Questions about Jarran Reed and Germain Ifedi, and Nick Vannett and the tight end spot, in our latest Seahawks Twitter mailbag.
Time for another round of Seahawks Twitter mailbag questions (and a reminder that you can ask more at any time at @bcondotta).
Q: @jaysondemers asks: Who looks better over the long term? (Jarran) Reed or (Germain) Ifedi?
A: That’s a really tough one to answer yet. For one, comparisons aren’t clean and easy since the two play what are obviously pretty different positions. For another, as every coach will tell you over and over, it’s especially hard to know what you have in linemen until the pads go on and real hitting begins.
What we do know is that each is being ticketed for a starting role this seaon — Reed as the replacement at nose tackle for Brandon Mebane and Ifedi as the starter at left guard, a spot that opened when Justin Britt moved to center.
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That Seattle appeared to get great value in Reed, picked at No. 49 overall when some thought he could be a mid-first rounder, has led to a lot more praise for that selection than for Ifedi. Ifedi went 31st overall, about where most saw him going, with Seattle then shifting him quickly from tackle to guard, which in the eyes of some took a little shine off the pick (tackles tending to be valued more highly than guards).
But if Ifedi comes in and holds down the right guard spot, thereby also allowing the team to stick with some of the other moves it has made on the offensive line, and if the line then plays well enough during the season, then he will have done what the team was hoping for in picking him.
Offensive line play can be particularly hard for outsiders to assess, and especially so for a team like the Seahawks with their zone blocking scheme, which emphasizes tandem blocks. We simply need a lot more time to judge anything about the line and how the Seahawks plan to go about it this season.
Reed has a little more of a specific role — as a nose tackle in run downs, likely coming off the field in passing downs — so in that regard his progress may be easier to judge this season.
What will help make the pick of Reed look even better is if he shows some pass rush ability. That was the knock on him coming out of Alabama. One thing the Seahawks have said is that Alabama was so deep up front they could afford to take Reed out in many passing situations, meaning he simply didn’t get as many chances to rush the passer as he could have.
The obvious hope for the Seahawks is that each plays well enough that in three years the question is how much they are going to cost to keep around for a second contract.
Q: @DMcCoy80 asks: Just how good is Nick (Vannett)? Enough to leap frog Luke Willson? Keep hearing how impressed coaches are with him.
A: I hate to keep playing the “we need more information’’ card when it comes to questions about the rookies. Really, I do. But we really do need to see a bit more before making huge conclusions, especially for players such as Vannett, for whom blocking will be a big part of their responsibility.
That said, you are correct that the coaches are high on Vannett (here are some of coach Pete Carroll’s comments about him when he said, among other things, that “he’s exceeded our expectations a little bit.’’)
I think what Vannett has shown so far is that he will undoubtedly be one of top three tight ends on the roster and definitely in the rotation at that spot — the Seahawks routinely have three tight ends active on game day.
Because the Seahawks do use multi-tight end sets so much, in some ways the question of where Vannett is on the depth chart isn’t as relevant as simply being on it when the regular season rolls around. Consider that Willson got 41 percent of the snaps last season and Cooper Helfet got 23 percent. So if Vannett is now the third tight end then he’ll be on the field enough to make an impact regardless of if he is technically playing ahead of Willson or complementing him.
One of the bigger questions might be what happens with Helfet, a player who went from being a tryout player in the rookie mini-camp in 2012 to playing in 14 games last season and starting both of the playoff games (when the Seahawks began in two-tight end sets).
How the tight end depth chart breaks down will obviously be hugely impacted by Jimmy Graham and his recovery from a patellar tendon injury. If he is ready to go for the first game, as Carroll has said, then the Seahawks could have a tough decision there.
If not, then they should at least be pretty comfortable at that spot with Willson and Helfet now having played enough to be considered veterans, and Vannett coming on.
More critically may also be how Vannett’s progress plays into what the team does with Willson after this season as this is the final year of his rookie deal and he can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.