RENTON — The rookies were doing it all wrong.
Which, given this was Drill 1, Hour 1, Day 1 of their NFL lives wasn’t all that surprising.
“Do it again!” new Seattle Seahawks defensive line coach Clint Hurtt bellowed to his even newer defensive linemen, summoning two of them back for a re-do of slamming into a blocking sled.
Then it was Malik McDowell’s turn.
McDowell’s big hands at the end of arms that appear as long as telephone poles smacked into the sled’s pads. Seattle’s top rookie draft choice then lifted up the bulky, metal sled like it was a newborn baby, almost all the way to the top of his 6-foot-6 body.
“I like it, Malik! I LIKE IT!” Hurtt roared at his new defensive tackle. “Nice hands!”
The first day of Seahawks rookie minicamp didn’t reveal much. It was, after all, in helmets and shorts, four months before real games begin. The rest of the veterans aren’t even here to push most of these guys down the depth chart, or off the roster.
But Friday did reveal a few, initial things:
— Why Seattle traded down nine spots and snared four additional draft choices and took McDowell at the top of the second round last month.
— McDowell looks incredibly long and not near his listed 299 pounds.
— McDowell looks far more polished and savvy with his hands and feet than most rookie pass-rushers — especially one still 20-years-old.
— Fellow second-round pick Ethan Pocic, a center at LSU, is going to be a right tackle this weekend, then perhaps a guard later this preseason.
— Third-round pick Shaquill Griffin looks the part of a Seahawks cornerback — and is likely to get a chance to be the starting one on the right side.
McDowell, though, made the biggest first impression. He looked so fluid for being so, well, big.
“I like it here,” he said. “I love it here, actually.”
Coach Pete Carroll noticed him right away.
It was tough not to.
“Instantly, almost, you can see how comfortable he is with his movements, his body control,” Carroll said. “He’s got an awareness already how to use his hands that you are surprised to see that much with that kind of background …
“He’s off to a great start. He looks great. Taller than a lot of guys that we’ve had at his position. And we’re excited to see how we are going to move forward with that.”
McDowell is going to get a lot of preseason time outside at end, which he rarely played in college. Then in passing situations and nickel-defense packages the Seahawks are planning on having him as a fast, tall tackle paired inside with two-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher Michael Bennett.
On offense, Pocic just looks like a tackle. He is 6-foot-6 and 317 pounds. And that’s what he was Friday from the first snap of team drills, the right tackle.
Carroll said the Seahawks know Pocic can play center if need be. Right now, there is no need. Fourth-year veteran Justin Britt is coming off a strong 2016 as the starting center; Britt may soon earn an extension on his rookie contract that ends after this year.
The coach said Pocic is getting a long look in this minicamp that finishes with practices Saturday and Sunday at right tackle. That’s where the Seahawks are planning to move Germain Ifedi, the 2016 first-round pick who started last season at right guard. Carroll said of Pocic’s position after this weekend, for organized team activities, a mandatory minicamp next month and training camp at the end of July: “We’ll see.”
Pocic, of course, would play on top of the 12th Man flag pole, if the Seahawks asked.
“It’s awesome. It’s a dream come true,” the son of a long-time firefighter outside Chicago said. “Playing football as a kid you wish to go to the NFL and this is an amazing opportunity.”
Griffin couldn’t stop smiling after the 90-minute first practice as a Seahawk. That may have been because he was the first-team right cornerback from the first snap of the first team drill. The 6-1 press-cover man from Central Florida showed off how smooth he was running with receivers and leaping for passes thrown by quarterbacks Jake Heaps, Skyler Howard and Michael Birdsong.
Griffin playing on the right side from Day 1 is noteworthy because that starting job is open. DeShawn Shead, the 2016 starter there, is recovering from his torn anterior cruciate ligament in January. He may not be back until October, if then. And the cupboard of veterans returning with the potential to start in place of Shead is bare; that’s why Seattle selected Griffin on the draft’s second day.
Griffin said he’s already learned about the Seahawks’ veteran secondary led by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
“They’re some mean jokers,” Griffin said, grinning yet again.
Sixth-round pick Mike Tyson from Cincinnati showed off his versatility by lining up outside at left cornerback on the first plays of team scrimmaging, alternating with snaps inside to guard slot receivers. Tyson also showed off his muscles, rolling up the sleeves and midriff of his white, No. 40 jersey. … Heaps and Kenny Lawler led all the drills and first scrimmage plays. They are the veterans here. Heaps, the former Skyline High School star, was Seattle’s No. 3 quarterback last preseason. Lawler was Seattle’s seventh-round pick last year. Both can participate in this rookie minicamp because they have yet to appear in a regular-season games. … The Seahawks announced the signing of four of their 11 draft picks: S Tedric Thompson, OT Justin Senior, WR David Moore and RB Chris Carson. The team also signed eight undrafted rookie free agents, all of whom also practiced: former BYU fullback Algernon Brown, ex-West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard, former Mississippi defensive tackle Jeremy Liggins, ex-Louisiana-Lafayette linebacker Otha Peters, former USC receiver Darreus Rogers, former Purdue guard Jordan Roos, ex-Texas tight end Tyrone Swoopes and former Texas-El Paso linebacker Nick Usher.
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