As is usually the case during and after a John Schneider/Pete Carroll draft, there were a lot of "what?", "who?" and "from where"'s flying around twitter, as well as filling my email box throughout the course of last week, with regard to several of Seattle's selections - particularly in the mid-to-late rounds.
Thus, I thought I'd take some time to go back and look closer at several of these players myself, and then offer an in-depth scouting profile on each one, as I see them on tape.
4.89 40-yard dash
Great back-story of perseverance. Entering and subsequently dropped out of military school after high school, then worked with his father for a while before landing at Hartnell Junior College where he played both linebacker and fullback, and was named a JUCO All-American in 2010, before transferring to Arkansas.
Thick, stout frame, with impressive lower-half girth and flexibility. A converted linebacker, Small plays with a "hunter" mentality and aims to make every block hurt. Exhibits top-notch vision as a lead blocker, targeting decisively in the hole, and strong burst to close on his target. Fundamentally and technically precise when blocking on the run, as he routinely squares up, bends and snaps into his target with good hand placement between the pads.
Demonstrates surprising pop on contact and plays with impressive leverage, exhibiting routine ability to knock much larger defenders out of running lanes. Despite shorter arms, is tough to shake once he latches on, showing tenacity and a nasty demeanor to sustain blocks with authority.
As a receiver, Small demonstrates balance through traffic and contact when releasing into the flat, gets his head around and locates the ball quickly, secures it with his hands, looks it all the way in, and then exhibits nice first-step burst after turning up field. As a ball-carrier, Small's short, choppy steps and quick feet enable him to juke and make defenders miss in the open field with suddenness, and he's more than willing to initiate contact and truck for the extra couple of yards to finish. Utilizes his short frame to his advantage on short-yardage runs, grinding out the extra yard with low leverage and powerful lower-half drive.
Does a good job of locating, sliding, setting and snapping when picking up the blitz as a backfield blocker, and anchors much better than his size would indicate he should.
Obvious size limitations at 5'8, and has short arms (28 3/4"). If caught too high in the pads, he's easy to move and dictate. Lacks straight-line speed to be a threat beyond short-yardage with the ball in his hands. Missed all but one game in 2012 due to a foot injury that required surgery.
There's really not a lot to knock Small on, if projecting him as a pure fullback at the next level. You can only say "but he's short" so many times, and even at that, the tape on this guy shows that his size rarely effected him negatively as a lead blocker in school because he plays with such good leverage.
Because the Seahawks have historically (in the Pete Carroll era, at least) relied on fullbacks primarily as lead blockers, and secondarily as occasional pass-catchers, and considering that Michael Robinson is no longer a part of the team, it's easy to see why they targeted Small, who was at or near the top of the class at his position in both areas.
He's not going to be very versatile in terms of providing another rushing option out of the backfield except in short-yardage situations, so he's not the hybrid RB/FB prospect that Derrick Coleman and Spencer Ware are. However, neither Coleman nor Ware demonstrated a consistent, high-level of play as lead blockers last season (preseason for Ware), and there was a notable improvement to Seattle's rushing attack once Michael Robinson returned as Marshawn Lynch's lane-opener.
All of this adds up to a legitimate chance of Small making the roster as a fullback, considering how much of an emphasis the Seahawks put on the run. It's the foundation of their offense. However, it would seem that he would essentially need to earn the starting fullback job out of camp or absolutely kill it on special teams for it to make sense to keep him around, considering the the other areas of the offense where a guy like Spencer Ware can bring value.