Seahawks Insider Blog

Rookie minicamp Friday, Saturday, Sunday -- likely with some increased scrutiny

The Seahawks announced yesterday their rookie minicamp this week will be on-field practices Friday, Saturday and Sunday at their team headquarters in Renton.

All eight of their draft picks from last weekend plus 12 undrafted free agents who agreed to terms soon after the draft ended last Saturday night are expected to be at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center for the first time as members of the two-time defending NFC champions.

That includes Nate Boyer, the 34-year-old ex-U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who served three war tours in Iraq and Afghanistan then walked onto the University of Texas' team for his first games of competitive football as a long snapper. Looking forward to talking to him this weekend, and not just about football.

The minicamp will also include Seattle's top pick, Frank Clark. That may bring more people out to talk about this: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times doing something his story subjects claim the Seahawks did not do, interviewing the witnesses other than Clark that reported an alleged assault and domestic-violence incident involving the former Michigan pass rusher.

In that story published in today's paper, the Times reported this:

"The Seahawks issued a statement saying the team conducted 'confidential interviews with people directly involved with the case.'

But other than Clark, the statement added, the team did not 'speak directly to any witnesses from that night.'

The team’s investigation 'provided our organization with an in-depth understanding of the situation and background,' the statement said.

Deadspin this morning was the latest national outlet to criticize the Seahawks for drafting Clark.

A correction to the Deadspin account: Seattle general manager John Schneider said Friday team personnel did talk to more than just Clark, to counselors who have worked with both Clark and his alleged victim, his girlfriend who was 20 at the time. Schneider said those counselors told the team that she corroborated Clark's account that he did not hit her. Asked if anyone from the team had spoken directly to the alleged victim, the GM said he personally had not.

"No, I did not. No, nobody in our organization did specifically," Schneider said Friday, "but you can get to those things.

“She was interviewed by specific people… We interviewed the counselors who were involved with the two of them.”

Coach Pete Carroll, sitting next to his GM Friday night at team headquarters, added: "She collaborated to the way the case was handled at the end in a supportive fashion. That was clear.”

Schneider said the Seahawks weren't alone at the bottom of the second round in wanting to select Clark.

“There were a number of teams," Schneider said. "Quite frankly, it was very hairy in whether or not he was going to get to us. Everybody knew it was going to be this area where everybody is going to be comfortable selecting Frank. But no, there was no specific approval by the NFL for Frank. There are a number of players in this draft, starting pretty high, that have been scrutinized.

"I think it was a process. The most interesting thing is that I was there two days after it happened, so our area guy went through there twice. Ed Dodds, our regional scout, went through their twice and went back and spent several days there. Like I said, the easiest thing to do is completely dismiss this. I think over time things became clearer and clearer as things built up through the evaluation process. We brought him out here, too, and met with our sports psychologist, and like I said, it was very extensive and built over time.”

When I asked Carroll if he was worried about the perception of drafting Clark, the coach said: “We are concerned, of course we are. We are very sensitive to that. That’s why we had to do such a thorough job and understand what was at hand so we could clearly come to the right decision.

"Every guy is an individual case and that’s why our guys did such a thorough job and that our guys came to the conclusion and give this man the opportunity that he will come through and that it was a good decision. We would not have done this—we would not have gotten to this point, realizing there is going to be the questions and the scrutiny -- if we didn’t know we were doing the right thing.”

Whatever you feel of the Seahawks' investigation described by Schenider Friday night -- and, yes, I've been seeing on here the dismay with how the team is being portrayed -- at the very least we can all agree this issue is going to be with Clark as his NFL career begins. That's the consequence of how the NFL at large has handled domestic-violence issues in the last year, Ray Rice being the most infamous example.

As discussed here Saturday morning, the Seahawks didn't have to have domestic violence as part of its post-draft discussion or as an issue surrounding the team. But that's what they have now.

--My News Tribune colleague Dave Boling wrote about how the fallout of the Seahawks drafting Clark "advanced an important debate and kept a spotlight on a serious social issue."

Boling also describes Schneider's appearance on the team's flagship radio station in Seattle on Monday in which he talked more about the team's process in selecting Clark.

Boling also goes into his analysis of what the Seahawks can do on the field with each of their eight picks. He points out Clark can play the same "LEO" rush end position as Cliff Avril, whose concussion in the second half of Super Bowl 49 coincided with the Patriots scoring the final two touchdowns in their rally to win.

Boling also calls third-round pick Tyler Lockett an "immediate upgrade" to the punt- and kickoff-return games that were perhaps the two weakest areas of the team last season. He likes the drafting of three offensive linemen to fill the team's most obvious need, and how tough seventh-round pick Ryan Murphy, the safety from Oregon State, must be -- since he's a cousin of Marshawn Lynch.

"Like everybody else’s draft, the Seahawks picked up a couple guys who can help right away, with the rest being long-term projects and rolls of the dice," Boling concluded.

"Unlike most other teams, though, the Seahawks don’t need much out of this class to continue as top contenders."