A new season, a new offensive line, but the same old story for Tom Cable’s unit in Seattle has left many fans wondering what exactly the team does when looking to improve protection for Russell Wilson.
The zone blocking scheme has looked weak ever since the losing all 5 starters from the Superbowl 48 win against Denver, and having tried countless line combinations since then, people are calling for the head of the offensive line coach.
Cable does have responsibility for identify and developing line talent and has been given cart blanche, and has stated that he would rather coach up an athlete than chose a specific player from college football’s spread offensive game. He has had a modicum of success turning defensive tackles into guards and basketballers into tackles. In this year’s draft the Seahawks picked LSU centre Ethan Pocic with the intention of using him as a utility player as they have done before with Alvin Bailey and Rees Odhiambo.
Patience is starting to wear thin with the Seahawks fans and it lead me to ponder what might have been for the unit. A ghost draft is one which many fans like to play with whereby they will make theoretical draft selections based on how the draft actually panned out. Let’s take a look at a ‘Ghost Offensive Line’, what realistically could have been in an alternate reality.
Firstly I think we will all agree that the one player on the line who we would all keep is centre, Justin Britt. The only lineman to earn a second contract in Seattle since Max Unger has come on leaps and bounds since that dubious rookie season playing tackle.
At right tackle I would have taken a punt on La’el Collins in the 7th round of the 2015 Draft. He was a person of interest by the police at the time of the draft and slipped from potential first rounder to undrafted as a result. Personally I don’t have a problem with risking it in the 7th for players with massive question marks because the person you may draft in their place more often than not won’t make the team. Another perfect example of this is Vontaze Burfict, once projected as the 5th overall pick, the linebacker went undrafted and is now one of the best defensive players on the Bengals. In our case the Seahawks would have lost out on cornerback Ryan Murphy, now on the practice squad of his 3rd team in as many years.
My right guard is a player the Seahawks actually had on the roster for a few weeks in 2016 – Jahri Evans. Evans tried out for the Seahawks but was deemed not good enough by Tom Cable and went on to have a really good season in Green Bay resulting in his being resigned and starting in 2017. He obviously still has something to offer and his experience would be of huge benefit on the right side to Collins.
The line is shaping up nicely and I think we can throw in another youngster. In the 2015 draft the Seahawks took tackle Terrence Poole with the 130th pick. Yet again he has been through 3 teams since being drafted and is currently a free agent. The very next pick the New England Patriots took a player I saw Seahawks fans crying out for on social media, namely Shaq Mason from Georgia Tech. Under the tutelage of Dante Scarnecchia he has developed into a very good starting guard on the Patriots. Indeed Scarnecchia is developing the kind of young and cheap line which I think would be Tom Cable’s aim if only he could only get player selection correct.
For my last and most important selection at left tackle I will take you back to mid 2016 and one of the best offensive linemen of the last 10 years is available for a second round pick – Joe Thomas. Had the Seahawks traded for Thomas they would have given up the pick used on Ethan Pocic, however if this ghost-line had panned out I would argue that the need for Pocic would not be as necessary. It is also likely that they would not have been able to trade for Sheldon Richardson due to monetary constraints, they would however have been able to pick a new first round talent instead of Germain Ifedi in 2016 so it really is swings and round abouts. With that pick they could have drafted DT Chris Jones and there would be no need for Richardson.
Joe Thomas – Shaq Mason – Justin Britt – Jahri Evans – La’el Collins.
Of course this is all a dream, but it does demonstrate how 4 simple and very achievable moves would leave the team looking incredibly different and so much stronger.