With the NFL draft now just a little over two weeks away -- April 25-27 -- it’s time to take a look at prospects the Seahawks have brought to Seattle for private visits.
NFL rules allow for teams to bring in 30 players for visits before the draft. Pro Football Talk a few years ago described the rules for the visits this way: “Each team may transport a maximum of 30 draft-eligible players to the team’s home city or another location for a one-day physical examination. These players cannot be timed and tested. Interviews and written tests may be conducted during the visit.”
These visits are separate from the local pro day that each team is also allowed to hold -- Seattle’s this year is set for April 15.
During a local pro day, teams are allowed to invite prospects who either played or grew up in that city’s “metropolitan area” for a visit and workout. That means lots of UW players and others who grew up in the area. That teams hold local pro days is also why you don’t see local players taking official private visits -- those tend to be reserved for players from out of the area.
Not that the visits are necessarily great indicators of anything. Of the 30 players the Seahawks have drafted the past three years, eight had pre-draft visits to the VMAC in Renton, including three of nine last year -- defensive ends Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin and quarterback Alex McGough.
Another 10 were players the Seahawks later signed as undrafted free agents or to the practice squad, or simply as free agents down the road.
And teams have lots of other avenues for visiting with the players such as the Senior Bowl, the combine and the pro days that the colleges themselves hold.
But a few of the so-called “top 30” visits do end up as Seahawks each year, and also provide something of a peek into the team’s thought process entering the draft, and as such as worth monitoring.
Here is a look at the players who have been reported to have visited the Seahawks so far, with the reports from various NFL media sources, including NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson.
Darwin Thompson, Utah State
The 5-8, 200-pounder played just one year at Utah State but gained 1,044 yards and 6.8 yards per carry while scoring 14 TDs and also showed decent receiving skills. Seattle likely is looking at him as a possible undrafted free agent signee.
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
I made a case for the Seahawks taking Harry with the 21st overall pick last week in my Seahawks-only mock draft. Harry is one of the top receiving prospects in the draft and could well emerge as a No. 1 on the outside.
Parris Campbell, Ohio State
The 6-foot, 208-pounder had 91 receptions last season at Ohio State and played both in the slot and outside at OSU, so the Seahawks could well envision him as able to help out at any of the receiving spots. “Projects as a No. 2 NFL starter by year two,” wrote The SIS (Sports Info Solutions) Football Rookie Handbook.
Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
He’s generally considered a mid-round draftee after playing at three colleges in four years, with 48 receptions last year with the Aggies. He’s also regarded as able to play both in-line and in the slot or out wide.
L.J. Collier, TCU
Generally considered a third-day pick, he played on the edge in college but is generally considered as likely a better fit as a tackle or a five-tech end in the NFL.
Rashan Gary, Michigan
“Has as much talent as any defensive linemen in this draft,” wrote the Athlon’s pre-draft preview, and Seattle might have to stay at 21 if it really wanted to get Gary. But other reviews are mixed, such as the Sports Info Solutions preview which wrote that Gary “never compiled the elite production expected of him” at Michigan.
Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com and other media outlets wrote Monday that the Seahawks are on Simmons’ list of teams for a pre-draft visit. Simmons was regarded as an almost-certain first-rounder -- if not high in the first -- before suffering an ACL injury while training after the season. Seattle would obviously be wanting to get a firsthand look at his injury in bringing him in.
Jalen Jelks, Oregon
Jelks, an edge rusher/strongside linebacker, is generally considered a mid-round pick -- think the Barkevious Mingo role. His 57 tackles last season the most for any Pac-12 defensive linemen. A late-round/UDFA possibility.
Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas
He was a starter at weakside linebacker for Arkansas. Another late-round/UDFA possibility.
Darnell Savage, Maryland
Generally considered a second- or third-day pick, he mostly played strong safety at Maryland but might have the ability to play other spots, as well. Pro Football Focus recently raved about Savage calling him maybe the NFL’s “next Bob Sanders.”
Juan Thornill, Virginia
We also made the case for Seattle taking Thornhill with its third-round pick last week. One problem is that he may not last that long, considered one of the faster risers in the draft of late. Played both free and strong at UVA and the Seahawks are undoubtedly looking to add players who could add depth all over the secondary.
Corrion Ballard, Utah
Likely a UDFA prospect. Here’s what 247sports.com wrote about him recently: “Ballard has an impressive physical frame (listed at 6-3, 200 at Utah) and came on strong towards the end of the season when he moved from the deep safety position up closer to the action at the line of scrimmage as a box safety. He played better after the move, but there are still concerns about his ability in coverage and the consistency of his tackling. While he won’t be able to address tackling concerns, if Ballard can run a good time in the 40-yard dash, and show improved fluidity in drills simulating man and zone coverages techniques, it will be a big help to his resume.”
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
Raised some eyebrows with a 4.48 40 at the Combine and is generally considered among the top safeties available. “Projects as a SS at the next level who can interchange at FS and also be the Nickel CB,” wrote The SIS Football Rookie Handbook.