James Carpenter will be plugged in and play on Day One, either at guard or tackle. This versatility and pro-readiness is why I feel that the Seahawks were high on him. And more importantly,while I believe that Carpenter will play guard, he projects well at the pro level even at left tackle.
At six-foot-four and three-eighths of an inch, three hundred twenty-one pounds, and a thirty-four inch arm reach, Carpenter has good size and frame, but he is not the most physically gifted tackle in the class; he's not the most fluid or agile athlete, but has good body control and coordination for a 320+ pound man, and is a superior leverage blocker.
I watched the Alabama games against Florida, Arkansas, and LSU, games that should provide enough of a sample size and an accurate insight into Carpenter's game. I watched every play, rewinding most of them, and wrote down my thoughts in simple notation form, which you will see after the jump. He graded out very well, in both pass protection and run blocking.
Carpenter is an above-average pass protector and an even better run blocker. He is not a technician, nor is he a mauler; Carpenter is, as I said, a superior leverage blocker, one with a powerful base. That is, he wins at the point of attack because his position and leverage, relative to his man, is lower in height consistently and he moors himself firmly.
While Carpenter doesn't have bulk in his legs, he has a powerful, powerful base in his hips and knees, which allows him to sponge up strong impact upon contact, and he has the overall body power to push guys off the line of scrimmage. And while Carpenter isn't naturally concaved, and he doesn't possess a naturally bent knee, his knees however, are constantly bent in his movements.
In pass protection, I generally see him getting off the line quickly, if not before his man, but quick enough that he loses no advantage to his man. He mirrors well and keeps his feet active. He doesn't often dominate his man, in the sense that he would toy with him, but he will very frequently win positioning on him; he very rarely loses to his man. He could do with playing with his hands higher, rather than at his hips.
In the run department, he doesn't maul his man two or three yards off the line of scrimmage and throws him to the ground, which is rare anyway, but he rarely ever loses ground and generates push consistently. As a tackle, he created outside lanes for the running game very well, stunting forward progress of his man and controlling his man either to the outside or the inside, a fact that Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson enjoyed while achieving tremendous success in running the ball.
Here is where Carpenter graded positively:
- Solid hand placement skills when engaged. Gets them inside and high often enough.
- Knees consistently bent, even in motion.
- Consistent arm extension.
- Quick enough response off the snap, but not elite.
- Superior leverage blocker; just does not get pushed back, nor does his man get leverage on him.
- Powerful base.
- Mirrors and shadows very well. Rarely loses on the edge.
- Can play with hands either off the ground or on the ground.
- Shoulder pads and head is usually directly underneath his man's, which assists in leveraging, especially in the run blocking department.
- Maintains balance when engaged.
- Absorbs contact very well, won't lose ground very often.
- Maintains engagement.
- Assignment correct.
- Very good lateral agility.
- Generally plays to the whistle.
- No injury history in which he missed games because of injury.
- Downs his man quickly in short yardage.
- Active feet.
- Creates room for rushers.
What I don't like:
- Average arm length; not a deal breaker, but I like long arms on tackles.
- High stance; if he plays guard, he's going to need to be lower off the snap than his man.
- Not great in open space.
- Can lose to guys who are faster off of the line than he is, which is important for him, as he needs to establish leverage as quickly as possible.
- Can be late in finding his block on the second level, even though he gets into the second level quick enough.
- Needs to get his hands up higher in pass protection, not at his sides.
- Willing, but marginal cut blocker.
- While his hand placement is often good, he needs to stop putting his hands on the outside of pass rushers on the edge; it's done enough that it's a point of concern. He allowed a sack because of this in the Arkansas game.
- Sometimes misses inside the pass rush off the snap against weakside pass rushers in the B gap, which I've found was due to his anticipation than skill; I've counted four against Alabama, and two of them against LSU, though none of them achieved a sack, and only one of them ever factored (which was against Drake Nevis).
- Not the quickest in getting to the edge.
Peter Carroll has stated a desire to improve the running game. They appear to have just done that. While that may be the case, they still need another interior lineman, if not another right tackle. They could still address the O-line later in the draft. Lee Ziemba is a prospect that they've had in for a visit, and he may be an option in the later rounds.
Going forward, if the Seahawks don't further address the O-line in the draft, they have options in free agency, though it remains to be seen what they can and will do in free agency since they likely won't be able to sign anyone until they lose one of their own free agents.
I think they should make re-signing Chris Spencer a priority.
At the moment, I can see Carpenter being placed at left guard if the Seahawks feel comfortable with putting Max Unger at right guard and Stacy Andrews at right tackle, provided that they re-sign Spencer.