The Seahawks offense has loads of talent with a lot of versatile parts. But the middle of the offensive line could be a huge weakness. Ethan Pocic is assumed to be the starter at center entering the year. But he gets hurt a lot and is hurt now. Kyle Fuller could replace him but how good is Fuller?
In Wednesday’s practice, Phil Haynes got a lot of work with the number one unit. Haynes has played one offensive snap in his two years in the NFL. Haynes misses a lot of time with injury too. Maybe the Seahawks are just trying to find a good fit for Haynes but this also seems like a desperate move to find the right guy to snap the ball to Russell Wilson.
Pocic’s issues when he is on the field are a bit like former Seahawk Joey Hunt’s were. Hunt knew how the offense ran very well but he was also not strong enough to consistently compete against big NFL defensive tackles. Pocic has had trouble with strength (and being healthy) since he came to Seattle from LSU in 2017.
Center could be an issue for the Seahawks all year
Pocic is 6’6″ and 320 pounds but when you watch him play he seems smaller. In 2017, Pocic played in all 16 games. One reason he didn’t play even more snaps is he needed to gain strength but he hasn’t truly done that well enough.
Seattle allows too much interior pass rush. Outside blocking against edge rushers is one thing. But left tackle Duane Brown allowed just one sack in 2020. Right tackle was a bit more in flux because of the health of the players who played right tackle but even that position wasn’t terrible.
Still, Russell Wilson got sacked 47 times last season. (Yes, Wilson does hold on to the ball too long at times.) One reason is the pressure directly in Wilson’s face. Pocic was the 26th-highest-graded center in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus. He was consistently mediocre in both running and pass blocking.
But Fuller, though in far fewer snaps, was far worse. Fuller likely taking Pocic’s place soon because of Pocic’s constant health issues (he is currently dealing with a hamstring injury and has already been ruled out of the Seahawks first preseason game this Saturday) doesn’t mean Seattle is better or the same at center. They are likely worse with Fuller than Pocic.
And Pocic isn’t that good either. Haynes is a big and strong player but he hasn’t shown he can stay healthy and there is no idea if he can even play center.
Seattle’s line overall should be better than last year as they acquired Gabe Jackson this offseason and Damien Lewis is a year older. I think Duane Brown is back playing by week one. Brandon Shell was pretty good when he played last year at right tackle.
But center is still a concern and will be throughout the season. This single position could be the cause of the offensive line being a problem again and keep the Seahawks from the playoffs. And Austin Reiter is still a free agent but shouldn’t be.