mold of that.

“He’s going to be 340 pounds. He’s a really strong, really physical guy. He likes to finish blocks and knock guys down. He’s got an attitude about him. He just looked like he would fit the bill to compete with those guys.

“We’ve been shifting gears here the last couple of years here, and this is an indication of that...specifically because of his makeup that kind of matched up with the guys that we’ve had some success with and we’re excited about it.”

The 6-foot-4 Haynes thought he was going to be a college basketball player while he was a kid in Raleigh, N.C. As the Winston Salem Journal described it, “Haynes’ basketball abilities opened the door for him to attend North Raleigh Christian Academy. His tuition was raised by Raleigh insurance broker and basketball coach Steve Sterrett, who had been inspired by the movie The Blind Side. The idea was that Haynes and another basketball player, Abdul Sesay, a refugee from Sierra Leone, would have opportunities available they wouldn’t have otherwise had by attending the private school.”

Haynes got that opportunity--in football.

“It’s been challenging,” Haynes told the Winston Salem Journal in a story published in November. “When I came in freshman year, having to learn a whole new sport, on top of com ing to college, on top of being a D-I athlete, was tough,” Haynes said. “But I feel like I’ve done a good job with it, with the help of a lot of people.

Before selecting Haynes Saturday morning, the Seahawks continued stockpiling wide receivers while Doug Baldwin contemplates retiring.

The latest one: Gary Jennings, a 6-foot-1, 216-pound physical slot receiver from West Virginia who runs a 4.42-second 40-yard dash. The Seahawks selected him with the 120th-overall choice in round 4 of the NFL draft.

Jennings had 13 touchdown catches for WVU in the wide-open Big 12 Conference last season. That was tied for sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

He is the second wide receiver Seattle has taken among its first five selections in this draft. The first was D.K. Metcalf, a hulking, 6-foot-3 speedster who runs a 4.33 40.

Just before drafting Jennings, Seattle made its sixth trade during the draft, and seventh this week, to move down six spots in the fourth round. Minnesota gave the Seahawks a sixth-round choice to move up.

Jennings is the fifth Seahawks selection in this draft. The first four Thursday and Friday: defensive end L.J. Collier, safety Marquise Blair, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and linebacker Cody Barton.

The Seahawks had five more picks in the draft over rounds four through six. They didn’t have a choice in the seventh and final round for the first time since 2000.

That is, barring yet another trade. After moving down in the fourth round Saturday Seattle had made six trades, down and up, during this draft. They’d made seven deals this week, including the trade of Frank Clark to Kansas City Monday that got the Seahawks an additional first-round selection Friday.

Seattle used that choice on Collier.

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.
Support my work with a digital subscription