Will coach Pete Carroll go back to his Seattle roots and draft an OL in Round 1? (And should he?)
For the first half of Seattle coach Pete Carroll’s tenure, the Seahawks didn’t shy away from drafting an offensive lineman in the first or second round.
Offensive tackles Russell Okung (2010), James Carpenter (2011) and Germain Ifedi (2016) were drafted in the first round, while center/guard Ethan Pocic (2017) was taken in the second round.
Seattle hasn’t drafted a lineman higher than the third round.
Seattle has only taken four offensive linemen the past four drafts, with 2020 third-rounder Damien Lewis the only starter. The former LSU guard finished last season with an uninspiring 57.1 grade from Pro Football Focus. Translation: Lewis might not be the starter for long.
Overall, the team has drafted 18 offensive linemen since Carroll took over in 2010. But the team’s inability in recent years to draft and develop quality linemen puts Seattle in a precarious situation – especially after trading quarterback Russell Wilson.
Thirty-six-year-old left tackle Duane Brown isn’t expected to return; right tackle Brandon Shell could be re-signed, but he recently paid a free agent visit to Denver – Wilson’s new team.
That leaves Seattle with three 2021 rookies to man the tackle positions: undrafted free agents Greg Eiland and Jake Curhan and sixth-rounder Stone Forsythe.
The interior of the line isn’t in much better shape.
Pocic is a free agent after finishing with a PFF grade of 68, good for second among Seattle’s starting linemen. The team re-signed Kyle Fuller, who will likely start at center if Pocic leaves but can also play guard. Fuller’s PFF grade of 46.5 would be among the league’s lowest for starting offensive linemen.
In fact, about the only position considered “stable” right now along Seattle’s offensive line is at right guard, where Gabe Jackson earned a good-but-not-great PFF score of 63.6 while playing in 922 snaps. Jackson, who will be 31 by the time next season starts, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
All of this seemingly points to the Seahawks focusing on the offensive line as they rebuild and move on from the Wilson-era. Draft analysts say as many as six OTs and three interior linemen, including one center, could go in Round 1.
That means Seattle will have a shot at one of the top tackles or the best center or guard.
However, a growing number of draft analysts believe Seattle will look elsewhere with the No. 9 overall pick.
Four mock drafts have the Seahawks taking a QB, while Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux was the pick in two mocks.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Draft Wire: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
- ESPN’s Mel Kiper: Cross
- CBS Sports: QB Malik Willis (x3), Liberty
- Walter Football: OT Ikem Ekwonu, N.C. State
- PFF: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
- ESPN’s Todd McShay: Thibodeaux
- Pro Football Network: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
- The Draft Network: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
With the number of quality free agents dwindling, why wouldn’t Seattle consider taking an offensive lineman in Round 1? Simply put: You can’t fix everything in one draft – so why not focus on the defense in what’s considered an especially deep draft for defensive players?
Rob Staton of SeahawksDraftBlog says players like LSU CB Derek Stingley and Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson will have a bigger impact on the team than a player like Cross or Northern Iowa’s Trevor Pennning.
More from Staton: “… (T)he draft is stacked with defensive talent. This feels like an exciting opportunity to create a young, dynamic unit that can carry this team forward as it seeks a long term future at quarterback.”
And if that means taking an offensive lineman or two late in the draft? Seattle is unlikely to contend next season, anyway – which means they should have another shot at rebuilding the line in 2023. By that time, Seattle should also know exactly what it has with its trio of 2021 rookies.
As Staton said, “it’s probably best to lean into a rebuild.”
“Start your younger players — such as Stone Forsyth and Jake Curhan — and if you end up with a top-three pick in 2023, so be it. You won’t have to move up for a quarterback at least.”
Will Seattle take an offensive lineman early in the draft? Find out in Fanspeak’s latest Seahawks mock draft.
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