The Seahawks favor a bruising, smash-mouth style of football. I say that a lot. Only because it's true. They like to beat up on people. Tom Cable is sort of the guy holding the marionette strings on that whole thing. Seattle ran the ball 34 times a game last year, and had some of the highest percentages of run on 1st and 2nd down in the NFL. This is probably not going to change a ton. Like Davis has been saying these past few months, we may see Russell Wilson throw the football maybe 5-6 more times a game, but it's not going to be a wholesale change to a pass-first offense, most likely.
When it comes to their style of running the football, I think Seattle in many ways mirrors what Mike Shanahan is doing with the ZBS of late as it pertains to 'big backs.' Now, Marshawn Lynch might not be considered a 'big back', but he sure as shit plays like one. Likewise, Shanahan has seemed to to trend toward big, bruising no-name backs - 225 pounds or more - Clinton Portis and to a lesser extent Roy Helu ceding snaps to Ryan Torian and then now Alfred Morris types and Tom Cable is certainly of that persuasion as well when it comes to the types of backs he likes to run with. Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, & Marcel Reece in Oakland, and now, with the Seahawks, we have Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, and Michael Robinson in the backfield - and from what I gather, they're not done there.
Last year, the Seahawks churned out the running back position a little bit, before eventually settling on Lynch, Turbin, Robinson, and mostly-kick-returner Leon Washington. First though, they went out and signed 230 pound running back Kregg Lumpkin and 215 pound running back Vai Taua and brought in 230 pound running back Jacob Hester and tried out 234 pound Bryson Kelly and 246 pound James Stampley and before that they signed 222 pound running back Thomas Clayton and 225 pound running back Dorson Boyce and 234 pound running back Chris Henry and the list goes on. I'm sure there are a few 'scat-back' types sprinkled in there but these are the guys I'm remembering off the top of my head...
Everyone has a type. We all know that Alex Rodriquez seems to favor extremely muscular women. Madonna, Cameron Diaz, the list is fairly long and I won't get into that here. For the Seahawks and their running backs? Their 'type' seems to be big, nasty, physical, and bruising but fast fellows that will literally and figuratively put the hurt on their opponents. When Seattle talks about 'wearing down' opposing defenses that's not just talk. They literally want to keep hitting defensive players so hard that said defensive players decide they don't want to try and tackle Seahawks' running backs anymore. This kind of thing doesn't happen as much in the front seven, but when you see Marshawn Lynch or Robert Turbin or Michael Robinson get past the front lines of a defense and lower their shoulder to truck a defender, you better believe that cornerback or safety is going to remember it.
Along these lines, it's not super surprising that Seattle seems to be again targeting late-round UDFA type running backs with size and speed that translate to power in the run game. Let's take a look at a few Pro Days that Seattle has been spotted at, and a few prospects that were featured at those Pro Days, because perhaps this means they're in the market for another big back.
FORDHAM PRO DAY:
There has been no explicit interest in RBs Andrew Smith or Darius Kinney by the Seahawks, but Seattle scouts were at the Fordham Pro Day to observe prospects, so this is your typical dot-connecting that goes on pre-Draft.
Albany RB Andrew Smith - 6'2, 225
Drew Smith is an interesting prospect - started his college career at quarterback before moving to the backfield, he's taller than most running backs at 6'2, and he weighed in at 225 at his Pro Day on Wednesday. 14 reps on bench, 9.5 broad jump, 31.5 vertical, 4.53 manual 40, and a ridiculous 77 inch wingspan for Albany's all-time career leader in touchdowns (45) and 2nd-all-time leader in all purpose yards (4,721).
Kean RB Darius Kinney- 5'11, 225.
Kinney ran a 4.50-forty, put up 21 reps on bench, registered a 33" vert and 10'2 broad jump.
Obviously, there's not a lot to go off of with Kinney being a small school prospect, but as a senior, he racked up 1,208 yards on 158 carries and scored 7 touchdowns with 7.0 ypc, which attracted the attention of NFL scouts.
For what it's worth, he says the right things. First and foremost, you hear it all the time with the Seahawks' coaches, - 'you gotta love ball.' Kinney mentions in that right off the bat in a recent interview - "Hard-work. Heart. Focus and love for football because it's impossible to play this game without loving every minute of being on the that field."
What can he bring to an NFL offense? "The question is, 'what I can't bring to an NFL offense?' I can block, run, catch, PR, KR, all for the love of the game."
Always compete - "I'm going to keep training like I was doing - the work don't just stop [after my Pro Day]. I'm going to have to work harder then everybody on and off the field." Protect the team - "Team chemistry is the difference between a winning record and a losing record. It's not about talent." Versatility - "Vision is the main key (to being a running back) in my book but there's a lot at play in being a running back. You have to block, catch, cut on a dime and have a nose for the in zone"
ALABAMA A&M PRO DAY:
RB Kaderius Lacey - 5'11, 238
Alabama A&M RB Kaderius Lacey put up 225 19 times and ran a 4.73 40 in heavy wind as Seahawks & Packers scouts watched closely. Seattle was also on hand, presumably, to scout Combine attendee Jamaal Johnson-Webb, a massive 6'5, 313 pound offensive tackle prospect, but Lacey might be in their crosshairs as well. He rushed for 932 yards and 8 scores in 2012, and caught 18 passes and a receiving TD.
Tuskegee RB Derrick Washington 6'0, 226
The former Missouri running back looked to be on the fast track to the NFL - he was a 21-year old team captain and standout on the field with over 2000 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns in three seasons, but was then convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to five years in prison. He served 4 months in a 'shock incarceration' program before being parolled, so to say there are red-flags here is an understatement. He still proclaims his innocence, but regardless, must register as a sex offender wherever he lives so he's facing a bit of an uphill battle in catching on with an NFL team. He was barely even able to catch on with a college team, and after struggling to get scholarships at Eastern Washington and Winston Salem State, he was finally accepted at Tuskegee, only after University and city officials approved it. Nonetheless, after returning to the field, he rushed for 1679 yards and 4 touchdowns at Tuskegee in 2012.
Washington worked out in front of Seahawks scouts at the Tuskegee Pro Day, timing in somewhere in the 4.6 range at 226 pounds. He registered a 31.5" vert, a 9'3 broad jump, and did 19 reps on the bench.
Washington had been on my radar for a little while, so it's interesting to see the Seahawks show up for his Pro Day. I was sent some tape by Field Gulls' writer and Missouri football enthusiast David Crockett last month with the note: "Look at the names of guys he played with (Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Kaufman) and I thought he was criminally underutilized on those teams. But damn, that was 2008. Long time ago. Anyway, [as you'll see] , he was pretty good."
Here's what David outlined:
Watch the run at 00:30.
Iowa State, 2008:
Finally - his promo for the Harlon Hill Trophy, of which he was a finalist.
MINNESOTA PRO DAY:
Winona State RB Rayon Simmons, 5'9 223
The Seahawks were on hand for Winona State's Rayon Simmons' Pro Day (Minnesota's Pro Day) and apparently showed interest in the small school running back. Per Simmons' twitter feed, one Seahawks' scout told him that "if you're 223 you might as well be 228. We like you at that," which just further substantiates my hunch that the Seahawks are looking for depth and talent at the running back position, specifically in big running backs. "We like you at 228." From the horse's mouth.
Jared's done some scouting on Simmons and has certainly liked what he's seen - he shows excellent vision and agility, and cuts back across the grain extremely well (picture: Marshawn Lynch's lateral cuts to avoid tackles).