The newest Seahawks are getting on the field this weekend at team headquarters in Renton. Here’s what I am looking for in the rookie minicamp that includes practices in helmets, jerseys and shorts Friday and Saturday afternoons and Sunday morning:
1. Where is Ethan Pocic lining up?
The Seahawks drafted him in the second round a couple weeks ago not just because he started at center at LSU, but more for him being 6 feet 6 and experienced also playing guard and tackle. “It’s like getting 2 1/2 players in one guy,” general manager John Schneider said of Pocic. Last week coach Pete Carroll said Mark Glowinski, the 2016 starter at left guard, was now on the right side readying to battle free-agent signee Oday Aboushi for that job. The Seahawks seem intent on making 2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi the right tackle after he started at right guard as a rookie. Schneider has said he liked Luke Joeckel, whom Seattle also signed in March, better at left guard when he played it last season for Jacksonville than when he was the Jaguars’ left tackle in previous seasons. He and Rees Odhiambo have been getting offseason work at both left tackle and left guard, yet guaranteeing Joeckel $7 million for 2017 is left-tackle money for Seattle. Where does all that leave the versatile Pocic, who as a second-round pick would appear destined to start sooner than later? This weekend will provide first glimpses.
2. How much does Shaqill Griffin in fact “look the part” as a potential new starting cornerback?
Those are the words Schneider used to describe his the 6-1 Griffin, Seattle third-round choice from Central Florida. In a draft deep on cornerback talent, the Seahawks passed on two chances to draft University of Washington star Kevin King by twice trading down in then out of round one. King could be starting the opener in September in Green Bay -- against Seattle. Griffin could be, too, because DeShawn Shead is likely to remain out recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in January. The in-house options before the draft to start opposite Richard Sherman were not enticing, which is why the Seahawks drafted Griffin.
3. What kind of first impression will Malik McDowell make?
The knocks against him entering the draft were his taking much of last season off at Michigan State out of indifference during the Spartans’ unusual, 3-9 season. Carroll mentioned after the Seahawks made the pass-rushing defensive tackle their top draft choice that McDowell played the start of last season with a high ankle sprain. And Carroll has never met a player he doesn’t think he can motivate and develop. If McDowell gets off the right way with his new coaches and teammates, Seattle could have the inside pass rusher it’s been seeking for years to pair with Pro Bowl man Michael Bennett as tackles with fellow Pro Bowl end Cliff Avril and Frank Clark outside in zooming, situational packages.
4. Which undrafted free agents will splash and begin pushes to make the team?
There are always some that do. Seattle has led the league in players ignored in drafts on their roster the last few regular seasons. And not just filling spots, but playing in key ones; starting running back Thomas Rawls and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse are among those signed as undrafted free agents. Bennett was one, too, in 2009. The Seahawks had as of Friday morning yet to officially announce their undrafted free agents for this spring, but the team or players themselves have revealed some, such as former Purdue offensive lineman Jordan Roos and former West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard. Plus, the Seahawks will be invited guys in for tryouts over the next couple weeks. Schneider and Carroll are likely to keep more than a couple who will emerge this summer as viable options for the regular season.