Seahawks go Michigan, Michigan, defensive end, center (finally) in 5th round of NFL draft
Mike Morris was so excited, you could almost see his smile through the telephone.
“Man, it was amazing. Just so amazing,” the defensive end from the University of Michigan said Saturday, moments after the Seahawks made him their seventh of 10 picks in the NFL draft, in round five.
He said he grew up in South Florida a huge Seahawks fan. He loved the Legion of Boom, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner. He’s been following the career revival of Geno Smith in Seattle over the last year. Smith is also from South Florida, Miami.
“I’m SO happy to be part of the organization,” Morris said from his family home in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“They aren’t wasting this pick on just anybody. I am going to give everything I have, all I got.
“They are getting a monster.”
That fired-up “monster” got double pumped a few minutes later.
Seattle selected his Michigan teammate Olusegun “Olu” Oluwatimi (OH-loo-wah-TIMM-ee), a center. That move came three picks after the Seahawks took Morris in round five Saturday.
“Olu is one of the best offensive linemen I’ve ever gone against,” Morris said.
So resumes the restock of Seattle’s line of scrimmage this offseason.
Coach Pete Carroll said leading up to this draft the Seahawks had to “fix” the center position. Seattle has been going with a string of one-year tries at center since they traded Pro Bowl center Max Unger to New Orleans for tight end Jimmy Graham eight years ago. Last year, they signed veteran Austin Blythe to play the position. He played one season, then retired this winter.
Oluwatimi is just the second true center the Seahawks have chosen in 14 drafts under Carroll and John Schneider. Joey Hunt was the other, in the sixth round in 2016.
The Seahawks signed veteran Evan Brown, a former starting center and guard for the Detroit Lions, to a one-year contract in free agency last month.
Oluwatimi played at the Air Force Academy for one season (he left after his freshman academic year, a year before cadets are committed to military service even if they leave), then Virginia and a final college season at Michigan. He won the 2022 Rimington Award as college football’s best center.
What’s the well-traveled Oluwatimi know about the Seahawks and Seattle?
“I know that their fan base is second to none in the NFL,” he said.
Oluwatimi lost three friends and former teammates — “my brothers,” he said Saturday — in shootings at the University of Virginia in November 2022. Four days later, his father, Olufemi Oluwatimi, had surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Olu is the youngest of six children. Their father and mother, Yetunde, emigrated from Nigeria to Washington, D.C.
“It was a lot,” Olu said. “Those are my brothers. Those are guys that I battled with in the offseason, during the season. We went through some hard things at Virginia.
“Just seeing a life taken so soon, it was hard. I was far away from the team because I was playing at Michigan. It was rough being away from my brothers and also having to prepare and continue trying to make a stretch run at Michigan.”
He’s looking forward to continuing playing with Morris on the Seahawks.
“It’s awesome,” Oluwatimi said. “Knowing that I’ve got a brother already up there and a great player.
“I’m really excited to get up to Seattle and roll.”
Mike Morris has gained 20 pounds
Morris is listed at 6 feet 6 and 275 pounds. That was his official measurements at the NFL scouting combine last month.
But when he weighed himself Saturday morning, he said he weighed 295.
How did he gain 20 pounds in six weeks?
“Caloric intake,” he said.
Why did he gain 20 pounds in six weeks?
The Seahawks told him to.
He was trying to be fast at the combine, so he lost weight (he played at about 290 pounds at Michigan last season). But the high-ankle sprain that hindered him at the end of Michigan’s run into the college football playoff late last season limited him at the combine, too. That led to disappointing workout numbers that worried some around the league.
That injury and that underwhelming combine is why Morris said Saturday: “I have a big chip on my shoulder.”
Carroll stockpiles those guys for the Seahawks like Michigan folks hoard Fords.
Seattle’s coaches see Morris as a rugged run stopper and edge setter. Carroll, defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt and Seattle see Morris as a three-technique (outside shoulder of the opposing guard) tackle/end or “4i,” an end in the 3-4 that lines up opposite opposing tackles.
The fact he had seven sacks last season for the Wolverines didn’t hurt his stock with the needy Seahawks defense, either.
Seattle’s pass rush has been inconsistent when not inert for the last two seasons. And the Seahawks were allowing more than 170 yards rushing per game for much of last season, which would have been a franchise record for bad run defense had it finished that way after 17 games.
The Seahawks’ first six selections in this draft were: Illinois cornerback Devon Witherpoon, Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet, Auburn outside linebacker Derick Hall, LSU guard Anthony Bradford and Mississippi State defensive tackle Cameron Young.