If you look at Rice tight end Luke Willson’s stats from his final season, you won’t be impressed: nine catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. But if you just look at Willson – he’s 6 feet 5, 252 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds – you’ll see his upside.
Seattle took Willson in the fifth round on Friday.
“That’s what an NFL player looks like,” said Ed Dodds, the Seahawks’ south central area scout.
He added: “He’s huge, and he ran that fast. He’s going to be that guy who can give us a downfield threat from that tight end position.”
Willson had a nagging ankle injury during his senior year and also played the same position as Vance McDonald, who the 49ers drafted in the second round. The Seahawks have Zach Miller, the highest-paid tight end in the league this season, and Anthony McCoy, who Seattle drafted in the 6th round in 2010.
Willson led Rice with 425 receiving yards and finished second with 33 receptions as a redshirt sophomore in 2010. He followed that up with 29 catches, 313 receiving yards and three touchdowns as a junior.
“I’m one of those guys that can be your prototypical tight end, put your end game and do a lot of things in the run game,” Willson said. “But also, if needed, I can go out and catch some passes and make some plays. I feel I’m one of those guys that can play both aspects of the position.”
Dodds said Willson can provide the Seahawks with a deep threat down the middle of the field. Willson also played a summer of baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays organization but decided he wanted to stick with football.
“Football has always been my love,” Willson said.
A previous version of this post had Luke Willson’s name spelled with one L instead of two. I apologize for the error.