I skipped out yesterday. What a day to pick for taking a day off on football news, right? At least when you log in the next day, the events don't seem as crazy as they did at the time, and all you see is a couple of signings, only a few of which actually interesting. Still plenty of free agent zaniness to go.
Then I checked my mail early this morning, a cup of coffee in my hand and a hangover in my head, to find Danny sent out a mail assigning us with undrafted free agents to write about. We sure signed a lot of em, which makes sense as John Schneider values UDFAs highly (as Danny pointed out) and, well, we have the room on our roster to give plenty of players a try-out, and Pete Carroll loves doing that.
I'm not particularly fond of writing up on UDFAs because, well, most of them are forgettable camp bodies, and because there usually isn't much quality footage available on them. Still, it's worth going over scouting reports and highlights and estimate what the player can add to camp and take a stab at his odds to make the roster. So. That's what I'm doing...
At least Danny handed me some interesting players. Thanks Danny!
Ricardo Lockette (WR, Fort Valley State) -- From all reports, Lockette was our #1 priority of the UDFA group, and is generally considered one of the best rookies left after the draft. Talking to Albany Herald, it looks like we locked up Lockette for three years with a salary above the rookie minimum. Earlier rumors were that we spent a good chunk of the $75K UDFA signing cap to nab Lockette, and the Albany Herald piece confirms as much. The writeup also reveals 12 teams were vying for Lockette, until we threw a bucket of cash at him.
Lockette is probably the least likely of our UDFAs to be just a camp body, the FO clearly valuing him highly and having a plan for him. What is that plan? Well to be honest, Lockette does not bring a very impressive resume as a receiver, with only 23 catches for 262 yards in his senior season. He had a good kickoff return average (24.0). He has the physical talent of a high draft pick (4.37 40 time, tied with Chiefs' 4th rounder Edmond Gates), and at 6'2 223 lbs with long 33¾" arms he looks the part. Yet it's not surprising he wasn't drafted. He is a very inconsistent receiver with poor hands, and won't be ready to contribute significantly as a receiver for years. You can't teach his physical gifts, but as a 25-year old rookie, he might be 28 years old before he starts contributing.
What makes me more hopeful is that he as been working out with former Falcons WR Terance Mathis, learning the ins and outs of pro route running, and from reports is a hard-working player, dedicated to improving. He has a good shot to make the roster, but as a long-term project, though he might contribute immediately spelling Leon Washington in the return game, if we want to use Washington more in the offense rather than just special teams.
Zach Hurd (OG, Connecticut) -- Hurd is a big guy, 6'7 and listed at 325 lbs (though he doesn't look it), identical to Gallery's height/weight. He started 39 games in his final seasons at UConn, all at right guard, and scouts describe him as an accomplished and powerful drive blocker. He was part of the offensive line that blocked for Donald Brown when he lead the nation in rushing. He is also described as flexible enough to convert to offensive tackle.
Even on a short highlight reel his biggest strengths and weaknesses jump out. He is a big and agile guy, but his football instincts aren't particularly strong, leading him to blocking the wrong guy at times. He also tends to hit defenders with his shoulder like a fullback blocking rather than use his hands like an offensive linemen should. Like Lockette, Hurd is all about physical talent in a raw player, the upside's certainly there.
Jeron Johnson (SS, Boise State) --Jeron Johnson is...well...he's a big hitter. I mean look at this. Owtch. He's not just a big hitter though, scouts describe him as solid in covering the slot and he has several interceptions to his name over his college career. His versatility allows him to play some cornerback but he's not great in deep coverage.
The big problem with Jeron Johnson is that he's not just undersized, he's pretty slow for such an undersized player. That matters less in college than in the NFL, where I would think his lack of speed becomes a much bigger problem, especially in coverage. At 5'10 212 lbs, it is amazing to see how physically he plays, and the Bob Sanders comparisons are obvious. Hopefully he will suffer less from injuries in his career. Still, with a lot of experience in college, some versatility and really good play as a tackler, Johnson has a decent shot at making the roster and rotating in on certain plays. If the speculation that the changes in special team play means speed matters less, he could makes some headsup plays on ST too, he certainly has the awareness.
Michael Huey (OG, Texas) --Baby Huey started 20 games on both left and right guard for the Texas Longhorns, and is tagged as the pretty bad line's most consistent performer. His 2010 season ended with a torn MCL and meniscus when playing at Baylor, but he recovered enough to perform well at the Texas pro day. At 6'5 and 310 lbs, Huey is consistently described by scouts as lacking athleticism and strength on the point of attack, and even from just viewing the highlight reel below you can see what they mean, he doesn't look quick or powerful, and doesn't maintain his blocks well. While he looks decent and technically sound at run-blocking (including moving in space), he looks pretty inept in pass protection. He's experienced at both guard spots but seems to lack much upside. Apparently PC hinted at wanting him earlier so he might be someone the FO is excited about, but I don't see it, looks like a JAG.
Baby Huey has a longer highlight reel, though it's not really a pure highlight reel, plenty of lowlights in there.
Deron Minor (ILB, McNeese State) -- Minor looked to be signing with the Bears earlier on, but ended up with the Seahawks. He impressed at his pro day, which was attended by the Seahawks. There's no scouting out there for him, but you can watch 20 minutes of footage (some overlap), here and here. Not a lot to go on. It looks like he was used with some flexibility, and asked to read and react from the ILB, dropping into coverage or reacting to the run. He does this well, but his tackling technique is worrisome, he often tackles too high and doesn't consistently wrap the ballcarrier. He'll have a hard time adjusting to the NFL.
Jarrett Crittenton (DE, Middle Tennessee State) -- Crittenton was a top recruit out of high school. He was initially to go to Clemson but the college decided he would struggle too much with the academic curriculum. Crittenton played 9 games in 2009 with very few snaps, and 8 games in 2010 with more output, including four sacks and 10.5 TFL. Crittenton is listed as a DE but played 3-tech DT in college. He moved around the line a little but his primary job seemed to be getting inside penetration, which he did well although he is moved by linemen a bit too easily. He also played the occasional single-gap control against the run. He's 6'6 and weighed in at 282 lbs at his pro day, he will certainly need to bulk up. What his position will be I don't know. He's too big and slow for the Leo end, so perhaps PC/Schneider are hoping to flex him in as a pass-rushing 3-tech and 5-tech on passing downs. If he makes the team, he's destined for playing special teams on field goal attempts. Looks like a long shot.