Many NFL franchises bring in players from local universities and colleges for workouts as the Draft approaches because they are likely players that will be offered free agent contracts if they aren't drafted.
The Washington Huskies have struggled on the field the past two years, but they've still managed to produce some quality NFL players. Here are the players expected to workout for the Hawks this Thursday…
RB James Sims – Played both sides of the ball during his Huskies career, but saw most of his time at running back the past two seasons. A sprinter in high school, Sims consistently clocked 10.6 times in the 100 meter competitions and bulked up considerably from his starting weight of 185 pounds. He now weighs a rock-solid 210 pounds and figures to be a grind-it-out type who can move the chains when his services are called upon. He isn't a slasher or a juke-and-go runner, but his north-south style lends itself well to the west coast style that Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren runs. He is also a very good blocker and possesses good hands when called upon as a receiver out of the backfield. Probably will not be drafted, but he could see some interest from several teams as an undrafted free agent.
2005 stats: 112 carries, 495 yards rushing, 4.4 yard average, six touchdowns; 11 receptions, 73 yards receiving
OG Rob Meadow – Meadow struggled with knee injuries during his career on Montlake, but his athleticism and smarts make him an intriguing possibility late in the draft. He tore his ACL in high school and then re-injured it early in his sophomore season and was lost for the season. Meadow never reached his full potential as a player because of the instability in the Husky coaching staff during his five years at Washington. Shows solid potential, but needs to work on his technique.
OT Joe Toledo – Probably the highest rated Washington player coming out this year, Toledo is still learning the tackle position after playing his entire career at tight end before his senior season in college. Has good feet, excellent strength and bulk and the requisite nastiness needed to be a solid starter at the pro level. The concerns with Toledo have never been talent – he has All Pro athleticism – they've always been about his durability. He's suffered numerous back and ankle injuries during his time at Montlake and the concern many teams have with him is whether or not his back hold up for a 16-game season when he couldn't manage to stay healthy for an 11-game season. Has elevated his stock enough to be considered a solid first day selection with the off-chance he could sneak into the second round if a team decides to take a gamble on him.
LB Evan Benjamin – Benjamin is a bit undersized to play linebacker at the pro level so his place will probably be at strong safety in the NFL. The son of former Seahawks fullback Tony Benjamin, Evan is a player that has the heart and attitude to play pro football, but there are questions about his overall athleticism. He's smart and tough, but his strength is a concern when taking on linemen and tight ends. Runs well, but is stiff in coverage which makes him a liability when defending the pass. Has a nose for the ball. Led Huskies in tackles in both 2004 and 2005 (his first two seasons as a linebacker). Probably not a draft choice, but would be an excellent head-hunter on special teams if given the chance.
2005 stats: 109 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles
LB Joe Lobendahn – Played inside linebacker for the Huskies, but will probably end up on the outside if he makes an NFL roster. Has good quickness and instincts, but tends to overrun plays and isn't very big (5-10, 220). Gets into his drops well and has the speed to cover backs out of the backfield, but is better in zone-coverage because he doesn't have a smooth hip turn. Durability is a concern with Lobendahn. Missed several games in 2004 and 2005 after missing the entire 2003 season with a knee injury. Could make an NFL roster as a special teams player.
2005 stats: 75 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and two passes defensed
DL Manase Hopoi – Grit and determination are Hopoi's trademarks. Came to the Huskies as a "partial-qualifier" out of high school. Had to work hard to earn his degree on time to earn a fifth-season and did just that, graduating in June of 2005 with his bachelor's degree in American ethnic studies. As a fourth-year player for the Huskies in 2004, Hopoi was the only playmaker along the defensive front and was double-teamed almost every play. Still managed to finish in the top five in the country with 20.5 tackles for loss and was on the Outland watch list to start his senior season. As a senior, Hopoi struggled because teams figured out they couldn't run away from him and he was unable to hold the point against the much bigger lineman on the interior when opponents ran at him. Would be an ideal 3-4 defensive end and will probably see a lot of interest during the second day of the draft.
2005 stats: 33 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks
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