The Seahawks rounded out an eight-man draft class with five selections on the final day of the 2020 NFL Draft on Saturday.
Seahawks General Manager John Schneider was pleased with the performance of the team given the unique circumstances presented for the draft due to current events and was happy the draft could serve as a welcome distraction.
"it’s been a huge project and it’s been outstanding. I think everybody did a great job," Schneider said. "People did a really nice job of really focusing and communicating very well. These are tough times for everybody right now. I’m very proud that the National Football League was able to put this together and that all of us scouts, coaches, owners and the Commissioner and everybody, we got through this and put it together for everybody because I’ve been getting a lot of feedback that it was a lot of entertainment and it was a lot of relief for people and provided a lot of hope."
Schneider admitted that this year's draft had a focus on finding players that were more likely to be able to contribute right away without as much development required due to the reality that they will miss most, if not all, of the offseason to get up to speed. All eight selections came from Power Five conferences with only seventh-round pick Stephen Sullivan expected to need some significant development time.
"Absolutely," Schneider said. "Not necessarily an emphasis from a conference standpoint, but an emphasis to try to find people that will be able to click with our coaches and vibe with our locker room and be able to do that in a very, very quick manner. I thought our scouts did a very, very good job of emphasizing that and working with the coaches in terms of how they were going to fit for the 2020 Seattle Seahawks."
The Seahawks drafted Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson with their first fourth-round selection on day three of the NFL Draft.
Parkinson caught 48 passes for 589 yards and a touchdown last season for Stanford but caught seven touchdowns during his sophomore season in 2018. At 6-foot-7, 252 pounds, Parkinson is the tallest tight end in this year's NFL Draft class. He was a two-year starter at Stanford and was a second-team All-Pac 12 selection last year.
"He’s been such a rock-solid kid," Carroll said. "They rave about his commitment and his consistency. I’m hoping with that frame that we can beef him up a little bit and he can become a really effective blocker for us. He’s an enormous kid. The catching stuff is all there. We got to see him develop as a blocker and become a unique player there as a combo threat."
It shouldn't be a surprise that the Seahawks continue to add to the tight end position. Will Dissly is coming off a serious injury in a torn Achilles that ended his season mid-year. New free agent signing Greg Olson will be 35 years old this season. Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson are both on one-year contracts with Hollister's restricted free agent tender containing no guaranteed money.
Parkinson has proven his capability as a receiving option but he feels confident in his ability to be an all-around tight end.
"It’s something I have prided myself on, over my career; being a very good pass catcher, someone that’s going to go up and make every catch," Parkinson said. "Didn’t have a drop last year on catchable balls. Something that I take very seriously; I make sure I’m always working on it. To be that consistent presence, especially at that tight end position, that the quarterback can depend on. He can throw the ball anywhere, and I can go up and get it.
"[Blocking is] definitely getting better. I’m willing and able and ready to go, in terms of blocking. Obviously, room for improvement, as I was mainly a receiver my first couple years at Stanford. I progressed to be a more complete tight end. I’m ready to step in and put my hand in the dirt and get ready to go in the run game."
Photo Credit: LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Cornerback Chase Williams #7 of the USC Trojans stops tight end Colby Parkinson #84 of the Stanford Cardinal short of a first down in the fourth quarter of the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 7, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
With their second selection in the fourth round, the Seahawks added depth at running back with the selection of Miami (FL) running back DeeJay Dallas.
Dallas has played running back, quarterback and receiver dating back to his prep days at Glynn Academy in Georgia. His only year as a starter at Miami came last season as he rushed for 693 yards and eight touchdowns during his junior season at Miami.
"He’s a guy with a really big attitude and personality about it and try hard and effort and all of that," Carroll said. "That was the mix. He’s been a wildcat guy back there in the backfield. That just adds to the makeup that he brings that makes him unique. That’s kind of the guys that we love to fall for. Hopefully, he will contribute in many ways. Versatility is a big deal with him.
Dallas joins former Miami teammate Travis Homer in Seattle and helps provide needed cushion in the backfield with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both coming back from significant injuries last season. Additionally, Carson is set to enter the final year of his rookie deal and has two of his first three seasons come to an end due to injuries.
"I know the Seahawks running backs are physical, downhill runners, they have play-making ability," Dallas said. "Honestly, just trying to get in and compete with the rest of the pack. I’ll do whatever. Whether that’s receiver or special teams or running back. I’ll do whatever and I’m excited for this opportunity."
Photo Credit: MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 05: DeeJay Dallas #13 of the Miami Hurricanes dives to the pylon to score on a two-point conversion against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Syracuse defensive end Alton Robinson was taken by the Seahawks in the fifth-round as Seattle added a second pass rusher to the mix. After taking Tennessee's Darrell Taylor in the second round, Robinson's selection gives the Seahawks two rookies to help bolster a pass rush that was lacking heavily last season. Only the Miami Dolphins (23) had fewer sacks than Seattle (28) last season.
"We really did look at the issue of we weren’t happy with the production of our pressure that we put on last year and so we went after it. Every move that we’ve made has addressed that and I think that we have the depth that can really help us keep guys fast and fresh and get a really good rotation going.
"I’m really fired up that we were able to get Alton where we got him. He’s got the ability and the production to do stuff like guys that were picked quite a bit higher. We were fortunate to get that done."
Robinson was a three-year starter at Syracuse after transferring from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. A highly-regarded high school prospect, Robinson had to go to a junior college after an arrest as a senior for stealing his girlfriend's purse. Robinson had a breakout season as a junior with 10 sacks and 17 tackles-for-loss for the Orange as he earned second-team All-ACC honors.
"I feel like one of the things I pride myself in most is my relentless competitiveness," Robinson said. "Being a defensive lineman, you’re going up against the same guy pretty much the whole game. It’s you and that offensive tackle. Out of 10, I want to win 7. I know I was bred to believe that I can’t always be the biggest, fastest, strongest, but working hard can overcome a lot of that."
However, Robinson managed just five sacks during his senior season, which likely led to his slide into day three of the draft. He also was suspended prior to Syracuse's bowl game in 2018.
Robinson said he was "immature" at the time of his arrest and believes such events have been put to rest in his life.
"I embarrassed myself, and my high school, my family and everything like that," Robinson said. "I definitely learned from it. I’m looking forward to being a Seahawk, and I can’t wait to get up to Seattle."
Robinson said he'd be working out at Tracy Ford Sports Performance in Bellevue after getting a recommendation from former teammate Zaire Franklin. Robinson has since already gotten to know Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril, and said he was high school teammates with cornerback Tre Flowers.
"I was definitely interested [in Seattle] because, just talking to Cliff, and knowing the scheme and stuff like that and how Cliff explained how it was. Between him and Michael Bennett and all those guys he played with, just the scheme and all that stuff, getting off the ball. After talking with him, that’s the style of defense that I feel like is the best kind of defense. I’m definitely excited to get up there," Robinson said.
Photo Credit: SYRACUSE, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: David Pindell #5 of the Connecticut Huskies runs with the ball while being tackled by Alton Robinson (back) and Chris Slayton #95 of the Syracuse Orange during the first quarter at the Carrier Dome on September 22, 2018 in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse defeated Connecticut 51-21. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
With their sixth-round selection, the Seahawks drafted Florida wide receiver Freddie Swain.
Swain was one of the 15 fastest wide receivers at the NFL Combine with a 4.46 40-yard dash time. Swain only started regularly as a senior at Florida and had 38 catches for 517 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns in his final year at the school.
"He’s a really, really tough-minded individual. Tons of grit, very instinctive," Schneider said. "He’s played outside, he’s played inside, he’s a very good punt returner. I would say from a special teams standpoint, he’s going to be a guy that’s going to be in the mix right away. He’s just got a great attitude about him."
Swain said he views himself as a slot receiver but said he's happy to play outside if needed as well.
"I bring a lot of energy. I play with passion. I just love to compete," Swain said. "When me and Coach Carroll talked on the phone he made a big emphasis on just competing when I get in Seattle. I think I should fit in well with the guys. They have a lot of guys that just love to compete. I think I should fit in well."
Swain also has experience returning kicks.
Photo Credit: JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 27: Freddie Swain #16 of the Florida Gators scores a touchdown during a game against the Georgia Bulldogs at TIAA Bank Field on October 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Seahawks traded a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in order to trade back into the seventh-round of the draft and select LSU wide receiver Stephen Sullivan.
Sullivan played some tight end at LSU last season but the Seahawks have listed him as a wide receiver. However, that designation appears to be somewhat negotiable as well as he transitions to the pro game.
"Obviously you’re going to see him in the receiving, tight end type of role as we develop him," Carroll said. "But we’ll want to balance that out as much as we can as soon as we can and we’ll go at it. This is one of my favorites because this is a guy that you look at him and you have to really project at what he’s going to be like and we were willing to do that and John was willing and his guys were willing to look at this guy as a potential guy that we could create a real role for him."
Carroll said LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, a former Carroll assistant coach at USC, spoke highly of Sullivan and helped spark an interest in him with the Seahawks.
"I got connected, really through Coach O, as we talked about his guys, and this story, he lit up about this kid," Carroll said. "I had a special eye on him throughout the time, and was hoping we would figure out a way. We couldn’t have waited a whole lot longer to pull it off. Fortunately, John made a great move late and gave us a chance to get him in the program. He was so excited and so pumped up about it, just like Ed had said he would be. Ed told me he was going to be one of my favorite guys. All of that added in. He’s a marvelous talent. We’ll see if we can find a good way to make it come to life and come to the front. It surely is going to be on us, because he’s going to do his part. He has so much energy for it, such a great motor. A really good guy to bring into the program."
Sullivan said he spent most of his time at LSU at receiver before being asked by offensive coordinator Joe Brady (now the offensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers) to move to tight end. At just under 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds, Sullivan ran a 4.66 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. In four years at LSU, he managed just 46 catches for 712 yards and three touchdowns.
"I’m willing to do anything the team needs. I can play receiver, I can play tight end. Whatever the team needs for me to help produce and win the game, I’m all for," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said he spoke with the Seahawks at the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine. It was there in which Carroll told Sullivan he intended to find a way to get him to Seattle.
"Coach [Carroll] told me at the Senior Bowl and at the Combine that he was going to come get me. You just never know how those things are going to work. But it played out for the best. I’m happy with the decision, I’m happy with being a Seahawk and I’m ready to get to work, for sure.
"It feels great. It feels like I’m wanted, and it brings that fire to me," he continued regarding Seattle trading back into the draft to get him. "It feels like I need to go in there and prove myself. I have to go in there and give them 110% every single day. They believe in me. I appreciate them for believing in me and believing in my talent. I’m ready to get to work and I’m ready to win a Super Bowl, honestly. I’m ready to get to it, for sure."
Photo Credit: BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 17: Stephen Sullivan #10 of the LSU Tigers runs with the ball as Brandon Hamilton Douglas-Dotson #3 of the Rice Owls defends during the first half at Tiger Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)