That’s the position manned the past four years by Max Unger, who was dealt with a first-round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints for Graham and a fourth-rounder.
RENTON — Newly acquired tight end Jimmy Graham figures to be the center of attention as the Seahawks prepare for the 2015 season.
The acquisition of Graham, though, also means the Seahawks suddenly have to give a lot of attention to center.
That’s the position manned the past four years by Max Unger, who was dealt with a first-round draft choice to the New Orleans Saints for Graham and a fourth-rounder.
As the Seahawks conclude OTAs (organized team activities) Thursday, the search for a replacement for Unger remains one of the team’s bigger questions.
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“I think it’s probably got the most competition to it,’’ offensive-line coach Tom Cable said.
Cable was referring to the offensive line in general with that comment. But it could be argued that the battle for the center spot is the most uncertain one on the roster.
Lemuel Jeanpierre, who has been with the Seahawks since 2010 but has started just 11 games, usually has worked with the No. 1 offense in the three OTAs open to the media.
Patrick Lewis started four games last season, his first with the team. He ended last season as the backup to Unger and remains a contender to take over.
And Cable this week said Drew Nowak, in his third year in the NFL, and rookie Kristjan Sokoli, a sixth-round choice in the 2015 draft, are in the hunt.
“When we get to (training) camp (in late July) it should really be quite a battle,’’ Cable said.
The team also could sign a veteran free agent (former Houston starter Chris Myers, who visited Seattle this year, is available).
Of those on the Seattle roster, the battle likely will come down to Jeanpierre and Lewis.
Jeanpierre’s career seemed in doubt last August when he was released by the Seahawks after suffering a neck injury. But he re-signed with Seattle in November after Unger was injured and started three games. He became an unrestricted free agent after the season and then re-signed with the Seahawks.
Throughout OTAs, the team has sung the praises of the 28-year-old Jeanpierre in helping groom some of the new players.
“I think you are seeing a guy who is heavily involved in the development of those young guys and is competing his tail off for a job,’’ Cable said. “I think that now he is physically fine, back from the neck issue. No issues there. So he’s able to go play and compete.’’
Among Lewis’ four starts last season was a victory at Arizona in which the Seahawks gained a franchise-record 596 yards.
Nowak and Sokoli, meanwhile, have similar backgrounds — both were defensive tackles in college before making the switch to offense in the NFL.
And as Seattle general manager John Schneider, Nowak has Wisconsin roots, having been born in Green Bay and attending De Pere High (Schneider attended Abbot Pennings High in De Pere).
Nowak, who played in two games for Jacksonville in 2013 before spending most of last season on Seattle’s practice squad, is left-handed, which Schneider last February called “a little unique’’ for a center.
Nowak has little game experience, but Cable said he has done enough to be considered a contender.
“I think the fact that he has been here the whole year, so he has gotten trained, and now we are starting to see an offensive lineman develop,’’ Cable said. “He’s just kind of earned the right to go in there now and be part of that competition.’’
Sokoli was a defensive lineman at University of Buffalo before the Seahawks drafted him with the 214th overall selection with the intention to convert him to a center.
That makes Sokoli something of a project, but Cable said this week Sokoli has made quick strides in his position switch, saying “he might even be a little bit ahead’’ of where the team thought he’d be at this point.
“It’s a big hill to climb, but I think he is doing well,’’ Cable said.
That Unger played just six games last season due to injury (though he also played in all three in the playoffs) gives the Seahawks confidence they can find a suitable answer at center.
That answer won’t come now. But Cable said it might not take all that long into training camp.
“I would say somewhere in the preseason,’’ Cable said. “When, who knows? But I think it’s going to show up pretty quickly.’’