Tyson played safety in college, but the Seahawks are going to first try him at cornerback. When general manager John Schneider was asked why he felt comfortable projecting a position change for Tyson, one of the first things he mentioned was arm length.
"His feet, his length," Schneider said. "He has 32 1/2-inch arms. He’s almost 6-feet-2. He has really cool feet, really good movement skills, feel for routes. And then the ball skills, being able to reach for the ball upon contact."
Thirty-two has become a key number for the Seahawks. Since coach Pete Carroll and Schneider took over in 2010, the team has drafted eight projected cornerbacks. All eight have had arms that are at least 32 inches long, and seven of them have been 6-foot or taller
What's interesting about the group is none of the eight were taken before the third round. This year's third-rounder, Shaquill Griffin (6-foot, 32 3/8-inch arms), was the earliest cornerback selection since Carroll and Schneider have been directing the Seahawks.
Carroll believes he has an advantage. If guys have the right measurables at cornerback, he believes he can coach them up. And as that list shows, he's been right most of the time.
When Carroll coached the New England Patriots in 1997, he didn't have much say with the draft, and the team took a 5-9 cornerback named Chris Canty in the first round.
"We took a corner that wasn’t very fast, that had short arms, that was about 5-foot-9," Carroll said during an interview last year. "That ain’t the kind of guy that I like. It couldn’t be farther and more obvious that that was not representative of the way I coach. I wanted big guys back then."
The Seahawks teach a step-kick technique and want their cornerbacks to be able to disrupt receivers within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. And given that the Seahawks are a single-high safety defense, their corners prioritize the fade down the sideline above all else. Long arms help with both of those things.
Of course, if you look at Tyson's official combine measurements, he's listed with 31 3/4-inch arms. Arm length can vary from the Senior Bowl to combine to pro days. But NFL teams can do their own measurements when they meet with players. That's why Schneider said the team had Tyson at 32 1/2.
DeShawn Shead is coming off a significant knee injury, and Richard Sherman was the subject of trade talks this offseason. The Seahawks needed to add cornerbacks in this year's draft. Griffin is one. Tyson will get a shot at being another. And Carroll said third-round pick Delano Hill (6-1, 32 1/8-inch arms), who played safety at Michigan, could get a look on the outside as well.
At other positions, the Seahawks have shown they're willing to make exceptions on certain measurables -- whether it's height at quarterback or size at free safety.
But this year's selections were another reminder that long arms at cornerback is a must.