In my last piece, I mentioned that the Seahawks would be effectively starting in the same place they did when Pete Carroll and John Schneider were first handed the reins in 2010 — they just lost a franchise cornerstone on offense, the airs around Carroll had grown increasingly bleak in recent years, Seattle’s roster was suddenly aging, and they lacked identity on both sides of the ball.
What Carroll and Schneider built from there needs no rehashing, but one thing that I find of particular interest is that the first issue they addressed was replacing departed stalwart Walter Jones with their highest draft pick.
For those familiar with the Seahawks of the last decade or so, remembering that Carroll took Russell Okung sixth overall in the 2010 draft is a pretty stark contrast to everything that came after.
But Seattle finds themselves very much in the same position this year; former All-Pro Duane Brown seems gone for good, leaving a glaring hole at the left tackle position, and no immediate answers to be found in free agency.
Seahawks should take Charles Cross in the 2022 NFL draft
Enter Charles Cross, a left tackle from the South standing at roughly 6’5″ and 310 pounds — Carroll seems to historically prefer tackles with such a frame — who blocked for a prolific offense and plays with a bit of a mean streak. There hasn’t been a fit this perfect for Seattle’s offensive line since Laremy Tunsil, who some draft pundits have drawn comparisons to.
The first thing to note about Cross is how explosive he is. His first step out of his stance is quick, and he often gets a huge leg up on pass rushers because of it. His punch stops all but the strongest d-linemen in their tracks, as well, so winning early is a must against him.
His footwork is also generally excellent, comparable to my other favorite tackle in this draft, Abe Lucas, who you can read about here. Though unlike Lucas, Cross tends to win his blocks early rather than late, which generally makes for a cleaner pocket to throw from, and unless Seattle decides to roll the dice on Desmond Ridder with one of their second-rounders, that clean pocket is a huge boon to QBs, especially unproven ones like Drew Lock.
He also excels against twists and stunts, and that should be a big deal to Seattle. Over the last half-decade, defenses have made mockeries of Seattle’s blocking with stunts that blow massive holes in the b-gaps and leave nowhere for the QB to escape to. Cross doesn’t get fazed by shifting assignments like that, and that should make life for Damien Lewis and Austin Blythe much easier.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows with Cross though — he does have a reputation for being raw in the running game, and that makes sense when you factor in the air raid offense he played for under Mike Leach these last couple of years. And while his punch will knock most defenders off their balance, those who can convert speed to power reliably, like Khalil Mack and DeMarcus Lawrence, can get a leg up on him on plays where he takes an extra step to set.
Most experts don’t doubt Cross’s pass-blocking acumen, and that should mean Cross will have a lot of opportunity to prove himself, no matter who drafts him, and if he can prove his worth in the running game, that will put him on a shortlist with some of the very best blind-side blockers in the game.
Bottom line: if Pete Carroll wants to have the same success rebuilding these Seahawks as he did with the Seahawks of 12 years ago, he’s going to have to start in the same place he started then, and there’s no better parallel in this draft than picking up one of the highest-upside tackles available.