The Seahawks didn’t make any big draft splashes on the offensive line this year. They took defensive convert Jared Smith in round seven, along with tackle Michael Bowie. That was it. Then they went to work on the UDFA’s.
Expect that to be the norm in future.
When Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010, they made the running game an absolute priority. It was going to be the teams identity. They knew they needed a feature back, a good offensive line and a highly skilled coach.
Marshawn Lynch filled the first hole. They spent two of their first three round one picks on the offensive line. And they brought in Alex Gibbs followed by Tom Cable.
They couldn’t have been any more aggressive to fix this issue. It was a pro-active assault on a problem area. The reward is a running game that’s among the best in the league plus a well coached and organised offensive line.
It isn’t, however, a line that ranks among the best in the league for pass protection. Not yet anyway.
You see, one of the great things about having a coach like Tom Cable and a running game that relies on the zone blocking scheme is the way you can pretty much plug guys in there and coach them up.
Gibbs once famously remarked that he could coach a garbage man to play guard in his system. I sense Cable shares that attitude. The Seahawks haven’t gone to that extreme (obviously) but they’ve been unorthodox in trying defensive linemen on offense with some success.
They’ve got the two vital positions nailed — left tackle and center. They don’t have an elite starter (yet) but do have good depth at guard, which is more than some teams. And this off-season they appear to have uncovered some depth at tackle.
By being aggressive early — and more importantly, hitting on guys like Okung — they now find themselves in a position of strength.
In Russell Wilson they have an elusive passer. Combine this with even greater familiarity among the starters, further coaching and experience, plus possible upgrades along the way and the pass protection ‘issue’ (if you want to call it an issue) has every chance of being solved.
NFL fans in general obsess about offensive lines — almost as much as they obsess about quarterbacks. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the right tackle position, an area James Carpenter was supposed to fill originally but it’s since been left to Breno Giacomini.
I wouldn’t expect the Seahawks to go chasing another first round right tackle if Giacomini departs as a free agent next year. I think it’d take a high quality guard to turn their head too — such as a third Pouncey brother.
What I expect we’ll see instead is a continuing search for diamonds in the rough. After all, they’ve shown they can find them.
I’ve watched the San Diego game three times and Alvin Bailey looks like a starting left tackle already. This is despite the glaring fact he’s merely minutes into his career as a tackle. Bowie also showed signs of promise. That’s a cumulative total of one 7th round pick spent on two guys I wouldn’t bet against starting for the Seahawks in the future, be it at guard or tackle (they can play both).
I suspect next year they’ll bring in another raft of raw talented linemen. They’ll let Cable do his work. They’ll seek out even more depth. And if it doesn’t work out, they’ll try even more the following year.
This appears to be the way forward, and a direction they can afford to take with Cable at the helm. Like Gibbs, he’s finding guys who fit the physical requirements for his scheme and coaching them up.
For me, it’s a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ one of his protégé’s makes a Pro-Bowl. And I expect Seattle’s line to look even better in 2013.
And we won’t have to talk about college right tackles. Hopefully.