One of the rookies I’m looking forward to watching once training camp begins is Seattle Seahawks fifth round selection Mark LeGree.
The Appalachian State product was drafted 156th overall by Seattle, and could compete for a starting safety spot with Kam Chancellor, if the Seahawks do not bring back veteran Lawyer Milloy.
Take a quick glance at LeGree’s college stats, and you understand that he has some serious playmaking ability. He finished with a school-record 22 interceptions and also forced two fumbles during his time at Appalachian State. But watching his highlight tape, LeGree also looks like a sure tackler in the open field who plays sound fundamental football.
What LeGree, 22, would do for Seattle is play center field in passing situations, freeing up Earl Thomas to make plays closer to the line of scrimmage.
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If you’re looking for a comparison, think about what Ryan Clark does for Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh, serving as a safety valve for the talented USC product to play instinctive football, and I think you get an idea of what LeGree could do in Seattle.
LeGree’s combine numbers back up the fact that he’s a pretty good athlete. At 6-foot, 210 pounds, he ran a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, repped 225 pounds 21 times in the bench press, posted a mark of 31 inches in the vertical jump and went 9 feet, 4 inches in the broad jump – all top 10 marks among his position group.
And despite the fact he played at a FCS division level program, Seahawks general manager John Schneider thinks that’s a competitive brand of football, and LeGree is talented enough to have an impact in the league.
“We love that this guy’s a playmaker,” Schneider said about LeGree after the draft. “Very few guys have intercepted 20-something balls in their college career, so we know he’s an interceptor. Like when we took Earl last year, we wanted a guy that made plays. Well, this guy’s made a bunch of them.
“Hopefully, that will translate and give us a guy who can play on the deep end, and that will allow us to move Earl some more.”
A competitive edge: One thing that drew Seattle to LeGree was his competitive nature, which really shows up on his highlight package.
“He’s able to play strong safety and free safety,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, when asked if LeGree will get an opportunity to compete for a starting job. “We really need to get him on the field to find that out. Right now, it’s just a matter of just learning the system and getting him going. Eventually, I think he’ll be able to play nickel free safety, and it helps him to learn the free safety spot first.”
“I’m a competitor, an instinctive player,” said LeGree when asked to describe his game. “I can play the single high safety, and I can pick off the deep ball.”
Working during the lockout: Like all rookies, LeGree hasn’t had an opportunity to sign a contract because of the lockout. But during an interview with FieldGulls, LeGree said that he was working for a general contractor during the lockout for some extra cash until the season started.
“I worked for him last summer,” Legree said. “I don’t really have any construction skills (laughing), it’s more like a favor they’re doing for me, but I just mostly do easy stuff like cleaning and organizing. They don't want me to get hurt.”
2011 expectations: LeGree will get a chance to earn some playing time this season, likely competing with Chancellor for a starting safety job opposite Earl Thomas. I also expect LeGree to develop into a core special teams player for Seattle with his combination of size, speed and tackling ability.
Check out highlights of LeGree in the video below.
Schneider talks about LeGree in this rookie spotlight video link.