RENTON — The Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp, which began Friday at the VMAC, is just the beginning of a long journey for the team’s nine draft picks.
“We get a chance to look at them and start the process of evaluating guys,” coach Pete Carroll said after a roughly 45-minute on-field workout Friday afternoon.
One spot where Seattle could have to make some quick evaluations, though, is with the two quarterbacks who are in camp — Levi Lewis of Louisiana and Kaleb Eleby of Western Michigan.
For the last decade, Seattle having two QBs in for rookie minicamp wouldn’t be much of a big deal. But in the post-Russell Wilson era and with some pretty big uncertainty about what happens now, even the bottom of the roster at that position suddenly looms as interesting,
A decision this weekend might have to be made because Lewis is an official member of the team, announced Friday as one of 14 undrafted rookies the team signed to its 90-man roster, while Eleby is in camp as a tryout player.
Seattle is one of eight teams holding rookie minicamps this week. The other 24 will hold theirs next weekend.
If the Seahawks were to see anything they really liked out of Eleby, they might have to sign him before he leaves town and potentially attends another camp as a tryout player next week.
Lewis, listed at 5-foot-9, 192 pounds and wearing jersey No. 15, is a left-hander who threw for 9,216 yards at Louisiana (formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette) and ran for another 1,088 in leading the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 35-7 record in his starting career.
Eleby, a right-hander listed at 6-foot, 208, and wearing No. 5, left Western Michigan with two years of eligibility remaining. He’s one of the five players of the 58 in camp who have a birthday in the year 2000.
Some draft analysts thought Eleby would go in the late rounds — Lindy’s had Eleby eighth in its QB rankings and Lewis 14th. Eleby was third in the country in passing efficiency in 2020 at 195.1 when he had an 18-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio (when one of his top targets was current Seahawks WR Dee Eskridge) and wasn’t a whole lot worse in 2021 when he had a 157.2 rating and a 23-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio. He famously outdueled Pitt’s Kenny Pickett — who was the first QB picked this year at 20th overall by the Steelers — in leading Western Michigan to a 44-41 win over the Panthers in September, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
But Eleby isn’t known as much for his rushing and questions about his height also helped lead to him going undrafted.
For now, since he’s under contract, Lewis is in line to be the fourth QB on the roster heading into camp behind Drew Lock, Geno Smith and Jacob Eason. Lewis got a $15,000 bonus to sign, the largest reported so far that the Seahawks handed to any of their UDFA signees.
But the team will look closely the next few days to see if Eleby shows enough to force his way onto the roster. And with Eason also a young player still finding his way in the NFL and the starting spot uncertain, for the first time in years, who the No. 4 QB is could be relevant.
And for now, those on the roster appear to be all there will be anytime soon with Carroll having reiterated in several interviews over the past week that, as he told the NFL Network on Saturday, “We’re happy with the guys we’ve got.”
But with Carroll also saying at every turn the team will always keep looking, speculation will surely continue that Seattle could at some point add to the group they have. But for now, Seattle seems determined to give Lock, Smith and the rest a real chance to battle it out and see what happens.
Friday marked the first time the Seahawks had seen either Lewis or Eleby on the field. And rookie minicamp is truly a beginning of the process — one item coaches spent a few minutes on with the QBs during an early portion of the workout was how far back to stand when taking a snap from under center.
So with not much to go on yet, Carroll was understandably vague when asked for an assessment of the two Friday.
“They both are leaders,” Carroll said. “They did a nice job in their (college) programs. They’re strong people. They handled what we asked them to do today well and threw the ball around the yard pretty good and both, you can see, are good competitive guys. That came through really clearly.”
The competition, though, has just begun.
Seahawks announce UDFA, draft pick signings
Along with Lewis, the other players Seattle announced Friday signed as undrafted free agents are safety Joey Blount, Virginia; safety Bubba Bolden, Miami; tight end Cade Brewer, Texas; guard Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State; defensive tackle Matt Gotel, West Florida (also a grad of Lakes High in Tacoma); receiver Jake Herslow, Houston; linebacker Vi Jones, North Carolina State; tight end John Mitchell, Florida Atlantic; safety Scott Nelson, Wisconsin; linebacker Josh Onujiogu; receiver Demetris Robertson, Auburn; cornerback Josh Valentine-Turner, Florida International; safety Deontai Williams. The signings bring Seattle’s roster to the offseason maximum of 90 (technically 91 with Seattle getting an exemption for linebacker Aaron Donkor, an international pathway program player, earlier this week). The Seahawks also announced that four draft picks have signed their contracts, which are all slotted via the league’s collective-bargaining agreement — fifth-round picks Tyreke Smith and Tariq Woolen and seventh-round picks Bo Melton and Dareke Young.
Seahawks announce rookie numbers
The Seahawks also announced the jersey numbers for all of their rookies, including their nine draft picks. They are cornerback Coby Bryant 8 (the same number as the late Kobe Bryant); running back Ken Walker III 9; Woolen 39; linebacker Boye Mafe 53; left tackle Charles Cross 67; right tackle Abe Lucas 72; Melton 81; Young 83; Smith 92.
• Asked about the news this week that the Seahawks will play the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Germany on Nov. 13 against Tampa Bay in Munich, Carroll said, “It’s great. You know I’ve never been there. So I look forward to the trip just like everybody else. I have a really good thought about going overseas because we’ve done it before (a 27-3 win over the Raiders in 2018 in London) and we had a great trip.”
• Woolen sat out the on-field workout with what Carroll said was a slight hamstring issue but noted he took part in the walk-through earlier in the day.
• As expected, Cross lined up at left tackle and Lucas at right.
• Also among the tryout players is former UW and O’Dea standout punter Race Porter. Washington State guard Liam Ryan is also taking part as a tryout player.
• An intriguing tryout player is lineman Nick Paul of Northeastern State, a Division II school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, among whose alums is Michael Bowie, a 2013 seventh-round pick of the Seahawks, who started eight games as a rookie for Seattle that year. Paul is listed at 6-4, 385, but Carroll playfully made an up sign with his thumb when asked if that weight was accurate, saying, “Oh my goodness, I’ve never seen a guy that big.” Paul is listed as an offensive tackle on the roster, but he was playing nose tackle on defense Friday with Carroll saying, “You can’t tell which gap he is lining up in, so (he could) be a big problem for the offense right from the beginning.”