Usually, by the time the NFL Draft trickles into its seventh and final round, the names that are selected approach total anonymity. It would really take a professional, full-time analyst to have an adequate handle on over 200 new prospects each year.
This year’s edition of the seventh round was probably the most-watched seventh round in league history, with so many viewers tuning in to see if and when Michael Sam would be drafted. Sam would ultimately be selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 249th (out of 256) pick in the draft.
It was a wonderful and historic moment, even if Sam adds even more depth to a position of strength for the Seahawks’ division rivals. But, earlier in the seventh round, with the 227th overall pick, the Seahawks unearthed a gem of a player who has the potential to be a wildly entertaining fan favorite — if not also a productive addition to the football team. I introduce Arkansas Razorbacks fullback Kiero Small, a beautiful tank of a human being.
As this 2011 segment from a local Arkansas news station shows, Small has the rare sort of attitude that’s required for a fullback to thrive without the ball:
This 2013 tape of four games by Small against SEC opponents is a good primer to his strengths and weaknesses:
Small is least effective when he is used as a pass-blocker, lacking the lateral agility to meet his assignment out in space. The best way to use Small in the passing game may well be to throw the ball to him. Small’s sure hands and willingness to plow through tacklers for an extra yard are admirable traits, and he actually finished fourth on his team in receptions.
But clearly, as was discussed in the news segment, Small shines when he is blocking for a runner. Small throws himself into the line of scrimmage and routinely ends up flattening whatever defensive player comes into his path. In most of the games on this tape — not to mention most of their games overall — the Arkansas Razorbacks were beat and beat hard by their elite SEC opponents. (The Razorbacks were 3-9 overall in 2013, and winless in conference play.) If you ignore the scoreboard and just watch Small, however, it’s hard to tell that his team is under a massive deficit, so unstoppable is his motor. Small’s habit of playing each snap with passion certainly had to appeal to the Seahawks’ scouts and coaches.
As a seventh-round pick, a life in the NFL is anything but guaranteed for Kiero Small. What’s more, he’s joining a team that has the problem — and it’s a good problem to have, but still a problem — of having a very crowded backfield, with Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Spencer Ware, and Derrick Coleman all on the depth chart behind Sir Beast Mode.
But I’ll be rooting for Kiero Small. No, even if he makes the team he wouldn’t get many touches, and he would only be used situationally. There would be something undeniably awesome, however, to see Small charge in from the backfield and pancake some dudes into the ground.