I went to the final public Seahawks Training Camp on Wednesday and sat in a lawn chair on the berm making all kinds of observations. Allllll kinds of observations, you guys. Here are a few, that I will write down and give to you. Some will be negative, but keep in mind that this was based on one practice and I'm just a guy sitting in a lawn chair on the berm so even if I'm correct in some of my observations for this one particular day, I can't see what these guys do an closed practices and my vantage point isn't the greatest. That said, here goes.
- This isn't really super surprising or novel, but Brady Quinn looked really, really inaccurate during this practice. Seattle did a lot of one-on-one drills, tight end against linebacker first (with Quinn throwing) then wide receiver against cornerback (with Russell Wilson throwing), and I swear Quinn overthrew maybe five or six guys right in a row. To the point where Jameson Konz is laying out in a full dive to try and come up with a pass and several just floated over the intended target's head, harmlessly.
I'm sure there are many variables that go into selecting a backup quarterback and this was just one practice, but if you can't hit a guy in one-on-one with no pass rush, well that's not a great sign. I think that Quinn played fairly well on Thursday, but to my untrained and amateur eye, Tarvaris Jackson is the clear, clear backup this year. Quinn's deep passes tend to wobble and die on the back end too, which isn't an issue that T-Jack has.
- Doug Baldwin runs the cleanest routes of anyone on this team. I think maybe the lasting legacy that Charlie Whitehurst made on the city of Seattle was the witty line he offered when describing one of Baldwin's routes - "That's not separation, that's a divorce".
Baldwin is sudden, quick, strong off the line, and when he cuts it looks like he's on rails. If you don't have a strong grasp on what a 'good route' looks like - just watch Doug Baldwin and take note of the right angles that he is capable of cutting at. The other thing that is underrated about his route running is the way he sets up opposing corners. Subtle head fakes, stutter steps - it almost looks like Tim Hardaway's killer crossover sometimes in the way that he explodes into his cuts. Very impressive to watch in person. Remember that Baldwin had an otherworldly 6.56 3-cone at his pro day, and this agility and change-of-direction athleticism is really apparent.
Go to the 0:56 mark.
If anyone were to challenge Doug in that suddenness/quickness department, it would be Arceto Clark. Clark impressed me on Wednesday - and plays a little bit like Doug. I actually thought a few of the 'sure cut' receivers looked good out there - Perez Ashford, Bryan Walters, the new guy whose name escapes me - uhhh, oh, Donovan Kemp. Stephen Williams continued to look real nice, and Jermaine Kearse made some nice plays - depth at that position is a nice notion, considering some of the issues that John Schneider has had with the drafting of receivers ('issues' - Golden Tate has taken a bit longer to develop than you'd hope, and Kris Durham was cut after one uneventful year - plus, thus far, Chris Harper has done nothing to convince us he's the real deal).
- Jermaine Kearse. Kearse is interesting. Former NFL Scout and current ESPN analyst Louis Reddick recently compared Kearse to Victor Cruz in 'versatility, body type, quicks when inside at the slot' and the more I watched Kearse the more I could sort of see that comparison. Not that Kearse is going to be Cruz or necessarily has the talent that Cruz has, but the way that they move is vaguely similar and the size/speed ratios are actually pretty close when you look at their respective Combine/Pro Day numbers. I might have been thinking of Kearse in the wrong light as more of a 'big receiver' at 6'1 215, but when you watch him play he's probably more similar to Doug Baldwin in style. I'm hoping they get him more involved this weekend and regardless, I can see him being a very solid #4WR or #5WR for this team.
The Hawks had Kearse returning kicks at practice as well. I don't know if this was just them needing a guy to shag kicks or if they're entering him into the competition, but that would be pretty interesting to see as well. The more you can do, the better. DeShawn Shead was also returning kicks/punts. He looked very fast, for what that's worth.
- On the other hand, there's Sean McGrath. Now, again, this is just based on one practice, but my observations matched up with Rob Rang's from a couple of weeks ago when he called McGrath a 'plodder'. Now, it's worth noting that Rang was actually in the process of complimenting McGrath's quality and consistent play while throwing in that he's a 'plodder,' but I do think it's true that he's the slowest of the tight end group by a long shot. Looking at McGrath's pro day numbers, where he had a great 3-cone number and solid short shuttle times, you'd think he was a pretty quick-twitch athlete, but it doesn't show up to me on the football field. The way he moves on grass reminds me of the way I move when I try and run after not working out for a few months and without warming up. I'm not saying I'm faster than him, because that's laughable even though he has about 50 pounds on me, but the way he runs it looks like he's never warmed up. It's just kind of clunky. Whatever the opposite of smooth is. Chunky? Maybe that's just peanut butter.
Either way, it's apparent especially compared to smooth athletes in Jameson Konz and Cooper Helfet, who are more gazelle-like in their routes and are guys that can gain some separation downfield in one-on-ones. Even 6'7, 280 pound Darren Fells looked smooth out there and caught some tough passes - one behind him and low on a crosser - so overall, when it comes to actually running routes and catching passes, I'm not sure I'd pick McGrath over some of the other options if I find myself in third and long and need someone to get open. Of course, playing tight end is more than running routes and catching passes, so I think what McGrath possesses is a mean-streak and some chops in the blocking game, which is hugely important in the run game. Ultimately, the skills in that area may be or probably will be more important to this team, who is still without Zach Miller at practice. I'm just commenting on what I could observe, and the Hawks did some one-on-one route drills on Wednesday and that stood out.
- As for Luke Willson - I think he definitely 'looks the part.' He's a smooth mover out there, and his frame is well-proportioned to add a little mass without giving up much in speed. Pete Carroll has said probably ten times over the past couple of days that Willson can do everything that Anthony McCoy did for Seattle last year, so that's pretty damn encouraging. I think it's fair to say that they're high on Willson, and he definitely looked good running around on routes on Wednesday. I do think he needs to learn how to box out trailing linebackers a little better and to use his big frame to shield away defenders, but that will come. He really does kind of remind me of John Carlson in a lot of ways.
I didn't really watch the defense that closely in this one. I think both the offense and defense had their moments, and nothing super disconcerting caught my eye.