Seattle Seahawks

DK Metcalf marveled, safeties unsettled, kicker trusted, more takeaways from Seahawks minicamp

The Seahawks knew when they traded up and drafted DK Metcalf they were getting a physical freak.

Who didn’t? A player coming out of college couldn’t be more Googled and ga-ga-ed over than Metcalf. His 6-foot-3, 229-pound frame, 4.33-second speed in the 40-yard dash and body fat purported to be 1.6 percent plus smashing pre-draft workouts made national headlines and went viral this winter.

“He was as hyped as anyone could be hyped through this (pre-draft) process,” Carroll said.

But the Seahawks did not know they were getting a savvy technician in their hulking wide receiver. They didn’t think the rookie second-round choice from Mississippi had the fundamentals and polish to play right now in the NFL.

They know now.

“Very natural player, yeah. Yeah,” Carroll said after minicamp and thus offseason workouts ended Thursday. “He doesn’t have any trouble doing anything we are doing. It looks like he’s done it before.

“He’s got to get more disciplined. He’s got splits and rules and all kinds of stuff that he’s got to get right. But the physical things... he can do it. The route changes that we are doing, the adjustments, his body control. He’s really been a marvelous competitor in this camp, now.

“We’ve seen plays every day that look special. And most of it comes out of, one is his speed, but the other is his catching range. He can get out away from his body and get up off his feet and make really special catches.

“So we don’t see any hindrance, restriction, at all. He’s in here competing to play.”

The job of being Seattle’s new “X” receiver, on the line opposite the tight end, is Metcalf’s for the taking. That wasn’t apparent when the team traded up with New England to draft Metcalf with the final pick of round two.

“I think DK is looking really, really special,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after making every throw imaginable to the rookie in 13 practices over the last month. “He can do anything and everything. And he’s tremendous.”

That was the biggest revelation the Seahawks learned from three days of mandatory minicamp and in 10 practices of organized team activities beginning last month.

Here are five other developments to come out of the team’s last month of offseason practices:

1. Still at square one at both safety spots

The decision on who starts at strong and free safety in 2019 hinges on the preseason performances of Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill and Marquise Blair.

None of them practiced in minicamp. McDougald missed all offseason workouts following surgery in late spring for a partially torn patellar tendon in his knee.

Hill was the backup to McDougald at strong safety last season. He also missed all offseason workouts following shoulder surgery. Blair, the rookie second-round pick from Utah, missed the last week of practices with a hamstring injury.

Carroll said all three safeties will be practicing when training camp begins July 25.

The Seahawks drafted Blair because of his hitting; general manager John Schneider has called him a “silent assassin.” Hill replaced McDougald at strong safety for series during games over the last 2 1/2 months of the 2018 season after McDougald began feeling pain in his knee.

If Blair shows during preseason what he showed at Utah, he could be the strong safety and McDougald could replace inconsistent Tedric Thompson as the free safety.

McDougald has played both spots in his two seasons with the Seahawks. Carroll has said McDougald may be the team’s best cover defensive back. Plus the coach likes the seventh-year veteran’s ability to see the entire field and make the right calls before snaps, as a free safety most often does.

The first safeties during minicamp were Thompson at free and 2018 special-teams player Shalom Luani at strong. Free safety Ugo Amadi, the rookie fourth-round pick from Oregon, and undrafted rookie strong safety Jalen Harvey from Arizona State were the second pairing.

McDougald said Wednesday he is preparing to be the starting strong safety, and that he prefers that position because it is closer to the line of scrimmage where he can have a more immediate impact on plays.

We’ll see, Carroll said.

“It’s a little bit difficult (to assess), because Bradley’s not out there,” the coach said Thursday. “Bradley really has been the leader, and the best communicator for us, the experience and all of that. And Delano Hill hasn’t been there. He made a big push at the end of last year and he’s a guy that we really think is in the mix.

“We are going to have to reserve judgment a little bit, how it’s going to wind up for the starting spots. It was really good for the younger guys to get the reps; Amadi got all kinds of turns. We missed out also on Marquise not getting his time.

“So it’s going to be an interesting spot. When we come back to camp we are going to have to make up a lot of ground there. I think Bradley is scheduled to be fine first day of camp and should be out there going. That will be really important. He will help us continuity-wise...

“There’s going to be some comp there. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.”

2. Carroll trusts his new kicker

Carroll began his press conference Thursday with an unsolicited rave for Jason Myers. The guy Carroll and Schneider cut 10 months ago before his competition with Sebastian Janikowski truly got going in 2018’s preseason games is Seattle’s new kicker for 2019.

Myers signed this winter after his one, Pro Bowl season for the New York Jets.

He made three more kicks to end practice on Thursday. Aside from a couple misses from 48 and 56 yards on Tuesday, Myers was close to perfect on field goals in OTAs and the minicamp.

Three months before his first game with the Seahawks, Carroll is already saying the investment of $7 million guaranteed this year and next with a $4 million signing bonus for Myers is well worth it.

“He did a great job throughout this offseason. We’re really fortunate to have him,” Carroll said. “Just consistency was really there and the leg power and all that working together with Michael (Dickson, the holder) and (long snapper) Tyler Ott. Those guys did a great job.

“So that move that we made to get him, I think is going to work out great for us and it’s going to give us the confidence to utilize the kicker like you’d hope to in crucial situations, long balls when we got to go for it. We’re going to be playing with a lot of confidence in that regard.”

3. David Moore is adapting — because he has to

With Metcalf emerging and rookie fourth-round pick Gary Jennings getting back from a hamstring strain, Moore needs new jobs. So Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer moved him around this offseason, from flanker, to split end, to slot receiver.

The seventh-round draft choice from 2017 had four touchdowns in two games on the outside last October. Then he mostly vanished in November and December into January’s playoff loss at Dallas.

Seattle drafted three wide receivers this spring. Tyler Lockett is also a move-around guy who is best suited to replace retiring Doug Baldwin as the primary slot receiver.

Moore must do more to stick this season.

“I feel pretty comfortable with it now. I’ve been getting a lot of help with it by Doug and Tyler, teaching me ‘Z’ and ‘X’, which they want me to start doing, and little bit of ‘F’ (slot),” Moore said this week. “Just taking all I can in, getting better every day. Taking it home, studying. It’s helping me out a lot.”

That’s three different concepts, three different sets of routes and releases off the line.

Yes, Moore’s learning is going to last all summer. Results need to accompany that.

“I’m ready to take on the role that I need to take on,” he said. “Doug left some big shoes that we all have to fill.”

4. Experience at backup QB—finally

Carroll has said that repeatedly this week he values new backup quarterback Geno Smith for his time as a starter for the New York Jets and Giants. The Seahawks haven’t had a backup with extensive experience starting in the league since Tarvaris Jackson last backed up Wilson.

That was in 2015.

The Seahawks signed Smith in May, four months after they signed former Denver first-round pick Paxton Lynch.

“You can tell Geno’s played a little bit more, been around more,” Carroll said.

Smith and Lynch alternated as the No. 2 quarterback in OTAs and the minicamp. Lynch looked more accurate with his throws. Schottenheimer and Carroll lauded Smith for his commanding presence on the field and in the huddle.

“I like what I see in the competition,” Carroll said.

Carroll said it’s likely to come down to their performances in three of the four preseason games. Wilson will start and play extensively only in the third one, Aug. 24 at the Los Angeles Chargers.

5. Shaquem Griffin is better returning to his college role

The Seahawks tried Griffin as an off-the-ball weakside linebacker last season. That’s where the story of the 2018 NFL draft started in his first NFL game, last September at Denver for injured K.J. Wright.

Griffin lasted one quarter before he got benched. Backup middle linebacker Austin Calitro replaced him, and Seattle then signed Mychal Kendricks to replace Wright.

Seattle re-signed Wright and Kendricks to be their outside linebackers. And this offseason they moved Griffin to what he was when he starred at the University of Central Florida: an edge-rushing linebacker attacking the line at the snap.

“This is just like UCF,” he said.

He played both weakside and strongside linebacker in OTAs and minicamp. But the coaches are asking him to do less reading, more seeking and destroying of quarterbacks and ball carriers in hopes to unleash his speed.

So far, it’s working.

“I just feel so much better,” Griffin said.

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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