COVID-19 Cases

Maryland's tight end Tyler Mabry's patience was rewarded with an undrafted rookie deal with the Seahawks.

Image:-Maryland tight end Tyler Mabry

Tyler Mabry had heard projections in the NFL draft that he was a prospect for Day 3. So as Saturday started, the tight end of the Maryland settled in with his parents at their home in Warner Robins, Georgia, for what he thought was going to be a long, nervous day.

But according to Mabry, the Seattle Seahawks head scout called him in the fourth round and midway through the sixth round, another team representative said after the draft, the club would try to sign him into a free-agent deal.

"Seattle kept calling me all the way through the draft, talking, 'Just be patient. We want you and we have a plan for you,'" said Mabry. "By the seventh round I knew I'd signed with Seattle. I knew what was up, then. So I wasn't even tripping. "The Seahawks held the deal to a close and signed the 23-year-old Mabry.

Mabry is this year's fourth Terp to find an undrafted rookie franchise, joining cornerback Tino Ellis (New Orleans Saints), outside lineback Keandre Jones (Chicago Bears) and running back Javon Leake (New York Giants).

He said the Atlanta Falcons also made an offer but he decided to honor Seattle's commitment to him.

"To me, Seattle was the one," he said. "I knew I could just contribute to their offence. I'm a tight-end blocker and can use my other abilities to help the offense.

In three years at Buffalo the 6-foot-4, 248-pound Mabry was more than a blocker. There he caught 60 passes for 567 yards and three touchdowns, including 27 receptions for 230 yards and two scores as a senior in 2018 that prompted him to be named an All-Mid-American Conference first-team choice.

Mabry caught 13 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns after picking up the Terps over Alabama as a graduate transfer - the last of which ranked second on the offence. However, unknown to many, he suffered from an inflamed bursa sack between his Achilles tendon and right heel bone which made it difficult for him to overrun and outjump defensemen.

"I couldn't block the same thing, I just couldn't run the same thing," he said. "But I wrestled through it. I did [consider taking off a game] but I just felt like I was having to fight for my team and give them the best I could.

Maryland coach Mike Locksley did not reveal the injury inflicted on Mabry. Instead, he expressed regret that Mabry had not become more involved in the passing offence.

"There is no doubt he's more than just a run-blocker," said Locksley. "He was covered by linebackers, and if he has the ability to create separation and space as a receiver, he's got big hands and can catch everything in his vicinity. Indeed he's more than just a blocker. I'd love to get him some more targets per game. We had another tight end in [sophomore] Chig [Chigoziem Okonkwo] who had a couple more catches but not the touchdown production.

Mabry refused to point the finger over the reduced number of receipts to the Terps.

"It wasn't the fault of Maryland" he said. "I was just like, after I got hurt, 'Why would they throw at me when I'm hurt? 'I knew and had to run with my role,'

Mabry will join a group of tight ends from the Seahawks that signed a one-year, $7 million free-agent contract with former Carolina Panther star Greg Olsen Feb. 18. The position already includes Will Dissly, who had 23 262-yard receptions and four six-starts touchdowns before tearing his Achilles tendon on Oct. 13, and Luke Willson, who finished the season with eight 79-yard catches in seven starts.

[More from sports] Private Bryant scrutiny intensifies » "I would just like to take all their advice and see what they do," he said. "They are the veterans who know what to do and how to do it."

Mabry said he's just as excited about the seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson learning and catching passes as well.

Considering that Seattle drafted two more tight ends in Stanford's Colby Parkinson in the fourth round and LSU's Stephen Sullivan in the seventh, Mabry said he understood that his best chance of making the active roster was to get along well with the special teams he played more frequently at Buffalo.

"I have a lot of special teams to play," he said. "I have to earn some spot. Even I'm used to it. So they don't need to teach me yet again. I can just go out there and do it. "Locksley said his versatility on the offense and special teams will be one of Mabry's strengths.

"He's hard and big enough to block and let you start the run game as an edge blocker," Locksley said. "From a technical point of view, he's really tenacious and fundamentally sound about how he does it. ... I think that he's one of those guys with a skill set that's going to lend itself. He can play on special teams, he can block and he can be effective in the passing game as a route runner.'

Mabry is plunging into the virtual offseason program of the Seahawks, but is looking forward to making the cross-country trip to Seattle, where he never visited.

"I heard you can catch a lot of fish," he said of the City of Emerald. "I heard that was where Starbucks first came into being. That is all I have right now.

Remembering that Seattle averages 34.1 inches of rain per year, Mabry said he prefers that over another type of rainfall.

"More rain than snow," he said. "I used to live in Buffalo."