Backup for Beast Mode? Try the Incredible Hulk

seahawks: Seattle drafts bruising Utah State back Robert Turbin, selects 10 overall, signs 10 free agents

eric.williams@thenewstribune.comApril 29, 2012 

RENTON – Beast Mode, meet the Incredible Hulk.

The Seattle Seahawks appeared to resolve their desire to have a beastly backup for Marshawn Lynch, drafting bruising Utah State running back Robert Turbin in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday.

He joins Aggies teammate Bobby Wagner, a linebacker Seattle selected in the second round Friday.

Turbin was one of seven players taken by Seattle on the final day of the three-day draft. The Seahawks drafted 10 players in all, the most taken by Seattle since general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll took over the team in 2010.

Turbin was productive for the Aggies, rushing for a career-high 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He was voted the Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the year.

More impressive, Turbin posted those numbers coming off an ACL injury to his right knee during winter workouts that forced him to miss the 2010 season.

Along with Turbin, Seattle selected Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard in the fourth round, then took Idaho linebacker Korey Toomer in the fifth round. In the sixth round, the Seahawks grabbed Northwestern State corner Jeremy Lane and Kentucky strong safety Winston Guy, followed by North Carolina State defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy and Louisville defensive end Greg Scruggs in the seventh round.

At 5-10 and 222 pounds, Turbin’s muscular build and physical running style have drawn comparisons to his new teammate, Lynch, and earned him the nickname Incredible Hulk – Turbin’s favorite childhood superhero.

“We liked the thought that when Marshawn comes off the field, we still have that impact player, big-time guy who can keep the rhythm going,” Carroll said.

Both are from the Bay Area – Lynch hales from Oakland and Turbin grew up in Freemont, Calif.

“A lot of coaches in the NFL kind of compare me to him, and say that my running style is similar to him, which is good for me, I guess, because Marshawn Lynch is a pretty good back,” Turbin said.

Turbin will be brought in to compete for the backup running back spots with free agents Kregg Lumpkin, Tyrell Sutton and Vai Taua. And Turbin understands nothing will be given to him.

“Being drafted is just a foot in the door,” Turbin said. “It’s just one step. Now, it’s all about doing everything I can to help the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, and doing everything I can to make myself a great football player.”

Turbin has dealt with more than his share of adversity. His oldest sister, Trina, battled multiple sclerosis and died at age 21, when Turbin was a 5-year-old.

Another sister, Tiffany, has been wheelchair-bound all her life. Turbin has helped care for her since he was a child.

“It’s motivated me a lot,” Turbin said about his family situation. “Now I have an opportunity to be there for my family.”

Seattle focused on the defensive side of the ball again this year, drafting eight defensive players. However one of those – the 6-5, 298-pound Sweezy – will be converted to an offensive guard.

Sweezy said he hasn’t played offensive line since Pee Wee football. Sweezy said that Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable worked him out a couple of weeks before the draft and asked him if he would be willing to switch.

“I talked about it with Coach Cable, and we decided that it would be a good decision,” Sweezy said. “I’m looking forward to learning about it and learning how to play the position.”

Twenty of the 28 players Seattle has drafted in the three drafts since Carroll and Schneider took over have been defensive players, which should not be a surprise with the defensive-minded Carroll leading the process.

“It’s not anything where we don’t like the offensive players,” Schneider said. “It’s just the way the draft has fallen. Every time we’ve been ready to pick, we’ve had better defensive players (available); not all the time, but the majority of it.”

Further, Seattle has addressed many of its offensive needs through free agency or trade, including quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn, Lynch, running back Michael Robinson, tight end Zach Miller and receiver Sidney Rice. So the Seahawks have looked for balance by selecting defensive players in the draft.

EXTRA POINTS

Soon after the draft the Seahawks agreed to terms with 10 undrafted rookie free agents – including University of Washington receiver Jermaine Kearse, who will join Seattle’s 90-man roster. It’s an important list for Seattle; guys such as Josh Portis, Jeron Johnson, Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette were signed as undrafted free agents last year and all finished the season on the 53-man roster. Kearse worked out in front of Seattle wide receivers coach Kippy Brown at UW’s pro day, and also attended the local pro day at the Seahawks’ facility on April 5. A full list of the signees: Wide receivers Phil Bates of Ohio University, Lavasier Tuinei of Oregon and Kearse; tight end Sean McGrath of Henderson (Ark.) State ; offensive linemen Rishaw Johnson of California, Pa., and Jon Opperud of Montana; defensive backs London Durham of McNeese State and DeShawn Shead of Portland State; defensive lineman Monte Taylor of Cincinnati; and kicker Carson Wiggs of Purdue.

MEET THE SEAHAWKS’ FINAL DRAFT PICKS

ROBERT TURBIN

Position: Running back

School: Utah State

Ht./Wt.: 5-foot-11, 222 pounds

Age: 22

The skinny: The 2011 Western Athletic Conference player of the year, Turbin rushed for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging over 6 yards a carry. From Fremont, Calif., Turbin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and benched pressed 225 pounds 28 times. … Turbin can catch the ball out of the backfield, making 67 catches for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns during his USU career.

JAYE HOWARD

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Florida

Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-3, 301 pounds

Age: 23

The skinny: From Apopka, Fla., Howard made 37 tackles – including 10 tackles for a loss – and 51/2 sacks in 2011. Howard played in 45 games during a four-year career with the Gators, making 25 starts. He had 131 tackles (80 solo, 51 assisted), including 25 tackles for losses and 11 sacks in his Florida career.

KOREY TOOMER

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Idaho

Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-2, 234 pounds

Age: 23

The skinny: Toomer was the Vandals’ MVP with 68 tackles, 101/2 for losses, including four sacks. A Las Vegas native, Toomer attended Arizona Western College for two years. Toomer’s pro day workout caused some jaws to drop when he clocked 4.53 in the 40 and had a 42-inch vertical leap. Toomer was not invited to the NFL combine, but the 42-inch leap would have been the best by almost three inches.

JEREMY LANE

Position: Cornerback

School: Northwestern State (La.)

Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 180 pounds

Age: 21

The skinny: Lane gained attention with a good effort (nine tackles, one sack) in his team’s game against LSU. Lane is another stunning athlete, having run the 40 in 4.48 seconds and measured 42 inches in the vertical. He’s reputed to be an ace on special teams.

WINSTON GUY

Position: Strong safety

School: Kentucky

Ht./Wt.: 6-1, 218

Age: 22

The skinny: This is one versatile Guy, having played cornerback and safety before shifting into a rover-like hybrid position last season. He came up with 120 tackles, including a season-high of 14 against South Carolina. Guy was the Kentucky State prep 100-meter champion.

J.R. SWEEZY

Position: Guard

School: North Carolina State

Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 298

Age: 23

The skinny: Sweezy was a defensive lineman, but the Seahawks announced he would be converted to guard. Sweezy said he’s never played on offense, but Seahawks line coach Tom Cable worked him out prior to the draft with that in mind. He was voted team captain as a senior. He was the state heavyweight wrestling champ in high school. He’s been arrested for assaulting a bus driver, and also possession of marijuana. The issues made him change his focus and “made me grow up a lot.”

GREG SCRUGGS

Position: Defensive end

School: Louisville

Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 284

Age: 21

The skinny: Scruggs has played nose tackle and end. He said the Seahawks will likely play him at the 5-technique end position. He was considered a team leader but was suspended for the Cardinals’ Belk Bowl appearance after being arrested for DUI.

eric.williams@thenewstribune.com 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks Twitter: @eric_d_williams Staff reports

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