Rookie minicamp begins on Friday for the Seattle Seahawks, and all 11 draft picks are expected to be there, along with the nine undrafted rookie free agents signed two weeks ago.
The Seahawks will practice Friday and Saturday afternoon, and finish off the three-day session on Sunday morning. All three sessions will be open to the media, so we’ll have practice reports on the blog each day.
The roster still is being finalized for tomorrow, but if it becomes available I will pass it along later today.
A year ago this week, Russell Wilson took the first step toward winning the starting job by wowing Seattle’s coaching staff with his performance over the weekend, leading to Pete Carroll announcing that he was part of the competition for the starting quarterback job.
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I remember thinking the announcement was typical Carroll – a move to create some buzz during the off time leading up until training camp. But then I bumped into the Seattle head coach as I was leaving the facility, and he continued to rave about Wilson’s performance, noting how much farther along he was in learning the playbook and executing on the field.
It was my first real insight into how much Carroll and the coaching staff really believed in Wilson’s ability to seize control of the job.
That said, here’s five things to look for heading into this weekend’s three-day practice session for the upcoming rookies.
Can Jordan Hill help jumpstart Seattle’s pass rush?
I think if third round draft choice Jordan Hill plays up to his potential, he could have the type of impact defensively for Seattle that Russell Wilson had for the Seahawks offensively last season, helping to jumpstart the team’s pass rush.
What I like about Hill in watching some of his highlights from Penn State is his quickness off the ball and his ability to finish. And you rarely see him quit on plays. He uses his hands pretty well, plays with good field awareness and does a nice job of locating where the ball is.
Carroll and general manager John Schneider said that Hill will get an opportunity to compete for one of the rotational positions inside as a third down pass rusher. But I think Hill also is solid against the run, and if he’s ready to compete, he could have a chance to earn the starting defensive tackle job next to Brandon Mebane if others falter. I really like his versatility inside as a player who can line up on the nose or at 3-tech.
Can Chris Harper create explosive plays?
There’s no questioning fourth round pick Chris Harper’s physical prowess.
At 6-1 and 234 pounds, he ran a 4.46-second, 40-yard dash, posted a 35-inch vertical jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times.
He appears to have the physical tools to win contested catches in the NFL, which helps moves the chains. But what I wonder about is Harper’s ability to consistently create separation at the next level, providing a window for Wilson to deliver the ball to him. And I also have questions about his short-area quickness to avoid defenders in order to create more explosive plays.
I know Harper had Tim Tebow Jr. in Collin Klein throwing to him at Kansas State. Harper had a respectable seven catches of 25 yards or more in 2012, but just three touchdowns. Bringing in players that can create explosive plays and score touchdowns is something the Seahawks put a premium on.
Is Christine Michael coachable?
We really won’t know the answer to this question for a couple months, but Texas A&M running back Christine Michael can begin to put to bed doubts about his ability to handle tough coaching by showing up, working hard and continuing to say all the right things over the weekend.
Michael is not expected to supplant Marshawn Lynch or Robert Turbin in the pecking order at running back. But the Seahawks do want him to come in and compete, and show that he can contribute as a special teams player in his rookie season.
And Michael couldn’t have landed a better coach/mentor in Seahawks running backs coach Sherman Smith, who has a great rapport with all the guys in the running back room.
Which fifth round pick steps up?
Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams, Louisiana cornerback Tharold Simon and tight end Luke Willson all have uphill climbs to supplant players on the back end of Seattle’s roster in earning a spot on the team.
Williams has the best shot because he fills a specific need as a run-stuffing defensive tackle on early downs.
Simon, at 6-2 and 205 pounds, has the most upside because of his size, ball-hawking ability and ability to special teams.
Willson is the most intriguing prospect because of his 4.5 speed at 251 pounds. Still, it’s hard to look past the fact that he finished with just nine catches in his final college season.
Which undrafted rookie free agent has a chance to make the final roster?
An undrafted rookie free agent has scratched their way onto Seattle’s roster in each of Carroll’s first three seasons with the Seahawks.
In 2010, center Lemuel Jeanpierre, linebacker Joe Pawelek and defensive backs Josh Pinkard and Marcus Brown all finished the season on the active roster.
In 2011, safety Jeron Johnson won a job over fifth-round draft choice Mark LeGree, while receiver Doug Baldwin, quarterback Josh Portis and offensive lineman Jarriel King fought their way onto the roster on offense.
In 2012, tight end Sean McGrath, cornerback DeShawn Shead, offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson and receiver Jermaine Kearse all finished the season on the active roster.
Two undrafted rookie free agents I’m interested in seeing this weekend are Southern Illinois defensive end Kenneth Boatright and Arkansas offensive guard Alvin Bailey.
At 6-4 and 253 pounds, Boatright finished with 12 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in two seasons with the Salukis.
Bailey entered the draft early and was projected by some draft analysts as a mid-to-late round draft pick, but fell to the Seahawks as a priority undrafted rookie free agent.
He started 26 games for the Razerbacks. At 6-3 and 312 pounds, Bailey ran a 4.95-second, 40-yard time at the scouting combine.