The Seahawks’ tackle group will look different in 2020, after a free agency period with considerable turnover at the position. Former starting right tackle Germain Ifedi signed with the Bears, while George Fant signed a big-money contract with the Jets. Former New York tackle Brandon Shell was added, presumably to replace Ifedi, and former first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi was signed as well. The two newcomers will join Duane Brown, entering his age-35 season, who remains locked in at left tackle.
The uncertainty at right tackle, as well as Brown’s advanced age, makes offensive tackle an interesting position of need and a potential target anywhere in the draft for Seattle.
Day 1: Isaiah Wilson
Wilson is one of a handful of tackles residing in the second tier, vying to secure a day one slot behind Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton and, presumably, his teammate Andrew Thomas. (On the Tuesday edition of Daniel Jeremiah’s podcast, Move The Sticks, Jeremiah said he was told some teams expect Wilson to be selected ahead of Thomas. That seems unlikely.) After the top four, any of Wilson, Ezra Cleveland, Austin Jackson or Josh Jones could be the next to go and for this exercise, it’s Georgia’s Wilson who lands with the Seahawks. Recently, Wilson has begun to build momentum in the lead up to the draft.
I talked to 2 GMs in last 24 hours and both believe UGA OT Isaiah Wilson will go in the 1st round. That’s too rich for me but it looks like it’s going to happen. Betting on the upside.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 6, 2020
At 6-foot-6, 350 pounds with arms reaching 35 1/2”, Wilson has the hulking size and tremendous length sought after by Mike Solari in Seattle. Though Wilson struggled in pass pro with the Bulldogs, in the running game he displayed moments of dominance. He can blow defenders off the ball, clear alleyways at the point of attack and was not uncomfortable pulling in front of a tailback.
Though Wilson is susceptible to getting beaten by speed off the edge and short-area quickness on inside rushes, he does use his length and size extremely well. In one-on-ones, he succeeds when he can land his strike and keep the defender opposite engaged. Wilson won a lot of reps simply by walling off pass rushers with superior size, and so he will need to take to coaching to refine his pass protection in the NFL.
A natural right tackle, Wilson can be a day-one starter for the protection-needy Seahawks, fitting seamlessly into what they want to do upfront, with room to grow.
Day 2: Matt Peart
UConn’s Peart is one of the most intriguing offensive line prospects in the entire draft, measuring in at nearly 6-foot-7 and 318 pounds with 36 5/8” (99th percentile) arms. Peart played both sides of the line for the Huskies, starting at left tackle before switching to the right side. Peart looks at his best in space, whether it’s dropping into a pass set, pulling in front of a tailback or climbing to the second level in the running game.
Though currently, Peart is much better in pass protection than as a run blocker, his upside is what makes him such an appealing prospect. In a pass set, once he latches onto the opposing defender with his great reach, he can steer them wide or wash them out of the play. That type of physical dominance hasn’t yet translated to the running game—he lands his punch first but isn’t able to drive defenders off the ball. If his run blocking can catch up with his pass protection, Peart would have the potential to be a high-level starter.
Still raw, Peart has the body type to transform into a dominant tackle in both phases if he can round out his game and he would bring a skill set and physique not replicated on Seattle’s roster. In the middle of the draft, his upside will be well worth betting on.
Day 3: Charlie Heck
The son of a five-year starter for the Seahawks between 1989-1993 (Andy Heck), Charlie Heck is the type of developmental tackle prospect Mike Solari will desire towards the back of the draft. Coming in just under 6-foot-8 (6075) and 311 pounds, he has the type of size and length consistent in offensive line additions under Solari. Just Peart, Heck has experience playing both sides of the line and could be seen as competition on the right, or a developmental prospect on the left.
Heck is a solid run blocker already, much stronger when engaged than the similarly sized Peart. His ability to seal out the backside and execute combo blocks could see him used a jumbo tight end, should Seattle look to replicate the role that George Fant filled so consistently over the last two seasons. As a firm day three prospect, Heck is unlikely to ever iron out his troubles in pass protection or develop into a long-term starter. He does, however, possess the physical profile the Seahawks want—if they’re going to attempt to draft and develop, Heck fits the bill.
With Ifedi and Fant both replaced at least in numbers, Seattle may not need to press to find a year one contributor at tackle. However, the way the tackle group is stacked will allow the Seahawks to have their choice of a few high-ceiling, starting-caliber prospects if they do choose to go that direction. Otherwise, a developmental prospect should be sought after, and there will be several who fit Seattle’s preferences for the position.