It’ll be reassuring to any Seahawks fan concerned about the offensive line that this is a decent class at every position.
Plenty of tackles are going to go early — and once they’re gone there isn’t much left. Laremy Tunsil, Taylor Decker and Ronnie Stanley almost certainly won’t make it to #26. Jason Spriggs’ expected performance at the combine could push him into the top-20. Jack Conklin still figures to go in round one and Shon Coleman deserves a first frame grade.
A rush on the position could lead to a high upside project like Le’Raven Clark going earlier than he probably should. Germain Ifedi is likely to get bumped up too. After that the best option might be Ole Miss’ Fahn Cooper and Nebraska’s Alex Lewis.
The Seahawks could feel obliged to take a tackle in round one if they lose Russell Okung. If they fear a day one rush they might have to come up with a different plan — either finding a way to keep Okung or signing a veteran replacement.
If they pull this off they can focus on another area in round one (D-line, linebacker, cornerback or even running back) knowing there are plenty of interior options to come in rounds 2-4.
I hadn’t had the opportunity to check out Arizona State left guard Christian Westerman until today. He needs to be added to the watch list.
There is a slight caveat. Westerman’s calling card is gritty athleticism, not size and power. The Seahawks have generally gone for his type at right guard. Whether they re-sign J.R. Sweezy or promote Mark Glowinski — it’s one of the positions where they at least have some kind of an answer. The same can’t necessarily be said for left guard (Justin Britt struggled) or right tackle (they might need to move Garry Gilliam to the blindside).
I’m not sure how open they are to starting a different type of left guard. Generally they’ve gone for converted tackles with major size and power — signing Robert Gallery, moving on to James Carpenter, trying Alvin Bailey and then settling on Britt. Terry Poole was drafted to compete at guard last year and he’s listed at 6-5 and 307lbs — a considerable difference to Britt (325lbs) and Carpenter (321lbs).
Westerman’s tape hints at a player that might be worth serious consideration at left guard — even if he’s only 6-3 and 296lbs. So why might they look beyond his size?
For starters he’s a good athlete and a former major national recruit. He generated interest from all the top schools — Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas and USC. He committed to Auburn before eventually transferring home to Arizona State.
You can tell he’s an athlete — his back pedal and set is very good and he anchors well off his back foot. He loves to get to the second level and unlike many prospects — knows how to lock on and make a block. He also appears to sit well in his set as a natural knee bender.
Westerman’s a good wrestler in a phone-booth and knows how to contain. You don’t have to block a guy for five seconds or put him on the turf to win — sometimes a subtle turn is enough to create a lane. He also has very busy feet in pass protection.
There is an edge to his game. Against USC he drove a DL to the ground and finished. He pulls very well as you’d expect given his mobility. Westerman gets that initial jolt at the POA and turns the defensive lineman.
I’ve seen his power questioned in places but I didn’t see any evidence of that. He seems to have excellent upper body strength and his ability to get movement off the LOS is no worse than most of the top-tier prospects in this class. Is there a lack of a big initial punch? Yes — but that’s not really any different to the Martin’s, Kelly’s or Whitehair’s.
Need convincing about his natural strength? How about this:
I can bench just over my own body weight. The thought of benching 315lbs makes me want to cry. Even if you think he’s not showing a comparable level of game strength — you know the potential is there.
On the downside there wasn’t any real evidence of a successful combo block. Conklin and Tretola do this very well, getting initial contact before quickly moving onto a second target. If you execute well here you can create wide open lanes and make a lot of money in the pro’s. It’s an area Westerman can improve and a reason why Conklin and Tretola will interest a lot of teams.
There were a couple of occasions where he adjusted to a stunt or blitz — you don’t often see this level of recognition in college. Having read up on Westerman after watching the games he’s been praised for his work ethic and technical awareness.
Length isn’t an issue (33.5 inch arms) and there’s plenty of upside here. He might not be a converted tackle with massive size but his attitude, athleticism and strength will be appealing. He’s not an overachiever in college who made himself great — he’s a former four-star recruit who always expected to perform.
Scouts Inc are grading him in round four and Tony Pauline has him in round five. From what I watched today I think he’s destined to rise after the combine, possibly into the second or third round.
If the Seahawks don’t address the offensive line in round one — or even if they do — there are good options to fill out the interior beyond the first day. Westerman could be an outsider for the #56 pick and if you can get him any later than that — consider it a high-upside steal.