My silent reaction was so palpable that my dog sat up and took notice. He'd recently finished dinner and then passed out for a nap, but when ex-Seahawk Shaun Alexander announced the 97th pick in the NFL draft, my body language jarred the dozing pup awake.
The Seahawks had just selected Rees Odhiambo, offensive tackle from Boise State.
Many of us watching the draft reacted with varying degrees of "Huh?", "What?", and "Who the bloody 'ell??"
Although I was familiar with Odhiambo, my reaction was still one of shock because I was certain, with about 95% of the fibers in my being, that the Seahawks would take Joe Dahl, Connor McGovern, or Joe Haeg in that spot, three names that have been on our Seahawky offensive lineman radar for a while.
I sat on my couch for about five minutes pondering the selection, turning over stones in my mind to uncover some clue that I missed during the last five months of my draft-related investigations. I knew that Carroll and Schneider had interest in Odhiambo going back a while—as well as Odhiambo's offensive line-mate at Boise State, center Marcus Henry—but I had mentally crossed the native of Nairobi, Kenya off my mental list as anything other than a late day 3 or undrafted free agent possibility. Not because he's a subpar or undeserving pick, but due to other reasons I'll get into in a moment.
A bit of collegiate background on Odhiambo: He was a fifth-year senior in 2015 after redshirting in 2011, and as a freshman won the team's prestigious Ultimate Goon Award, which is apparently about being a really strong dude who lifts heavy things more than the other strong dudes. Although listed as a guard in the draft, presumably his likeliest position in the NFL due to his less-than-ideal offensive tackle measurables (6'4", 314, 33" arms), he was primarily a tackle in college. In 2013 he started eight games at right tackle, in 2014 he started nine games at left tackle, and in 2015 he started eight games at left tackle.
Sounds like he's missed a few starts here and there, doesn't it? That's because Odhiambo has dealt with injuries throughout his college career, the worst of which seem to be ankle-related. On October 24th, in a game against Wyoming, he broke his ankle and ended his season as well as his college playing career. On top of the surgery for that fracture, he's had at least one other ankle surgery, though I'm unsure of the timing on that one—possibly a year or so before the 2015 operation.
So the injuries are a concern, but those heal, and a broken ankle isn't exactly an MCL or ACL tear. I've suffered a fractured ankle and know that the recovery time is significant, but there's no reason to think Odhiambo's status for 2016 would be in jeopardy. Still, his injury history is serious enough to affect his draft stock.
And speaking of draft stock, what is it that the Seahawks seem to place a premium on for the offensive linemen (or convertible defensive linemen) whom they select? Athleticism, strength, and explosiveness, primarily measured using the broad jump, vertical jump, and bench press, as well as 10-yard split and short shuttle times.
As some have pointed out, Odhiambo didn't fare too well in most of those important measurables at Boise State's pro day, which might make him seem like a rather un-Seahawky specimen—he ran a sluggish 1.84 10-yard dash (no complete 40), a mediocre 4.69-second short shuttle, jumped only 27" in the vertical and a measly 7'9" in the broad. He did manage 23 reps at 225 lbs at the combine, which is pretty good.
But keep this in mind when judging that pitiful-looking 6.8 percentile pSPARQ score: Odhiambo has had surgeries on both ankles, including one that was repaired five months before those tests, and he wasn't at full strength. I'm not sure how Odhiambo's ankle fracture compared to Thomas Rawls' injury, but Odhiambo weighs 100 pounds more and is even more reliant on a steady, strong base than the running back in order to perform well in those drills. From Tony Pauline's pro day notes:
At Boise State, underrated lineman Rees Odhiambo, who has been hampered by an ankle injury suffered midway through the season, is expected to participate in just about everything today. Instead of running a full 40, Odhiambo will run a 10-yard split.
Offensive lineman Rees Odhiambo struggled in the testing coming off the ankle injury, but looked good in position drills. The Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers all had offensive line coaches on hand.
Pro day was a month ago, and after another full month of recovery there's a good chance Odhiambo will be ready for organized team activities (OTAs) that begin May 23.
As for the quality of Odhiambo as a player, Schneider told the media on Friday that "Tom (Cable) really felt at the end of the day that Germain and Rees were the two strongest guys that he put his hands on during the spring." There's quite a bit about this kid that they value beyond workout measurements, something raw and powerful that can be molded. But how long will the sculpting process take?
I'm skeptical about any contribution Odhiambo would make in 2016, other than spending time on the practice squad to develop. I think that Seattle would've risked waiting until the 4th round to draft him, but they traded away that pick to get Jarran Reed, and don't have a selection until their compensatory pick late in the 5th round. That was too big of a chasm to risk losing one of their guys.
I'll end this with Tony Pauline's breakdown of Odhiambo:
Positive: Three-year starter awarded all-Conference honors since his junior season. Played in 8 games last year before suffering a season ending ankle injury. Has suffered previous ankle and lower leg injuries. College left tackle with a complete game. Fundamentally sound, keeps his feet and hands active throughout the action and explosive at the point. Displays range sliding off the edge, possesses outstanding blocking vision and does a good job stopping speed rushers. Can recover or adjusts and controls opponents once engaged at the point of attack. Squares into defenders, anchors in pass protection and turns opponents from the line to open up running lanes. Effectively uses his hands and strong at the point. Keeps his head on a swivel and works well with linemates.
Negative: Does not sink his butt at the line of scrimmage. Lacks great footwork off the edge. Injury history will raise red flags and may cause Odhiambo to go undrafted.
Analysis: Odhiambo has been a reliable offensive lineman at Boise State since his sophomore season and offers versatility as well as starting potential at the next level if he's healthy.