Following the expected departure of starting defensive tackle Shamar Stephen in free agency, finding additional reinforcements along the defensive line remained a top priority for the Seahawks.
Seattle did just that, strengthening their depth behind projected starters Jarran Reed and Poona Ford by using a sixth-round pick on former Florida State standout Demarcus Christmas and signing veteran run stuffer Al Woods shortly after the passing of the compensatory pick deadline last month.
While Woods and former Browns starter Jamie Meder hold an experience advantage over Christmas heading towards training camp, the rookie appears to be off to a terrific start as he seeks to carve out a valuable rotational role in Seattle’s defense.
Citing him as “big, strong, and fast,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. seemed to be most impressed by how Christmas has handled some of the unwritten rules that come with being a rookie in the NFL.
“He does a great job of carrying helmets.” Norton joked.
Kidding aside, Norton lauded Christmas for his positive attitude and willingness to be coached, a necessary quality for any rookie to be successful jumping from college to the pinnacle of the sport.
“He’s a really good rookie. Like his attitude, like his ability to be humble and learn. One thing you want about rookies is to be humble, learn, and do a great job of when your number’s up, you’re ready to go.”
As indicated by coach Pete Carroll during rookie minicamp last month, the 6-foot-3, 302-pound Christmas has initiated his NFL career in Seattle by working as a three-technique defensive tackle. Playing a similar role in four-plus seasons with the Seminoles, he finished his collegiate career with 106 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 13 passes defensed.
Given the struggles the Seahawks had stopping the run at times in 2018, Carroll and his coaching staff may ultimately prefer a more established veteran presence at the position such as Woods or Meder. But the organization has never been opposed to throwing late round picks into the fire right away, as illustrated most recently by fifth-round pick Tre Flowers starting 15 games at cornerback last season.
If Christmas continues to shine throughout the summer and outplays his veteran counterparts deep into training camp and the preseason, he’ll have an excellent opportunity to become Seattle’s latest impact performer unearthed on day three of the draft.