I didn’t think Charles Cross was a top-10 pick. I made that case before the 2022 draft, to the chagrin of his pre-draft coach Duke Manyweather who tried to start a pile-on for merely suggesting he wasn’t a blue-chip prospect.

I wasn’t alone. Daniel Jeremiah ranked him 23rd on his top-50 big board. Others felt the same. I gave him a second round grade with the feeling he deserved to go between picks #20-40. The league felt very differently and I recall speaking to someone in personnel days before the draft who guaranteed he’d go between picks #8-11. So it proved.

I thought Cross’ play strength needed major work coming into the NFL and while he undoubtedly had excellent feet enabling him to move in a way untypical of men his size, his testing results were mediocre. He wasn’t an explosive tester, nor did he have exceptional length and size.

His best testing feature was a good forty time (4.95) but he only jumped a scary 26 inch vertical and his agility testing (7.88 three cone and 4.61 shuttle) was nothing to write home about. He was 307lbs at the combine and had 34.5 inch arms.

My fear was that he would have plenty of reps where the footwork is good and he gets into position to make effective blocks. However, against the better pass rushers, there would always be a danger that he’d be overpowered or simply too passive. Cross was never an aggressive blocker — often getting into position then engaging. Personally I just prefer linemen who get after it and seek to be the alpha/dominator in 1v1’s. Abe Lucas did that in college and in his rookie season and it’s one of the reasons why I gave him a first round grade. Cross might have the athleticism to shift into position but if he can’t sustain blocks or if he just gets blown off the ball, he’d give up pressures and sacks. Neither was run-blocking considered a strength.

Watching Cross get dominated by Sam Williams in college then seeing the act repeated in the NFL pre-season was concerning. Mainly because Williams, while a good athlete, is hardly a Nick Bosa level talent. In both games, Williams was very much the aggressor in their matchups.

After two years of Cross I have concerns. I voiced them a few weeks ago and was pleased to see others do the same thing. There’s almost this assumption among fans and media that Cross has been a success or is the answer at left tackle. The jury is out in a major way. He was a top-10 pick and frankly, this is a make or break year for him. You don’t take players in the top-10 to be ‘OK’. They need to become cornerstone players.

I’ve talked about this on PuckSports and with Hawkblogger on the roundtable over the last week. However, something else motivated me to write an article about this today.

PFF published a piece ranking the top-32 offensive tackles in the NFL.

Cross wasn’t even included.

That says it all really. It shows that after two years, he’s trending towards being a disappointment. It’s all the more galling when you realise that the player ranked fifth on the list — Christian Darrisaw — was taken with one of the first round picks Seattle used in the Jamal Adams trade.

PFF’s list isn’t the be-all and end-all and neither is it a definitive statement on Cross’ career. However, it does show that he needs to get things going this year. Something has been made of the recent social media video showing him throwing a medicine ball further than other players on the team. Witnesses have suggested he looks bigger at OTA’s. I feel like we heard all these things 12 months ago. Now I want to see someone who isn’t just a +300lber with good feet. I want to see a player who is taking a leap towards being a top NFL tackle.

Ryan Grubb and Scott Huff’s Washington lines set the tone. The fact they took Christian Haynes in round three suggests that’s the style they intend to bring to Seattle too. This might be a god-send for Cross’ career because they’ll likely ask him to play with a different mentality. They’ll likely light the fire others failed to create.

That’s the positive to cling to here. Yet Cross has to take the opportunity and grasp the nettle. If I were them, I’d send him the link to that PFF article. Are you happy just being a former first round pick? Or do you want to have a great career? Do you want the big money-spinning second contract?

The Seahawks need Cross to be the answer at left tackle. They don’t currently have a long-term franchise quarterback or a Bosa-level edge rusher. They were able to pick a left tackle in the top-10 they hoped would be the answer for an era. So far it hasn’t happened. That has to change in 2024.

More aggression. More play-strength. More performance.