If you’re looking for this year’s J.R. Sweezy – a dark horse who makes the Seahawks’ roster – keep an eye on undrafted rookie free agent Benson Mayowa.
With starting “Leo” defensive end Chris Clemons on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list while recovering from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament and his backup Cliff Avril nursing a hamstring injury, Mayowa has been working with the first-unit defense at times during training camp.
And he’s more than held his own
“The one thing that struck me early is he’s ready to go compete,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “… There’s some guys who might step back when it really gets going, and he’s just the opposite. So I’m encouraged by what I see, and each day we’re developing him.”
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Mayowa first caught the attention of the Seahawks’ personnel department at the NFL regional scouting combine held at the team’s facility in March when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and posted a vertical jump of 38 inches.
The University of Idaho product consistently flashes speed off the edge during one-on-one pass rush drills.
“He’s done a really cool job at this camp,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s shown an unusual knack for rushing the passer, and so far he’s been very impressive. We don’t know what that means yet – we haven’t gotten him in enough live situations – but every day he’s come up with a play of some sort to gain some recognition.”
While rushing the passer comes naturally to Mayowa, he also understands that in order to develop into an every-down player, he has to be solid against the run.
“Attacking the tackle in run blocking,” Mayowa said, when asked about things he needs to improve. “When they come run block me, I have to get stout and stronger on that, because it’s going to happen in a real game.”
Mayowa said he played the same position of weak-side defensive end at Idaho in a similar 4-3 defensive scheme, so that has helped his transition.
He finished with three sacks and eight tackles for loss his final season for the Vandals.