Anyone even slightly familiar with the Seattle Seahawks can tell you most of the current problems stem from an incompetent offensive line. Age, poor draft picks, erroneous free agent acquisitions, and injuries have all derailed what was once one of the best units in the National Football League.
The interior of Seattle’s offensive line has never been the same since 2006. Steve Hutchinson’s heartbreaking departure, Robbie Tobeck’s retirement, and Chris Gray’s forced retirement all left a once proud offensive line searching for answers.
The team invested a first-round draft pick on center Chris Spencer prior to the deterioration of the line, but he has never developed into anything more than a solid starter. In addition, injuries have forced him to miss a lot of time the past two seasons.
Rob Sims, a former fourth-round pick, has had the unfortunate task of replacing Steve Hutchinson at left guard. Although Sims hasn’t been terrible, he definitely hasn’t been anything better than above-average. Like several other offensive teammates, Sims has also struggled with injuries, missing more than a season’s worth of games since 2008.
Despite the offensive line’s recent struggles, Max Unger does offer a lone bright spot along the interior positions. Unger was drafted in the second round of last year’s draft and looks like he could develop into something special. His versatility allowed him to start at both guard and center positions, and it looks like his future is as Seattle’s starting center. He seems to be the perfect fit for Seattle’s zone-blocking scheme.
The Seahawks need to fix their offensive line – football games are won and lost in the trenches. Even the most talented skill-position players would have a hard time making plays behind Seattle’s blocking.
I don’t want Seattle to repair their offensive line only because it should result in more wins; I also want Seattle to fix their offensive line so I can finally forget about the Hutchinson debacle. Until the Seahawks find a capable replacement, fans will always be reminded of what could have been if Hutchinson stayed in Seattle. Rob Sims, Mansfield Wrotto, Mike Wahle, and Steve Vallos are not players of the same caliber.
Logan Mankins, Restricted Free Agent
Logan Mankins could be the perennial Pro Bowler and difference maker that has been missing on Seattle’s offensive line since Steve Hutchinson left. Mankins has started every game with New England since the Patriots drafted him thirty-second overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. He would look great in a Seahawks uniform, but as a restricted free agent, Seattle will have to overpay and make an offer the Patriots can’t match.
Two seasons ago, the New England Patriots rushed for more yardage behind Mankins than any other lineman on the team. His toughness and blocking ability would be a sight for sore eyes on what has been an incompetent Seahawks offensive line.
Marshal Yanda, Restricted Free Agent
Another restricted free agent, Yanda is most likely going return to Baltimore next season. But as an optimistic Seahawks fan, one could only hope he could wind up in the Pacific Northwest. Yanda is versatile enough to play several positions along the offensive line and would be a perfect fit for Seattle’s injury-ridden unit.
According to ex-head coach Jim Mora Jr., the Seahawks were lacking “dirtbags” on the offensive line. After replacing Chris Chester as the starting right guard for the final nine games of last season, Marshal Yanda proved to be a very tough, hard-nosed player. His nastiness would be a perfect addition to a struggling Seattle running game.
Mike Iupati, Idaho
Mike Iupati is the best interior offensive lineman available in the 2010 NFL Draft. His stock continues to rise – many scouts would be shocked if he fell past the top half of the first round this April. At 6’5″, 331 pounds, Iupati possesses a massive frame that could allow for even more growth.
Despite his large size, Iupati isn’t the most powerful interior lineman and tends to get pushed around a bit. He is still somewhat raw and his technique and footwork could use some improvement. As a prospect, however, he has a lot of potential and an extremely high ceiling.
This year’s class of interior linemen isn’t great, but Iupati is the best of the bunch. The Seahawks would probably have to reach for him at fourteenth or trade back into the end of the first round to obtain him.
Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
Like Max Unger, Maurkice Pouncey is another versatile offensive lineman capable of playing either guard or center in the NFL. He also has a good blend of size, strength, and athleticism that will make him a great fit in a zone blocking scheme. After winning the 2009 Rimington Trophy (awarded to the nation’s most outstanding center in NCAA Division I-A football), Pouncey enters the 2010 NFL Draft as the best center available with potential to play anywhere inside at the next level.
Like most collegiate linemen, Pouncey needs to improve his overall blocking technique. Film shows that he spends a lot of time on the ground – unusual for a powerful man of his size. This is a result of poor technique and reaching to maintain blocks.
Most draft analysts have Pouncey rated as a late first-round to early second-round pick. If he is available when the Seahawks select in the early second round, it would present an excellent opportunity to rebuild the interior offensive line.