Scout's Notebook: OG Seppo Evwaraye

The Vikings' practice squad this season will include OG Seppo Evwaraye, a native of Finland, who is part of the league's International Development Practice Squad program. Evwaraye started seven games at right guard for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europa this summer, helping Offensive Co-MVP Derrick Ross lead the league in rushing. He is a legitimate NFL prospect. Here's a scouting report...

Seppo Evwaraye, OG
(6046, 325, 5.03-5.25) Nebraska

Notes:  Born 6/1/82 in Vaasa, Finland.  His name is pronounced SEP-oh Ev-vwah-AYE-yea.  He came to the United States as an exchange student in 1999.  Jim and Carla Erwin were his host parents in 1999 and shared legal guardianship with his mother, Sirpa.  His father is the late Frederick Evwaraye.  Has two football-playing brothers, Ari and Efe, who both are Finnish champions and Finnish National Team players.  Ari Evwaraye (DL/LB) plays for Turku Trojans and Efe Evwaraye (LB) for Seinäjoki Crocodiles.  Efe won his championship playing for Helsinki Roosters in 2004, and Ari with the Porvoo Butchers in 2005.  The brothers faced each other in the 2005 Finnish championship game.

Attended Laurel-Concord (Neb.) High School, playing football for head coach Michael Halley.  Only played one year of club football prior to enrolling in high school, but in just two years he earned enough attention to be named an All-American by Prep Star on offense and by Super Prep on defense.  Earned All-Nebraska offensive first-team honors from the Omaha World-Herald and super-state honors from the Lincoln Journal Star in 2000.  Helped lead Laurel-Concord to a state title in 2000 and to the state playoffs in 1999.  Played nose tackle as a junior and started on both sides of the ball as a senior.  Missed the first three games of his senior season while appealing a Nebraska School Activities Association ruling that allows foreign exchange students just one year of eligibility.  Attended the Big Red Football School after his junior season and only visited Nebraska.

College:  He was the first native from Finland to sign a national letter-of-intent with an NCAA Division I school.  “We feel he has tremendous potential and natural ability right now,” Nebraska coach Frank Solich said at the time.  “You have to understand that Seppo is from Finland.  He has really only played ball in this country for a year-and-a-half.  He’s a baby when it comes to football.  But Seppo’s not a baby, he weighs 325 pounds.  He’s tremendously quick off the ball.”

Redshirted as a freshman in 2001.  He ran a 4.99 40-yard dash in spring workouts as a redshirt freshman and was set to push for playing time.  However, he was slowed by a foot sprain and right shoulder contusion in 2002, and appeared in just four games as a reserve defensive tackle, finishing with 3 tackles.  Saw limited action as a reserve defensive tackle in 2003, recording one tackle.  Moved to offensive right tackle and started every game in 2004, recording 54 knockdowns as part of an offensive line that allowed only 16 quarterback sacks.  Switched jersey numbers from No. 97 to No. 77.  In 2005, he was named Nebraska Lifter of the Year for his performance in the off-season training program, starting the first 9 games at right tackle, missing the final two regular-season games with stress fractures in both feet.  Finished with 50 knockdowns and 6 touchdown-resulting blocks, while helping the offense average 320.3 yards per game.  Earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies in December 2005.

Measured 6046, 319 at his Pro Day workout following his senior year.  Ran 40 times of 5.03 and 5.06 second, with short shuttle time of 4.68, three-cone drill time of 7.68, posted a 27½ inch vertical jump and did 24 reps at 225 pounds.

Pro:  Undrafted, he agreed to a three-year contract with a $7,500 signing bonus with the Carolina Panthers following the 2006 NFL Draft, but due to work visa issues he was unable to formally sign his contract with the team and essentially missed out on an opportunity to compete.

His agent arranged for Seppo to enter the NFL Europa’s International Football Program.  He started at right guard for the Cologne Centurions in NFL Europa this summer.  After playing one season in NFL Europa, he was then guaranteed a practice squad spot on an NFL Team during the entire NFL season – the Vikings.

Positives:  Big, strong man with impressive physical tools.  Has a large, thick frame, long arms, wide waist and hips, big bubble and thick legs.  Runs surprisingly well for his size.  Plays with intensity and shows the nastiness to finish his blocks.  Quick off the ball with good raw power and the ability to pull and trap effectively.  Stays on his feet nicely and can get to the second level with his blocks.  Generally gets good position on defenders.  Has all the physical tools to be very effective, both as a run blocker and in pass protection.  Plays hard.  Willing worker.  Very coachable and a solid citizen with good character.

Negatives:  Still very much a work in progress who needs to continue developing his technique.  Lacks patience and overextends at times.  Doesn’t always bend his knees and sink his hips properly and thus negates his natural ability.  Needs work with this footwork.  Can be challenged with stunts and movement.  Overeager at times.  Isn’t a great open-field athlete.  Has had some injury problems.

Summary:  Good developmental-type prospect who might be best-suited for right guard in the NFL where he can be somewhat protected on both sides.  Not a polished product but has a lot of upside potential.  It will be interesting to see where he’s at a little more than a year from now when he comes to camp again after spending a full season being coached at the pro level.

What they said:

“I've lived the first part of the dream, coming to the U.S. and playing college football.  The second part of the dream is to play in the NFL.  I just want to see how far this road leads.” - Evwaraye

Other links:  NFL Europe Bio | Archive | College Bio

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