The Seattle Seahawks shuffled their offensive line in the preseason in part to get Gary Gilliam on the field at right tackle. The other part was that the line looked horrible in practice and against Denver, and the Seahawks had to try and do something to fix things.
To get an idea of what the Seahawks have in Gilliam, I loaded up the game tape from all three games since he was inserted with the starters and looked at every snap he played. The results were mixed, but overall he looked like a nice upgrade over anyone that has played there in recent years.
Gilliam hasn’t been a tackle for all that long. He played TE for his first few years in college, and he still looks like a TE. The scale may say he weighs over 300 pounds, but Gilliam is still built like someone who could run a route and catch a touchdown (like he did in the NFCCG).
That shows up in pass protection. Gilliam has very quick feet and changes direction very quickly. Speed rushers didn’t give him any trouble.
Against the bull rush, Gilliam needs to use his long arms to keep the defender from getting in on his body. When he does that, he’s effective. When he doesn’t, bad things happen.
That is the type of thing that should get cleaned up with coaching and experience. Luckily, these plays were very rare in the preseason. Hopefully they will stay that way when the games actually matter.
Gilliam’s inexperience mostly shows up in his run blocking. He often lets his pad level get too high when the run is coming to his side of the line.
He also tends to go too low when trying to cut block. This leads to completely missed blocks on run that go to the far side of the field.
When he gets his pad level right, he’s is extremely effective as a run blocker. This will come with experience, but it could be an issue early in the season.
Overall, Gilliam is still very much a work in progress. He needs to clean up his technique still, but flashes Pro Bowl potential. Even at this stage in his development he looks like he is going to have a very strong year for the Seahawks at right tackle.
Let face it, when Wilson gets protection good things happen.
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