Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks rookie minicamp: DK Metcalf wows, interchangeable safeties, a 6-9 tackle--and more

DK Metcalf talks about his first, impressive days with Seahawks in rookie minicamp

Big, fast wide receiver DK Metcalf talks about his first, impressive days with Seahawks in rookie minicamp.
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Big, fast wide receiver DK Metcalf talks about his first, impressive days with Seahawks in rookie minicamp.

Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi look to be interchangeable. One of those two safeties could be the Seahawks’ new nickel defensive back.

New guard Phil Haynes looks like a Mike Solari offensive lineman. That is, as big as a billboard—and wide as a garage.

There is such a thing as a 6-foot-9 tackle. Really. The Seahawks found him.

And, if you haven’t heard, DK Metcalf is a mammoth, fast, physical marvel.

Those are the prominent first impressions through two days of Seattle’s rookie minicamp this weekend alongside shimmering Lake Washington. The camp ends Sunday afternoon.

“Good weather. Good vibes. Great water,” is how Amadi, the fourth-round draft pick from the University of Oregon and Nashville, Tenn., summarized his first days in the NFL with sunny-all-over Seattle.

The picturesque, un-campus-like setting of this minicamp has included the ryhmes of Lil’ Baby, Travis Scott, YG and more blaring over the drills. Metcalf, undrafted free-agent wide receiver Jazz Ferguson and others have danced to that. It’s been as if they are now liberated from the relative structure of their college programs into Carroll’s free-flowing fun.

Yes, it’s May. Optimism blooms like the daffodils. Yet the highlights of in these no-pads, no-contact practices have been telling—at least in an initial, four-months-till-the-games-get-real way.

1. Blair and Amadi have intriguing versatility.

They’ve alternated some of the time at free safety, Amadi’s listed position, and strong safety, Blair’s listed spot.

Amadi has also been inside as the nickel defensive back against slot receivers, when the defense has been with five in the secondary. He did plenty of that at Oregon, and Seattle has a need there.

Veteran nickel man Justin Coleman left in March after two very effective seasons in Seattle to sign a free-agent deal worth $9 million per year with Detroit.

“Like I said to you guys, we’re going to start Marquise out at strong safety and Ugo’s going to play at free safety and just start gathering information,” Carroll said. “Amadi also played some nickel already (this weekend). We’re already introducing him to that. He’s played on the slot a lot in his background.

“So we just want to see how that fits and we will, but we’re going to feature him on the back-end and just to start taking info.”

Coach Pete Carroll: “It’s almost like, what doesn’t excite you” about Seahawks rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.

Bradley McDougald was brilliant last year as the starting strong safety, but has played free safety for the Seahawks and may be their best cover man in the secondary. Drafting Blair in round two and Amadi in round four are the latest hints coaches aren’t convinced Tedric Thompson, the starter for the final three months of the 2018 season after Earl Thomas broke his leg in September, is the long-term answer at free safety.

2. Carroll and general manager John Schneider have taken a particular interest in the wide-receiver drills.

And no wonder. They just added three of them, Seattle’s most taken in a draft in 38 years.

Top wide receiver Doug Baldwin has been in the team facility this weekend attempting to rehabilitate from the three surgeries he’s had this offseason, on his knee, shoulder and abdomen. But all signs remain pointed toward the 30-year-old Pro Bowl veteran retiring before the 2019 season.

“I was with him today in the training room, working out and working hard, trying to get himself right,” Carroll said. “It’s a big challenge and, you know, he’s got a lot to overcome.”

Metcalf looks so extraordinary physically, it appears he will get a chance to be the starting “X” receiver out wide on the line of scrimmage against the starting defense when training camp begins in late July.

Wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (14) grabs all the attention on the field for first day of Seahawks rookie minicamp in Renton.

Fourth-round pick Gary Jennings looks like a guy in shorts and a jersey watching, because that’s what the 6-foot-1, 216-pound receiver from West Virginia has been doing. He and seventh-round choice John Ursua from Hawaii have hamstring issues. Carroll said Jennings’ might take a couple weeks to heal.

Metcalf gets all the hype and attention. But his college teammate at Mississippi, Floyd Allen, is lightning quick. He runs sharp routes. Allen was a number-three receiver at Ole Miss behind Metcalf and A.J. Brown, a second-round pick by the Titans. He is 5-10 and 204 pounds. He’s one of 44 rookies here unsigned on a tryout basis.

He may be back for future minicamps and organized team activities (OTAs) into next month.

Brown is No. 13 here:

Ferguson, whom Seattle signed this week from lower-division Northwestern State in Louisiana, showed why he was once a top-rated LSU recruit. He is 6-4 and 240 pounds with a presence that matches his size. He’s not as smooth as Metcalf running, but that’s a high bar. Ferguson fits Carroll’s priority this year to get bigger and faster at wide receiver.

Expect him to be around a while into training camp, if not beyond.

2. About that 6-9 tackle: He’s Jordan Murray, a 346-pound tryout player from North Texas University and Coppell, Texas.

He’s been the first-team left tackle, next to left guard Haynes. He looks like the old pro wrestler Andre the Giant while standing among fellow Seahawks. Even 320-pound linemen look small next to Murray.

Where did the Seahawks find a 6-9 offensive tackle?

“I don’t know, but I have not gotten over it yet,” Carroll said. “And I’m serious, OK?

“6-9, and then you stand next to him or anybody stands next to him and he just, he just makes everybody look like a punk, you know?...I stood well away from him whenever I had a chance.”

3. Haynes, while not 6-9, looks like a road-grader. The type of blocker second-year line coach Solari wants for his man-on-man schemes. The 6-4, 322-pound guard, the team’s second pick of round four last week, is a Seahawk because of his run blocking. And upon first glance he looks in the mold of starting guard D.J. Fluker, though not quite as massive width-wise.

Carroll said an adjustment for Haynes will be one common for today’s college football player: getting used to putting his hand on the ground in a three-point stance and firing low off the ball. College offenses throw so many quick passes out of spread offenses now, most linemen just stay in two-point stances standing up. That’s what Haynes, a basketball player for three of his four years of high school, did at Wake Forest.

“Really wanting to see Phil Haynes you know, move his feet, and see him get in a stance for the first time. The whole (college) season he’s in a two-point stance,” Carroll said. “So just to see him make that transition and see what it looks like. Can he get in and out of it and then just kinda let the games begin?

“You know, it’s just a constant gathering of information for all the guys.”

4. Seattle’s two drafted linebackers are assuming their roles right away. And they are different than expected.

Ben Burr-Kirven was a middle linebacker for the Washington Huskies, except for a brief time as a weakside linebacker upon his arrival at UW. This weekend the fifth-round pick is not a middle linebacker. He on the weakside.

“It’s different,” Burr-Kirven said, while saying of the Seahawks drafting him: “I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better than this.”

Third-round pick Cody Barton has been exclusively a middle (“mike”) linebacker, after Carroll said last week when he drafted Barton he would be at weakside.

He was outside and inside playing his college football at Utah.

“I love ‘mike,’” Barton said Saturday.

This week he got his team-issued iPad, wrote down every one of the calls in the Seahawks’ thick defensive playbook—and has impressed Carroll with how quickly he has picked up Seattle’s basic calls and fronts.

The middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense, calling the plays to teammates in the huddle and then adjustments to the formation in the seconds before the snap.

“Both (Burr-Kirven) and Cody were really impressive just throughout the first day to have so much command of what we were doing,” Carroll said Friday. “The communications and their awareness and changing the fonts and doing the things they had to do, they were really good at it.

“It’s hard to imagine with even as simple as the installation is, it’s still a lot, and the offense is doing enough formationally that that challenges them. But I kind of tie those guys together, that they’re impressive just they’re going to be able to learn the whole thing. So that means that both Cody, who has played a bunch of spots, and we’ve seen BBK play in and out of the box, both of those guys are going to have great versatility in time.”

5. The Seahawks want to find a third quarterback in this minicamp, to have for the preseason behind Russell Wilson and backup Paxton Lynch. They always have at least three for the preseason, to at a minimum save wear and tear on the top two’s throwing arms but to have a backup in reserve, just in case.

The best-looking thrower this weekend has been Troy Williams, the former University of Washington transfer from Utah. The other quarterbacks in this camp are Taryn Christion from South Dakota State and Michael O”Connor from the University of British Columbia.

Friday in the first practice of the minicamp O’Connor angered exacting offensive coordinator Brian Schotteneimer. First, O’Connor was under center when the play call was for shotgun formation. Then in the same sequence he forget to send a receiver in motion before the snap. Then the snap sailed through both his hands. Schottenheimer tossed O’Connor out of the drill and put Williams back in. Williams calmly executed the play and completed the pass.

Saturday, right after O’Connor threw 5 yards behind a receiver sprinting on a go route down right sideline Williams lofted a ball on the same route onto the receiver’s hands in stride. Later, in 7-on-7 scrimmaging, Schottenheimer pulled O’Connor and then Christion from the huddle to insert Williams for a particular pass play.

One of those was a rainbow down the right sideline from Williams in Metcalf’s impressive stride for 45 yards.

“Well, he’s really athletic. He seems real comfortable with the position. He’s a poised athlete, poised performer,” Carroll said of Williams, who first came to UW in 2013 from his native Carson, Calif., as a recruit of former Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian.

Williams redshirted in what became Sarkisian’s last season at Washington before he took the head job at USC. Williams started one game for new Huskies coach Chris Petersen, then transferred when it became apparent Jake Browning was Petersen’s QB for the coming years at UW. Williams transferred to Santa Monica College, and then to Utah. He finally became a full-time starter in the Pac-12 for the Utes.

“You know, you can tell that he’s been around,” Carroll said. “He did a nice job.”

How important is it the Seahawks get their third quarterback out of this camp?

“Well, it’s really important, getting ready for camp. We’ve got to figure that out,” Carroll said. “And these guys are going to get a chance to show us. We’ll take a look at where we come out of it on Sunday.

“You know, they’re swamped right now with what they learned and what they’re learning and trying to execute and everything. I mean, it’s so hard. So we’ll see in a couple of days.

“But yeah, these guys got a shot at it.”

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.