NFL Draft 2013: OL Hugh Thornton scouting report

USA TODAY Sports

If the Seahawks had a consistent weakness along the offensive line in 2012, it was at guard, where James Carpenter couldn't stay healthy, Paul McQuistan and John Moffitt were liabilities in pass protection, and J.R. Sweezy was simply too raw (and understandably so) to solidify a starting spot.

While there are plenty of bodies allocated to the guard position, there simply isn't enough athleticism outside of Carpenter and Sweezy to make me comfortable with the long-term prospects of the current depth, and the Seahawks would do themselves well to look for versatile, athletic and physical linemen that they could upgrade the current group with.

One of those linemen that I really like between rounds 4 and 6, as a potential depth fit at both guard and tackle, is Hugh Thornton out of Illinois. Thornton spent most of 2012 at left tackle, but has significant experience at guard as well, and fits the tough, athletic and physical mold that Tom Cable loves. He could even slide over and play right tackle (something the Seahawks don't have any long-term depth at currently), or play on the left side in a pinch.

Here's my breakdown on him:

Hugh Thornton
OL
Illinois
#72
0604 310 5.18
Oberlin, Ohio
Oberlin High School

Positives: Thick, powerful frame with good arm length. A natural bender, who establishes a solid base routinely in pass protection, and utilizes lower-body leverage extremely well against longer, taller defenders. Exhibits powerful, heavy hands on contact, and does a good job of keeping his frame clean by extending his arms consistenly. Displays impressive upper body strength to ragdoll and toss defenders aside at the point of attack. Possesses lateral fluidity and agility to close off the edge, and redirects with some suddenness to thwart the quick counter move. Targets decisively in space and possesses good burst to lead the 2nd level charge in the run game. Squares up nicely on the run and displays flexibility and suddenness to adjust to defenders coming from various angles in space. Plays with a bit of a nasty streak, and fights to the whistle. Is a versatile lineman with experience at guard and tackle.

Negatives: Will get anxious and overextend at times off the snap. Leads with his shoulder and will drop his head when engaging defenders in space. Lacks the ideal height and length for a prototypical NFL tackle. Will get too upright in his kick-slide taking him out of position to utilize leverage on contact. Will stop moving his feet when asked to hold position, leaving him susceptible to being thrown aside or pulled to the ground.

Compares To: Sean Locklear, OT, New York Giants - Thornton, like Locklear, may not possess the ideal frame to play tackle at the next level, but his physicality, flexibility and natural athleticism help him to compensate. A probable mid-round selection with starter upside.

Seahawks Fit: Athleticism upgrade at both guard and tackle, with competitive opportunity for a starting guard position by mid-first year, among Seattle's current group of OGs.

(Thornton is #72 playing LT)

You can find more of Derek's analysis at his Seahawks-centric draft, free agency, & pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." Head over and bookmark it - he maintains a really great free agent tracker in addition to his Draft focus that is much more in-depth than most places because of his background doing deep scouting of NFL Draft prospects.

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