It’s hard enough for a seventh-round pick to make an NFL roster. It’s harder still when he’s trying to learn a brand new position at the highest level of the game.
Seahawks seventh-rounder J.R. Sweezy is being moved from defensive tackle to guard, in hopes of hanging onto his NFL dream.
“It’s good. I’m adjusting well,” Sweezy told Clare Farnsworth of the Seahawks’ official website. “It’s really different. It’s different from everything I’ve pretty much been taught my whole life.”
The biggest challenge is learning to play in a mirror, since he’s doing the opposite over everything he’s trained for.
Sweezy joked that he played some center when he was 8, in Pee Wee football. He was a high school linebacker in Mooresville, N.C., where he also won the state heavyweight wrestling championship. He quickly moved from defensive end to defensive tackle at N.C. State, where he started his final two years.
He never envisioned a switch, until Seahawks assistant Tom Cable talked to him about it during his pre-draft visit. And if not for being willing to try it, he probably wouldn’t have been drafted at all, as he said he had only calls for free agent invites.
Cable said he liked Sweezy’s intelligence and toughness, and thought his athleticism would be better suited to the offensive line.
“For me, what kind of pushed it all over the top was just how quick and athletic he was,” Cable said. “That jumped out at me. You put that with those other characteristics and you’re thinking, ‘OK.’ ”
He’s still likely to be a longshot, although teams are usually patient with conversion projects if they’ve seen something they like.