Seattle took a chance on Herring in the fifth round and now it’s up to the young man from Opelika, Alabama to show he belongs in the NFL. Don’t bet against him.
“I had the Seahawks about number 17 or 18 on my list of teams that I thought were interested in me,” Herring told Inside the Auburn Tigers (Scout’s Auburn site). “About 20 teams had contacted me and they were one of them, but they had just called to verify my phone number.
“There were probably about 10 teams I talked to more than just one time. I never really saw it coming, but I am glad to be a Seahawk.”
Seattle has a knack for finding smallish linebackers with good speed and either turning them into safeties – ala Michael Boulware – or turning them into productive nickel linebackers and special teams players – D.D. Lewis.
Herring played quarterback in high school, but made the switch to defense once he arrived on campus. After a redshirt season in 2002, he started the next three seasons at safety for the Tigers and then switched to outside linebacker as a senior this past fall.
He led the team in tackles with 72 in 2006 and leaves with a school-record 49 consecutive starts.
“I think it worked out for the best,” Herring said of the position change. “It was something I wasn’t sure about going into last year, but (Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp) suggested it to me and in order to do what the team needed I think it worked out.”
As you can see by the quote above, Herring is the quintessential team player. He has excellent athleticism, a very high football I.Q. and the attitude to do whatever it takes to get the job done for the team.
He’s got a great frame and could add more weight without losing his athleticism or flexibility if the Seahawks want him to stay at linebacker. He’s got above-average speed (4.5) for a linebacker and is expected to immediately contribute as a special teams performer the second he arrives for camp this summer.
Where Herring will run into problems is if he’s asked to carry the load as a starter or a primary backup too early in his career. He’s just too small to hold up against the run on a regular basis and he doesn’t shed blockers well. What he needs to do is get bigger, stronger and get more time at the position since he only played there one year.
He’s very instinctive and should be an asset as a rookie on special teams and as a valued backup in a year or two, but Seattle must be patient with him so he can get the necessary reps at his, relatively new, position.