Quarterback Darron Thomas #1 of the Oregon Ducks looks for some running room as cornerback Deshawn Shead #24 of the Portland State Vikings closes in.
Continuing on with my look at the undrafted rookies that the Seahawks have signed.
- Henderson State TE Sean McGrath:
Tight end/longsnapper Sean McGrath is 6'5, 248, and ran the 40 in 4.78 at his Pro Day, which would have been good for 6th among TEs at the Combine. He had a nice 10-yard split at 1.64, a very impressive 6.99 3-cone (would have been 4th at Combine) and 4.14 short shuttle (3rd) - a 35.5" vertical (T-5th) and a 10'3" broad jump (3rd). So, right off the bat, his above average athleticism jumps out at you. He's got typical Seahawky measurables too - big 10 3/4" mitts, 33 3/4" arms and an 80 3/4" wingspan, important attributes for catching the football, but for a tight end, very important in blocking as well.
McGrath originally started at Northern Illinois but was dismissed from the team for violating team rules after starting as a sophomore. He transferred to Henderson State where he played well after sitting out a year, turning in a season where he caught 55 passes for 565 yards and four touchdowns. He was hurt for a large part of his final year, which negatively affected his stock in an already weak TE draft class.
I'm intrigued with McGrath for a few reasons - first, the Seahawks depth at tight end is fairly tenuous and ambiguous so he has a better shot at breaking onto the team that some positional players. There's no real 'TE2' at the moment - Anthony McCoy started out last year as that guy after John Carlson went down, ceded that spot mostly to Cameron Morrah later in the season as he came off the PUP, and neither really locked down a job going forward with their performances.
I have a strong feeling that the Seahawks want to upgrade their tight end group, but weren't able to do it in free agency (Carlson was lost to Minnesota, Jacob Tamme went to Denver, Visenthe Shiancoe went unsigned) or the Draft.
John Schneider, in a recent interview, noted the Seahawks had "only had 6 TE's on our board - which is light, so that's probably a position you'll see us address." They started with McGrath, and he brings a certain versatility that the Seahawks absolutely love in their players - he's also a longsnapper. Theoretically, in a league where each team is limited to 53 players - if your emergency backup tight end can also function in the role of longsnapper - a roster spot occupied by Clint Gresham over the past season - you've give yourself some flexibility. We saw what happened in the 2010 playoffs against the Bears, when the Seahawks' playbook was severely limited when John Carlson and Cameron Morrah went down with injuries. The offense stalled, they were going off 'one little corner' of the playsheet, and the Hawks fell behind 28-0 before finally finding an offensive spark.
The Hawks went with three tight ends last year for the majority of the time despite their penchant and desire to run with 2TE and even 3TE sets at times. This can be risky. So - again in theory - if the Seahawks want to avoid this situation and run with four tight ends, if one of those tight ends can also be your longsnapper, you've just gained a valuable roster spot. Instead of keeping four tight ends and a longsnapper, you just keep four tight ends.
Now, obviously, Clint Gresham has done a nice job at longsnapper so I'm not advocating we replace him, I'm just thinking in terms of roster spots. The longsnapping job is an important one, so this McGrath thing is not likely going to happen, I just think it helps him a bit in the long run.
- Montana OT/OG Jon Opperud
Opperud is a tall, reasonably athletic guard/tackle prospect that visited the VMAC prior to the Draft, so you know the Hawks have had their eyes on him for a little while. His positional versatility is probably what they like about him the most - he played both guard and tackle at his time at Montana, and he's got long arms and a frame that could probably bulk up a little (6'7, 303). There's really not a ton out there on Opperud.
- Portland St. DB Deshawn Shead
Shead is an intriguing prospect. He's 6'1, 220 and ran a 4.56 40, a 4.23 short shuttle, a 6.76 3-cone, and posted an impressive 38" vert and 24 reps on the bench at his pro day. He's big, with long arms, and likely projects as a safety/big nickel type with speed and versatility. He's a four-year starter at Portland State - in '08 he won the starting cornerback position and had seven pass breakups and six interceptions; in '09 he had seven more pass breakups and three picks and then his junior year teams stopped throwing his way. His his senior campaign was a good one as he was moved from corner to strong safety - he registered seven pass breakups, two interceptions, five tackles for a loss, and a sack.
He also returns kickoffs, so his versatility will be attractive to the Seahawks, who also hosted him to the VMAC pre-draft. He's one on a short list of players that I have higher hopes for in terms of actually breaking onto the roster. Davis and I had Shead on our radar prior to the Draft because of his visit to the VMAC and his speed/size and playmaking resume is intriguing.
Here's a video from his pro day -
- Cincinnati DE/LEO Monte Taylor
Taylor is a 6'5, 265 defensive end that registered four sacks, four tackles for a loss, and three forced fumbles in 2011 for the Bearcats. He ran 4.85 in the 40 with a 1.67 10-yard split, which is respectable. My initial thought when he was signed was that the Seahawks would move him to tight end to get some looks (he was a top TE prospect out of LA in high school - which I'm sure Pete remembers) but they've assigned him #97 so that might not be in their plans.
Regardless, he's a decent athlete that was a JUCO transfer from El Camino CC where he 45 tackles, eight blocked kicks and five interceptions in his time there. Those eight blocked kicks probably piqued Pete and John's interest, and they may look to see if he could have special teams promise and be used as a rotational defensive lineman. I'd guess he faces long odds of making the roster, but since there's not a ton out there on Taylor, it's tough to say.
More soon - a couple guys left to take a look at...