If you had asked me this just 24 hours ago, I would be as adamant as can be that Seattle will select a guard with their first (or second pick if Earl is moved) in the upcoming draft. But I really thought about it last night while lying in bed, trying to work out the possibilities. Much to my wife’s pleasure, this isn’t an infrequent occurrence…
Here’s what’s throwing me…
With the addition of DJ Fluker, I’m adamant he is a strict right hand side player only, I am also taking a bit of a U-turn on Fluker to RG and Ifedi to RT but not because I think Fluker would necessarily play better at RT, it has more to do with believing Ifedi would be better at RG. I managed to convince myself that Ifedi probably can step away from his north/south style and become a genuinely good right tackle with the correct coaching. He is still raw and has picked up some bad tricks from Tom Cable. On passing downs, every single time he would drop back to the exact same stop, every time. Every single time…That’s on coaching. So with Ifedi being pencilled in at right tackle, that leaves both starting guard spots open.
Pocic to left guard and Fluker to right guard, yeah? Possibly, but I’m not sold. A lot comes down to what type of scheme new offensive line coach Mike Solari comes up with. If it’s a zone blocking scheme of similar irk to Tom Cable’s system, Pocic may stand a chance, but if Solari decides to look at the overall group and think this team would be best utilized as a power run scheme (he should, because that’s pretty much what this group is) that kind of leaves second year player Ethan Pocic in a somewhat sticky situation.
He is absolutely not a fit in a power run scheme in my opinion, despite all the Seattle media coverage guys saying Pocic has bulked up to 322 pounds this off season (think that figure is correct), I’m still not convinced he will be starter material this coming season, although I wouldn’t rule out a comeback in 2019. He is very much more of a technician than a straight up mauler and his best role in 2018 may be providing valuable backup insurance all the way across the line for when (not if) injuries occur.
I also don’t buy the Jordan Roos hype train that is slowly starting to develop. He did grade out slightly better than Pocic in pass protection last season, however it was over a very small sample size (48 total offensive snaps). I don’t see him ever developing into anything other than a serviceable backup at best, and that’s fine. It is what it is.
There are, of course pros and cons to going guard early, namely –
This draft is very strong at interior offensive lineman
Seattle arguably has a gaping need at LG
Putting a rookie guard in between Duane Brown and Justin Britt is the most favourable rookie position on the line, having those two guys able to bail him out when needed will be very much welcomed
It does potentially put Pocic into a backup role, not ideal given he was drafted in the second round only last year
It would be yet more draft investment into the offensive line
Seattle has needs all over the roster, it could be used in other areas
At this point there really isn’t a right or wrong way to look at it. Both Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez could go in the late teens/20’s of the first round, Austin Corbett and Braden Smith in the second and Wyatt Teller in the third. I suspect a lot may come down to if Earl is moved and what the total compensation of the trade would be. If they could net a first rounder for him it would set the draft board up perfectly to address guard, running back, free safety and defensive end by the end of day two, but a lot needs to happen and go in Seattle’s favour for that to happen. I wouldn’t say it’s unlikely, but I’m not sure I’d be prepared to bet money on it.
Another consideration is George Fant. Some have said he could step into the starting right tackle spot putting Ifedi on the bench. Personally, I really don’t see this happening for a number of reasons. Firstly, Ifedi was not as bad (from a play ability, putting his penalties to one side) as many will have you believe. He has become a bit of a scape goat for this line over the last year or so. If he can nail down his penalties and improve certain traits that he has picked up, I’m confident in believing he could be better than average in a year or two and at least average this season. He’s got a lot of good fundamentals and was a really solid lineman in college, Cable has just had his wicked way with him but I’m hedging on Solari being able to fix that. If he does, I’d expect a similar jump we saw with Justin Britt. Based on that, I see George Fant as the primary backup to Duane Brown which wouldn’t be a bad thing. Given Browns age, having valuable insurance at left tackle could be a godsend.
Given Seattle’s current stable of lineman being pretty ‘position flexible’ I would be far from shocked to see them carry one less guy on the 53 man roster than they have done historically, that spare roster spot would most likely stay with the offense and probably be used to carry another running back given their woes last season at the position.
Having spent countless hours thinking about it, writing and reading back the points I’ve made in the article, I think my summary is this –
If Earl is moved, they will go lineman and running back early. (you may be thinking what about FS in the draft, that position could be covered by a couple of guys with an early third round pick, expect a trade up)
If Earl stays, they will go running back early and run with what they have on offense.
Given those situations, I have the following lines pencilled into my head going into camp –
With an Earl trade –
LT – Duane Brown
LG – Isaiah Wynn/Will Hernandez/Austin Corbett
C – Justin Britt
RG – DJ Fluker
RT – Germain Ifedi
Without an Earl trade –
LT – Duane Brown
LG – Ethan Pocic
C – Justin Britt
RG – DJ Fluker
RT – Germain Ifedi
Pete Carroll has been very open about his commitment to the run and there’s no evidence to suggest he is lying, it’s a core part of his philosophy, after all. For that reason I am going to stick to my initial feeling that Seattle will move Earl and the first two selections will be either a RB followed by a guard, or a guard, followed by a RB depending on how they predict the board falling. I can also say I am 100% confident Ronald Jones II will be their number 1 running back on their draft board. Whether he falls to them is a different matter altogether, though. I’m finding it much harder to predict which guard would be their number 1 choice between Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez, though. It could well be a case of 1A and 1B with those two and wouldn’t be shocked if either were picked by Seattle despite both being still on the board.
As a finishing piece, if you want to see DJ Fluker tossing one of the greatest pass rushers to the ground (Von Miller) and then immediately picking up a second rusher you may enjoy this clip...(he is wearing #76 and playing RT