This is a very surprising pick for the Seahawks, since they already were expected to have a training-camp battle at the position between Spencer Ware and Derrick Coleman.
The Seahawks have been looking for an upgrade at the position for a couple of years now, including drafting Ware in 2013. Ware struggled to make the transition from running back and ultimately was used to back up Marshawn Lynch instead of at fullback in 2013 before injuring his ankle.
Small now enters a very crowded backfield that includes Lynch, Coleman, Ware, Christine Michael and Robert Turbin. There is also a chance that Michael Robinson, the starter at fullback for the past few years, will return before the start of training camp. There just isn't room on the 53-man roster for all those players.
One thing Small has going for him over the other players on the roster is his size.
Kiero Small is listed at 5-foot-8, 244 pounds.— Curtis Crabtree (@Curtis_Crabtree) May 10, 2014
Small brings a combination of size and athleticism currently missing from the position. Ware is lighter at 228 pounds, and Coleman lacks the type of speed the Seahawks covet. Small possesses both size and speed, which should give him an edge to make the roster.
Another potential difficulty for Small is picking up Seattle's zone-blocking scheme. He is certainly capable, but making the correct reads within that scheme can take time to learn.
The blocking assignments for the fullback in most running schemes are predetermined. That isn't the case in Seattle. The fullback must be able to read all of the blocks and acts as an extra set of eyes for the ball-carrier. That can be a difficult transition for some players to make.
That doesn't mean Small won't be able to take over as the team's fullback this season. Small gives the Seahawks someone who could be a very physical presence in the running game, but that alone doesn't make him a lock to end up on the Week 1 roster.
Another positive attribute for Small is his ability to help Seattle's passing game. He shows solid ability to pick up the blitz in pass protection, as well as reliable hands catching the ball out of the backfield. His receiving skills were even noted in Derek Stephens' notes on Small's selection on CBS Sports' draft tracker:
Small has had durability issues in the past, but when healthy, has been a tough, stout blocker out of the backfield, and offers short-yardage capability as a runner, with nice ability as a pass-catcher.
That will be crucial for Small if he is going to carve out a role in Seattle's offense. The ability to help the passing game is one of the key attributes that Ware brings to the roster battle and was a notable weakness of Coleman when studying the 2013 game tape.
Ultimately, defining Small's fit with Seattle won't be able to be completed until training camp begins. He appears to have the edge to win the fullback job based on being the most complete player of the three options, but until he shows that he can learn the reads necessary in Seattle's offense, there is no way to predict if he breaks into the 53-man roster.
While Seattle certainly didn't need another fullback, it is easy to see this as a potential upgrade for the Seahawks.