With rookie minicamp and OTAs in the rear view mirror, the Seattle Seahawks’ UDFA class heading into training camp is more or less established. As it stands, Seattle will enter camp with five undrafted free agents on offense and seven on defense. For a team that traditionally has gotten contributions on some level from rookie free agents every season under Pete Carroll, it’s fair to expect at least one player to emerge on either side of the ball and aid the 53-man roster in 2018.
Khalid Hill & Marcus Martin
It should be safe to assume only one of the two fullbacks will make it out of the preseason on the team’s roster, but this is the same team that had both Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu on the active roster for 14 games in 2015. The Seahawks currently employ three fullbacks, with two of them being undrafted free agents (and one, Martin, being a former defensive end who is the NCAA’s all-time leader in sacks).
Rashaad Penny followed his fullback Nick Bawden on the way to over 2200 rushing yards last season, while Seattle’s new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer makes use of his fullbacks as often as any playcaller in the modern NFL. Whichever fullback makes the roster will be earning the spot on the back of their performance as a blocker first and foremost.
Assuming five running backs make the final 53-man roster, either Hill or Martin (or fourth year FB Jalston Fowler) must be a key special teamer in addition to their snaps on offense. In seasons where the Seahawks have gotten a relatively healthy year out of their fullback, they’ve played between 35- and 50-percent of special team snaps.
When looking at the athletic profiles of Seattle’s UDFAs, former Vanderbilt wide receiver Caleb Scott’s numbers immediately jump off the page. At 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds, he has great size for the position. Scott’s explosiveness - a 10-foot-4 broad jump and 37-inch vertical - are more-than-fine and he has functional speed (4.46 40-yard dash), but it’s his three cone that stands out. With such little production over four seasons at Vandy, Scott was unable to earn a Scouting Combine invitation, but his three cone of 6.58 seconds at his pro day would’ve been good for fourth among WRs in Indianapolis.
Scott may not have produced at a high level in college and like all UDFAs, he’s coming into the NFL as a raw prospect, but his size and movement skills are intriguing.
Here's what Vandy beat reporter Adam Sparks told me about Scott:— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) April 30, 2018
"Caleb is a sure-handed, consistent wideout. I think he's particularly good on deep balls. The question with him is whether he's hit his ceiling. He was always a pretty good receiver, but never dominant."
The Seahawks need to get contributions on offense in 2018 from someone who hasn’t previously been a factor — with a strong and healthy preseason, perhaps Scott will be the one to do it.
After earning a roster spot while participating in the team’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, Wilson joins a position group undergoing a major overhaul. Nearly 80-percent of the snaps the team got from tight ends last season are gone with the departures of Graham and Luke Willson, while Nick Vannett and his 278 snaps in 2017 are no lock to be on the roster this coming season. So while Ed Dickson and Will Dissly are essentially locks for the 53-man roster, it’ll be Wilson, Vannett and Tyrone Swoopes battling for the third and final roster spot.
Vannett played 228 snaps on special teams in 2017 while Brandon Williams logged 335 snaps there the year before. If Wilson is going to go from Northwest Missouri State to sticking in the NFL in Seattle, it’s going to start by providing value on special teams. Beyond that, Wilson might be the most athletic and fluid mover among the tight ends on the roster. That upside could be enough to get him on the roster, although a year on the practice squad, like Swoopes before him, could be his eventual landing spot.
With the exception of Khalid Hill, former Idaho State tackle Skyler Phillips is the offensive UDFA who I believe has the best chance at making the 53-man roster. After missing most of 2016 with an injury, Phillips played well enough as a senior to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
A clean pass blocker with good technique, consistently displaying outstanding patience in striking the defender across from him, Phillips didn’t display the same traits as a run blocker. Phillips displayed a poor tendency to drop his head and lunge in the running game, putting himself off balance and giving defenders easy wins. That should be helped by moving inside, where he’ll (hypothetically) have the opportunity to line up between the Seahawks’ two most stable linemen in Duane Brown and Justin Britt.
Phillips has the strength, length and technical ability to start in the NFL; however, transitioning back inside and still flawed in the running game, his game will need refinement before he’s ready to do so. With D.J. Fluker and Ethan Pocic firmly ahead of him on the depth chart, Phillips realistically could provide depth and positional flexibility along the offensive line in 2018 before stepping into a starting role with the departure of Fluker after this season.
With almost an entirely new offensive coaching staff, as well as the departures of two of Seattle’s most dangerous offensive weapons, the Seahawks’ offense will have a new look in 2018. From Doug Baldwin to George Fant, they’ve consistently been able to find contributors on the offense side of the ball in rookie free agency. In a critical year, Seattle has to hope they can replicate their previous successes in identifying undrafted free agents.