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A closer look at Chris Carson, one of Pete Carroll’s “favorite players in the draft”

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NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider spoke to 950 KJR this week, and this struck me as one of the more interesting things he said:

“We felt incredibly blessed because we picked seven times in the first 11 and six of those guys we picked had second round grades or higher,” he said.

Schneider also pointed out that a seventh-rounder Seattle added was used on running back Chris Carson, “one of Pete (Carroll)’s favorite players in the draft that he was rooting for the whole time.”

It’s unlikely that Carson had a second round grade from the Seahawks or any other team, but it definitely seems like Carroll likes him even more than most. This despite the fact that Carson didn’t have a very notable college career, at least when compared to those who are drafted into the NFL.

After transferring from Butler Community College in 2015, Carson ran for just 517 yards on 3.9 yards per carry at Oklahoma State. He followed that up with a more successful senior season, averaging 6.8 YPC and scoring nine touchdowns on the ground on only 82 attempts, but Carson did that as a backup on a team in the Big 12, the conference that is least-concerned with defense. Carson lost the starting job to Justice Hill after a slow start and a thumb injury that cost him four games.

Here he is against TCU, when he rushed for 146 yards on 17 carries and seemed to improve as the game wore on into the second half:

At the combine, however, he did what he needed to do to attract the eyes of Carroll.

Carson measure in at 6’, 218 lbs, long 33.25” arms, 37” vertical, 10’10 broad jump, 23 reps on the bench, and a 4.58 40-yard dash. Compare that to Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara, who was the 67th overall pick in the draft by the Saints: 5’10, 214 lbs, 33.75” arms, 39.5” vertical, 10’11” broad, 15 reps, and a 4.56. The difference in Carson and Kamara as athletes is almost negligible, and to top it off, Kamara also shared time in the backfield with the Vols and was not any more productive as a runner last season; though Kamara does have a proven track record as a receiver out of the backfield.

At his Pro Day, Carson improved his vertical to 39” and ran a 4.29 in the short shuttle. That short shuttle time is right in line with D’Onta Foreman (89th overall pick) and .08 faster than Christian McCaffrey (8th overall pick, though a much different player than most running backs). On the downside, his 7.50 time in the three-cone drill would’ve been the slowest at the combine by a running back, and by a wide margin.

Carson is not considered explosive due to the fact that he didn’t have any huge gains at Oklahoma State, but he appears to embrace contact and get a kick out of breaking tackles. He fits the physical mold of a Seahawks running back, and also some of the stylistic traits that Carroll clearly adores.

“Remember your style: You’re gonna hammer it,” Carroll tells Carson over the phone as they prepare to draft him. “Physical, tough, knock the sh*t out of ‘em. Special teams is a really big deal too. But bringing the attitude - there’s only one way for you to play. You know that. You were a little uncertain at times, but now you know that because you and I are green on that, right?”

It doesn’t seem like the odds could get any longer for Carson given that the team has Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise, but the same story could’ve been written about Rawls two years ago; an undrafted free agent on a team with Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, and Robert Turbin. Room is made for special players and if Carson turns out to be a special player, room will be made.