By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
RENTON — Five drafts into their work as the general manager and head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, John Schneider and Pete Carroll have proven their affinity for obscurity.
Among the names flashing across television screens when the Seahawks made seven picks to close their NFL draft Saturday were these previously non-notables: defensive tackle Jimmy Staten of Middle Tennessee State; offensive tackle Garrett Scott from Marshall; fullback Kiero Small from Arkansas.
Mixed in with those later-round picks were players from more prominent football universities. Wide receiver Kevin Norwood from the esteemed program at Alabama was grabbed in the fourth round. Defensive end Cassius Marsh of UCLA was the Seahawks’ first pick of the final day of the draft, which covered rounds four through seven.
Two others arrived with intrigue. Boston College linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis was picked as the third and final selection for the Seahawks in the fourth round. He racked up 360 tackles during his four years at Boston College, during which he started all 44 games he played. Seahawks’ northeast area scout Todd Brunner compared him to San Francisco All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman, whom Brunner scouted while working with the 49ers.
When told of the comparison, Schneider said with a laugh, “Slow down, Todd.”
San Diego State safety Eric Pinkins was not invited to the NFL Combine — one of four Saturday picks by the Seahawks who was not — despite workout numbers that could make someone boast. Pinkins is 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and had a 39.5-inch vertical leap at his pro day.
Pinkins played what is labeled as “warrior” safety at San Diego State, which is a more hybrid role than the traditional strong or free safety. Being non-traditional attracted the Seahawks to him. It also prompted them to look at Pinkins as a cornerback, bringing memories of 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner.
“We’d like to see, can we package this thing so he can play outside?” Carroll said. “It’s going to be a transition for him, but we’re willing to go through it.”
That’s a valid summary of the Seahawks’ draft perspective. The defending Super Bowl champions can gamble and be selective, trying to take players like Pinkins and fit them around a specific skill in a talent-laden roster. The ambitious youngsters also offer a nice prod to the established players.
“There’s so much competitiveness, these guys are on edge, they’re confident, so you have to have a certain mentality to be able to battle,” Schneider said. “You’ve got to bring it right away. Right when you walk in the door, you’ve got to bring it.”
It was as if Carroll had pulled a cord on the backs of the new players. No matter position or college, they each repeatedly talked about competing, Carroll’s favorite term.
Particularly the aggressive Marsh. In 2011, the defensive end was suspended two games for his participation in a brawl against Arizona. Last year, he was benched for a game for being ejected the week before after throwing a punch at an opponent.
Marsh offered a soft commitment to Carroll and USC before Carroll left. He switched to UCLA, but Carroll continued to eye the 6-foot-4, 252-pound renegade. Saturday morning, Carroll picked up the phone and called Marsh, who had just awoken and was watching “The Last Samurai” with his pit bull, Boss.
“I just hopped up out of my chair, man,” Marsh said. “I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get coached by coach Carroll and be a part of the world champs.”
Front to back, that was a shared sentiment by the new Seahawks. Particularly for Small, the Seahawks’ final pick of the day.
Out of Baltimore, Small is 5-foot-81⁄2 — he’s insistent on the half — 247-pound mobile stump. At one point after high school, Small was selling T-shirts in his family’s downtown shop. Eventually, he found his way to junior college then Arkansas. Saturday, he became a member of the Super Bowl champions.
Small arrives with a claim to fame: He says he’s broken 26 facemasks while hitting opponents.
“He’s a total thumper, man,” Schneider said.
Over three days, the Seahawks traded six picks. After starting the draft with six picks, Seattle finished with nine players thanks to the maneuvering. The total: Two wide receivers, two offensive tackles, a linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, safety/cornerback and a fullback.
“We’re more efficient I think, over the years,” Carroll said of the draft process. “Just felt like we were right on mark. I would like to think as we execute better in football now, we’re executing better (in the draft). Really the philosophy and scheme of it all have been really solid from the start.”
Now, it’s just up to the new players to prove their worth.