For Better or Worse: With Draft Over Seahawks Offensive Line Takes Shape
By Andy Larkin
Is the offensive line really better?
We are now a couple of weeks removed from the draft, which means a bulk of the relevant roster additions has taken place. One of the biggest roster holes the Seahawks needed to address was on the offensive line. Not to beat a dead horse, but this group struggled all season long to both keep Russell Wilson upright and create holes in the running game. So it was imperative that the Seahawks bolstered this position through free agency and the draft. At first glance it appears the team made strides in this area, but is counting on big time development from young players.
In free agency the Seahawks went after All Pro guard TJ Lang, but ultimately lost out on his services as he chose to ink a deal with the Lions. Though disappointing, the team didn’t stop the search-party there.
The Seahawks quickly regrouped and signed Luke Joeckel from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former number two overall pick has underwhelmed in his NFL career. He was supposed to be the next big-time left tackle. Instead he has spent time going back and forth between guard and tackle, while not excelling at either spot.
Though Joeckel hasn’t quite played to his potential thus far in his pro career, it’s still a good pick up for the Hawks. The fifth year pro, will be on a one year, low risk deal and brings a good amount of experience and competition to a unit that is in need of both. At the very least, bringing in Joeckel will give the Seahawks more options on the offensive line.
Aside from Joeckel, the Seahawks also signed guard Oday Aboushi during free agency
This deal isn’t a blockbuster by a long shot, but will again add depth and bring in another experienced body to compete in camp.
Even with a couple of Free Agent signings, heading in to the draft it was clear the Seahawks still needed to acquire more offensive line depth and talent. Many assumed the Seahawks would use the 26th overall pick to take an offensive lineman. But then, John Schneider did what John Schneider does and traded back. And then he traded back again. When the Seahawks finally did decide to actually draft someone they took a defensive tackle Malik McDowell.
Finally with the 26th pick of the second round, Seattle took center Ethan Pocic out of LSU. At first glance this move makes little sense. Justin Britt was probably the one player on the offensive line who consistently performed at a high level. However, it seems that the Seahawks think Pocic could potentially be used at guard and compete for a starting spot. The two guard spots were occupied by Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi last year. There are rumblings about moving Ifedi outside to right tackle this season. If that’s the case, Pocic could be a prime candidate to fill the vacated spot on the right side.
The Seahawks got the ball rolling with Pocic, but didn’t draft another offensive lineman until they selected Justin Senior in the sixth round. The coaching staff seems to think Senior has tremendous upside and a good frame that will translate to the next level. As a sixth rounder, he’s probably seen as more of a work-in-progress than a day one starter. We’ve also seen late rounders and undrafted free agents come in and contribute immediately.
Outside of some minor tweaks, these additions basically round out the roster up front
If you asked me as soon as the draft was over, I’d say the Seahawks made some nice strides. But they didn’t do as much as I would have hoped to shore up the line. Now that I’ve had some time to let it breathe a little, I think I’m a little more optimistic.
The Seahawks went out and got guys who seem like they can fit the system. They didn’t break the bank to do it. I was imagining the team would take three or even four offensive lineman in the draft. When I thought about it, two is probably about right. Center is locked up. The guard positions will now have healthy competition and depth. I think Ifedi can bounce back and fill the right tackle slot nicely in year two. The only thing that really concerns me is at left tackle, which is obviously the most important position on the line. Though there is justifiable reason for concern, I think between George Fant, Luke Joeckel, and Justin Senior, somebody will truly have to win that position battle. This wasn’t the case last year, and the consequences were felt.
I’m not going to say I think the offensive line will be great by any means next season. But I will say I believe the moves made this offseason will make them better. Combine that with the development of the younger players already on the roster and we should be looking at a markedly improved position group. Will they be good enough to make the Seahawks legitimate contenders in 2017? That remains to be seen.