Sports Out West

Seattle Seahawks: 4 rookies who will make an instant impact

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The Seattle Seahawks concluded their three-day rookie minicamp Sunday, as Pete Carroll got a first look at his 2014 draft class and crop of undrafted free agents. Of the 59 players invited to rookie minicamp, only a select few will make the final 53-man roster and fewer still will go on to make an impact their rookie season.

Seattle’s depth took a hit over the offseason, meaning the Seahawks will be counting on some rookies to take meaningful snaps next season. The Seahawks will have some difficult personnel decisions ahead as they decide which rookies are worthy of a final roster spot, meaning some good football players will be cut in the process.

Three members of Seattle’s rookie class have the skillsets to win a roster spot and have an instant impact on the team.  

Paul Richardson, WR

It’s easy to say that the Seahawks’ first selection will be a difference maker, but Richardson truly has the plug-and-play skillset to have an impact from day one. Richardson ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, showing he has the speed to be an instant home run threat.

Due to the Seahawks’ lack of depth at wide receiver, Richardson is pretty much guaranteed a roster spot and should receive a large percent of snaps in 2014. Doug Baldwin and Percy Harvin will likely be the starters at receiver, but Richardson will get solid playing time in a rotation with Jermaine Kearse and Sidney Rice.

What Richardson adds instantly is an explosive element to Seattle’s offense. Between Harvin and Richardson, the Seahawks will have a dynamic touchdown threat on just about every play. That should open up the field for Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, putting more pressure on opposing defenses.

Richardson was impressive for the first day of minicamp before a collision with a defensive back left him out the final two days. Health is the one concern for Richardson due to his small size and injury history, but he will have an impact if he can stay on the field.

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE

Jeffcoat was possibly the biggest snub of the 2014 NFL Draft and was brought in by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. He is coming off on All-American senior season at Texas and also won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The reason Jeffcoat was passed on was due to his injury history and in-between size at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds. Fortunately for him, the Seahawks love players like that and he could easily find a role in the backup LEO position.

Jeffcoat was likely a first round talent before a devastating pectoral injury in 2012, but he still has the pursuit speed and motor to have an impact. Snaps are hard to come by in Seattle’s defense so Jeffcoat might not get as many as some of the rookies, but he will show flashes of his natural talent while working his way to becoming a bigger piece in the future.

Justin Britt, OL

Reach or not, Britt is going to have an impact due to the amount of playing time he will receive. Britt will be in a battle with Michael Bowie for a starting tackle position and could also potentially make the switch to guard.  

Britt held Jadeveon Clowney to a modest game in 2013 due to his strong technique and footwork, and those strengths again surfaced over the weekend. That will allow Britt to make an impact in pass protection right away, while he looks to improve his blocking at the second level.

Cassius Marsh, DE

Marsh is another one of those in-between sized players at 6-foot-4, 252 pounds, but the Seahawks have a plan for him. His weight fluctuated between 260 and 300 pounds at UCLA. Pete Carroll is hoping he can bulk back up to the latter and become a Michael Bennett-type player.

That would make the most sense for Marsh to become a regular contributor, as he lacks the ideal speed for an edge rusher or outside linebacker and the increased size could help him move to the interior. If Marsh finds a comfortable playing weight on the interior, he will be able to use his good technique and relentless motor to get to the quarterback.

 Photo Credit: Michael Conroy / Associated Press 

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.