Seahawks Show Interest in Tight End

It's the elephant in the living room for the Seahawks from a need perspective -- this team needs more production from the tight end position to run its offense optimally. And though several big-time names have been floated for consideration, Seattle's taking a particular interest in a player you might not be as familiar with.

Cal tight end Craig Stevens isn't a marquee name, but that's partially because he does a lot of things well as opposed to one glaring skill in the skillset. He's a team captain, a solid blocker, a receiver who's best at the second level or after the catch, and a player when the game is on the line. He recently visited the Seahawks, one of six NFL teams that have showed this level of interest, according to Adam Caplan of Scout.com and SIRIUS NFL Radio. The Panthers, Falcons, Rams, Browns and Giants have been on Stevens' itinerary, as well.

Lest you think he resembles in any way the last Pac-10 tight end named Stevens who darkened the Seahawks' door, fear not. Craig Stevens, unlike Jerramy, has no off-field blemishes to overcome. Named a team captain in 2006, he served that same role in 2007. The California native actually visited the Mountlake campus out of high school, but chose Jeff Tedford's squad instead. He redshirted in 2003 and played behind Garret Cross in 2004, but took the starting job in 2005 with 13 catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Stevens was named the team's Most Improved Player and an honorable mention All-Pac-10 player.

2006 was when the 6'3", 254-pound Stevens first showed his versatility -- not only could he make the tough catch in traffic, but he gained notoriety as a blocker when Cal's rushing attack picked up 10 100-yard rushing efforts. Of his 17 catches, seven gained first downs in third- or fourth-down situations. In 2007, his knockdown blocks improved from 54 to 61, and Stevens made the Mackey Award watch list.

In 33 starts, Stevens totaled 51 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns, but he was always about more than just numbers. His 174 knockdown blocks tell the real story -- this is a player just as willing to do the dirty work as he is able to make the highlight catch.

Stevens impressed at the Scouting Combine, putting up 27 bench presses at 225 pounds, tops among tight ends. His 4.59 40-yard dash, perhaps the most surprising stat for a player never considered terribly fast out of the gate, was third at his position behind Purdue's Dustin Keller and Kentucky's Jacob Tamme. He also finished seventh in the three-cone drill with a 7.07 time.

NFLDraftScout.com ranks Stevens as their tenth-best tight end, with a fifth- to sixth-round grade. Should the Seahawks want that long to pick up the tight end they desperately need, what can they expect? Former NFL scout Tom Marino remarked that one of his colleagues, who works in personnel for one of Seattle's division rivals, likes Stevens very much as a player.

"He thought that (Stevens) will need to get stronger," Marino said. "He looked pretty good catching the ball at the Combine. Really caught the ball well, and made a very good wrong-shoulder adjustment. He's not there yet as a blocker, but has a very nice frame."

He's an Everyman who does a bit of everything -- we'll just have to wait and see if he's the ideal for the Seahawks at his position.


Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and he writes NFL previews for the New York Sun. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.


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