Coming out of the NFL Combine, one name that is starting to get a lot of attention for the Seahawks' pick at 26 is Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi. Fellow Field Gulls contributor and SeahawksDraftBlog's Rob Staten first mocked Ifedi to Seattle, and then wrote about why he thinks he's a fit for the Seahawks.
The logic leading Rob and others to link Ifedi to Seattle is sound. Ifedi has some of the longest arms of any prospect at 36 inches, a critical measurement for anyone wanting to play tackle in the NFL. He was also a top performer at the Combine among his position group, with his 111.1 SPARQ putting him in the 75th percentile of offensive linemen in the NFL. It's well known that Seattle has favored athletic offensive linemen under Pete Carroll and Tom Cable.
Combine all of that with Seattle's need for offensive line help, and you can quickly understand the interest in Ifedi. The only question remaining is when does Seattle look to pull the trigger? To answer that we'll look to the game tape.
We'll start with the good. Ifedi is a big, strong dude with anacondas for arms. When everything is clicking he does things like this...
...and also this...
When he brings his A-game, Ifedi is capable of dominating. The problem is that Ifedi's D and F game is on display far too often, for several different reasons.
Let's start with Ifedi's ability to get leverage on a defender. In the trenches, the low man wins, but Ifedi finds himself standing upright far too often.
Ifedi's assignment here is simply to seal the end to the outside, and he's got a huge advantage with the end lining up well outside of him.
Ifedi isn't able to execute this simple block though because, instead of putting himself in a position to kick out the end, his first movement is to stand nearly straight up. The defensive end, whose initial step is to the outside, is able to get inside Ifedi's body and cross his face. The play is dead on arrival due to a botched hand off, but Ifedi's man would have otherwise been in a position to make a tackle.
Ifedi is lined up as the left tackle in an unbalanced set here, but it's otherwise a very similar play to the previous one. Ifedi has won by alignment, needing to only seal the defensive tackle away from where the running back will follow the pulling guard to his left. But again, Ifedi's first move is to stand upright. The defensive tackle gets his hands inside Ifedi's chest and chucks him to the side, putting himself in position to make a tackle at the line of scrimmage.
Just another example of Ifedi getting upright and the defender getting underneath him with his hands inside his chest, allowing the defender to easily shed the block and pursue the ball carrier.
Another problem that Ifedi has is lunging or leaning on defenders.
If you've ever been confused by the phrase "out over his skis", this is what's being talked about. Instead of keeping his feet moving and driving into the defender, Ifedi stops his feet and lunges. He's now dependent on the defensive end to keep himself on his feet, and when the end slides out from under him he winds up on the turf.
Ifedi drops his head and leans out over his center of gravity, neutralizing his own length and sliding off the defender allowing backside pursuit.
Dropping your head and lunging is bad enough in normal situations, it's death in space.
This time in pass protection.
And one more for good measure.
Another bad habit that Ifedi has in not keeping his hands up in pass protection.
Ifedi does a good job here in his drop step, but watch how long it takes him to get his hands up. They stay down by his knees until the defender engages with him, when it's already too late. The end gets underneath Ifedi, driving him backwards and dropping him right in the quarterback's lap.
Here, again, Ifedi mistimes his punch. This time, instead of giving up a bull rush, he is unable to redirect the speed rush up the field and past the quarterback.
By now I'm sure I've crashed most of your browsers, so I'll cut the gifs off there. If you'd like, you can watch any of these games over on DraftBreakdown and find additional examples of the problems called out above.
Considering these issues, evaluating Ifedi as a first round pick is pretty questionable. Of course, you don't have to be a perfect prospect to go in the first round. But Ifedi isn't like other uber athletic but flawed offensive linemen that might slide to the bottom of the first. When you look at Indiana's Jason Spriggs, another SPARQ'ed up (80th percentile) offensive tackle frequently linked to Seattle's first pick, you're mostly looking for growth in a single area when projecting his upside . For Spriggs, that's improving his strength. The same was true of Jake Fisher last year (who tested in the 95th percentile and was drafted 53rd).
But that's not the story with Ifedi. If you're an offensive line coach looking to grow Ifedi's game, you're going to need to fix three or four distinct problems. He has the raw talent to give him a high ceiling, but his varied bad habits make it hard to see him reaching it.
Many Seahawk fans, both desperate for offensive line help and confident in Cable as an offensive line guru, may be willing to gamble based on Ifedi's physical talents alone. But is that a gamble worth taking at 26? Let's look at some players who measured similarly to Ifedi to get an idea.
There are obviously some caveats to this list. Brandon Thomas was coming off an ACL tear, no one considers Ifedi to be the same caliber prospect as Greg Robinson, and Ifedi is obviously better regarded than a player like Tyson Chandler. But only two players, Greg Robinson and Donovan Smith, were taken before where Seattle will pick in the second round this year. Considering the depth of the defensive tackle class, another position of significant need for Seattle, and not knowing who might fall, it's hard not to see a potential selection of Ifedi at 26 as a reach.