Report Card Grades for the Seattle Seahawks' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings
The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2014 NFL draft with one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL. They then added nine players through the draft, leaving room for the team to sign nine more undrafted free agents after the draft was completed.
Undrafted players are not viewed as potential starters coming into rookie training camp. They are typically seen as developmental projects, and few end up having an impact in the NFL. Occasionally though, undrafted players end up developing into very good pros.
The Seahawks have had tremendous success with signing and developing undrafted free agents. Wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, as well as safety Jeron Johnson, were undrafted players who played a role in Seattle's Super Bowl team last season.
Grading undrafted free-agent signings is difficult because there are low expectations for each of them. For most of them, just making the roster can be a big deal.
For these grades, players who appear to be in a position to make the final 53-man roster and contribute to the team in 2014 receive the highest grades. Those with a decent chance to land on the practice squad are graded lower, while those who appear to fall into the category of "camp bodies" receive the lowest grades.
How does the 2014 class of undrafted free agents look at this point?
Keith Price, QB, Washington
Seattle is the perfect landing spot for Price. His lack of height won't matter as he is taller than starter Russell Wilson, and the offense won't ask him to be something he's not. Price's ability to extend plays with his legs and throw on the run fits in very well with Seattle's offensive scheme.
Unfortunately, he is a long shot to make the final roster. The Seahawks have five quarterbacks right now and are likely to keep just two when all is said and done. There is very little chance that they will risk their shot at making the playoffs by going with an unproven backup instead of a veteran like Tarvaris Jackson.
Price's most likely landing spot for the 2014 season is probably Seattle's practice squad. For that to happen, he just needs to beat out B.J. Daniels during training camp.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Jackson Jeffcoat was one of the most surprising players to make it through the draft without his name being called. He was a very productive college pass-rusher despite playing on a defense without many other NFL-caliber talents.
He is a classic "tweener" who doesn't move well enough to play linebacker and isn't big or strong enough to hold up against the run as a defensive end. That won't be much of problem in Seattle though, where he will only be asked to be a situational pass-rusher.
Jeffcoat possess both polished skills and enough upside to suggest that he could have a productive NFL career, and he has a good shot at making Seattle's final 53-man roster.
Brock Coyle, LB, Montana
Landing Brock Coyle after the draft was a bit of a surprise for Seattle. There were certainly more linebacker-needy teams, and he appears to have the talent to make it in the NFL in the right situation.
Then again, Seattle might just be the situation that he needs. The Seahawks don't have another true backup middle linebacker on the roster, although outside linebacker K.J. Wright has filled in admirably when called upon to play inside.
Coyle has a legitimate chance to land on the 53-man roster as a backup linebacker and special teams contributor. His main competition for a roster spot would be veteran Heath Farwell.
Farwell is a special teams captain and a favorite in the locker room. He also has a bloated salary-cap number and offers very little help to Seattle's defense. Even if Coyle doesn't beat out Farwell outright, there is still a chance Coyle makes the team just for the salary-cap relief.
Dion Bailey, S, USC
There is very little doubt that Bailey can play at an NFL level. His combination of speed and instincts is obvious on the game tape.
The problem for Bailey is that he's small for a strong safety at 6'0", 201 pounds. He has the body of a center field-type free safety but spent his college career playing up near the line of scrimmage. While it is possible that he could learn to play off the line of scrimmage, he's never done it, and it is unknown if he'll be able to repress his aggressive instincts enough to be good at it.
Seattle represents a good landing spot for him. If he makes the roster, he won't receive much playing time with Kam Chancellor above him on the depth chart. That should limit the injury concerns of having such a small player banging around in the box on every play.
As long as Bailey shows he can contribute on special teams, he has a shot at Seattle's 53-man roster. He offers significant salary-cap relief compared to Jeron Johnson and is under team control for three years longer than Johnson as well.
Jimmy Legree, CB, South Carolina
South Carolina cornerback Jimmy Legree was a surprising signing by Seattle. He isn't a physical press corner like Seattle usually targets and lacks the length and athleticism that the Seahawks typically look for at the position.
He is a high-effort player who is at his best playing zone coverage. He shows great awareness of opposing route trees, jumping into passing lanes to get pass breakups and tackles.
At this point, he would seem to be a long shot to stick with Seattle unless he is converted to free safety. Even if that happens, he'd have to beat out DeShawn Shead as the backup in order to make the final roster.
Bronson Irwin, OG, Oklahoma
Of all of the undrafted free agents that Seattle signed, Bronson Irwin probably makes the least sense. His uninspiring measurables match his fairly mediocre game tape. For a team that always looks for athletic players with upside, this addition to the roster is confusing.
While Irwin looks heavy-footed on tape, he can play both guard and tackle. The Seahawks love that type of versatility in their offensive linemen. He also plays with a nasty streak, helping him get the most out of his limited athleticism.
Overall, he appears to be the closest thing to be "just a camp body" out of this year's undrafted additions to the roster.
Chase Dixon, TE, Central Arkansas
Unless there is an injury to another player, Dixon faces an uphill battle to make Seattle's roster. The depth chart already appears to be set with Zach Miller, Luke Willson and Anthony McCoy.
One thing Dixon has going for him is that he moves more like a wide receiver than a traditional tight end. He appears to have the tools to develop into an interesting receiving threat for the offense.
Unfortunately, his small size at 6'4", 238 pounds also points to his deficiencies as a blocker. That is one area where he will have to show major improvement before he will see regular playing time in the NFL.
Garry Gilliam, OT, Penn State
Gilliam is a former tight end who converted to offensive tackle just two seasons ago. He shows the movement skills you might expect from a former tight end, but his blocking technique is understandably raw.
He appear to be this year's project offensive lineman in the mold of J.R. Sweezy or Jared Smith. He is going to have to show tremendous growth in order to stick on the roster, but that is certainly possible. Gilliam's fate in Seattle will ultimately depend on the development of other players and how many offensive linemen the Seahawks keep.
If they only keep nine on the roster, then he would likely end up on the practice squad. If they keep 11 linemen and he can pass Caylin Hauptmann on the depth chart, then Gilliam would have a chance to make the team.
Andru Pulu, DT, Eastern Washington
There is still very little information available online on Andru Pulu, who played for Eastern Washington University. From the limited tape that is available, he appears to play with good strength and a solid anchor and is probably best suited to become a two-gapping nose tackle like Brandon Mebane.
In fact, Mebane is probably the best available NFL comparison for Pulu's peak potential. The two players have similar physical measurables, as both are undersized at just 6'1".
The odds are stacked against Pulu making the 53-man roster because of Seattle's depth at defensive tackle. It is much more likely that he lands on the practice squad.