Let’s get right into this one. We all know how terrible of a game Bradley Sowell had against the Arizona Cardinals, then he hurt his knee in the fourth quarter which turned out to be a sprained MCL. Now he’s going to be out for at least a few weeks. George Fant came into the game as his replacement, with zero meaningful NFL snaps. Other than in the preseason this year, Fant has had zero, I repeat zero, experience playing left tackle, not just in the NFL, but in playing football. Period.
A quick look at what the Seahawks have in the now presumed starter at left tackle.
Fant is a 6’5”, 296 lb rookie out of Western Kentucky. He played basketball in college and one year of football as a tight end. He was the 13th all-time leading scorer for the men’s basketball team at Western Kentucky. It kind of makes you wonder why he didn’t try to make it in the NBA rather than the NFL.
At his pro day he ran a 4.83 forty yard dash and had a 37 inch vertical. At 296 pounds. That doesn’t seem humanly possible.
Per Zach Whitman over at 3sigmaathlete.com, who we’ve seen some great work from, Fant was the #3 rated SPARQed up OL in last years draft. He had a pSPARQ score of 131, z-score of 2.3 and was in the 98.6 percentile in the NFL.
Needless to say, the dude is an athlete among athletes. Heck at 6’5” with a 37” vertical, split him out wide and throw him the jump ball.
Ok well we all know what Seatle has in Fant now: A VERY raw, VERY athletic lineman.
Now let’s get to his performance against the Cardinals.
Here’s a grading refresher.
On to the tape!
Only 25 plays, but definitely enough to see what Fant can do.
Let’s take a closer look.
Play 1: Pass to Doug Baldwin for 10 yards
First off, he faces off against #55 Chandler Jones pretty much almost every snap.
Here, it’s play action to his side. He’s using good technique, squares him up and keeps moving his feet. Pushes Jones all the way off the screen!
Play 3: Pass incomplete short middle to Baldwin
After starting off with two good plays, he has an ugly one. His initial kick step is good and slides to get in position and mirror Jones, however, he lets Jones engage first and get into his pads, and easily disengages. Both him and Mark Glowinski fail here and both Jones and Calais Campbell hit Russell Wilson ... hard.
Play 10: Pass short right to Jimmy Graham
Play action to his side again. Great run technique, squares up and moves his feet and just dominates Jones.
Play 11: Pass short middle to Graham
Fant follows up the previous great play with a terrible one. Here he just whiffs. He starts off well, slides out and is in position, but he doesn’t engage well. No initial punch and is more trying to “catch” Jones here.
Play 12: Christine Michael left end for 6 yards
Great play, then a poor play, followed up by another great play. We haven’t had this all year at left tackle...push in the run game. Squares up defender and keeps driving. Great technique.
Play 14: Michael up the middle for 1 yard
Another great block in the run game. Just watch his feet. Here Sowell would get in position and and just anchor.
Fant was very inconsistent, but did show off some impressive play. He had a 42% Field Gulls Grade and a 50% KiSS grade. I’d say that is spot on. He looked great in the run game and generated a lot of push, but still struggled mightily in the passing game. In the passing game, he obviously still has a lot of work, but he definitely shows that he has the tools.
- Tom Cable has already starting working his magic with Fant. His strength is run blocking, which to some might be a surprise. With how athletic he his, it’d be easy to think he’d be more proficient at pass blocking rather than run blocking.
- Pass blocking: Fant has all the tools to succeed. His first kick step and slide is great and looks smooth. Every time he was in position. Where he lacks is his hands. He does not deliver an initial punch and doesn’t extend his arms, making it too easy for defenders to knock his hands away. He needs to keep his hands away from his body. For a former basketball player, he should be able to catch on, similar to playing defense with his arms extended.
- With Fant in the line up, there’s going to see a heavy dose of running the ball against the New Orleans Saints, which is just what the Seahawks offense needs right now.
- If George Fant gets extended playing time this year as the starter and continues development, I don’t think Seattle has to draft a lineman in the first couple rounds next year. The strength in the next draft class is pass rushers, defensive back, some linebackers, and running backs. His development will be huge for how John Schneider spends his draft capital next year.
- Fant has a very high ceiling, and honestly his floor isn’t that low. He’s just starting out learning the position. If his pass blocking can match his run blocking, you’re looking at Pro Bowl potential.
Jimmy Graham continues his impressive blocking display. On three different occasions he had great blocks. He leveled Chandler Jones on a chip block, knocked Patrick Peterson on his back, then on a counter pulling as the lead blocker, took out 2 defenders. Those were only 3 plays out of the 25 reviewed evaluating Fant.