Seahawks enter final day of NFL draft with 4 picks
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Alex Collins already stands out among his new Seattle Seahawks teammates - for his unusual hobby if nothing else.
Irish step dancing isn't usually high on the list of interests for potential NFL running backs.
''I'm always on my toes and my lower body, my calf muscles and what not,'' Collins said. ''It's a lot of fun working with them and learning something new, especially since I didn't think I could do it.''
Collins was selected with the second of Seattle's fifth-round picks during the final day of the draft on Saturday as the Seahawks continued to address depth in the offensive backfield after the retirement of Marshawn Lynch and with incumbent Thomas Rawls still recovering from a broken ankle suffered last December.
But along with three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Arkansas and 20 touchdowns rushing last season for the Razorbacks, Collins brings with him a unique interest that he believes helps with his footwork on the football field.
Collins was first introduced to Irish dance by the daughter of his high school football coach. They debated whether it was a sport and she challenged Collins to give it a try.
Not only did he like it, he even has an Irish dance alias: Mitchell Findley, a take on Irish dance star Michael Flatley.
''When I got into it, I wanted to watch the best and learn from him,'' Collins said. ''I watched ''Lord of the Dance'' on YouTube a few times, and kind of got it from there.''
But Seattle didn't draft Collins for his dancing - unless it comes in the end zone. He was the second running back taken by Seattle; Notre Dame's C.J. Prosise was taken in the third round and the Seahawks took Clemson's Zac Brooks in the seventh round.
While Prosise projects as a third-down back after having formerly been a wide receiver, the Seahawks view Collins as a potential option in early downs behind Rawls.
''We talk about how we characterize our run game, being big, physical, runners that run violent, he fits all those,'' Seattle scout Aaron Hineline said.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the drafting of three running backs was for depth and not a concern about Rawls.
''Thomas gives us a great element in his style of play. We love how he's physical and aggressive and tough. ... We're hoping the other guys will complement what we already get from Thomas,'' Carroll said.
Before taking Collins, the Seahawks selected Maryland defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson earlier in the fifth round and then took TCU center Joey Hunt in the sixth round. Seattle rounded out the draft selecting California wide receiver Kenny Lawler and Brooks.
Hunt and Brooks made visits to the Seahawks facility prior to the draft, while Lawler was an early entry who slipped deeper in the draft than most projected.
The final tally for Seattle: three offensive linemen, three running backs, two offensive linemen, a run-blocking tight end and a taller wide receiver with big hands. The three days were a reaffirmation that Seattle is still a run-first offense with a commitment to the line of scrimmage.
''It just feel like the adding of the big guys inside on both sides of the ball is really going to help us and it's going to make it feel like it's very, very competitive through the roster which brings out the best in everyone,'' Carroll said.
Seattle continued to buck previous trends by trading up in the fifth round to draft Jefferson, giving up a fourth-round pick in 2017 and a seventh-round pick this year in the trade with New England. It was the first time in seven drafts under general manager John Schneider that the Seahawks have twice traded up. Seattle moved up in the second round on Friday to take Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
Jefferson was an all-Big Ten honorable mention selection but projects as a versatile defensive line option for Seattle, especially in passing situations. Jefferson had 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks during his junior year at Maryland and said he can play both defensive end and defensive tackle.
The 22-year-old Jefferson already has three kids- a 5-year-old daughter and twin 21-month-old daughters - but said the plans for leaving after his junior year at Maryland and entering the draft were put in place before last season started.
''I think I am very disruptive inside, with the run and the pass. I feel like I can really get after it on third downs, kick inside on sub packages and rush the passer,'' Jefferson said. ''That's a premium in this league right now.''
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