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Frank Clark tops initial Rookie Report Card

Even though the Seahawks boast arguably the league's most talented roster, general manager John Schneider and his staff continue to mine the collegiate ranks for young players who can help. Part of the reason for that success is that once the players are selected, there is no preferential treatment for highly drafted players over undrafted free agents. So, who may be catching Pete Carroll's eye this year?

In a feature we'll be updating throughout training camp and the preseason games, SeahawkFootball.com ranks Seattle's top 10 most impressive rookies so far. Players are ranked according to how favorable of an impression they've made so far, not alphabetically or the order in which they were selected.

1. DE Frank Clark, Michigan: Clark hasn't generated a lot of buzz with the media because Seattle's run-heavy offense doesn't allow for many opportunities for defensive linemen to make splashy plays. Unless you are watching him specifically it is difficult to distinguish Clark from the rest of Seattle's swarming defense. And, that's kind of the point.  Clark's game is based on power, not speed. He's quick enough to split gaps when lining up inside but isn't an explosive edge rusher who will draw oohs and ahhhs from the crowd but he's impressed with his ability to hold up at the point of attack and I expect him to quickly emerge as a formidable part of Seattle's rotation up front as a rookie.

2. WR/RS Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: Lockett, on the other hand, has caught the fancy of the media because quickness and straight-line speed have a tendency to stand out in low-contact passing drills. Lockett's agility combined with savvy route-running make him a potentially formidable weapon. However, the one element that cannot be overstated with Lockett is his slight frame... and the rarity in which receivers of his stature last lost in the NFL. Improving what was the 25th ranked punt return game a year ago (7.0 yard average) is the reason Lockett was drafted. Lockett may not prove much more than an occasional big play threat at wide receiver but if he starts all 16 regular season games at punt returner, I believe he'll take at least one back for a touchdown and help Seattle jump up at least 10 spots in these rankings. 

3. RB Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan: I've written (and talked) a lot about Rawls so I'm not going to rehash too much here. Rawls' powerful running caught my attention at Central Michigan but he's proven quicker than I expected, showing enough lateral agility to elude and the burst to exploit cracks. He's going to get a lot of preseason carries and has a chance to win a job (in Seattle or elsewhere) with how he performs there. I think he's a legitimate breakout candidate.

4. RG Mark Glowinski, West Virginia: I thought Glowinski was the most pro-ready of the three offensive linemen Seattle drafted and unlike tackle convert Poole and former defensive tackle Kristjan Sokoli, Glowinski has been able to remain at the same position - right guard - in which he started in college. Glowinski doesn't stand out in any one way but gets the job done. He's quick off the snap, showing lateral agility and balance in pass protection. He anchors well due to his core flexibility and good knee bend. He's quick enough to turn and seal off defensive linemen as well as get to the second level. If all goes well Alvin Bailey and J.R. Sweezy start each game at guard for the Seahawks in 2015 but the rookie from West Virginia could get thrown into the fire if someone were to get injured. 

5. OL Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo: I'm really intrigued with Sokoli's athleticism and he did snap the ball better Sunday than he did in OTAs (when he sailed a few). There is no doubt in my mind that he possesses the agility and natural strength to make the switch to guard (as he practiced on Monday), but given the tough transition he's making from defensive tackle, it is important to keep expectations in check with Sokoli. He's a prime practice squad candidate.

6. CB Tye Smith, Towson: The Seahawks' trade for Mohammed Seisay shouldn't be taken as a sign of panic on Smith but it is hardly an endorsement. Smith's wiry frame appears best suited to the outside in Seattle's scheme but receivers in camp have been able to elude him at the line of scrimmage and he hasn't shown the makeup speed to recover. Smith was effective at Towson in part because he played with a gambler's mentality, breaking quickly on underneath routes. He made a nice read and forced a breakup on a short pass Sunday, drawing celebration from defensive coordinator Kris Richard.

7. OL Terry Poole, San Diego State: If there has been a disappointment among Seattle's rookies so far it has been Poole, the first of three offensive linemen selected. The former San Diego State tackle was moved inside to guard to best take advantage of his power (and to mitigate his lack of ideal agility and balance) but he's struggled with the transition and looks like a real project.  

8. WR Kevin Smith, Washington: While former UW teammate Kasen Williams has generated most of the attention from fans, Smith is the one catching the eyes of Seattle's staff. Smith is officially listed by the Seahawks at 218 pounds but he looks lighter than he was at UW, showing better quickness in and out of his breaks. He's caught the ball, including making a few extraordinary grabs and has experience returning punts and kicks. I wrote about him Sunday and was told that he was enjoying another strong performance Monday before going down with a possible groin injury of which the severity wasn't immediately known. The Seahawks have a scheduled off-day Tuesday. 

9. CB/FS Triston Wade, Texas-San Antonio: A rare Thorpe Award semi-finalist out of Conference USA at free safety, Wade was moved to nickel cornerback early on for the Seahawks and has shown the quickness, agility and toughness necessary in remaining in this role. Free agent addition Will Blackmon is the presumptive "starter" at nickel while Jeremy Lane recovers from his horrific injuries but depth is lacking here otherwise so there is an opportunity for Wade or someone else (Marcus Burley, Tye Smith?) to catch on.

10. FS Ryan Murphy, Oregon State: Like Wade, Murphy has boosted his chances at making the team because he's made some splashy plays while playing a lot due to injuries to others (Earl Thomas, Dion Bailey). Murphy is a little bit of the safety version of Tye Smith. He has some playmaking ability to him but I have concerns about his straight-line speed. 


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