The Seahawks Offensive Line Is Already Better Than Last Year
By Lee Vowell
Garry Gilliam and Bradley Sowell were…um, not good in 2016
According to Pro Football Focus, Gilliam was the 71st best tackle in 2016 (grade of 38.0) in the NFL. Sowell was 74th (34.0). To make matters worse, George Fant was 78th (27.6). Fant was the lowest ranked tackle in football who got meaningful snaps. That means of the eight worst offensive tackles last year, the Seahawks had three of them. One could ask why line coach Tom Cable still has a job.
The short answer to that question is, “Because the Seahawks do not give him top-tier talent to work with.”
The positive is that neither Sowell nor Gilliam are with Seattle anymore. Gilliam signed an offer sheet with $2.2 million with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. Seattle smartly refused to match the offer. Sowell is an unrestricted free agent and will not be brought back. Fant is still in Seattle, of course, but might play less. Plus, he was an extremely inexperienced rookie in over his head in 2016. Gilliam and Sowell do not have the same excuse.
Hope lies in Ifedi
Right guard Germain Ifedi was not good for most of the first half of the season last year. He was beginning to play better as he gained experience, though. Against the Detroit Lions in the playoffs, Ifedi was a big reason Thomas Rawls ran for a franchise-record 161 yards. Ifedi and center Justin Britt imposed their will on Detroit.
Ifedi hurt his ankle early in the next game against the Atlanta Falcons. His absence changed the game. Rees Odhiambo came in to replace Ifedi, stepped on quarterback Russell Wilson’s foot which caused a safety and the Falcons went on to blow out Seattle. Ifedi did return to the game but was not healthy.
Ifedi should return to right tackle in 2017. This was the position he played most in college and was expected to play in Seattle last season. Ifedi has the athleticism to play tackle. He also has the temperament. Ifedi should progress into a solid player.
The anchor of the line will be Britt. He developed into a Pro Bowl-quality center in 2016. Britt with another year of experience at his position will be better in 2017. The time for the Seahawks to sign him to an extension is now.
Mark Glowinski, while not stellar, was still a serviceable player at left guard. The team also signed Oday Aboushi as a free agent. Aboushi was let go by the New York Jets. Hopefully the Jets mistake is Seattle’s gain.
Luke Joeckel was signed by the Seahawks this offseason. Joeckel has not been the player most expected when he was taken as the number two pick in 2013. Still, Pro Football Focus had his grade in an injury-shortened 2016 at 68.3 at left guard. That would in the not-great but not-terrible category. In other words, still an improvement over the Seahawks situation last year.
The Seahawks have mentioned moving Joeckel back to left tackle. Joeckel seemed to be a better guard than tackle. Maybe he will be better with a new team at tackle, but maybe not. The other option could be to have Glowinski switch to right guard from left guard and play alongside Ifedi. That would leave left tackle as the big unknown for Seattle.
That big unknown would still probably have a better grade than either Sowell or Gilliam. The Seahawks are probably already better on their offensive line than they were in 2016. For the Seahawks to become a Super Bowl contender again, the line better be.