You can count on the Seahawks to always try new pieces on the offensive line. The release of Joey Hunt and addition of B.J. Finney shows this.
This may seem weird, but I truly pity Seahawks star Russell Wilson. Yeah, I know; he’s one of the best in the world at what he does and is paid like it, too. He has a beautiful family, and just added the newest member, aptly named Win. What more could he possibly want? For one, a stable offensive line would be nice. We’ll see how the release of center Joey Hunt plays out.
Hunt was likely the biggest name of the nine Seahawks released before camp. Clearly the Seattle Times feels Branden Jackson deserves top billing. They were probably right, as the Hawks resigned him. Despite the fact Jadeveon Clowney is still missing from the roster, I’d argue that the release of one defensive end doesn’t compare to the release of your last center with at least one start at the position.
Obviously, center is a critical, if not the critical, position on the offensive line. Every play starts with the center, and they’re responsible for adjusting blocking schemes at the line. The fact that Seattle cut both Justin Britt and Joey Hunt this offseason could have a tremendous impact on the 2020 season. I’m not saying Hunt was the best player at the position ever. There was a reason Britt started in his place, after all. But he was fairly reliable. So who will the Hawks turn to now?
Finney compared to other centers on Seahawks roster
Currently, the Hawks have just three centers on their roster. Of the three, only one player has any extensive experience at the position. We’ll get to him later. As for the others, the first has been on Seattle’s practice squad since the start of last season. The second showed a lot of promise early but has yet to take a snap at his collegiate position. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about, so let’s not waste any more time.
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Ethan Pocic is the only center on the roster who’s taken a single snap as a member of the Seahawks. I could be a bit more upbeat about that if at least one of those snaps had involved getting the ball to Russell Wilson. Seattle took the LSU center in the second round of the 2017 draft, and then promptly moved him to guard. The aforementioned Justin Britt was playing very well, and Pocic won the chance to play to his left. He played pretty well, too, but has never quite panned out the way Seattle expected him to. Hey, at least he wasn’t the Hawks first selection.
Kyle Fuller is our practice squad kid. Some kid; 6’5″ and 320 pounds. The problem with Fuller is that he hasn’t been good enough to get on the field very much. He has just two starts under his belt in 11 game appearances. A total of 145 snaps in two seasons with the Texans and the Washington Football Team – yeah, that just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? – doesn’t scream NFL starter to me. Add in that the Seahawks offensive line had enough injuries last year to fill an orthopedic ward and Fuller still didn’t get on the field, and well – that doesn’t give me a lot of confidence, either.
Which brings us to the player that does have extensive game experience at center. B.J. Finney may not have been the Steelers starting center, but he did get 13 starts in his 59 games in Pittsburgh. Pro Football Focus has some interesting stats to share. Last year, Finney got 325 snaps. He allowed one sack and was penalized just once. In his career, Finney has been on the field for 1,025 snaps and been charged with just four penalties and two sacks.
Obviously Pocic has played everything but guard, but let’s take a look at his performance. Oddly enough, Pocic has played 1,026 snaps so far. In that time, he’s committed ten penalties and allowed five sacks. Remember, he didn’t have the added responsibility of snapping the ball, either. On other note of interest; Finney played the most snaps of his career in 2019, Pocic the least.
Just for comparison’s sake, Joey Hunt has 794 snaps under his belt, committing four penalties and allowing four sacks. All three graded out better at pass blocking than on the run, but Finney is the only one of the three to grade above 80 as a pass blocker, and he managed that in three of his four seasons.
I think I know who has the early lead for the starting role. Finney grades out even better than Britt over the past two seasons. I’m not saying he’s the next Max Unger, not at all. But to be honest, the bar for the Seahawks was a bit low last season. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hawks made a late deal for another player, but I do think Finney is a definite step up.