The Seattle Seahawks completed their rookie minicamp over the weekend, and it mainly afforded the coaches and media time to see what their draft choices look like on the practice field. 64 players participated so the camp was obviously for more than simply the draft picks, but most people want to know how they may project to help the team on Sundays come next fall.
While running back Christine Michael was the Seahawks’ first pick, the players I cared about most was hearing what Pete Carroll and the beat writers had to say about defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, since Michael is not going to see significant action this season unless there is an injury to Marshawn Lynch.
Even though I am high on the potential of Michael, what he shows isn’t as important as two players who could realistically make an impact in 2013.
The biggest weakness on the Seahawks, in my opinion, is at defensive tackle. While Brandon Mebane is a great 1-technique nose tackle, he is not an every down player so depth behind him is vital. The team has bodies behind Mebane, but if he had to miss significant time, the team would suffer greatly, especially in their ability to stop the run.
The 3-technique defensive tackle was mainly held by Alan Branch last season. However, Branch signed with the Buffalo Bills and was replaced by Tony McDaniel, who was signed from the Miami Dolphins. No matter how you look at it, Branch is a better player than McDaniel, so an area already in need of an upgrade actually took a step back this off-season.
Williams was a fifth round pick from Alabama who seems perfect to play behind Mebane as a run-stuffer, while Hill was selected in the third round out of Penn State and seems like a natural to compete with McDaniel as the penetrator
However, it was Hill who lined up over the weekend at the spot of Mebane, and Williams who played the part of McDaniel. Granted, Carroll did say in one of his interviews with reporters that both rookies will be learning multiple positions, so this could have simply been a way introducing them to something different right off the bat.
Stereotypically, the nose tackle eats up blockers and takes up space, which seems to suit the bigger Williams best. The 3-technique is a player who is supposed to penetrate and create pressure seems to suite Hill, who is a little quicker off the line of scrimmage.
As has been said before, Carroll is a master at taking talent and making it fit his team. Last year, Branch played the 3-technique even though he was mainly a run stuffing interior lineman and the team didn’t realistically have anyone penetrate in that manner after losing Jason Jones to injury.
The addition of Williams could be a continuation of potentially having him play the role of Branch last year to stop the run from the 3-technique while Hill could play that very position, as Jones did last year, in pass rushing situations.
The wild card in this scenario is Michael Bennett and his expected role of being the pass rusher from that position. The problem is that Bennett has a torn rotator cuff and his availability for the entire season is in question, so having Hill as an insurance policy may just be what the doctor ordered.
Williams and Hill played well over the weekend. This is expected since they were competing against players drafted after they were, or free agents who weren’t even taken by anyone. Still, it was encouraging to hear they were doing what they were supposed to be doing.
The best news from the weekend was how Carroll stated that both big men came to camp in shape. This is a far cry from former first-round pick, offensive-guard James Carpenter, coming to training camp out of shape a few years ago.
If either Williams or Hill can play well as a rookie to help a current team weakness on the interior of the defensive line, the Seahawks will be an even bigger force to be dealt with this upcoming season. If both could play well as rookies, it will be downright scary for their opponents.