The Seattle Seahawks wasted no time replacing the recently traded Frank Clark by acquiring TCU defensive end L.J. Collier during the first-round of the NFL Draft Thursday night in a move that general manager John Schneider said provided the right "fit."
“He’s a heavy-handed, tough, chip-on-his-shoulder guy," Schneider told reporters. "He lost his mother when he was a freshman in college and he didn’t play well in the last game that she saw and he’s always used that to his advantage. He played in a complicated system down there at TCU. It was important with the trade of Frank [Clark]; Pete (Carroll) and I feel like it’s a bittersweet thing. We love Frank so here we go. We have to move on to the next day and that’s just the way of the National Football League.”
Collier will be the fist man up to replace Clark, who led the team with 13 sacks last season but became too expensive to keep when he became an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Seattle placed the franchise tag on Clark, but he indicated that he wouldn't play without a long-term deal. So, Seattle, which last week signed quarterback Russell Wilson to a four-year, $140-million contract extension, traded Clark to Kansas City for its No. 29 pick this year, a second-round pick in next year's draft, and a swap of third-round picks this season.
Seattle then traded its own first-round pick (No. 21) to Green Bay for No. 30 and additional picks, then traded No. 30 to the New York Giants for additional picks. With the second and third rounds of the draft going down tonight, Seattle now has the following remaining selections: round 2 (no. 37), round 3 (92), round 4 (114, 118, 124, 132), round 5 (142, 159).
But most importantly on Thursday night, the team got its man at defensive end.
“He’s going to play five technique for us," Carroll told reporters. "He’s very flexible and can move around. The guy that I saw pop up on the TV that he’s a lot like is Michael Bennett. He has the versatility and the style and the penetration ability, he’s really slippery. He has terrific pass rush makeup and so we’re going to fit him right in the scheme in that regard and look forward to that. You could see it early on that he had that kind of stuff to him. He’s really long and has good length to him, [he has] a really nice pass rush bag of tricks. He’s got all the stuff. We think we have something really special in him and I fell in love with the fact that he had a big chip on his shoulder and he wanted to prove it and all that too. He really fit in.”
Collier said he is ready right not to get working on making an impact with Seattle.
“I’m on cloud nine, it’s the craziest feeling," he told reporters from Frisco, Texas surrounded by about 20 or 30 friends and family. "I’m ready to get to work, I know that.”
On many draft sites, Collier was ranked as a second-round or third-round prospect. Not on Seattle's board.
“I didn’t know where I was going to go," Collier, who had six sacks last season, said. "It’s truly an honor and I’m appreciative of Coach Carroll and those guys up there that took a chance on me. They took a chance on a good one.”
Collier described himself as a hard-nosed, physical guy.
"I play every down, I’m not just a pass rusher, I’m an all around player," he said. "That’s what I bring to the game. I get off the ball and go 110% every time.”
Collier said he visited the team's complex in Renton, Wash., a couple of weeks ago and had a great visit. After Clark had been dealt, Collier said he had a "gut feeling" Seattle might take him. .
“It was a great conversation, they like my film," Collier said if his talks with Seattle prior to the draft. "I like they way they work. I know the guys in the defensive line room are going to push me to be better and we’re going to compete and go for a Super Bowl next year. That’s what I’m looking for and I know that’s what those guys are about. I’ve watched them for years. I’m looking forward to coming to that room and working hard and get to know everybody.”
Collier, who said L.J. stands for Lawrence Junior, talked about his mother, Ruby, who passed away a few years ago and how her memory motivates him.
“My mother means the world to me," he said. She’s watched me play every game and she believes in me all the time. I know that she was thinking of me tonight and she was with me here tonight. That’s why I’m going to give it my all because I’m going to give my all for her like I did in college and nothing’s changed. I’m still hungry and I’m still ready to go.”