The Seahawks are definitely in the market for offensive linemen. Happily, the 2020 NFL Draft appears to be loaded with talent.
Come on, 12s. We all know Germain Ifedi is on his way out, considering the market for experienced tackles this year. It wouldn’t be too surprising for the Seahawks to part ways with more key players on their offensive line, either. Geoff Shull has a great look at the overall picture of the future of the O-line. For now, I’m going to focus on one position, offensive tackle. A couple of draft prospects put themselves out of reach with their showing at the Combine this week. Happily, this class is loaded with talent. So, let’s take a look.
First, let’s discuss the guys that won’t be there when the Seahawks make the 29th pick of the draft. I have to admit, I chuckled as I wrote that. I’m pretty sure the last time John Schneider and Pete Carroll stayed with their original selection, they were each on their own playground tightly squeezing their favorite puree marble they inherited from their big brother. You younger folks, just insert Pokemon cards for marbles. Odds are the Seahawks won’t move up to nab either of the first two players, though.
First up is a kid I hoped would slide enough for the Hawks to draft him, but after his performance in Indianapolis, Tristan Wirfs will be long gone. As Raju Byfield wrote for FanSided, the Iowa tackle had an incredible day. He set the record for the fastest 40-yard dash (4.85 seconds) for anyone over 320 pounds. He also set records for offensive linemen in the vertical jump (36.5″) and the broad jump (10’1″). Those were all-time records for the Combine, not just the 2020 iteration. He was already likely to be gone, but after that performance, he’ll be gone by the 15th pick at the latest.
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We’ve had our eyes on collegiate tackle/professional behemoth Mehki Becton as well. While he didn’t complete all the drills due to a tight hamstring, he showed enough to ensure he’ll be long gone when the Seahawks make their first pick. He *only* weighs 364 pounds; hence, a behemoth. Despite his size, he posted a 40 time of 5.10. That’s the fastest of anyone over 350 in 17 years. Becton was already going to be a reach at the Hawks position, and now he’s going to be long gone.
So what does that leave for the poor bargain hunters late in the first round – or possibly the second? Plenty. The first up for me is USC’s Austin Jackson. At 6’5″ and 322, he’s certainly not undersized. He finished behind Wirf in the tests mentioned, but we don’t exactly need someone like DK Metcalf to play tackle. He performed well enough, especially on crucial pass-protection drills. Russell Wilson is doubtless singing the Hallelujah chorus.
Ezra Cleveland from Boise State had an excellent showing as well. At 6’6″ and 311 pounds, Cleveland motored through the 40 faster than Jackson. More importantly, he had the best time in the three-cone drill of any offensive linemen, 7.26 seconds. The knock on Cleveland has been that he needs to get stronger, but he posted the fifth-best bench press numbers among all O-linemen (30 reps). Fending off Aaron Donald and benching weights are two very different things, sure, but it seems that Cleveland has already been addressing that aspect of his game.
My last draft prospect – at least for today – is Hakeem Adeniji of Kansas. 6’4″ and 304 pounds, he was a four-year starter at tackle for the Jayhawks. See, he only has to upgrade the team name, he’s a perfect fit. Before the combine, many pundits saw him as likely to move to guard. That may still happen, but he showed a lot of power at the Combine and changed more than a few minds about that potential shift inside.
Who knows? Schneider could use one of his 38 picks in this draft (okay, 11 including the compensation picks) and move up to grab one of the superstars. The thing is, nothing is guaranteed, and there are a lot of talented tackles in this draft. We’ll revisit this quite a bit as we get closer to Draft Day.