.NET Draft 2007: Meet Baraka Atkins

Depth at the defensive end position was a concern for the Seahawks heading into this year's NFL Draft. Seattle released veteran end Grant Wistrom, and signed former Atlanta DE Patrick Kerney. Now they've added a versatile player who can fit in on either side in Miami's Baraka Atkins, who says he's ready to do anything to be a successful pro.

When you talk about versatile players, Atkins’ picture could be next to the definition. He started 45 games for the Hurricanes, an impressive feat in itself, but when you look deeper you see that he started 15 inside at defensive tackle and another 30 at defensive end.

“In college, I played a little bit of (everything),” Atkins said at the Combine in February. “I did some stand-up work as well. I played defensive end and d-tackle. I'm willing to play wherever it is an NFL team is looking for me to go.”

Atkins is a thoughtful, reflective player whose father has served the Mayor of Sarasota, Florida. Because of his father’s public presence, you might think that Atkins had a lot of pressure to live up to some lofty expectations, but you’d be wrong.

“I don't really think there's that much pressure,” Atkins said. “You just know you're kind of put in the limelight, even before I started playing football. I didn't start playing football until I was in high school. A lot of people know me as the mayor's son. I was just the mayor's kid.

“I not only had high standards by everyone else, I hold high standards for myself. I would like to be the best at whatever it is I do.”

Usually, being affiliated with the Miami football program means you are among the best in the country, but in his five years on the south Florida campus, the Hurricanes struggled, especially in Atkins’ senior year.

“Yes, there were a lot of things that happened this past season,” Atkins admitted. “The most important was the passing of a teammate (Bryan Pata) who was a dear friend of mine. That was one thing I had to learn from this past year. And we had my roughest season since I've been there with a 7-6 year.

“I believe there was a lot of transition dealing with new coaches coming in and things of that nature. Unfortunately, we didn't come together on game day.”

Even though the team didn’t come together on game day, Atkins still had an excellent career at Miami.

He started 45 of a possible 49 games, had 175 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks while playing every position along the defensive front four.

As a redshirt freshman in 2003, Atkins was named a third-team Freshman All-American by the Sporting News.

Atkins is a great football player.

He runs well for a man of his dimensions, posting a 4.69 forty time several times throughout his career – he registered a 4.74 at the combine – and he has a non-stop motor.

He’s also very durable – he missed only one game in four years – and he’s got a good frame and very long arms. He breaks down well and wraps up ball-carriers when he gets his hands on them and he’s got excellent closing speed on a pass rush.

Where Atkins struggles is when he plays too high, allowing blockers to either cut-block him or latch on and ride him out of plays. He needs to do a better job of using his hands to fend off blockers and keep running backs off of his legs, but when he does do that, he is excellent at the point of attack.

Atkins reads plays well and has a knack for always being around the ball. He’s a leader and loves to play the game.

Seattle needed to add depth behind their top three defensive ends and Atkins will be an excellent player who will play on the strong side behind Kerney and who can move inside on passing downs and team with Rocky Bernard or Craig Terrill to get a push up the middle in an interior rotation.

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