Seattle can fix many of its OL problems by drafting Boston College’s Zion Johnson

NFL Draft News

The demise of Seattle’s offensive line can be traced to a three-year stretch.

The Seahawks drafted six offensive linemen during that time. Of that total, only two remain: starting center Ethan Pocic and backup offensive tackle Jamarco Jones. Both will be unrestricted free agents.

Pocic was a second-round pick in 2017. He’s the only player out of 11 drafted that year by the Seahawks who’s still on the team’s roster. The previous season, 2016, was just as bad, with only backup running back Alex Collins still on the team out of 10 players drafted.

The team had better drafts after that, as 24 out of 31 players who were drafted during that stretch are still on the team.

But “misses” such as Texas A&M guard Germain Ifedi (first round, 2016) and Boise State guard Rees Odhiambo (third round, 2016) have hurt.

And bypassing players like guard Cody Whitehair of Kansas State and center Graham Glasgow of Michigan in 2016 and Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky, Dion Dawkins of Temple and Taylor Moton of Western Michigan in 2017 didn’t help, either.

Making matters worse? Seattle could lose up to three starters along the offensive line due to free agency but has just six draft picks, with none in the first or sixth rounds.

Translation: The team needs to “hit” on all of its picks – and that means finding at least one starter along the offensive line.

One player in particular could solve many of Seattle’s problems: Boston College interior lineman Zion Johnson. At 6-foot-2, 314-pounds, Johnson doesn’t have ideal size for an interior lineman, but he more than makes up for it with an arm length of 33 7/8-inches, a wingspan of 82 7/8-inches and a hand size of 10 7/8-inches. His hand size was the largest of any of the interior linemen measured at the Senior Bowl; his arm length was the second-best, and his wingspan was the third-best.

And Johnson comes with positional flexibility. Normally a guard, Johnson has started at tackle, and he looked good when he received reps at center during Senior Bowl practices. Therefore, if Pocic signs elsewhere in the offseason, Johnson would be the logical replacement. And if Pocic re-signs, then Johnson would likely either start ahead of LG Damien Lewis or RG Gabe Jackson. Lewis finished the season with a Pro Football Focus grade of 57.7, while Jackson had a 63.6.

Overall, PFF ranked Seattle’s line No. 25 out of 32.

The only issue with drafting Johnson is whether he’ll still be available when Seattle is on the clock with the ninth pick of the second round, or No. 41 overall. Johnson entered Senior Bowl week as a fringe-second, mid-third round player but finished as a fringe first-rounder.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Johnson was the best player over the course of the week, not just the best interior linemen. From McShay: “I watched some elite pass-rush prospects bull-rush linemen and drive them back. Then they would try the same moves on Johnson, and it wasn’t working. His tape is outstanding, and he was terrific in Mobile.”

Johnson is the No. 30 overall prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board.

If Johnson isn’t available, though, the team still has options along the OL, including OTs Nicholas Petit-Frere of Ohio State (No. 38), Bernhard Raimann of Central Michigan (No. 51) and Daniel Faalele of Minnesota (No. 55) and guard Darian Kinnard (No. 43), who played tackle at Kentucky. All but Petit-Frere were at the Senior Bowl.

There are four guards who are ranked in the Round 3 range, including Memphis’ Dylan Parham, another Senior Bowl participant who can also play center. Two tackles are also in that third-round range. Oklahoma LG Marquis Hayes is another possibility, as he’s expected to move up the rankings (No. 139) after Senior Bowl practices.


Click here to see a Seattle Seahawks mock draft that addresses the offensive line.

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