When the Seattle Seahawks drafted Ugo Amadi in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they knew one thing to be true: Amadi was rare.
The Oregon football standout became the first Power 5 player since 2015 to return two interceptions and a punt for a touchdown in the same season. He was also chosen from a pool which included then Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, as the recipient of the prestigious Lombardi Award.
Amadi’s versatility as a Duck also took center stage: He started 13 games at safety in 2018, moved from cornerback to safety in 2017 and became Oregon’s primary punt returner during his senior year.
Now, a year removed from his collegiate career at Oregon, Amadi is taking his game to new heights with Seattle, where he’s earned his place at nickel cornerback.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wishes he would have turned to the rookie sooner.
“He’s doing a good job,” Carroll said of Amadi on Wednesday. “I’m really glad we made the commitment a few weeks back to get him in there to allow him to grow. I wish we would’ve done it a little bit earlier. We would’ve seen him develop faster because he’s really kind of blossoming.”
It hasn’t come easy for the 22-year-old out of Nashville, Tenn.
Amadi battled for the team’s starting nickelback position in training camp, but Seattle opted to go with veteran Jamar Taylor instead. Taylor, however, was released in Week 10 and Akeem King moved into that role until Week 15 against the Panthers. He’s since played 72 snaps in the slot over the past four games.
It took 15 weeks for Amadi to carve out his niche in the Seahawks defense, but it appears he has finally found it at nickel. So, what’s next for Amadi?
Despite seeing only 17 defensive snaps at nickel in Seattle’s Wild Card victory over the Eagles, his role could continue to flourish this Sunday when the Seahawks travel to icy Green Bay to take on the Packers.
Carroll holds Amadi in high regard and ultimately believes he has the instincts necessary to make an impact.
“He understands the position well,” Carroll said. “He understands the disguises of it. There’s a lot of intricacies in the nickel spot. He’s a really bright kid and he’s handling it really well. He’s in a good place to make plays.”