In my armchair GM series of posts I gave you a glimpse of what I think the Hawks should and could do at each position once this blasted lockout mercifully ends. The offensive line's issues have been well documented and it doesn't help of course that the Hawks used something like 10 different combinations there last season. The Hawks invested heavily at the position in this year's Draft by taking James Carpenter in the first round and John Moffitt in the third. They project as starters on the right side, tackle and guard respectively. Max Unger, a second round pick from 2008, is the presumptive starting center and of course Russell Okung will be the blind side protector at left tackle.
This leaves the left guard position unofficially vacant. Last season we saw Tyler Polumbus, Ben Hamilton, Chester Pitts, Chris White maybe..., uh, Mike Gibson I think.. some other guys probably. I don't remember. Tyler Polumbus played pretty well there considering he's more of a tackle. Hamilton and Pitts were both battling injuries last year and shouldn't really be counted on moving forward. Chris White is a veteran. Mike Gibson is a little undersized but played pretty well on the right side so he could be in the hunt for the starting job.
Everyone pretty much assumes that Robert Gallery will be signed when the lockout is over and that would be great. He'd bring a veteran and hard-nosed presence to the line and could coach up the rest of the guys on what to expect from Cable. Unger could lean on him for more than just advice in calling changes and diagnosing the defense. Gallery's addition could potentially be exponentially positive for the Hawks.
If he is not signed however, all is not lost. Marshal Yanda would be an attractive target; Davin Joseph is young, mean and would start on day one. After that, Evan Mathis is an option and Khalif Barnes is a former Tom Cable disciple that should be on the Seahawks' radar.
Here's what we got:
On the Roster:
Tyler Polumbus (RFA)
Right now the Seahawks seemingly have four out of five positions on the line locked down (more or less). The depth is another story. First off, you have to solve the problem of who is going to play left guard. I think the most obvious option is to bring in Gallery but save for that option, Davin Joseph, Harvey Dahl, Justin Blaylock, and Evan Mathis would all be pretty great additions. Remember those names in free agency as it rolls out.
As for current Seahawk free agents, I really hope they re-sign OT/OG Ray Willis and Tyler Polumbus. Effective and dependable for the most part at both guard and tackle positions. Ray Willis has that nasty in him and could mesh well with Cable. He'd push the guys in front of him. Polumbus was acquired last season for a 2012 6th round pick so they better retain him. He played some spot duty at left tackle and didn't suck there, and he was pretty good at guard as well. Overall, he's a great backup and as a starter he can get the job done. Admittedly he's not all world but he's a good player to have on your team and could develop into a very good starting player.
Chris Spencer started all 16 games at center for the Hawks last season and would be a great re-sign candidate. Unfortunately it doesn't really seem to be in the cards. Unger will need an insurance policy at some point and I can't think of a better choice than Spencer.
As for the UDFAs, there are actually some really good candidates there as well. OT Willie Smith, as I wrote previously, is a two-time All-Conferance USA offensive tackle and is an intriguing prospect because of his raw athleticism - he excels in lateral agility and pass blocking and has the power to run block. He lacks experience on the offensive side of the ball as he switched from the defensive end spot after his freshman year. He's 6'5, 300 and according to his CBS Sports Draft Profile has one of the highest ceilings of any offensive tackle in the draft. He's got long arms and strong hands but is raw and needs to be coached up on some bad habits. He possesses the physical attributes to make it in the NFL though, so I could see the Hawks taking him at this point as a flyer and hoping that his athleticism will translate to the next level.
Connecticut's Zach Hurd is an imposing physical prospect at 6'7, 325 that excels on the run and was a real road-grader for the Huskies his last few seasons. A team captain, All-Big East selection his senior year, he's extremely durable and plays with tenacity and a ferocity. This can also be his downfall as he struggles at times with his football instincts. If Tom Cable feels that he could be coached up on some of the intricacies of the ZBS, Hurd could be a good prospect, considering his athleticism and ability to drive block while keeping his pads low off the snap. The Seahawks have lacked any ability to move the defensive line off the snap in the past year or two so a powerful guard like Hurd could be attractive to this front office.
As long as we're beefing up the interior line with Big-10 linemen like John Moffitt, why not invest in some depth with a guy like Justin Boren. At 6'3, 320, he's a powerful drive-blocking guard with a chip on his shoulder. Just looking at pictures of this guy, he looks mean and I could see Cable warming to him. He's violent off the snap and has strong hands; he's good in the run but also shows ability to hold up against the bull rush. Even the typically condescending and critical writer for the NFL combine profiles gives him high marks and states he'll likely start at guard in the NFL. Puts in good effort and plays with a mean streak.
Missouri C Tim Barnes is physical, agile, and adept at getting to the next level to block. Barnes could be a good fit in the ZBS due to his combination of mobility and size. He's 6'4, 300 and played center at Missouri but could possibly bump over to guard if need be. Good flexibility and football intelligence, and excellent upper body strength.
The guy I could most see the Hawks zeroing in on is USC center Kris O'Dowd. O'Dowd will be possibly one of the more sought after offensive linemen once free agency starts. He was originally projected to the mid rounds, anywhere from the 3rd round on. He most likely fell out of the draft altogether due to his history with injuries and surguries, but he has a strong connection to Pete Carroll so could very well be on the Seahawks' radar to bring in for depth and/or to compete for a spot. He's got good size for the interior line at 6'4, 303 and has long arms to use for leverage against defenders. He's a good anchor against the bull rush and is athletic enough to play either guard or center. With Max Unger in the mix for center but lacking any true depth there, O'Dowd would be a cheap talent to bring in for depth and could really surprise some people by winning a starting spot. He'll need to stay healthy, but at this point he's a low-cost risk for the Hawks.
You've got four out of five spots accounted for in Russell Okung, Max Unger, John Moffitt, and James Carpenter. You've got solid backup players in Stacy Andrews, Tyler Polumbus, Mike Gibson, Paul Fanaika, Breno Giacomini, and Chris White. Will Robinson, Caz Piurowski and Paul McQuistan are question marks. In my Armchair GM series, I kept James Carpenter, John Moffitt, Max Unger, Russell Okung, Tyler Polumbus, Mike Gibson, and Breno Giacomini. I re-signed Chris Spencer and Ray Willis.
I went out in free agency and signed Robert Gallery and Evan Mathis. I signed Kris O'Dowd, Willie Smith, and Justin Boren in rookie free agency. This was just my guess at what might happen but I really have no idea what the end product will look like. Fanaika, Giacomini, McQuistan, Piurowski, Robinson, and Jeanpierre are almost unknowns and I have no idea what they can bring to the table but I wouldn't count any of them out of the race, knowing Pete's mantra.
I think there's a lot of talent left in rookie free agency and I know this team is trying to get younger so I expect they'll sign two or five of those guys.
I would assume Robert Gallery will be approached. If he has exorbitant demands, other avenues will be taken but I would think they'll try to sign at least one free agent to compete for the left guard spot. Possibly two in order to bolster their depth. It will truly be one of the most interesting parts of the roster to watch during camp and preseason.