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Praise for Joey Hunt following second career start at center

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks selected Joey Hunt in the sixth round in 2016. When the Seahawks took Hunt, he was projected to be in competition to start at center because at that point, Justin Britt was still known as a guard. Draft profiles read like this:

BOTTOM LINE Technically sound, three-year starter who plays with confidence and consistency. Hunt lacks the size and length that teams look for from draftable centers, but his football IQ, consistency and functional strength give him a shot.

Analysis: Hunt gets the most from his ability and plays smart, intense football which could help him catch on as a backup in the NFL.

Hunt is very undersized at 6-2, 295 pounds and he’ll certainly be scheme-limited. That being said, Hunt is arguably the best pass protector in this class, adeptly mirroring inside rushers and having just enough to hold up versus bull rushes. He yielded 10 total pressures over the last two seasons. In the run game though he’s much more of a controller than anything else. Some of that was TCU’s scheme and some of that is Hunt not having the brute strength to move defensive tackles. If he can go to an outside zone heavy team, Hunt can be effective.

Hunt was considered undersized with a future as a backup at center — use in case of emergency — and that’s where he came into play in Seattle’s Week 3 win over the Dallas Cowboys. But with the way he played, some are wondering if Hunt is capable of being more than a backup.

That praise was not around two years ago when Hunt made his first career NFL start. That day came in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers and the Seahawks scored just five points in the loss; Russell Wilson was sacked six times, threw two interceptions, and Thomas Rawls had 38 yards on 12 carries. This week, Wilson was sacked twice, had two touchdowns, and Chris Carson carried it 32 times. I don’t know exactly the role that Hunt played in Seattle’s success on Sunday, but the fact that they had any success at all is a positive sign for them moving forward.

Especially if they’d feel comfortable keeping Hunt at starting center moving forward.

Britt surprisingly barreled his way into the job in 2016, winning out over Hunt and all other comers, then playing at a near Pro Bowl level and signing a $27 million extension last August. Britt is one of the highest-paid centers in the league and there seems to be little chance he’ll be able to earn his $11 million+ salary in 2020. That’s likely just too much for the Seahawks to commit to the position given what we’ve seen in their history, however it still means that they’d have to pay Hunt would they want to keep him around.

That’s getting ahead of ourselves a little bit, but what does a starting Hunt mean for the team today? It could mean that when Britt (shoulder) is healthy enough to start again, would the team consider moving him back to right tackle or left guard?

I think that’s a consideration that absolutely has to be on the table, because Hunt has one start to prove that he’s also someone worth considering.