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Battle to start at center for Seahawks likely to be heated

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

When the Seattle Seahawks report to training camp this fall, the competition for the right to be the starting center is likely to be stiff. With Justin Britt having been released at the end of April after the draft, for the first time in four years there will be an open competition for the job. While fans will certainly hope that the outcome of the camp competition at center is better than the 2015 contest to replace Max Unger, there’s still an entire summer before teams make final roster cuts on Saturday, September 5.

The favorite at this point in time appears to be free agent addition B.J. Finney, who was signed after having spent the first five years of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, that’s not to say the starting job is his, as both Joey Hunt and Ethan Pocic will be fighting for the right to lay claim to the job. What that means is that the next 97 days will be pivotal for the three frontrunners battling for the starting role.

Finney is the oldest of the three, as he’s set to be 29 in October, while Hunt turned 26 in February and Pocic will finally turn 25 in August. However, in spite of being the youngest of the group, Pocic has logged the most offensive snaps of the three, though the differences in playing time are minimal. The number of offensive snaps each has played are (including both the regular season and the postseason):

  • Ethan Pocic: 1,025 snaps
  • B.J. Finney: 1,023 snaps
  • Joey Hunt: 914 snaps

Because Finney and Pocic have seen a significant amount of their time at guard when given a chance to play, Hunt actually leads the three in the number of snaps played at center in the NFL. Whether that will prove to make any difference when camp opens in late July remains to be seen, but at this point, their experience levels all seem to be about the same. Pocic and Finney may offer a slightly higher level of positional flexibility as they are listed by the Seahawks at 320 and 318, respectively, which is closer to the size that offensive line coach Mike Solari likes from his guards. Neither carries the explosiveness or power of Damien Lewis or Phil Haynes, so they aren’t likely to be considered candidates as long-term starters for either guard spot, however, both have shown the ability to contribute when called upon in the past.

In any case, the center spot will be hotly contested, and it certainly appears that for the first time since 2011, the Hawks will have someone other than Britt, Drew Nowak or Max Unger at center for the Week 1 opener against the Atlanta Falcons.