Lots of questions about the offensive line in our latest mailbag.
Time for more questions.
A: More than another year? Can’t say I can say that yet.
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What I can say is that we’ll have a really good idea what the team thinks Ifedi’s future is a year from now.
That’s when the Seahawks can exercise a fifth-year option on Ifedi’s contract, as a first-round pick in 2016. Seattle hasn’t had to think about a fifth-year option for a couple years as it didn’t have first-round picks in 2013, 2014 or 2015.
But Seattle will face that decision a year from now on Ifedi.
What Seahawks fans should hope will happen is that Ifedi plays well enough that the team wants to pick it up.
And in that sense, I think 2018 is the most critical year for Ifedi’s Seattle career.
Ifedi has been a lightning-rod of fan criticism after a spotty 2017 season when he moved to right tackle and led the NFL in penalties with 20, nine for a false start.
But the team’s plan is for Ifedi to stay at right tackle. That doesn’t mean he will be handed the job — the Seahawks are going to give George Fant a long look there, too. But the Seahawks also seem to be indicating that the job is Ifedi’s to lose.
While the penalties were an obvious blight on Ifedi’s season, the word around the team is that coaches graded Ifedi more favorably for his overall play than the penalties might indicate.
The other thought is that Ifedi could benefit from the change in offensive line coaches from Tom Cable to Mike Solari more than anyone. Most scouting reports on Ifedi before the draft noted his size and power. But that’s something that some think was muted a bit in Cable’s scheme, which predominantly used zone blocking, which often called for Ifedi to move more laterally than straight-ahead, and which is also been said as a reason for some of his false starts — he was thinking too much about getting out wide at the snap, something he may not have to do as much under Solari.
If all that holds true, then maybe this is the year Ifedi breaks out. For now, it’s probably best to view Ifedi and just about every Seahawk on a one-year-at-a-time basis given the suddenly precarious nature of just about everything with this team.
A: For now, the first team offensive line appears to look like this — left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Ethan Pocic, center Justin Britt, right guard D.J. Fluker and Ifedi at right tackle.
Fluker sat out Thursday’s OTA with a knee issue and Ifedi also appeared somewhat limited. Fant also is not practicing yet as he continues his rehab from an ACL injury last August.
So with Fluker out, Jordan Roos worked with the first team at right guard. The right tackle with the ones with Ifedi and Fant out was Willie Beavers — rookie Jamarco Jones appeared to be spending most of his time at left tackle backing up Brown and Isaiah Battle, who is also a backup tackle, also was not participating.
That a few guys were siting out made it harder to ascertain what the second OL would be right now.
If everyone were healthy, though, I’d assume it would be Fant at right tackle, Rees Odhiambo at right guard, Joey Hunt at center, Roos at left guard and Jones at left tackle. Intriguingly, Marcus Henry — a recent free agent signee listed as a center — appeared to be playing right guard on Thursday. And I think the backup guard spots loom as more competitive than tackle — Fant seems a given to be on the roster and Jones will be hard to keep off if he shows much of anything in camp. Hunt is also in an interesting spot since he plays only center — gameday roster construction makes it somewhat tricky to get a player who is only a center on the active roster as a backup. As is always the case, though, expect lots of shuffling in the lineups throughout OTAs and training camp.
A: He could. He played tackle in college. But the Seahawks view him for now as a guard. And as mentioned above, the Seahawks appear for now set on letting Ifedi show he can be the right tackle, with Fant as competition there. Jones could also get looks at both sides.
One criticism of the Seahawks has been that they kept moving their offensive linemen around too much the last few years. At the moment, Seattle appears to be going the other way — trying to let young players such as Pocic and Ifedi stay where they were last season and hope that the experience they gained, along with what is now a new coach and a new set of eyes assessing their play, will allow them to thrive.
As has also been reported quite a bit, Pocic has put on about 25 pounds or so in the offseason, size the team thinks will help him be more effective inside.
A: No to both. OTAs are voluntary and it’s common for players to miss some of them for any number of reasons. Since they are voluntary, players cannot be fined for them. And as such, while hold out is a somewhat arbitrary term, I don’t think anyone considers missing OTAs as holding out.
But mini-camp on June 12-14 is a different story. That is mandatory and teams can fine players for missing it — up to $84,435. (but again, that’s something the team CAN do and not something it has to do).