Undrafted in 2012 out of Portland State, DeShawn Shead decided to sign with the Seattle Seahawks practice squad. Seahawks’ General Manager, John Schneider and head coach, Pete Carroll knew they found a versatile weapon, but differed on which position they thought he would best fit.
“To tell you the truth, John had seen him play corner in college and really thought that was his best position,” Carroll said. “We did that with him, but just his size and all that, I thought he’d be able to play safety, and as we did it we just tried to figure out what was best for him. Whenever he was playing safety, he’d go back and play some one-on-ones, and he’d always make plays. Really just after a while, he just has a better knack for playing outside and a better feel for it. He’s very productive there. I’m giving John credit; he knew that all along and he had to kind of talk me into it. He was right.”
In late 2013, Shead was called up to the active roster, mainly as a special teams contributor and continued this role in 2014. In 2015 the Seahawks were dealing with a variety of injuries and Shead’s versatility and resilience was finally beginning to pay off. He went on to start six games at the strong safety, corner back and nickel back positions.
“Those are great stories,” Carroll said. “I love raising guys up in the program. Getting to know them really well and understanding, and if they stay with us, it’s because they’re the right kind of guys. So you know you have a feeling for the guy because he’s made it through the draft picks and the other guys with maybe more acclaim coming in. Those kinds of guys are the guys we’re always looking for. So as he got better and improved, you could just see it coming. I didn’t know that he would be able to play front-line, first-team cornerback and go out there and play really well four or five years ago—he just proved it to us.”
The 2016 season is getting of to a great start for Shead. He has been named one of four team captains, has nine tackles through two games and was even named the highest-rated corner back in Week 1 by ProFootballFocus.
“I’m in a big believer in hard work paying off, and that’s all I did. I’ve just been working hard, grinding, being patient and just waiting for my opportunity,” said Shead. “My opportunity is now and I’m just trying to take full advantage of it.”