It’s well advertised that this is a bad year for offensive tackles. At a time when NFL teams (not just the Seahawks) are desperate for quality linemen, supply has never been weaker.
Alabama’s Cam Robinson frequently is placed in round one but his technique in pass pro is sloppy, he’s not the greatest athlete and he has character flags that need to be investigated. Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey insists he won’t turn pro at the end of the season. Temple’s Dion Dawkins is a solid all-rounder but arguably lacks the freaky athleticism to warrant a first round mark.
Yet the idea of no first round offensive tackles is so foreign, it’s worth continuing to look for an emerging star.
It could be this guy.
Utah’s Garett Bolles looks the part physically and on tape. He has an interesting backstory and he plays with a nasty edge. He could be destined for the first round and could be a player the Seahawks show interest in.
Seattle will go into the off-season needing further improvements to the O-line. Bradley Sowell is unlikely to be a long term solution. George Fant has the high ceiling to possibly emerge as a starter but Garry Gilliam hasn’t taken a step forward and Rees Odhiambo isn’t pushing anyone as a rookie.
At the very least a new tackle would be challenging to start on the right side, if not the left.
GM John Schneider talked openly about ‘being the bully’ again this year. Selecting an enormous, edgy offensive lineman (Germain Ifedi) and a nasty, brutish defensive tackle (Jarran Reed) were a signal of intent. Even so, after seven games they are not the bully. It’s not really close so far.
Unless that changes, this is likely to be the focus again for 2017.
As I’ve been going through draft eligible prospects I’ve tried to find players that possess a mean streak. The Seahawks are always going to look for unique traits and twitchy athleticism — but I sense they also want ‘edge’ more than ever. Junkyard dogs. We saw that with Ifedi and Reed.
Garett Bolles matches this profile perfectly.
So who is he?
Bolles has a backstory similar to Bruce Irvin’s. According to this piece in the Salt Lake Tribune he had a troubled upbringing, got involved in drugs and was arrested for vandalism.
His dad kicked him out and he ended up living with another family. They laid out some strict ground rules and he took a job in garage repair. He turned his life around (now married and expecting his first child) and then turned his life to football.
Like Irvin, Bolles joined a JUCO college. He played for Snow College and received four and five star ratings for his performances.
According to Rivals he received interest from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Oregon and USC. He originally committed to BYU before switching to Utah.
He’s starting at left tackle in year one in the PAC-12.
Bolles might not declare for the 2017 draft but he turns 25 in May. If he wants to max out his draft stock he might need to consider going pro immediately. Tony Pauline suggested over the weekend he will consider the NFL if he has a chance at cracking the first round.
So what about the fit in Seattle?
The Seahawks don’t appear to be overly concerned about age having drafted Irvin in his mid-20’s. They love players that have battled adversity and ‘lived’ — showing grit to accomplish success. As we’ve discussed, they’re likely to be looking for nasty, mean, physical types with great size (6-5, 300lbs) and athleticism.
Bolles ticks every box. The grit, the backstory, the physical profile, the mean streak.
Here’s the Utah vs USC game. Bolles is wearing #72.
Here’s what I see from him:
— Superb balance and ability to set in pass protection, lock on and finish
— Nasty edge as a blocker, will dump players onto the deck and play through the whistle
— Fantastic leg drive in the run game, capable of locking on and blowing defenders off the LOS to create running lanes
— Smooth kick step that could still use a little refinement but he’s plenty agile and looks like a plus athlete
— Defenders unable to shake him once contact initiated
— Has shown the ability to get to the second level, locate and connect with a linebacker
His age and physical maturity could be playing a part here. A 24-year-old will often dominate a 19-year-old so that has to be taken into account. Yet you see the full package here — strength, length, minimal body fat despite his size, aggressiveness, wants to finish blocks and play to the whistle, productivity in the run/pass game, a good kick step and mobility/balance.
He could genuinely work himself into the top-20 picks given the dearth of talent at LT. If the age factor and his previous run-ins with the law work against him — he could be the kind of physical tone-setter the Seahawks are looking for and a valuable option at left or right tackle.
When I do my next mock draft, Bolles will likely be paired with the Seahawks (although he could easily warrant a place in the top-20).