Seattle Seahawks O-Line: Deep Breaths and Draft Targets

Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans offensive lineman Jack Conklin (11) and Stanford Cardinal offensive lineman Joshua Garnett (17) participate in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans offensive lineman Jack Conklin (11) and Stanford Cardinal offensive lineman Joshua Garnett (17) participate in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

It is late March, which means the Seattle Seahawks are through navigating the stormiest days of free agency and are adjusting their college player board a month ahead of the NFL Draft.

However, after a turbulent early offseason period that saw two starters plucked from an already maligned offensive line, Seattle Seahawks fans everywhere are wondering whether the 2016 version of the team will be able to perform well enough to compete for a championship.

I offer this bit of advice to those fans and mostly to the guy I see in the mirror every day–take some deep breaths. Relax. This team will be in the thick of the playoff race, sans catastrophic injury.

As much as I gnash my teeth when thinking about the laissez-faire attitude the team seems to be taking toward the offensive line that today is arguably made up of the five worst starters in the league, I’m forced to trust in PCJS’ ability to stock the roster with players capable of getting their respective jobs done based on prior accomplishments.

Much of the optimism that exists is centered around the upcoming NFL Draft (April 28-30) in Chicago. There is no question that the Seattle Seahawks are going to use at least two if not more of their allotted selections on players that will be tasked with improving upon the lackluster play of the guys on the offensive line of scrimmage.

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Each year, Pete Carroll’s end of season radio interview immediately following the team’s last game includes a blunt assessment of one particular area of the team that will be addressed in the offseason. Previously he spoke of the need for pass rush help, and months later they drafted Bruce Irvin. A comment about the need for playmakers led to a trade for Percy Harvin. And so on.

This January, Carroll spoke plainly about how the team got pushed around on the line of scrimmage and needed to once again be tougher at the LOS. This is no doubt a reference to the loss in Carolina coupled with previous defections of nasty dudes like Breno Giacomini and James Carpenter. It’s also an indictment of disappointment-to-date Justin Britt and every other player behind him that didn’t seriously challenge for a starting role up front.

I believe the Seattle Seahawks did try to keep J.R. Sweezy up to a certain point, because he brings orneriness and would have been a stabilizing force on an otherwise jumbled starting offensive line. But, once the price of a below average to average Sweezy got to and above an absurd $6M APY, the Seahawks were forced to bow out.

So who did/can the Seahawks bring in to improve the talent quotient?

J’Marcus Webb is huge and experienced but has never been accused of being a nasty player. The fact that he is currently unchallenged at right tackle is rather frightening considering his unimpressive game tape.

Garry Gilliam is not a physical presence and is moving to left tackle to tussle with Arizona castoff Bradley Sowell for the right to protect Russell Wilson‘s blind side.  Scary.

Seattle Seahawks
Patrick Lewis has looked average at best at Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Patrick Lewis is incredibly ordinary at center.

Errrr, this isn’t looking promising.

One player who fits the profile Carroll mentions is Mark Glowinski. The loss of Sweezy will be easier to take because Glowinski can be plugged into the RG spot (he started one game there in 2015) and plays with the edginess Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable want to see. Ok, so there’s one!

Have any of last year’s other draft picks (Poole, Sokoli) improved to the point of challenging for playing time?  Time will tell, but reinforcements are sorely needed.  Luckily, a wave of new recruits are ready, willing and able to fortify the front line.

What players eligible in the draft fit the requirements of talented, athletic, and physical? We’ll list a few below that could be available at various points of the annual selection process.

Day 1 options:

Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan St   Conklin seems unlikely to make it to pick 26 but if he managed to slide down that far, the Seahawks would likely turn in the card with his name on it. He brings a physical style, size and leadership the Seattle Seahawks want up front and tested much better than most anticipated. A very good right tackle prospect and possible left tackle in the league.

Seattle Seahawks
Nov 28, 2015; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Jake Reed (50) and offensive tackle Jason Spriggs (78) walk off the field carrying the Old Oaken Bucket after the victory against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross Ade Stadium. Indiana defeats Purdue 54-36. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana   Spriggs isn’t nearly the physical player Conklin is and does not fit the profile of a bully in any way. Purely an athletic prospect, he could be a fit to one day replace Russell Okung at left tackle, whose role as blind side protector of the quarterback ranked more important than bringing the nasty at that spot.

Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio St   An overrated player in my eyes, Decker does play with a mean streak and has right tackle size that brings to mind the aforementioned Giacomini. This could be the player Seattle sees as a fit at right tackle, allowing Webb to compete for a starting guard position.

Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M   Ifedi has all the physical tools you could ask for but simply hasn’t shown the ability to display a repeatable blocking style. In other words, he is inconsistent, sloppy and does a lot of things wrong when the ball is snapped. Could Tom Cable turn him into the Pro Bowler his measurables suggest he could be? A legit left tackle prospect, in theory.

Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama   Unlikely choice as Patrick Lewis should be passable at center for one more year. But if the Seahawks want to upgrade the position immediately, this is arguably the best and most pro-ready pivot available with plenty of experience blocking the best interior defensive linemen college football has to offer.

Day 2 Options:

Josh Garnett, G, Stanford   Count me as a big believer in Garnett. Love his game. He is far more athletic than people seem to realize, often being asked to pull and find secondary targets to attack–and succeeding. He is very strong, loves to uproot and move people in the run game, and provides a sturdy base in pass protection, though there is some very coachable work to be done there. This would be an immediate upgrade of the highest quality at left guard. Garnett is exactly the kind of tough, aggressive player the Seattle Seahawks desperately need and want on the O-line. An ideal 2nd round selection and obvious ‘Cable guy”.

Seattle Seahawks
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Auburn offensive lineman Shon Coleman speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn   If the Seahawks don’t go OT in round 1, Coleman could be a target in round 2. A strong, broad-shouldered man that enjoys inflicting damage on his opponents, Coleman’s medicals (past battles with cancer and recent injuries) will reveal a player whose position on the draft board is yet to be finalized but could be good value starting on day 2 of the draft if healthy.

Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame   Martin could rekindle memories of Max Unger– a somewhat undersized center that uses his brains, toughness and guile to lead the offensive line and act as its leader in time. Martin could compete for left guard duties in year 1 before succeeding Patrick Lewis in 2017 and putting to rest any questions of who the center of the future and leader of the line will be.

Connor McGovern, G, Missouri   The midwestern strongman could come in to compete with former teammate Justin Britt at left guard, possibly allowing Britt to move back out to battle J Webb at right tackle and at the very least be a depth player with starting experience.  McGovern does also have experience at tackle but seems to be best suited to play on the interior.

Joe Haeg, OT/G, North Dakota St    Not unlike Jason Spriggs, Haeg needs time to add sand to his pants before he can be asked to satisfactorily defend bull rushes from bigger, stronger NFL defensive ends. However, he also possesses the light feet, positional experience and mental fortitude to one day possibly take over left tackle duties, but he costs less in draft capital than Spriggs.

Day 3 options:

Seattle Seahawks
Nov 14, 2015; Berkeley, CA, USA; Oregon State Beavers running back Storm Barrs-Woods (24) celebrates with offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo (56) after completing a two point conversion during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Isaac Seumalo, C/G, Oregon St   If Josh Garnett is my day 2 crush of a pick, Seumalo easily ranks as the preferred day 3 target. As long as his medicals are clean, the former 4-star recruit offers positional flexibility but could be the pivot for this organization each of the next 10 years. He is athletic, tough, with good size and would quickly become a favorite of this coaching staff.  Might sneak into the back end of day 2, where the Seattle Seahawks currently have two selections.

Graham Glasgow, C/G, Michigan   Glasgow is abnormally tall for a center, which could actually present issues for the quarterback, but it shouldn’t cause the team to shy away from what is another solid option in the middle. Can play guard as well.  Tough as nails.

Joe Dahl, G, Washington St    Dahl has been undervalued throughout the draft process, and if he’s available on day 3, he could be an invaluable addition to the guard competition as an accomplished pass protector and good enough ‘mover’ to excel in a zone based run game.

Jake Brendel, C, UCLA   This undersized center is a late round option if the position is somehow ignored earlier in the draft. Tested well at the NFL Combine but needs time to add strength to handle the interior area in the pros. A nice flier pick to redshirt and ask to compete for the center job in 2017.

Caleb Benenoch, OT, UCLA   Another late round flier from Crazy Jim Mora’s squad, Benenoch blazed a sub-5.0 forty time and sub 1.7 10-yard time at the Combine while also possessing the length and athleticism to shine in a zone blocking scheme such as Seattle’s. This could be a player to watch out for on day 3 of the draft.

There are some really nice options here, at all levels of the draft for the Seattle Seahawks. As a matter of fact, a recent radio interview conducted by John Clayton with GM John Schneider featured a comment from Schneids that backed up that opinion. He said there do not seem to be many dropoffs at OL this year and there are shelves of quality players all the way through the draft.

This is important, because it means the Seattle Seahawks won’t reach as far for a player as they did when they felt there was a significant dropoff after Justin Britt and regrettably selected him in round 2 of the 2014 draft when they knew they had no third round selection to spend on the player.

The deep pool of viable options in 2016 suggests the team is willing to let the board fall to them and could possibly go elsewhere with their first pick, something that people may not want to hear but should be prepared for nonetheless.

After all, though the need for help up front is profound, it is still preferred to be able to take the highest rated player on the draft board at a position of need early on.  This could be a defensive lineman or outside linebacker at pick# 26.

Next: Free Agent Update Part 2

In any event, expect the Seattle Seahawks to use multiple picks on offensive linemen in the 2016 NFL Draft. They should be able to acquire quality options that help return the unit to respectability and allow fans of the team to, in the words of Olivia Munn’s husband, R-E-L-A-X.