When the Seahawks consider which offensive linemen to draft, the broad jump is the single most important test they consider.
Allow me to present the evidence.
“The broad jump expresses horizontal power, which is more specific to football motions than vertical power. Vertical power helps you go up for a ball, bat down passes or hurdle defenders; horizontal power helps you cover the full 5300 square yards of the ironed grid. A pure acceleration step expresses horizontal power.”
Since 2012, the Seahawks have not drafted a single offensive lineman that has jumped less than a nine-foot broad jump:
Mark Glowinski — 9-5
Terry Poole — 9-5
Kristjan Sokoli — 9-11
Justin Britt — 9-3
Garrett Scott — 9-7
Ryan Seymour — 9-2
Jared Smith — 9-7
J.R. Sweezy — 9-5
Glowinski and Poole ranked joint first among offensive linemen at last years combine in the broad.
Garry Gilliam, an undrafted free agent and now possible starter at left tackle, also jumped a 9-5.
Alternatively, since 2012 the Seahawks have not selected any of the 15 best O-line performers in the short shuttle or three cone at the combine.
It doesn’t look like a coincidence.
For the Seahawks’ O-line: Explosion >>> Agility
The selection of Justin Britt in 2014 was a surprise because he wasn’t on anyone’s radar as a second round pick. The Seahawks, seemingly enamoured with upside and athleticism, took a player who ran an 8.14 in the three cone and had a 4.69 short shuttle — both terribly mediocre results.
For that reason it was assumed Britt was merely a ‘Tom Cable guy’. A prospect Cable simply liked irrespective of any athletic profile.
This likely wasn’t the case at all. Britt performed well in the one test that seemingly really matters — the broad jump. He recorded a 9-3 at his pro-day.
It was revealed this week that Cincinnati offensive tackle Justin Murray has visited the VMAC for a private workout. He managed a 9-8 broad jump at his pro-day. That would’ve ranked #1 at the combine this year.
Like Britt, Murray basically performed really well in only one test. He had a tremendous broad jump but performed poorly in the short shuttle and three cone:
Three cone: 8.14
Short shuttle: 4.69
Vertical: 27.5 inches
Three cone: 8.01
Short shuttle: 4.79
Vertical: 29.5 inches
If you ever wondered why the Seahawks zoned in on Glowinski, Poole and Britt — the broad jump gives you an answer.
So what is the likely reasoning for their focus on one particularly explosive test?
Jason Spriggs had the best broad jump by an offensive lineman at the 2016 combine with a 9-7. Fifteen defensive line prospects beat that mark. Fifteen.
It’s another key example of the athletic discrepancy between the defensive and offensive prospects entering the NFL. Sheldon Rankins and Jonathan Bullard — two big DE-DT hybrids — jumped a 9-10 and a 9-8 respectively. Both beat Spriggs’ mark.
If you want to know why the Seahawks focus on measurables — and ultimately why we spend a lot of time talking about them — there’s your answer. If you’re expecting a guy who only jumps an 8-0 like Evan Boehm to play center against a defensive lineman who explodes to the tune of a 9-10 in the broad — you might have a problem.
So much of the O-line battle is based on that first-step explosion and power. Moving people off the LOS with a sudden, explosive movement is key (especially if you want to run the ball effectively as the Seahawks do). The broad jump is a good test of a players ability to do that. Agility is a nice bonus — but if you can’t move people off the line, what difference does it make?
This is likely why the Seahawks are keeping Kristjan Sokoli at center — with his 9-11 broad jump. Sokoli’s mark for an offensive lineman is outstanding. In reality, he’s only as explosive as Sheldon Rankins.
Unfortunately there are barely any O-liners in college who can say that. And that’s why the Seahawks are looking at defensive converts.
So considering the Seahawks have consistently drafted good broad jumpers since 2012 and have not prioritised the best performers in the agility tests — what does it tell us about the 2016 class?
As we noted, the Seahawks haven’t drafted anyone with a sub 9-0 broad since 2012. Here are the players that beat that mark at the 2016 combine:
Jason Spriggs — 9-7
Halapoulivaati Vaitai — 9-5
Brandon Shell — 9-4
Joe Haeg — 9-3
Alex Redmond — 9-3
Joe Thuney — 9-3
Cody Whitehair — 9-2
Germain Ifedi — 9-1
Joe Dahl — 9-1
Connor McGovern — 9-1
Jake Brendel — 9-0
It’s worth taking into account size with these numbers. Germain Ifedi jumped his 9-1 at 324lbs. Alex Redmond is 294lbs, Joe Thuney 304lbs and Jake Brendel 303lbs.
Le’Raven Clark recorded a 9-1 in the broad at his pro-day. Shon Coleman has not performed any tests so far due to injury.
Here’s a list of ‘big names’ that failed to crack 9-0 in the broad jump (the full list would be much longer):
Jack Conklin — 8-7
Ryan Kelly — 8-7
Taylor Decker — 8-5
Jack Allen — 8-5
Joshua Garnett — 8-3
Christian Westerman — 8-2
Nick Martin — 8-1
Evan Boehm — 8-0
Sebastien Tretola — 7-6
I’m not prepared to state firmly that the Seahawks won’t draft Conklin, Kelly and Decker in round one based on one test. Yet Seattle’s recent draft history would seem to indicate that could be the case.
Spriggs, Ifedi, Whitehair and Clark might be the most likely O-line targets at #26. That’s with the caveat that Carroll and Schneider haven’t drafted an offensive lineman with sub-33 inch arms (Whitehair would be the first).
Haeg, Dahl, McGovern and Thuney could be potential targets in rounds 2-3.
We can probably forget about Martin, Garnett, Allen, Boehm, Tretola and Westerman.
It also means a prospect like Justin Murray, with his explosive 9-8 broad jump, could be preferred on day three to some of the bigger name prospects in rounds 1-3. Keep an eye on any future VMAC visitors and how they performed in the broad.