The Seahawks have selected LSU RB/FB Spencer Ware with their sixth round pick. Ware joins 2nd round pick Christine Michael in the Seahawks backfield, and as Davis Hsu put it to me about five minutes ago, "The Seahawks don't bother with 205-pounders, bro, not anymore." Seattle had shown interest in some of the bigger backs during the run up to the Draft and stayed true to that - Michael is 220 pounds and Ware measured in at 5'10, 229 at the Combine. Marshawn Lynch is 215 and Robert Turbin is in the 225 pound range. The only other running back on the team's roster is Derrick Coleman, who weighs in at 233. Ground and pound, Tom Cable style.
Ware didn't run at the combine because of an injury, but at his Pro Day, according to Gil Brandt, "ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 and 4.63 seconds. He posted a 34 inch vertical leap and a 10-foot-1/2 inch broad jump. In the short shuttle drill, he clocked in at 4.35 seconds, and completed the three-cone drill in 7.07 seconds. He opted not to lift, as he already had at LSU's pro day. Ware had a good workout on the day, and caught the ball exceptionally well."
Those agility numbers are very good for a 229-pound back, and the 34" vert and 10'5" broad is very respectable. Ware had been on my radar pre-draft as a late-round pick - mostly due to his rigorous endorsement by Draft Analyst Matt Waldman of the Rookie Scouting Report. He wrote, earlier this offseason:
"Ware isn't a breakaway threat; he's a hot-running, helmet-crunching, break-your-back, ball-carrying warrior. He's rugged, smart, and technically sound in most aspects of the game. If Seattle didn't have a Robert Turbin, Ware is the back I'd want backing up Marshawn Lynch."
Quick feet. Pad level. Balance. Strength. Second effort. All components of an excellent short-yardage runner against one of the best defenses in college football. My colleague Ryan Lownes mentioned on Twitter that he sees an athlete of Rudi Johnson's ilk - not a breakaway runner, but a player capable of grinding it out as a bell cow back. I think if you combine the styles of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Marshawn Lynch, it captures a lot of the good that in Spencer Ware's game. Of course, name-dropping Marion Barber may suffice.
Ryan Riddle, former NFL player and now-analyst, is also very high on Ware. He wrote,
Ware is an extremely hard runner with strong leg drive. He's incredibly tough and was willing to put his head down and run over SEC linebackers. For a bigger back, Ware hits the hole fast while always running north-to-south. He's a one-cut runner with good vision, balance and will run through arm-tackles like they're wet noodles.
Naturally, after the Hawks picked Michael, I had figured that Ware was out the window. Guess not. With the backfield getting a bit crowded with Lynch, Turbin, Michael and Michael Robinson, Robinson's role and cap hit begins to come into question. Ware is a logical fullback convert, a role he played at times at LSU. Ware is a fantastic pass-catcher out of the backfield and as a former HS Quarterback, has been schooled in reading defenses, similar to Robinson.
Here is Derek Stephens' scouting report on Ware:
0510 228 4.63
Princeton High School
Positives: Committed, decisive runner who doesn't waste time stepping to the hole. Trusts his line and doesn't do a lot of analyzing before making his cut. Loves contact and keeps the pads forward with churning legs. Balanced runner through contact, who gets low in tight spaces and adjusts his body nicely to thread the tighter creases. Looks for opportunities laterally when in the open field and approaching a defender, and possesses better-than-expected agility for his size. Good hands as a receiver.
Negatives: Lacks elite straight-line speed and a 2nd gear to pull away from secondaries at the next level. Doesn't always spot cutback opportunities and will drop his head on contact rather than leading with his shoulder. Had a reduced role in '12 due to LSU having more explosive options out of the backfield. Very capable blocker in pass protection but looks sloppy and a bit loose at times as he tends to drop his shoulder or head, rather than setting his feet and extending his arms.
Summary: Ware is a simple one-cut runner who does the majority of his damage after contact, as he possesses natural power to move the pile and break tackles. His reduced playing time in '12 prompted him leaving for the NFL but some question his judgement in doing so, being that he's choosing to leave on a low note. Potential nice fit in a zone blocking system where his decisiveness, strong initial burst and physical style of play could earn him reps early in his career.
DK Note: You can find more of Derek's analysis at his Seahawks-centric draft, free agency, & pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." Head over and bookmark it