It’s no secret that John Schneider values undrafted free agents, as they had a major impact in helping the Packers build their Super Bowl team.
Unfortunately, none from the 2010 group has cracked the rotation for Seattle; 2011 could bring better luck.
Some of those 2010 names may become more familiar in 2011, but Seattle is hoping for greater success from this new group. With 22 unrestricted free agents, they may need contributions from a few unproven players immediately.
As expected, Seattle was among the most active teams in terms of singing undrafted free agents. First a player-by-player overview.
Ladi Ajiboye, South Carolina, DT
He’s a stout and strong 3-tech. Not the best run stuffer or the quickest interior player but he can penetrate and is a hard worker.
He is undersized and may not be best for an every down role, but he could find himself in the rotation.
Pierre Allen, Nebraska, DE
As may this man. He’s only 6’4”, 273, but he’s a solid run stopper, strong setting the edge and decent getting up field when need be. He can also drop back in short zone coverage.
Do you feel undrafted free agents will make a difference in 2011?
He was graded as a mid-round pick. Strong intangibles and a solid pickup, with a shot to make an impact along the line.
Michael Morgan, Southern California, LB
Flourished on the strong side in nine games as a junior with a knack for finding the ball behind the line, but his numbers dipped as a senior.
At 6’3, 226 with 4.45-speed, he could be used in a variety of ways, if he can re-gain his form.
Doug Baldwin, Stanford, WR
John Schneider hand wrote and faxed a letter to Baldwin, then Carroll got on the phone with the second team All-Pac 10 player. It appears they wanted him.
He is undersized but agile and quick. Could be a Deon Butler type, though not quite the same pure speed. A good complement to the next player...
Ricardo Lockette, Fort Valley State, WR
He has been linked to Seattle since before the draft. The story here is upside; raw size with deep speed. He needs to be more consistent, but flashes playmaking ability.
At 6’2”, 211, Seattle could have found a diamond in the rough.
Who are you most excited about on defense?
Ricky Thenarse, Nebraska, SS/Ath
Not much college production but appears to be versatile and a team player. Not the best coverage safety but is strong on special teams and has a heavy hitters mentality.
Jeron Johnson, Boise State, SS
A developing player with good college production at a strong program. Undersized but can cover in the slot. Will need to prove his speed isn’t an issue but he’s a good character guy with upside.
Jesse Hoffman, Eastern Washington, DB
A potential tweener and kick returner, local product. At 6’1", 196, he appears to have desired length for a Carroll corner.
He holds several state high school rushing records; something to note in figuring the type of player he is.
Ron Parker, Newberry, S
A surprise declare as a junior; 6’, 200-plus and clocked between 4.28-4.46 in the 40. The stockpiling of size and speed in the secondary continues; he’s a center fielder type, and his only you tube clip is worth watching. The question is can he adjust to the competition in the NFL.
Brent Osborne, OG/C, Harvard
Which position received the biggest boost?
At 6’4", 288 he appears to be undersized. His pro day numbers didn’t stand out, does his frame have room for muscle? A smart, hard working developmental center is never a bad thing…
Deron Minor, ILB/LB, McNeese St
Undersized but versatile. Plays primarily inside, good strength, solid athleticism, average speed; instinctual player with strong motor.
He needs more on-field refinement. Can he adjust to the NFL?
Jarrett Crittenton, DT/DL, MTSU
Tall and somewhat undersized (6’6”, 282), he is a player who is primarily a 3-tech tackle who can move around. He had limited production in college, but 10.5 of his 30 tackles his senior season were for loss, to go with four sacks.
A body to throw into the fire in camp, a bit of a tweener inside.
Michael Huey, OG, Texas
An experienced lineman with adequate size, 6’4”, 304. He played both guard spots in college. The wrap on him is he’s a sound run blocker but lacks pop at the point of attack and appears to have limited upside.
Who are you most excited about on offense?
He had strong pro day numbers, with a 33.5” vertical coming off a knee injury. Seattle has been tied to him for a while; does he have a future?
Zach Hurd, OG, UCconn
Hurd has upside. He has Robert Gallery size as a solid run blocking right guard. He has good athleticism and feet but needs to continue learning the game.
He has potential to make an impact of he can improve his instincts and technique.
Zac Lee, QB, Nebraska
Lee played extensively his junior season and posted pedestrian numbers. He threw 20 passes as a senior and is coming off a broken hand. His athleticism is likely what intrigued Seattle.
Listed as a QB/Athlete combined with the fact he’s a hard worker. Two-time First-Team Big 12 All-Academic. His dad was an NFL quarterback for 12 seasons.
Ryan Travis, FB/H-Back/TE, West Liberty
Travis had 230 catches the past two seasons as a D-II tight end. He’s too small to be an NFL tight end but could make an impact at H-back. Not great speed but a tough runner who likes contact.
A bit of a tweener, his sure-handed-ness in the short passing game could create a niche for him, but he’ll need to improve his blocking.
Are you OK with a rookie kicker in 2011?
Josh Portis, QB, California (Pa.)
Portis is possibly the most athletic quarterback from the 2011 class, but he is a project. He has commonly been compared to Joe Webb—Vikings’ backup—because he has the physical tools but needs to progress on the mental side.
Transferred twice, from Florida then from Maryland. Can he handle NFL competition?
Dorson Boyce, FB, Washington
A Ju-C0 transfer, Boyce has zero production in college—no carries, no catches—according to his bio.
Aside from the fact that he performed solidly as a receiver for Jake Locker during his pro day and his 4.68 40-time is good for a fullback (6’1”, 237), there isn’t much to go on.
Likely a project if he remains, and he’ll have to contribute on special teams.
Wes Byrum, K, Auburn
Apparently the backup plan for Olindo Mare? His biggest weakness is leg strength and kickoffs, which will be less of an issue.
He went 45 of 54 on field goals inside 40 yards. A 75 percent kicker in college, the question is does he have the leg strength to be an NFL kicker.
John Gold, P, Texas
The Seahawks need some competition for Jon Ryan. Gold averaged between 43 and 45 yards per punt in college. 46.4 per punt led the division I in 2010.
Total Count: 20
Offense: 9; QB (2), FB/H-Back/TE (2), WR (2), OL (3)
Defense: 9; DL (3), LB (2), DB (4)
Special Teams: 2; K (1), P (1)
How’s that for balance? The plan was obviously to cover all phases of the game and find players to compete at every position.
Some quick thoughts on the group as a whole.
Four to contribute this year
Allen, because of his versatility and Ajiboye, because Seattle needs to a disruptive presence at the 3-tech. Both come from big time conferences, strong competition.
There is room for both to play, now. On the other side of the ball is Seattle concerned they won’t have Deon Butler in 2011 because they pursued Baldwin hard.
Seattle no longer has Olindo Mare, someone needs to put the ball through the uprights.
Diamonds in the rough
Lockette could be a steal, really. I’m curious to see if Portis hits the field in the 2011 preseason. Hurd is a strong blocker, but can his instincts improve?
Can Ron Parker adjust to NFL receivers? Can Osborne, the smart center project with a mean streak, prevail to stay with the organization?
Can small schools make an impact
Travis was extremely productive and has the experience to contribute. Minor has one year of solid production, but will he show enough to stay within the organization?
Can the big school back seven players make an impact
Does Johnson overcome size issues and develop into a solid safety? Can Carroll get the production out of Morgan he got in 2009? Is Thenarse the heavy hitter Seattle needs on special teams?
Seattle did miss out on some players that could have potentially made an impact, but they continued to sift through players from all competition levels in pursuit of building the program.
In reality, the odds of most of these guys playing in 2011 are low. However, depending how much the organization continues the roster turnover could open some opportunities.
There were 23 undrafted players at last season’s Pro Bowl. Maybe not Pro Bowlers but expect to see a few undrafted, unfamiliar names contributing for the Seahawks in 2011.