For three days this weekend, we get to sort through the Seattle Seahawks’ shopping cart.
Yes, their recent draftees and undrafted free-agent signees will be running around in skivvies in the company of next week’s insurance salesmen, but there’s still value in seeing the new beef on the hoof at the annual rookie minicamp.
So many questions.
Is receiver Paul Richardson as skinny as he sounds at 6 feet, 175 pounds? How huge is tackle Justin Britt? How fast is linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis?
And is 5-foot-8, 247-pound fullback Kiero Small actually the size and shape of a Smart car?
Coach Pete Carroll is unrelentingly positive as it is, so we can expect him to praise the play of everybody who shows up. But when you ask him a general
question, he often will give you answers in the order of things that most impress him.
At last spring’s rookie minicamp, for instance, he first cited tight end Luke Willson and the play of tackles Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey. Those three ended up seeing the most action of the rookies during the season.
As for the most unexpected surprise, Carroll offered, “The kid from Idaho, Benson Mayowa.” Mayowa showed such a knack for rushing off the edge that he ended up earning a surprise roster spot despite first getting noticed at the cattle call that was the regional combine.
Carroll clearly takes performance during these three days seriously.
As the first player the Seahawks drafted this year, Richardson (taken in the second round, 45th overall) will be the focus. Although listed at 175 pounds, Richardson said he played parts of last season for Colorado at 158.
We can look back for comparison with 2009 third-round pick Deon Butler (Penn State), who at times was generously listed at 5-11, 182. He was a burner like Richardson with sub-4.4-second 40-yard-dash times.
With injuries that included a gruesome broken leg, Butler’s four-year career with Seattle ended with 57 total catches and four touchdowns. Worries about his vulnerability to injury were proven valid.
At 6-6, 325, Britt is similar in size to the man he might replace at right tackle, Breno Giacomini (6-7, 318). Bowie showed enough promise as a rookie when Giacomini was hurt that Britt will have a fight to get a start. But if both prove efficient, one might slide over as an upgrade at one of the guard spots.
Boston College linebacker Pierre-Louis is just a few pounds heavier than Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, but like Smith, he’s speedy. His 4.51 in the 40 was the fastest of linebackers at this year’s combine.
But his quickness must be more remarkable than his speed. His time over 10 yards (1.56) is the same as Richardson’s. And as fast as Smith has been, Pierre-Louis was even quicker in the cone drills than Smith during his pro day.
The times don’t mean much relative to what these guys show when the ball is snapped. But it’s fair to remember that Smith got time to learn his craft, as he was well into his third season before he started getting a great deal of playing time.
Small, meanwhile, is a human misnomer. Relative to massive safety Kam Chancellor, Small is 15 pounds heavier and 7 inches shorter.
On the play of Small, general manager John Schneider called him “a total thumper” who plays really low. As if he has an option.
The other draft picks and free agents have stories, too, but it’s hard to focus on everybody in a short camp. And supersized cornerback Eric Pinkins of San Diego State will be another who likely stands out for his unique qualities.
But the player they targeted and were most surprised was still available when they got to him was Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood in the fourth round.
At Alabama, they called him “Mr. Clutch” because of his penchant for making big plays in the big games. So his best attributes might not show during a weekend of workouts in shorts.
“There’s nothing overly flashy about him except that he’s incredibly tough and reliable and smart and savvy,” Schneider said.
But if he shows it, Carroll will notice it.