One of the early surprises of training camp has been the impressive play of undrafted rookie free agent “Leo” defensive end Benson Mayowa.
Mayowa first caught the attention of the Seahawks’ personnel department at the NFL regional scouting combine held at the team’s facility in March, where he ran a 4.65-second, 40-yard dash and posted a vertical jump of 38 inches at 6-3 and 252 pounds.
“He’s done a really cool job at this camp,” Seattle head 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.
“We’re kind of hopeful to see what this means. He’s in the body type where he’s just 240 pounds, real fast, kind of lean. He’s a Sam/Leo type of guy like O’Brien Schofield. He’s shown special pass rushing ability.”
The University of Idaho product has earned some reps with the first-unit defense, and consistently flashes speed off the edge during 1-on-1 pass rush drills.
“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 scheme, so that has helped in his transition.
He finished with three sacks and eight tackles for loss his final season for the Vandals.
“There’s a lot of players that come from playing linebacker and then go to that,” he said. “But me playing the same position, I’ve got the upper hand right now. And that’s going to help me.”
A native of Inglewood, Calif., Mayowa said he received interest from other colleges coming out of Inglewood High, including Oregon, but wound up at Idaho because he did not have the grades to get into some of the bigger Division I schools.
“I didn’t have exactly the good grades,” he said. “I wasn’t a great student. But I ended up not getting through the NCAA Clearinghouse, and Idaho called me and said they would try to get me up there.”
With players like Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril injured, Mayowa has to take advantage of his opportunity to get consistent playing time.
“This is a great opportunity,” Mayowa said. “Especially being a rookie, I didn’t get drafted so I have to make the team. And people are hurt, people are out so I have to step in, and I have to give it my all every day.”