RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks haven't gotten a lot of production out of their 11 drafts choices in 2013, but one who has stood out is tight end Luke Willson, a fifth-round draft from Rice University.
Willson, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, has 18 receptions for 265 yards and one touchdown as the team's No. 2 tight end to Zach Miller.
"He's been a fantastic draft pick for us," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said about Willson. "To play so early and contribute in such a variety of ways, and he's really just getting started. He's a tremendous prospect for us for the years to come."
Carroll also believes Miller has been a great influence on Willson.
"Zach is a tremendous pro," Carroll said. "It's his work ethic, toughness, attention to details and his versatility. Whatever you ask of him, he does really well with great pride. All of our players could grow from that. Zach is a great example of that.
"Luke has tremendous talent. He has speed and strength and catching ability and range and all of that. But to make yourself a great pro, it's those other elements that you need to really bring the package together. Zach really does demonstrate that on a regular basis. He's a great leader and a great role model for Luke, and Luke is a great kid too. There is nothing to keep him from being the same style player in the years to come."
Rice had two tight ends drafted in 2013. Vance McDonald was selected in the second round by San Francisco, but has been a disappointment this season for the 49ers with only eight receptions.
What is it that made the Seahawks feel Willson was the Rice tight end that wanted instead of McDonald?
"Not everybody knew about him," Carroll said of Willson. "He hadn't done a whole lot, but we saw the talent. We saw the range of ability, but it was really [Seahawks GM] John Schneider's knack of understanding where he would get drafted that made him so valuable to us.
"At that spot [the fifth round], that's as good a pick as you could make. I think it was just a set of circumstances that made him available to us. I'm not comparing him to the other fella at all. It's just when we had that pick at that time it turned out to be a great opportunity, and Luke has made that come to life."