Potentially the most important thing the Seattle Seahawks will learn over the next three months is who their starting left tackle will be for next season. That decision will most likely move the dominoes for every other offensive line position except for center, and if the left tackle next season is at least decent, then it will make everyone else’s job easier — especially Russell Wilson.
After the signing of Luke Joeckel first seemed to imply that 2016’s majority starter, George Fant, could be going back to the bench, early reports in OTAs are strongly suggesting that there may actually be continuity at left tackle. Would that be a good thing?
When asked about how he went from being a basketball player at Western Kentucky with fewer than 10 snaps for the football team as an offensive or defensive player to being the starting left tackle for the Seahawks, Fant called it a “right place at the right time” situation; I don’t know if “right” is the word most Seattle fans would have used. Fant unsurprisingly struggled as an undrafted free agent rookie who was only months into his training as an offensive lineman, but the Seahawks didn’t have any options that were better and the ones they had that were at best equal - Bradley Sowell and Garry Gilliam — didn’t have the potential of Fant.
Potential that a lot of people are starting to believe is about to pay off in a major way.
First guy Pete mentions when asked about second year guys they think will make a big jump is George Fant— Nathan Ernst (@NathanE11) April 29, 2017
Fant showed up to OTAs at around “320 or 321 pounds” after playing at 296 last year, according to him. He did so by eating more, working out, and he also has been regularly consulting with Hall of Famer Walter Jones. In recent pictures, he looks more like a young Shaquille O’Neal. The muscle mass added onto the frame is more evident than a guy just adding 25 lbs of fat.
In his press conference on Wednesday, Fant talks about adding the weight, but as far as how the extra poundage is helping him, notice how he mentions his hands.
Here was George Fant talking yesterday about how lots of lifting and his mom's cooking helped him gain about 25 pounds this offseason: pic.twitter.com/WU6Y2D36pg— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) June 7, 2017
“I definitely feel it physically, with my hands,” says Fant.
Now watch Coleman Crawford’s breakdown of George Fant from last season and notice that the first thing he mentions is that Fant is consistently losing at the point of contact with his hands, including placement and clearly strength, as Fant is getting pushed back against edge pressure over and over again.
Fant’s first season as an offensive lineman, in his life, came at the highest level for one of the NFL’s very best teams, blocking for one of football’s top quarterbacks. The only two reasons he had the opportunity at all were that the Seahawks had no good options, and he’s one of the most incredible athletes at the position in the game. The problem was horrible technique, but former teammate Forrest Lamp, a second round pick this year, says that can still be taught.
Forrest Lamp on George Fant:— Tony Blakeley (@Cyoplasm) April 27, 2017
People ask me about him like it's a bad thing. Tremendous athlete. Can be taught technique. WKU proud of him.
If Fant earns (not defaults) the job as Seattle’s left tackle, then Pete Carroll gets his preferred left guard (Joeckel) and that side of the line starts to look okay. We’ll see what happens with Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, and the rest of the lot, but perhaps much of the burden falls on the shoulders of Fant. With his bulkier frame, and hopefully improved technique of how to use it, that won’t be an area of constant concern for the Seahawks next season.