Seahawks draft for the 2 P’s: passion, perseverance

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comMay 11, 2014 

RENTON — Last week, coach Pete Carroll came up with the term “gritty” to describe the kind of player the Seattle Seahawks craved.

You’ve seen the type: an Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman, with that unquenchable isotope of competitiveness at their core.

Some of them are more “salty,” like Marshawn Lynch or Doug Baldwin, who not only refuse to be tackled, but snarl at your attempts.

General manager John Schneider expanded on the search for these types, calling it a matter of “figuring out the obstacles they had to overcome in their lives or how they handle themselves on a daily basis … you have to carry yourself in a certain manner, or you’re not going to be able to survive here.”

It seemed such an important distinction to Carroll that he wanted to expand on it after the news conference.

“It’s passion and perseverance, that’s what it is,” Carroll said. “The ability to overcome setbacks they might have had. Things they’ve been through in their lives.”

Passion and perseverance — yes, it almost perfectly describes so many of the players the Seahawks picked in the later rounds of the NFL draft Saturday.

That’s particularly the case with two of their fourth-rounders, UCLA defensive end Cassius Marsh and Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood.

Marsh epitomizes the passion, Norwood the perseverance.

When the Seahawks called Marsh on Saturday morning, he wasn’t watching broadcasts of the draft. He was on the couch with his pit bull, Boss (Marsh: “He’s the cutest dog on the planet”), watching the movie “The Last Samurai” (Marsh: “It’s a classic”).

Ah, “The Last Samurai.” Is that how you try to play football, with a samurai mentality?

“I try to play with a lot of passion; I love the game of football,” Marsh said. “I think you have to be a whole other animal on the field. I try to embrace that.”

One draft scouting report on Marsh cited: “Outstanding effort and field energy. Plays past the whistle … Sacrifices his body around piles. Emotional leader who plays with intensity.”

Yes, you might point out that playing “past the whistle” is against the rules. He has been suspended a time or two for fighting in games. Well, Marsh is working on that.

“I play with a lot of fire, a lot of passion, and sometimes that can spill over,” Marsh said.

Seahawks scout Tyler Ramsey liked that about Marsh.

“He’s really a passionate kid, and sometimes he pushes the limit,” Ramsey said. “You love a guy who loves the game so much.”

When they got to pick No. 123, the Seahawks already had devoted a selection to the wide receiver position (Colorado’s Paul Richardson in Round 2).

But they thought so much of Norwood that they picked him anyway.

At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, Norwood is a big receiver noted for clutch catches in traffic.

Norwood finished up at Alabama as a team captain, and with a master’s degree and three national championship rings. But, as he recounted Saturday, he has lived through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as well as two lethal tornadoes.

“It was like all the things coming at me in different angles and different ways, and trying to figure out what I should do next,” Norwood said. “In the end, I persevered through it all.”

Ah, there’s the perseverance that Carroll and Schneider sought.

Seahawks scout Jim Nagy is familiar with players who have lived through catastrophic storms (Thomas being one of them).

“It shows they are really mentally tough; they have overcome a lot,” Nagy said. “He has two degrees. He’s one of the best kids in their program.”

Having come up with so many steals in recent drafts, the Seahawks have had to start playing possum on players that appeal to them.

A number of their draft choices this time around said that Seahawks representatives — surely not wanting to tip their hands — had very little contact with them leading up to the draft.

But the pattern is clear for others to emulate.

They only need to come up with their own definition of “grit.”

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com

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