RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks began and ended the final day of the 2019 NFL draft getting more help for quarterback Russell Wilson and more potential replacements for Doug Baldwin.
In between, they also made two more trades as well as a popular pick of Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven while also adding the 2018 Lombardi Award winner (Oregon defensive back Ugochukwu Adami) and a man named Christmas who was born on the Fourth of July.
The result was Seattle taking 11 picks after beginning the week with just four.
Three of the 11 new Seahawks are receivers, tied for the most the team has ever taken at that spot in any one draft and most since 1981, signifying the team’s desire to give the recently re-signed Wilson some help in the passing game as well as fill in for Baldwin if he indeed decides to retire, news that broke Friday night with the team then confirming he is considering ending his NFL career.
The two added Saturday were Gary Jennings of West Virginia at No. 120, a pick that came after yet another trade, and John Ursua of Hawaii, also grabbed after a trade when the Seahawks dealt a 2020 sixth-rounder to Jacksonville to take him. Both players have substantial experience playing slot receiver, where Baldwin has also predominantly lined up in his Seahawks career.
In between the picks of the two receivers, the Seahawks grabbed guard Phil Haynes of Wake Forest at 124, also in the fourth round. And then they quickly added another defensive back, using their pick at 132 to take Oregon’s Amadi, who is expected to get a chance to be a nickel corner for the Seahawks. Last year’s nickel corner, Justin Coleman, departed via free agency.
Then came the pick of Burr-Kirven, which capped a dizzying sequence in which the Seahawks made four selections in the span of 22 picks.
Seattle then rested a bit, waiting until No. 204 in the sixth round when the Seahawks added to their running back depth by taking Travis Homer of Miami.
And then the Seahawks put an apparent bow on their draft weekend loot by taking defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas of Florida State with pick No. 209 in the sixth round. The 6-3, 302-pound Christmas projects as a run-stuffing tackle and had 105 tackles in four seasons with the Seminoles.
But typifying a draft in which the Seahawks kept their fans on their toes throughout, Seattle then made one more trade, striking a quick ageement with the Jags to get a seventh-round pick to take Ursua.
The three receivers drafted tied the 1976 and 1981 drafts for the most in team history. Seattle had drafted 10 receivers in the previous nine drafts under Pete Carroll and John Schneider.
Burr-Kirven, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, is the second linebacker the Seahawks drafted this year, having selected Utah’s Cody Barton in the third round on Friday.
“I’ve loved Seattle these last four years and I think I was definitely hoping that I would get to be able to stay up here and be with the same fans and such a great organization,” Burr-Kirven said. “I think it couldn’t really have turned out any better.”
Jennings, listed at 6-1, 213, had 161 catches for 2,178 yards in the past three years at WVU and played mostly in the slot.
And he comes to Seattle already well acquainted with Wilson. Jennings grew up in Richmond, Va., Wilson’s hometown, and attended the same high school, Collegiate School.
As Jennings recalled it in a conference call with Seattle reporters Saturday, Wilson was the coach of his YMCA basketball team when he was in the fourth grade and Wilson in high school.
“He was a scrapper,” Jennings said of Wilson’s coaching. “…. He was a great basketball coach.” Jennings also played basketball with Wilson’s sister, Anna.
“It was YMCA so I don’t know if it was that competitive,” Jennings said. “We couldn’t even press, I don’t think. It was cool because he was a star player at the school and he had a chance to be able to coach.”
Wilson tweeted shortly after the pick of Jennings: “What’s crazy is how God works! From my dad and I coaching you and my sister @a—willy03 in basketball when y’all were young and us all going to the same school together to now! What a blessing!”
Seattle also selected D.K. Metcalf in the second round on Friday making that position a priority this year.
Said Seahawks receivers coach Nate Carroll in comments supplied by the team: “Gary is competitive, physical, and driven. He is a high-effort guy. This kid wants to learn and will fit in great with the wide receiver room. He and D.K. (Metcalf) will push each other to learn and make each other better.”
The pick of Jennings came after the Seahawks made their fourth trade of the draft to move down and accumulate more picks, dealing pick 114 to the Vikings for picks 120 and 204. It was the sixth trade the Seahawks have made during the draft, as well as the Frank Clark trade that began the week.
Haynes, listed at 6-5, 322 pounds, was a four-year starter at Wake Forest and did not begin playing football until his senior year of high school. He was recruited to Wake Forest as a defensive end, at the time weighing 250 pounds.
The Lindy’s pre-draft preview said of Haynes: “Extremely physical player with natural brute strength, able to generate great push at the point of attack.”’
Haynes became the leader of Wake’s “Beef Boys” offensive line and drew attention for his backstory. As Lindy’s described it, Haynes has “one of the most heart-touching stories you’ll hear about leading up to the draft. Haynes grew up with a disabled mother and was aided by a Raleigh (N.C.) man who was inspired by the movie ‘Blind Side’ and paid for his private-school tuition.”
In comments supplied by the team, Seahawks area scout Todd Brunner said: “This is a big, massive man. He gets into folks and can move people. Phil’s got a lot of power and is a disciplined player and person.”
Said Haynes of his playing style: “I’m a physical guy who loves to run block. I’m also a decent pass blocker. I think that’s why I got picked by the Seahawks because they love to run and I can definitely help out there.”
Indeed, the Seahawks last year got back to their dominant running ways, leading the NFL in yards per game at 160, and have done little this offseason to indicate they plan to vary from that emphasis.
The pick of Haynes gave Seattle 14 offensive linemen on its current roster.
Amadi, listed at 5-9, 199 pounds, returned two interceptions for touchdowns last season at Oregon and also a punt.
Amadi said the Seahawks have told him “they want me to do everything” in the secondary. But he may be a natural fit at nickel.
The Seahawks listed Amadi at free safety, but in comments supplied by the team, Seahawks defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis confirmed Amadi will get a look at nickel.
“Ugo’s versatility is one of his strong suits,” Curtis said. “He’s smart and instinctive — attributes that we love to have in all of our players. He’s able to play all the DB spots — safety, cornerback and slot. That’s a hard package to find in this league.”
Amadi also figures to factor in as a returner — he led the Pac-12 last season averaging 15.93 yards per punt return, returning two for more than 50 yards, the only player in college football to accomplish that feat.
Amadi won the Lombardi Award last season, given to the top player in FBS based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency.
Homer, listed by the Seahawks at 5-10, 204 pounds, gained 1,995 yards on 334 carries in three years at Miami, scoring 12 touchdowns and averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Homer declared for the draft after his junior season with the Hurricanes.
Christmas was regarded as potentially going as high as the third round in what was an exceptionally deep year for defensive tackles.
Christmas started 38 of his 51 games at FSU and also had 10.5 tackles for a loss with 3.5 sacks, 13 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one blocked kick.
“I’m a run stuffer,” Christmas said in a conference call with Seattle media shortly after his selection.
As for his last name, Christmas said he’s gotten used to comments about it.
“I’ve been getting jokes my whole life,” he said. “I just laugh at it.”
In comments supplied by the team, Clint Hurtt, Seahawks assistant head coach/defensive line, said of Christmas: “He’s a tough, rugged run defender. Very instinctive in the run game. He’s quiet by nature but mature in his personality. Going to be a great fit in our D-line room.”
The pick of Christmas was the last the team appeared to have. But the Seahawks then made a quick move to deal a 2020 sixth-rounder to the Jags to get Ursua, who said he was already fielding calls from teams interested in signing him as an undrafted free agent when the Seahawks called to tell him he was being drafted.
Ursua, who had been following the draft closely, said he was momentarily confused because he knew Seattle had no picks left.
“Out of nowhere I get a call from Pete Carroll,” he said. “It’s just a miracle for me.”
Ursua, listed at 5-9, 182, lined up 92 percent of the time in the slot, according to Sports Info Solutions, the spot also played primarily by Baldwin. He led FBS last season with 16 receiving touchdowns and had 89 catches for 1,343 yards.
Seattle entered the week with just four picks, the fewest in the league, but began adding to them on Tuesday when it acquired an extra first-round pick in the deal that sent Clark to the Chiefs.