Examining some reasons why the Seahawks may not have done as much as some people expected to add to their offensive line in the NFL Draft.
You’ve still got questions about what the Seahawks did in the 2018 NFL Draft?
We’ve got some answers, at least an attempt at some.
Here’s the first of a few mailbags over the next few days taking a look at some Seahawks-related questions in the wake of the draft.
Q: Why didn’t the Seahawks take more offensive linemen?
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A: This has been one of the major criticisms of Seattle’s draft, that the Seahawks didn’t address what many perceived to be the team’s most urgent need until midway through day three — Seattle’s only OL in the draft was left tackle Jamarco Jones at 168 late in the fifth round.
Here are a few thoughts on what that may have been:
1, Seattle did expend capital in this year’s draft on the offensive line if you consider the third-round pick it sent to Houston to get left tackle Duane Brown (as well as a second-rounder in 2019). The draft itself is far from the only way to assemble a roster — as Seattle general manager John Schneider points out often — and the Seahawks undoubtedly took having added Brown, and what they gave up to get him, into account when getting ready for this year’s draft.
In fact, if you consider the draft picks used for Brown, Seattle has used one first (Germain Ifedi in 2016), two seconds (Brown trade, Ethan Pocic) and two thirds (Rees Odhiambo in 2016, Brown trade) on offensive linemen in the last two years.
This isn’t meant as a total defense of not drafting an offensive lineman higher but instead to point out that the Seahawks have used some considerable draft capital on the OL in the past few years and the team undoubtedly took that into consideration this year.
2, Coach Pete Carroll sent strong signals several times in the runup to the draft that he likes the potential of the line they have assembled and is banking in part on experience and continuity for improvement in 2018.
While things coaches and general managers say before a draft need to be greeted with a pretty darn skeptical eye, it appears this wasn’t just lip service from Carroll.
The Seahawks appear set to enter training camp with a projected starting line of Brown at left tackle, Pocic at left guard, Britt at center, free agent signee D.J. Fluker at right guard and Ifedi at right tackle.
That’s three first-round picks and two second-rounders, which maybe can finally dissolve the whole “the Seahawks’ offensive line is nothing but former basketball players and defensive linemen’’ thing that was always a little over-used, anyway.
If the season began today, the depth behind that group would probably consist of George Fant at the tackle spots — with Fant apparently being given a chance to compete with Ifedi at right tackle in camp — Jones at LT, Odhiambo and Jordan Roos at guard and Joey Hunt at center, all acquired via the draft or free agency over the last three years.
Those who have complained that the Seahawks have been shuffling bodies too much on the offensive line the last few years are going to get their wish this year of seeing of continuity might help solve the OL’s ills. Certainly, the Seahawks seem to believe it will make a difference and are willing to find out.
3, The biggest change on the offensive line for 2018 is on the coaching staff.
One old sports bromide is that you can’t change all of the players but you can change the coach.
The Seahawks have tried changing a lot of the players on the OL the last few years. But this year they decided to change the coach — firing Tom Cable and hiring Mike Solari to take his place.
That’s obviously not new news, but it’s worth remembering. Carroll has spoken several times of the impact he expects Solari to make on the holdovers on the line. It’s thought the team thinks that Ifedi in particular may benefit greatly from a scheme devoted to more power and man blocking, as well as Pocic, who Carroll noted at the league meetings has gained about 25 pounds in the offseason.
If you’re of the belief that Cable was a huge part of the problem — and Carroll obviously was by the end since he fired him — then you have to concede that maybe Solari will make a difference.
Carroll and Schneider obviously think so, hence their willingness to ride for this year pretty much with the group they had last year.
4, The Seahawks simply didn’t have a lot of draft capital to use up high, anyway.
Okay, here’s another really obvious point. But Seattle went into the draft with just one of the top 120 picks and then made a trade to emerge with one of the first 79 — number 27 in the first round.
That means Seattle had only one chance to add a player in what is basically the top quarter of the draft — there were 256 overall picks. So the question basically becomes asking whether Seattle should have drafted an OL at number 27 instead of running back Rashaad Penny (and it’s also worth remembering that Seattle undoubtedly views adding tight end Will Dissly as essentially adding to the offensive line since his primary role will be as an in-line blocker).
And that harkens back to the debate of whether it’s a running back that makes a running game, or the offensive line.
Seattle obviously thinks the runner is important, too, and likely has looked at its own numbers from last year to reinforce that point.
While Seattle’s running game was overall one of the worst in the NFL last season, the team’s top three tailbacks — Mike Davis, Chris Carson and J.D. McKissic, who will all be back in 2018 — averaged a combined 3.9 yards per carry in 2017 (635 yards on 163 carries). That’s not far off the 4.1 league average yard per carry. It was the struggles of the not-returning Eddie Lacy (2.6 YPC) and Thomas Rawls (2.7) that contributed greatly to bringing down the total numbers.
The Seahawks likely view that as not a coincidence — that some running backs were better than others last year — and possibly, to the Seahawks, evidence that the offensive line maybe isn’t as bad as everyone else thinks it is.
Time, of course, is the only thing that will really tell.