Ben Ain't Too Good to be True

Seattle signing former Pro-Bowl left guard Mike Wahle in February of 2007 seemed too good to be true. Wahle was scheme correct, came on the cheap and, on paper, instantly upgraded Seattle's offensive line. Seattle squeezed about half a season out of Wahle. It started well, but ended predictably. Sando's scout was right: His shoulder was just too far gone. Too good to be true = too good to be true.

The Ben Hamilton signing was not met with the same kind of hope-starved optimism. Ham fighter didn't have any fancy hardware and he wasn't an "instant upgrade" or "too good to be true." The snark machine ate up quotes about veteran presence and leadership and shat out sarcasm. It's fitting then that Hamilton has a chance to fulfill the promise of Wahle.

Hamilton hails from NFL Europe. Represent. He was too small. Too thin. Too slight. Always. Always. Too something.

Which is kind of true. Mass can't be denied, and Hamilton is only massive compared to you or I and maybe not you, tubby. Watch and he looks like he's always torquing to contain a defender. It looks painful. It looks precarious. You can understand how the appearance-fixated NFL might shy from Ham fighter and his power forward frame. That's the nature of NFL coaching: incestuous. Ideas baffle into nonsense. Players are assessed through a catalogue of trusty biases. If you're 230 pounds - to the Eastern Hemisphere with you.

Actually, Hamilton wasn't 230 in 2001. I don't think. Excuse the rhetoric. Ben was about 250 by then. Hamilton was 230 during the recruiting process. He auditioned for current Rams line coach Steve Loney, then offensive coordinator of the Iowa Hawkeyes, and Loney was skeptical. 230 is awfully slight. I mean, I challenge assumptions, but I've a friend that wore that without looking like a fat ass. It's not a ton of weight for a modern man. It's not a ton of weight for a tight end. It's not a ton of weight for a wide receiver.

Hamilton persevered. He signed with the Golden Gophers and started as a freshman. Loney took over as offensive coordinator in 1998 and Hamilton earned All-America honors the next two seasons. He wasn't a AAAA talent per se, but it would take the right scheme for sure. Drive blocking: No. Purest of the driven snow zone blocking scheme: Yes.

Ham fighter excelled with the Berlin Thunder and was recalled by the Broncos prior to the 2002 season. He started at left guard but like a zone blocking fairy tale, took over for venerable center Tom Nalen after Nalen crash-landed on the moon. Hamilton blocked for another too-small talent: Clinton Portis. Portis was a rookie, and as such, things started a little slow. Shorty struggled to top 1,500 yards rushing and averaged an inept 5.5 yards per attempt. Pissant.

After the interesting angles were spent and new shiny things caught the public's fancy, Hamilton settled into a steady gig at left guard. He started 16 games the next four seasons until a concussion cost him all of 2007. He returned in 2008 and started 16 games. Josh McDaniels' master plan cost Hamilton his position and eventually his job.

You'll be happy to know then that Hamilton is not too good to be true. Or maybe you'll be skeptical. Or maybe you'll see in me the uncle that promised you a Big Wheels but arrived with a hostile grin and Matchbox car wrapped in ten boxes of packaging, and thus know only hate for me and my terrible words. But, nevertheless, Hamilton looks like the real deal Holyfield.

Amassing some tape for my coming breakdown of the Jeremy Bates offense, I was able to do some brief and inconclusive scouting of Ham fighter. Here's the gist in fifty words or less: Moves well, squares and meets defenders in space, ability to latch on and turn, deceptive strength, positions rather than pushes, slows rather than stops the bull rush, ability to land multiple blocks against the blitz, always on the verge of a holding penalty. He is a quality player that needs to be a in a zone system to flourish, but is perfectly suited for the scheme and does in fact quietly kick ass in Gibbs' ballet of bullies.

Hamilton is 32, two months from 33, and Seattle signed him to a one-year contract. That might be an admission from the Seahawks FO and Ham himself that we're nearing the end. Offensive linemen tend to age gracefully and Hamilton is the type of lanky, athletic lineman that could continue strong for a few years to come. We'll see. Until then, Seattle has its best left guard talent, especially as a run blocker, since Wahle and should, should, should, enjoy its best season by a left guard since you know who. Ass face.

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