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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

April 26, 2010 at 11:40 AM

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Through the scout's eyes: Russell Okung

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Here's what Seattle's first-round pick Russell Okung looked like through the eyes of Matt Berry, the area scout who evaluated Okung for the Seahawks:

Berry: "Having been in the area for about five years, you notice guys that are talented prior to when they're draft-eligible. I had a little bit of feel for Russell and just the way he played prior to this year, but what sticks out on tape is how he finishes, how he tough he is. Then obviously, the length and the play strength, is really good.

"There's some things he needs to clean up in his game, but when you start as many games consecutively as he has in one of the bigger conferences, he sticks out. You're going to see that the first time you see him in minicamp. It's not a hard evaluation when you're the sixth pick in the draft."

Q: How polished is he and how do you think he'll make that transition?

Berry: "Russell is the type of guy, he's going to maximize his opportunity. He's not satisfied with getting drafted. He's a self-made guy. He was 250 pounds when he came to Oklahoma State, got passed over by a lot of schools a little bit, OU and some other schools. He has made himself into a 300-pound guy, just his work ethic and the way he cares about football, and the way he carries himself is really impressive.

"He has the type of demeanor you want in an offensive lineman. There's not a lot of BS to him. He's tough, he loves football, he competes, he works his tail off. All those things are really attractive about him. He's a low-maintenance guy in the locker room. He's really going to fit in well with the culture Pete's trying to establish here."

Q: How about the mentality? When you come into the NFL and you're playing the spot he's going to play, you don't get any games off. You're going to be facing the best guys they can give you game after game after game.

Berry: "Yeah, and there's obviously a learning curve. He's not playing some of the lower-end schools that they get to play, and he has the type of mentality that there are going to be times that he gets beat, it's not going to affect him. He's the type of guy who's going to keep trying, keep persevering and eventually he's going to get it. And he's extremely talented. When you guys get around him and get a feel for him next week at minicamp, you're going to be impressed with the way he carries himself and the way he's out there, the way he competes. He's going to fit in. He's not going to look like a rookie on the field. All those things are really positive.

"As a scout, when you go into a school when you go into a school and a guy is low maintenance and they don't have any issues, they compete on the field and they're smart, it's really an easy evaluation. The report sort of writes itself. And when you get a chance to get a guy like this at a cornerstone position, you get really excited. I'm really happy he fell to us where he did."

Q: Do you remember what he looked like as a 250-pound freshman?

Berry: "I do not. I'm trying to think, he started right away. He was put on the field early so you definitely see it. And that's a school where you go into, you notice players right away. As far as two years ago, three years ago, you looked, 'Yeah, this is a guy who's going to be a player.'

"So you kind of watch him, and you see him grow and get better. And you see the games where he struggles and you see the games where he played, the last two games against Texas, playing against (Brian) Orakpo and then against (Sergio) Kindle, he was the dominant player on the field. You really noticed how he finishes and how he competes, down in and down out. Those things are really attractive at that position, going forward with your evaluation."

Q: What allowed him to offset the pass-rush skills of Orakpo and Kindle?

Berry: "Well, he's so long. When you look at him as a 300-pound guy, he's got 36-inch arms, and if you guys have ever been under a bench press you know what it's like -- he did 38 reps (at 225 pounds) and he's got such length that that's a really hard thing to do. He's a powerful, powerful man. So if he got out of position, he can recover with his length and he can recover with his strength. Those things are going to aid him well on the edge."

Q: How athletic is he?

Berry: "He's a good athlete. He ran 5.15 (seconds) in the 40 at 300 pounds. He's not a fat guy, he's lean. He's going to come in and start. He's a good athlete."

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