Takeaways From Day 1 of Seattle Seahawks Rookie Minicamp

From Byron Murphy II flexing his muscles to a trio of newcomers starting to find their roles on the offensive line, the Seahawks had an eventful first day of rookie minicamp at the VMAC.
Seahawks rookie guard Christian Haynes strikes a blocking sled during the team's rookie minicamp.
Seahawks rookie guard Christian Haynes strikes a blocking sled during the team's rookie minicamp. / Corbin Smith/All Seahawks
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Ushering in the final phase of the offseason, the Seattle Seahawks kicked off their annual rookie minicamp on Friday at the VMAC with their new eight-player draft class debuting on the practice field along with undrafted signings and tryout players participating.

Here are four quick takeaways from Friday's session, including a far different atmosphere with a new coaching staff running the show:

1. Even without pads on, Byron Murphy II looks the part of a first-round game wrecker.

Donning a white No. 91 practice jersey for the first time, a number he told reporters he selected because the two digits add up to his high school No. 10, nobody needed to see the number to know where the first round pick out of Texas was. Built with gargantuan thighs and calves that resemble tree stumps with minimal body fat at 297 pounds, he stood out like a sore thumb amongst other giants in Seattle's defensive line group during individual drills.

Seahawks first-round pick Byron Murphy II poses with his parents, girlfriend, agent, general manager John Schneider, and coach Mike Macdonald at the VMAC on Thursday.
Seahawks first-round pick Byron Murphy II poses with his parents, girlfriend, agent, general manager John Schneider, and coach Mike Macdonald at the VMAC on Thursday. /

Whether working on two-gapping technique to stack and shed or flying tight around the corner with the bend of an explosive edge rusher in bag drills, Murphy impressed with his elite athleticism and raw power, showcasing the skills that made him the top-graded defender for general manager John Schneider and coach Mike Macdonald in this year's draft class.

“It was as advertised," Macdonald smiled when asked about getting to see Murphy on the field for the first time. "Yeah, I'm happy he's in a Seahawks uniform, for sure. But all the things we expected, explosive, smart, just an all-around good football player. But long way to go, one day in the books. But yeah, it definitely is as we expected.”

Like the rest of his fellow rookies, Murphy will have to wait a while before he's actually able to hit people with padded practices not arriving until training camp. But even without seeing him mix it up in the trenches, his unique traits were visible for all who witnessed his first on-field action at the VMAC, and he's eager to learn from Macdonald, who he praised for coaching him hard and demanding his best on every rep.

Just getting started, Murphy understands there's a long way to go, especially once Seattle's rookie class merges with veterans at OTAs starting next week. But he couldn't have been more pleased with his first day, which culminated with him signing his rookie contract after practice wrapped up.

“For me, personally, I feel like I had a great day of practice, I feel like there are some things I need to work on. I’m still learning, I’m still getting into the groove of things."

2. Seattle begins sorting out youth-infused offensive line, particularly at guard spots, with an impressive new coach running drills.

Emphasizing the trenches throughout the NFL draft last week, the Seahawks invested three picks on Christian Haynes, Sataoa Laumea, and Michael Jerrell, adding much-needed depth to an offensive line that lost two starters in free agency. All three players suited up on Friday, providing a first glimpse for how the team may plan to use them heading towards OTAs.

Selected 81st overall in the third round out of UConn, Haynes exclusively played right guard for the Huskies, earning All-American honors each of his final two seasons with the program. While Schneider kept the door open for him to slide to the left side, all of his team snaps on Friday came at his natural position and as the offseason program unfolds, he should be competing against Anthony Bradford for the starting job.

Playing at right guard, Christian Haynes exhibited his athleticism and punch as a blocker in his Seahawks practice debut on Friday.
Playing at right guard, Christian Haynes exhibited his athleticism and punch as a blocker in his Seahawks practice debut on Friday. /

With Haynes cemented on the right side, at least for rookie minicamp, Laumea started off his first practice at left guard, a position he didn't play at Utah. However, he earned All-Pac 12 honors as both a right guard and right tackle with the Utes, so he already has proven he has some positional flexibility and he looked comfortable with his footwork from the left side in Friday's session, setting the stage for him to start off competing against veteran Laken Tomlinson.

As expected, Jerrell, who received All-American distinction at the Division II level with Findlay, saw all of his action at right tackle. Viewed as a high-upside developmental prospect, Seattle will want to keep him at his natural position to help with the acclimation process making a huge jump from lower level college ball to the NFL.

A newcomer in his own right, line coach Scott Huff impressed in his first practice with the Seahawks, placing a priority on fundamentals while implementing several drills that hadn't been done by the previous coaching staff. Right out of the gate, Haynes loves what he sees from his new coach, who brings plenty of fire to drill work and like Macdonald demands a great deal from his players, particularly in regard to technique in non-padded practices.

"It was great and it was him just feeling his tenacity from the meetings and then coming out on the field and just having the same energy. It was just great being able to learn and getting taught and he's a great teacher."

3. Not surprisingly, practices look quite a bit different for Macdonald and his new-look staff.

In his introductory press conference, Macdonald made it clear that while he held former coach Pete Carroll in the highest regard, he wasn't going to try to emulate his predecessor. Staying true to himself every step of the way thus far, he's backed up those words doing everything from removing the basketball hoop in the auditorium to having murals from the previous era taken down in the hallway next to the indoor practice field.

Hitting the practice field on Friday to begin coaching up Murphy and Seattle's rookie class along with evaluating undrafted signees and tryout players, Macdonald continued to switch things up. Instead of music blaring so loudly that you could hear it in Spokane, the barely noticeable tunes were subdued to the point where it sounded like it was coming from a locked closet in the team facility.

"We'll kick it up a little bit, but trying to find the right balance," Macdonald said afterward.

Away from music being silenced to a whimper, gone were the bag drills that Carroll famously opened practice with during warm ups. The structure of practice felt different too, though Macdonald acknowledged that aspect remains a work in progress as he navigates his first head coaching job and considers input from the rest of his staff, which is primarily composed of coaches he previously hasn't worked with.

Looking like more of a bystander at times in the middle of the field while observing practice, Macdonald told reporters that defensive coordinator Aden Durde called the plays on Friday because he needed to "figure out how to run a practice first." Along the way, he was taking mental notes on what went well and where his staff can do a better job in Saturday's session and beyond.

Now, with Macdonald considering input from other coaches, the Seahawks can make adjustments as needed to maximize field time moving forward, but one thing remains clear: practices will be far different from how Carroll's operated.

“Those are conversations that we've been having and will have, and just like with all aspects of the program, we have a vision of the principles that we want to abide by, but the methods will be adjustable. We'll figure it out and make tweaks as we go. If you're not willing to shake and move and evaluate what you're doing and making sure that you're on the right track, then I don't think that's doing service, the right justice to the team. That's how we'll operate. That's how it'll always be.”

4. Geno Smith and Sam Howell won't have to worry about being threatened by an undrafted signal caller.

If there's a position that faces unfair circumstances at a three-day rookie minicamp, quarterbacks have to try and learn a new playbook in quick order and take the field having no prior experience throwing to any of their receivers on top of it. For that reason, the results on the field shouldn't be expected to be sharp and it can be a major challenge completing passes consistently amid such an unideal situation.

With that said, neither Chevan Cordeiro or Taulia Tagovailoa, a tryout quarterback from Maryland, found much of a groove on Friday, struggling to throw with accuracy all afternoon.

In the case of Cordeiro, who played his last two seasons at San Jose State after starting his college career at Hawaii, he uncorked several low one-hoppers from the pocket and also threw behind his intended target several times during team drills. As for Tagovailoa, the Big Ten's all-time leader in passing yardage seemed to play tight throughout the practice, frequently overthrowing receivers on deep balls and at one point leaving a receiver hanging out to dry on a go ball that sailed 15 feet over the wideout's head.

As Macdonald said after practice on Friday, everyone should feel more comfortable and in sync in the second session on Saturday, and it's possible both signal callers could bounce back with much better practices. But if the first minicamp practice was any indication, Cordeiro and Tagovailoa probably won't be viable options as a third signal caller behind Smith and Howell, and Seattle may be on the lookout for other options in OTAs and leading up to camp.

Corbin K. Smith


Graduating from Manchester College in 2012, Smith began his professional career as a high school Economics teacher in Indianapolis and launched his own NFL website covering the Seahawks as a hobby. After teaching and coaching high school football for five years, he transitioned to a full-time sports reporter in 2017, writing for USA Today's Seahawks Wire while continuing to produce the Legion of 12 podcast. He joined the Arena Group in August 2018 and also currently hosts the daily Locked On Seahawks podcast with Rob Rang and Nick Lee. Away from his coverage of the Seahawks and the NFL, Smith dabbles in standup comedy, is a heavy metal enthusiast and previously performed as lead vocalist for a metal band, and enjoys distance running and weight lifting. A habitual commuter, he resides with his wife Natalia in Colorado and spends extensive time reporting from his second residence in the Pacific Northwest.