Huckeba Heads To Seattle

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defensive end Jeb Huckeba has had a good feeling about the Seattle Seahawks since being invited to meet with members of the front office and coaching staff earlier this month.

Huckeba also told his father, Ronnie, he had an idea he'd be selected by someone in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Both of Huckeba's intuitions came true Sunday when the Seahawks grabbed the 6-foot-4, 252-pounder in the fifth-round (No. 159). Huckeba was the second and final Arkansas player — joining first-rounder Matt   Jones (Jacksonville, No. 21) — picked during the two-day draft.

"I kind of had a feeling about that pick for some reason," Huckeba said. "My phone starting ringing and it was an area code (425) I didn't recognize.

"I was talking to (Seattle head) coach (Mike) Holmgren and (defensive coordinator Ray) Rhodes before I knew it. Man, I'm pumped. I can't wait."

Huckeba was one of several Hogs, joining running back DeCori Birmingham, receiver Steven Harris, defensive end Arrion Dixon and defensive tackle Elliott Harris, that had to wait until Sunday to find out their NFL fates.

Unlike his former teammates, Huckeba was fortunate enough to learn his new NFL home before the draft ended Sunday. But the rest didn't have to wait long.

Birmingham inked a deal with the New England Patriots after the draft and Steven Harris signed with the Washington Redskins. Elliott Harris agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Dixon signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I'm glad to be somewhere and glad to be done," Dixon said. "I just want to go in and prove myself. I'm going in there with a, ‘Shock the world,' kind of attitude and that's how I look about it. I'm not going to pout about (not being drafted)."

Being selected was a sweet reward for Huckeba, who wasn't invited to the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis and had to impress coaches and scouts with two on-campus workouts in March. His performance paid off, leaving him with invitations to visit six franchises — Seattle, San Diego, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Indianapolis — during a dizzying, two-week span earlier this month.

Huckeba said he felt best about his interview with the Seahawks and especially team president Tim Ruskell. Ruskell, who was with the Atlanta Falcons last season, met with Huckeba at the East-West Shrine Game in January and wanted to see him again, giving him with one of Seattle's 20 allotted invitations to visit the team.

"We felt good about what we saw," Rhodes said Sunday. "The kid has good speed, he runs in the 4.6(-second) area as a rush guy and, from a speed standpoint, he was one of the fastest guys left on the board for us to look at.

"He is one of those guys that hustles all the time."

Huckeba's looking forward to joining the Seahawks and reuniting with former Arkansas teammate and Seattle safety Ken Hamlin, who was Seattle's second-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. He'll also will see a familiar face in Georgia quarterback David Greene, who was selected by the Seahawks in the third round Saturday.

Huckeba turned in the biggest game of his career against Georgia last October, sacking Greene three times in the Razorbacks' 20-16 loss.

"I'll have a good feeling when I see him in the shotgun," Huckeba joked.

He told the Seattle media he plans to add 10 to 15 pounds of muscle to his frame and would like to start next season between 260 and 265 pounds. But Huckeba's first goal is to establish himself as a playermaker when he reports to the team's first mini-camp, which begins Friday.

"Coach Holmgren said they need some help at pass rush," Huckeba said. "It's an area I feel like I can come in and help them with. It's good that they have a guy like (defensive end) Grant Wistrom that plays for them. I feel like I can learn from him.

"I feel like we're similar in our playing style. He's a little bigger than me, but this is going to be my job now. I'm going to live in the weight room and my playbook and feel like it will be a great opportunity for me to continue to develop as a D-end."

Steven Harris is hoping for the same opportunity with the Redskins, who called and expressed interest in selecting him in the sixth or seventh round.

When he wasn't picked, Harris choose a free agent deal with the Redskins over the chance to sign a free agent deal with Jacksonville. In addition to Jones, Harris said the Jaguars drafted Hawaii receiver/returner Chad Owens in the sixth round.

"It went so fast we didn't weigh any more options," Harris said. "It was Jacksonville and Washington. (Jacksonville) already had Matt and they (drafted) Chad Owens.

"I just felt like I had a pretty good chance of making the team in Washington."

Dixon fielded calls from several teams and chose the Chiefs, where he'll join former Hogs Richard Smith, Quinton Caver and Carlos Hall.

Birmingham pondered eight and 10 offers, but will try to edge former teammate, Cedric Cobbs, for a roster spot with the Patriots.

"(Being undrafted is) a big disappointment," Birmingham's agent, Chad Olson said. "Everybody's let down when you don't see your name go across the screen. But he can only do so much. It's up to the teams and how things go in the draft."

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