Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks draft Oregon safety Ugo Amadi knowing his experience as a nickel defensive back

The Seahawks selected safety Ugo Amadi in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday knowing he has played nickel defensive back inside against slot receivers often in his time at Oregon.
The Seahawks selected safety Ugo Amadi in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday knowing he has played nickel defensive back inside against slot receivers often in his time at Oregon.

Perhaps the surest way a player drafted on the third and final day of the NFL draft can stick with the team that selects him is by living by the proven adage “the more you can do.”

The more safety Ugo Amadi can do is why the Seahawks drafted him.

Seattle made Amadi its third choice in Saturday’s fourth round as much for his extensive experience playing nickel defensive back inside against slot receivers as for his listed job as the University of Oregon’s free safety the last few years.

“They want me to do everything,” Amadi said by telephone Saturday from his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., which also happened to be where this draft went on this weekend. “Nickel corner, safety, special teams—everything.

“A Swiss Army knife.”

The more you can do...

The Seahawks lost nickel back Justin Coleman to Detroit in a $9-million free-agent deal last month.

How big a loss is that?

Coleman was one of the most consistently effective defenders Seattle had the last two seasons. The Seahawks have been in nickel defense, with a fifth defensive back, Coleman, about two-thirds of the time the last two seasons. In today’s passing-all-over NFL, a nickel defensive back is essentially a starter and regular.

Seattle re-signed defensive back Akeem King to a one-year contract worth $1.4 million this offseason with a thought he could potentially replace Coleman at nickel. But the 26-year-old King, a free-agent signing in 2017, remains unproven. He has played in just 17 games with one start in the four years since he entered the NFL with Atlanta in 2015.

The Seahawks’ nickel job for 2019 could be wide open in training camp this summer.

Seattle’s base defense is a 4-3 scheme. But in recent seasons the team has been in 4-2-5, with five defensive backs and the starting strongside linebacker on the sideline, more times than it has been in a 4-3.

“I played two years of corner, two years of safety, and two years of nickel,” Amadi said.

“And four years of special teams.”

Ah, yes, the other skill third-day draft picks need to stick in the NFL. Proving themselves on special teams—on the kickoff, kickoff-return, punt and punt-return teams—is a must.

And that’s where Amadi and fellow Saturdays draft choices Gary Jennings and Ben Burr-Kirven are going to get their first tests as Seahawks.

But it’s Amadi’s experience and skill at nickel back that intrigues. It could potentially fill a need.

“You have to be able to play with leverage at nickel,” he said. “Because the receiver has the two-way going in the middle of the field most of the time, so you have learn how to use your help (teammates in the middle of the field). That’s probably what helped take my game to another level, because I understand leverage.”

It got him drafted by the Seahawks.

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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