Seahawks staff takes in UW Pro Day

It was a sunny day on the western shores of Lake Washington as players, coaches and scouts from the University of Washington and the NFL gathered at the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility early Friday for UW's pro day. Seahawks offensive coordinator Gil Haskell, offensive line coach Bill Laveroni, defensive backs coach Teryl Austin and running backs coach Stump Mitchell made the trip across the 520 bridge to have a look at the prospects on hand.

On display were several senior football players that could satisfy needs as the Seahawks try to fill some holes caused by losses in free agency.

First and foremost was senior T Khalif Barnes. Barnes was this year's "breakout player" at the combine in Indianapolis, wowing scouts with his impressive athleticism. Barnes posted a 4.82 forty at 310 pounds and with his 6'7" frame, that looks to have little if any fat on it, he has positioned himself as a candidate worthy of a late first round selection.

Barnes didn't run or lift, but did participate in the position drills which were led by Laveroni, Houston Texans tackles coach Steve Marshall and Jacksonville offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. They worked on footwork and quickness drills designed to see how fast Barnes was able to get into his sets and the way he used his hands.

With the possible loss of G/T Floyd "Porkchop" Womack to either the Buffalo Bills or the Green Bay Packers, the Seahawks may be in the market for an athlete of Barnes' caliber and he said that he is set to meet with the Hawks next week at their Kirkland headquarters.

Another position of need is in the secondary, where the loss of CB Ken Lucas will necessitate a selection sometime during April's draft. The Hawks could look to bring in as many as three players to add to an already young secondary and Johnson fits that bill perfectly.

At Washington, Johnson was the "shut down" corner who was consistently matched up against the opposing team's best wideout. While he was solid in man-to-man, he may be better in zone coverage where he can read the quarterback's eyes and rely on his incredible change of direction to break on balls in front of him.

Johnson posted an impressive 4.43 and 4.46 forty times and showed good hip turn and solid ball-skills when asked to locate and break on the ball. Austin ran the DB drills and seemed impressed by the Huskies' senior corner.

Johnson raised some eyebrows of those in attendance and said he was pleased with what he did in front of his captive audience. "I think my overall performance was pretty good, but I could have caught the ball better," Johnson said.

Of the 14 teams represented at the workout, several said they could see Johnson being taken late on day one (third round) or early on day two (forth or fifth round) and with his size (6'0 and 197 pounds) he could easily stand up to the bigger receivers that are so in vogue in the NFL.

Also on hand was FB Zach Tuiasosopo who may garner some second day interest from the Hawks. Tuiasosopo benched 225 pounds 21 times and ran a solid 4.75 forty. He suffered an ankle injury in the Huskies' third game last season, but has fully recovered and didn't show any signs of rust.

"I'm very confident in my pass catching ability, which is very important for fullbacks nowadays," Tuiasosopo said. "I don't care if it's H-back, fullback, special teams, whatever, I just want a chance to play."

Also on hand to watch Tuiasosopo were older brother Marques, who is a backup QB for the Raiders, and his dad Manu.

"I figured the wanted some entertainment," Tuiasosopo said with a chuckle. "It's good to have them here though."

Mack Strong is the starter at fullback, but he is entering the final year of a three-year deal he signed in 2003. Heath Evans, the primary backup to Strong for the last four seasons is an unrestricted free agent and has done little to distinguish himself. Third-year player Chris Davis has been injured the last two seasons and it remains to be seen whether he can be the player the team thought he could be when the selected him in the fifth round in 2003.

With so many holes to fill and with the draft rapidly approaching the Hawks will be keeping an eye on these players who are right in their back yard.

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at Top Stories