The Seahawks Select … Eugene Monroe?


Player: Eugene Monroe
School: Virginia
Position: Offensive Tackle
Class: Senior
Height: 6-5¼
Weight: 309
40-Yard: 5.23

Why He Fits: Walter Jones isn’t getting any younger, and the Seahawks need to add youth and talent to an offensive line that has become a liability since the loss of Steve Hutchinson. There are several offensive linemen available in this year’s draft, including a couple prospects worthy of a top five selection. Eugene Monroe, the stud offensive tackle from Virginia, is one of them.

Monroe is built like the prototypical NFL linemen: good height and weight, 33⅞ inch arm span, and a hand span of 11⅛ inches. He moves extremely well for his size, utilizes his feet well and demonstrates exceptional lateral quickness. He displays good pass blocking skills and recognition, and should develop nicely into a solid anchor for any offensive line in the league.

Monroe also exhibits good run blocking ability, and the Seahawks must be able to run the football more effectively if they’re going to have any success next season. His feet are constantly moving, allowing him to generate movement off the ball. Initial quickness allows Monroe to either get to the second level or collapse for a down block on a defensive tackle.

Seattle (and Tim Ruskell) can’t afford to botch this year’s first round choice; both the organization and fans believe the Seahawks will not have the opportunity to pick in the top five again anytime soon. Eugene Monroe has been successful at every level so far, and seems to be among the safest picks in the draft. In high school, he was widely considered the best offensive line recruit in the nation. At Virginia, he was a three-year starter who forced Branden Albert inside to the guard position so he could remain at the left tackle spot – Albert is currently the starting left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs. Optimistically, there is no reason to believe he won’t see similar success in the National Football League.

Why He Doesn’t: Although Eugene Monroe is an extremely talented lineman and will likely have success somewhere in the NFL, Tim Ruskell may be opposed to spending such a high choice on an offensive lineman. In a recent off-season interview, Ruskell revealed that he doesn’t like to draft offensive linemen very early, believing there is talent available later in the draft. Citing such players as Rob Sims, Ray Willis, and Mansfield Wrotto (all fourth round selections), Ruskell believes the success of individual players and the offensive line has more to do with the cohesion of the entire group.

Monroe seems to match what Ruskell prefers in college players: a senior who has contributed every year, from a big school where he faced top competition nearly every week, and without any serious red flags about his character. There are a few questions, however, that may cause Ruskell and the front office to shy away from selecting the tackle from Virginia. There might be some durability issues, as Monroe struggled early during his collegiate career with a knee injury. He could struggle through the rigors of a full NFL schedule, and may not possess the mental toughness necessary to play through injuries and pain. Also, Monroe is not much of a vocal leader and was not elected a team captain; leadership is a quality appreciated and valued by the organization.

Bottom Line: If Monroe is drafted, his salary will justify finding a spot for him to start somewhere on the offensive line. The likely choice would be guard, and he would instantly become the heir apparent to Walter Jones at left tackle. This strategy sounds nice, but conflicts with Ruskell’s long-term plans with the unit. According to Ruskell, Sean Locklear was re-signed so he could eventually slide over and replace Jones – Locklear’s contract even includes incentives for playing time on the left side. This almost certainly motivated the front office to get a deal done with Ray Willis, who offers versatility and can play the right tackle position. It seems as if Seattle already has plans in place to deal with Jones’ departure, and investing millions of dollars into a rookie tackle isn’t a part of it.