Seahawks Insider Blog

Seahawks' 6th round: high-jumping, triple-jumping WR-turned-DE Obum Gwacham + a 3rd OL pick, Albania native Kristjan Sokoli

Pete Carroll loves athleticism.

Get a load of the athlete the coach and his Seahawks just selected in the sixth round, the 209th overall choice in the NFL draft.

Oregon State moved 6-foot-5, 245-pound defensive end Obum Gwacham from wide receiver last year for his senior season; Gwacham said the move happened during Christmas break immediately after his junior season.

"I bought in," he said.

And not just to the position change. He played wide receiver at 220 pounds. He got as high as 255 and is now at 245. He credits visits to Chipotle in Corvallis "two or three times a day" for him gaining 20 pounds in seven weeks. He loves the chicken bowls with corn and black beans.

Oregon State made him a situational pass rusher. He had four sacks in 12 games in that role. He also high jumped 7 feet 1 inches and was also a triple-jumper for the Beavers' track team.

He was a first-team Pac-12 All-Academic selection and did mission work in the Dominican Republic for Oregon State's "Beavers Without Borders" program. He moved to the United States from Nigeria at age 7 -- after his family won what he called a "visa lottery" in a huge stroke of luck, to move with relatives in Southern California.

While at Oregon State majoring in marketing with an option in entrepreneurship, Gwacham was part of his school's "Beavers Without Borders" program. His academic overseas trip was to impoverished parts of the Dominican Republic. It humbled him.

"I saw a lot of things I really take for granted," he said. "Kids in tattered clothes, still out playing and having fun. Makes me think of when I was a little bit younger, and a lot of things that I took for granted -- like clean water."

As for football, he is grounded enough to say he knows he is just scratching the surface of what he needs to know as a pass-rushing defensive end. That's the role the Seahawks have discussed for Gwacham. He also already knows the value of being able to earn a spot on the two-time defending NFC champions through tireless, often thankless work on special-teams units this coming preseason.

Now he is on a team that can never have too many pass rushers.

You can listen to the insightful Gwacham here:

Seahawks fans, enjoy this 24-year old.

Or this pick:

Seattle's second choice of the sixth round, at 214th overall, continued the team's international portion of this draft. Seattle's seventh of eight picks in this draft: Albania native Kristjan Sokoli, who was a defensive tackle at the University of Buffalo. But he is the third offensive lineman the Seahawks took in five picks Saturday; Seattle already lists Sokoli as a guard.

He said the Seahawks were the first -- and only -- team to suggest him as a guard. There's a recent and pertinent precedent here: Seattle and offensive-line coach Tom Cable turned former seventh-round pick J.R. Sweezy from college defensive tackle to starting right guard a few years ago.

Sokoli knew that -- and this opportunity thrills him. Starting left guard James Carpenter left in March as a free agent, signing with the New York Jets. So there's a job waiting to be won, with Sokoli and two fourth-round choices from earlier Saturday, Terry Poole of San Diego State and Mark Glowinski of West Virginia, ready to battle as rookies against incumbent, third-year backup Alvin Bailey.

"I was extremely excited to get a shot with the Seahawks, obviously a great team," Sokoli said. "They were really genuine. ... I think (offensive-line coach) Tom Cable saw my competitive spirit.

"Now that's it's really official, it's unreal."

Asked

"I played left tackle for Coach Carter for the Bloomfield High School, if that counts."

He's 6 feet 5 and 300 pounds and says, given his Eastern European soccer background, he could make a 50-yard field goal in a pinch -- though that one the Seahawks and kicker Steven Hauschka don't ever want to occur. Sokoli was athletic enough to play defensive end, tight end, left tackle, punter and kicker in high school in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

That was after he moved from Albania at age 9. That was after his father moved to the U.S. at age 5 asking for political asylum. His mother moved to the U.S. when he was 7. He lived with his uncle in the two years until he could rejoin his parents.

And that was a few years after the Balkan-region nation had an uprising that toppled the government and killed more than 2,000 people, during the turmoil between the fall of Communism and a transition to democracy in the 1990s.

"I'm extremely appreciative. To me, it's about making myself proud, my family -- but most of all all Albanians," he said. "For me to come from Albania ... this is for my whole Albania."

Here is the audio of Sokoli off his conference call:

Seattle's final pick, in the seventh round, is safety Ryan Murphy from Oregon State. He went to the same high school as Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Tech in the Bay Area, and lists the Seahawks' star running back as a mentor.

The Seahawks list Murphy as a strong safety. Oregon State said he was 6-3; the Seahawks have him at 6 feet and 1/2 inch, 214 pounds.

So after a Friday of drama and uproar -- picking Frank Clark, a controversial defensive end kicked out of Michigan's program last November following a jailing and charge of assault and domestic violence, and then a sub-6-foot wide receiver, Tyler Lockett, to be their new kickoff and punt returner, the Seahawks filled needs today. Their six picks: three offensive linemen, two of which (Terry Poole and Mark Glowinksi) can play all three positions on the interior line; plus two defensive backs and another pass rusher.

  Comments