When the Seattle Seahawks take the field for Week 1 of the regular season, there is little question about who the starters will be on the offensive line. From left to right, barring injury, it is likely to be Duane Brown, Damien Lewis, Ethan Pocic, Gabe Jackson and Brandon Shell. That doesn’t mean there is a shortage of question marks for the position group, however, as both age and contract status could play into how the team handles things going forward.
Specifically, as of right now Brown, Pocic and Shell are all set to be unrestricted free agents after the 2021 season, with both Brown and Jackson set to be in their 30s this season. Now, that’s not an immediate concern, as Jackson won’t turn 30 until next Monday, and Brown has been laughing at any and all age concerns for several years now. That said, 30 is the age at which things went downhill quickly for former Seattle guard Mike Iupati, while Brown is at an age where a lone injury could bring about the end.
That said, there’s no way to know which of the members of the starting group may or may not face injury this season, leading the discussion to the team’s depth. While Seattle is light at positions like linebacker, running back and tight end compared to seasons past, the offensive line room is bursting at the seams. Beyond the five projected starters the Hawks have the following who will be competing during training camp:
- Brad Lundblade
- Kyle Fuller
- Phil Haynes
- Jared Hocker
- Pier-Olivier Lestage
- Jordan Simmons
- Jake Curhan
- Stone Forsythe
- Tommy Champion
- Greg Eiland
- Jamarco Jones
- Cedric Ogbuehi
That’s a dozen names likely competing for four or five spots on the 53 man roster and another two or three jobs on the practice squad. Ogbuehi, Jones, Simmons, Haynes, Lundblade and Fuller bring the advantage of some level of game experience at the NFL level, while Forsythe is a sixth round pick who many believe might not make it through waivers should the team decide to attempt sliding him to the practice squad.
That said, the Hawks tend to carry nine or ten offensive linemen on their 53 man roster, with the five backups typically a swing tackle, a swing guard, a backup center and then a player or two who can fill in at multiple spots. That last bit could certainly be a help to Jones, who has played both guard and tackle during his time with Seattle, but whose lack of athleticism could translate to him being a poor fit in the team’s new offense.
That said, the other member of the line who could benefit both from experience at multiple positions and from past playing time is Fuller. Fuller spent time with the Houston Texans in 2017 and the Washington Football Team in 2018, which could give him an interesting leg up on the other players with whom he is competing. Specifically, prior to joining the Seahawks as offensive coordinator this offseason, Shane Waldron had coached for three separate NFL teams. The first of those is, of course, the division rival Los Angeles Rams, while prior to that he coached with both the New England Patriots and Washington.
Washington is where he met up with current Rams head coach Sean McVay, but it is also where he coached under Jay Gruden, who was still the coach and still running his offensive system in 2018 when Fuller played there. Similarly, while it’s certainly true that Fuller never played for the Patriots, in Houston he played under Bill O’Brien, whose role prior to being hired by the Texans was at Penn State, but prior to that he was on the offensive coaching staff for the Pats from 2007 through 2011, specifically right alongside Waldron in 2008 and 2009.
Fans, of course, are very likely to be most intrigued with the new and unknown in Lestage, while the additions of seasons past such as Lundblade, Haynes and Champion have lost their luster over the course of being unable to unseat the likes of D.J. Fluker, Chad Wheeler and others who have seen the field over them in recent years.
What it all comes down to is that the Seahawks don’t have a lot of questions about who will be the starting five on the offensive line, but they do have a whole boatload of questions about who will be providing depth in case injuries do happen.