Hawks grab insurance at WR

Draft: Georgia's Kris Durham already has caught passes from Charlie Whitehurst

May 1, 2011 

RENTON - Receiver Kris Durham is a step ahead of the curve in his transition to the Seattle Seahawks.

He’s already been catching spirals during regular workout sessions with Seattle quarterback Charlie Whitehurst down in Georgia.

“He’s an amazing quarterback,” Durham said about Whitehurst. “I went to college and am good friends with (Detroit Lions quarterback) Matthew Stafford, and we were roommates. And I actually see a lot of similarities in those two, with the velocity of the ball and the way they just work.”

The Georgia receiver was not invited to the NFL scouting combine, and some draft analysts pegged him as an undrafted free agent.

But Durham was one of the surprise picks by the Seahawks on the final day of this year’s draft.

Taken No. 107 overall in the fourth round, at 6-foot-5, 216 pounds Durham ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash on his pro day and posted a vertical jump of 36 inches, so he has the potential to develop into a deep-field threat to Seattle’s offense.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll sees Durham as insurance in case last year’s leading receiver Mike Williams is bothered by nagging injuries again.

Durham played with another big-play receiver in college, Cincinnati No. 4 overall selection A.J. Green, and believes he and Williams can complement each other.

Durham was Georgia’s go-to receiver while Green was suspended for the first four games last season, with 17 of his 32 catches in those games. Durham had a robust 20.6 yards-per-catch average.

“As a receiver, I think I do a good job of just competing and going out there and going after the ball when the ball was in the air,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with a large frame that I’ve been able to use really well, with my speed and my jumping ability.”

The Seahawks used all seven of their picks on Saturday, also selecting outside linebacker K.J. Wright out of Mississippi State in the fourth round; Stanford cornerback Richard Sherman and Appalachian free safety Mark LeGree in the fifth; Clemson cornerback Byron Maxwell in the sixth; and LSU defensive end Lazarius “Pep” Levingston and USC linebacker Malcolm Smith in the seventh.

“Overall, I think we really improved the athleticism and the speed of our team,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. “And then we were able to do some things up front to help us from a strength and toughness standpoint.”

Added Carroll: “We think we have found guys that we’re looking for. And we really don’t care what anybody else thinks, or anybody else’s opinion. We know what we thought about them, and it worked out very well.”

Wright, the No. 99 overall pick, got a call from Schneider after the pick, but according to the Seattle general manager Wright did not show proper enthusiasm for a new pick.

But Wright had a good excuse – he was in line to receive his degree at Mississippi State when he received the call, whispering on his cell phone to Schneider as he made his way to the stage.

“As soon as I got off the phone, like two minutes later, I had to go up there and go across the stage,” said Wright, who earned his degree in criminology.

Wright said he felt he would go to Seattle on Saturday. He projects as depth at outside linebacker for Seattle, with some ability to also rush the passer.

Both Carroll and Schneider addressed the fact that Seattle did not draft a quarterback; Whitehurst is the only quarterback currently on the roster.

“We’re happy with Charlie, and hoping he’s going to flourish and blossom and all of that,” Carroll said. “He’s a guy in my mind I’m not feeling like we missed out on a quarterback opportunity because Charlie’s growing with us.

“He’s just getting started to me,” Carroll went on. “I don’t care how long he’s been around; he’s only been able to start a couple times. So he’s just a young guy proving himself, and he’s going to show us in time where he fits.”

Schneider said the team is prepared to fill the need for more depth at quarterback through free agency or trade, which includes the possibility of bringing back Matt Hasselbeck.

“We had a plan going in, and we still have our plan,” Schneider said. “We just can’t execute that plan right now.”

Schneider also admitted the fact Seattle only drafted one defensive lineman creates a bit more urgency to bring back defensive tackle Brandon Mebane or find more depth through trade or free agency.

The team placed a third-round tender on Mebane, and he could be a restricted or unrestricted free agent depending on what happens in the league’s labor dispute.

“We’d like to have Brandon back anyway,” Schneider said. “So, it probably does (add urgency). ... I’d be lying if I told you any different. But again, we’re not a team that’s going to panic. We’re going to kind of plod through it and see what we can accomplish.”

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

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