That a 6'2", 212-pound defensive back could demolish a force like Schmitt, already seen in Seattle as the cosmic coming together of Chuck Norris, Vin Diesel and Mr. T was certainly a surprise, but Adams is full of surprises. Not only can he bring the wood on the field as an in-the-box hitter, he can also out-think you in his other competitive love -- the game of chess. Though he disclosed that he's "definitely not a Grandmaster", Adams said at the 2008 Scouting Combine that the "chess game" clichés as they are applied to football aren't wrong by any means.
"In the mental aspect it is, but there is definitely a physical aspect that is only there in football and brings a new dimension," he said, when asked how the two endeavors are similar. "But the strategy, thinking ahead, recalling when you played them before, what moves you like to go to, what opening you like to go to, is like chess. So they are similar.
Adams has been thinking ahead since he starred for David W. Butler High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. He attended Michigan's summer football camp in 2000 and 2003, so it was natural when, as the 80th best prospect in the nation, he became a Wolverine in 2004. He played in nine games as a true freshman and developed into a truly well-rounded player by his senior year, picking off three passes and leading the team with 92 tackles. His leadership won him the Brandstatter-Beckmann Coaches Award, given to the senior that best demonstrates passion, dedication and commitment to the team, and he found himself invited to staff meetings.
Rated as one of the top safeties in an unspectacular class, Adams expected to be drafted, but it’s not in his nature to let the fact that he didn't get him down. Former Michigan teammate Pierre Woods, a linebacker who was taken as a rookie free agent by New England before the 2006 season and is still with the team, gave his friend some sage advice.
Yeah, Pierre is a great guy," Adams said at the Combine. "The best thing about Pierre is he is a genuine guy, a Michigan guy, he always cares about Michigan and the former players. I like to talk to Pierre, see how he is doing, get a feel on how the NFL is treating him. I talk to him maybe once a month, not too much, he has a lot of things to take care of.
"(He told me) not to worry about where you get drafted. If you get your foot in the door, take full advantage of it. Be persistent and keep working hard."
Safeties seemed to be the draft's unwanted men in 2008 -- Adams joined BC's Jamie Silva as players with fourth-round grades who didn't hear their name called. Alabama's Simeon Castille, Virginia Tech's D.J. Parker and Tennessee's Jonathan Hefney are other safeties who will need to make the NFL the hard way. In Adams' case, he was getting calls from teams about signing even before the draft was over. The Seahawks presented the best case, and he quickly agreed to terms with Seattle.
"They were very straightforward," he told the Ann Arbor News. "Their numbers are down at safety and they have two legitimate starters. The third position is wide open. From two weeks ago, the coaches said they had a lot of interest in me. It's gonna end up working out good."
There is room behind starting string safety Deon Grant and free safety Brian Russell, and Adams has the talent to make the squad. Scout.com's Tom Marino had this to say about Adams: "I like his size, know-how, toughness and the way he prepared in Senior Bowl week, but he just didn't appear to have the necessary speed to get off the hash in half coverage. He ills the alley with abandon and has the body type to win the battle at the point. He sorts things out quickly in quarters and moves to the ball, but made few plays on the ball. Adams has limitations -- he's not a man cover guy."
When Adams arrives in the Emerald City on Thursday in preparation for the Seahawks' upcomg minicamp, he'll have a head full of chess moves and a heart full of desire. He'll also have a willingness to impress by hitting hard.
And Owen Schmitt had better have his head on a swivel.
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.