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Preseason Performers: Offensive Tackle Jake Curhan

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Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks opened up the 2021 preseason with matchups against the Las Vegas Raiders and the Denver Broncos, and we got our first glimpse of some players who will have the opportunity to take the field again for the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts on September 12th. We also got to see many more who will not. In this sad reality, we sometimes overlook outstanding individual performances in exhibition contests, and sometimes even the most exciting standouts in the preseason fail to crack the active roster when September rolls around. So today I will be focusing on an unheralded player who stood out and made an argument for themselves to land a roster spot. As such, we will be taking a look at undrafted rookie Jake Curhan, the tall and talented right tackle and former Cal Golden Bear who shares an alma mater with Marshawn Lynch.

The Background

While the Seahawks offense generally looked perpetually stuck in first gear throughout their initial contests, Curhan is hardly to blame for the dysfunctional protection and substandard running lanes. While the line has looked a few different kinds of out of sorts, the UDFA out of Cal looked technically sound and has demonstrated good field awareness while sustaining his blocks with decent mobility, replete with the capability to get downfield and reach the second level. While Stone Forsythe was obviously the more talked about rookie heading into the August, Jake left Vegas and returned to Seattle looking much more prepared to take on the professional level. And apparently, some folks thought pretty highly of him heading into the draft, as well.

First a little bit of history; per Colby Patnode of Seahawks Maven:

“The Seahawks set out to improve both the impact and depth of their offensive line this spring and snagging Curhan as an undrafted free agent adds another interesting piece they’ll be keeping their eyes on in the coming months. Curhan was a four-year starter for the University of California, making 40 starts at right tackle over his career. Like many college football players, Curhan’s 2020 was cut short due to the pandemic, and he even missed two games after testing positive for COVID-19, limiting his opportunities to improve his draft stock. Still, most agreed that Curhan carried a draftable grade, thanks to his good size and adequate athleticism. But he has issues playing with leverage and needs to improve both his footwork and hand technique to have a shot to carve out a career in the NFL, and a heart condition served as the final nail in the coffin for his draft hopes. That aside, Curhan is still an experienced lineman with the size, length, and strength to give him a chance at the next level.”

According to Curhan’s athletic and physical profile — per Dane Brugler’s draft guide — he comps very closely to Los Angeles Rams starting right tackle Rob Havenstein. Though he isn’t a straight line speedster, he has enough explosiveness and short area quickness to succeed in Waldron’s scheme; according to his NFL draft profile, Curhan was considered a priority free agent, and as noted above, he could have been a likely late round selection if not for the health concerns. And he very much looked the part last weekend. In reviewing the weekly highlight reel, there are a good handful of plays where his capabilities were on display.

The Film

Below is a list of plays that stood out to me where Curhan looked like the best player on the offensive line in Las Vegas. The time in parentheses represents where exactly within the video you can locate each play.

  1. Q1 7:00 (1:59-2:30): back-to-back good blocks on first drive in 1st quarter
  2. Q2: Sustained good blocking throughout quarter 2
  3. Q3 12:30 (6:31-6:46) Powerful strides with enough force to push the whole pile on an outside zone run to the opposite side. Curhan moves like a bowling ball and takes out damn near the entire Las Vegas d-line at the end of the play.
  4. Q3 6:21 (8:39-8:50) Good downfield blocking; Quick release to get upfield and put a body on linebacker Javin White.
  5. Q4 14:17 (9:40-9:00) Decent speed and effort on WR screen at Q4 14:17, although he will need to work on his angles if he is going to compete in a Waldron offense at the pro level.
  6. Q4 6:55 (10:36-end) Moved to RG for the latter part of the 4th quarter. Continued to show good awareness and ability to sustain blocks as an interior lineman as well.

While not all of the plays listed ended up positively for the Seahawks, Jake can clearly be seen doing his job and doing it well. Interestingly enough, PFF rated Curhan quite poorly, assigning him a sub-50 score — the worst of all Seahawks rookies — while looking much more favorably on exciting youngster Stone Forsythe. This simply doesn’t mesh with what I saw either weekend, as I frequently found the rookie out of Florida struggled to maintain the necessary level of consistency to hold down a starting — or even primary backup — position.

I have yet to sit down and review Curhan’s performance in its entirety from the Saturday night snoozer against Denver, but on a quick run-through, he looks similarly competent and rarely loses his man in pass pro. For example, on the Seahawks opening drive, he had a nice block on talented rookie Johnathan Cooper, and he followed this up by demonstrating adequate mobility on a designed rollout/moving pocket for one of Alex McGough’s best worst plays of the night — a poorly placed pass that ended up being picked by Justin Simmons (but you can’t blame Curhan for that one). According to PFF, he was credited with allowing zero pressures in the Seahawks’ preseason home opener.

What’s next for Curhan?

Surely, Jake has an uphill climb to make the active roster by week one. He will be competing at a position that already features last season’s starter Brandon Shell and his primary backup Cedric Ogbuehi, in addition to newcomers like Stone Forsythe. Although Stone is currently playing at Left tackle, he is showing some definite growing pains and to my eyes has a ways to go before he is ready to even take on a role as Duane Brown’s primary backup (side note: please pay Duane Brown). For this reason, if he intends to make the roster, he may need to continue to demonstrate his versatility along the line; a multifaceted player who can fill several positions is always valuable and will endear himself to a coach like Carroll. And we shouldn’t forget, Curhan isn’t new to playing at a high level; just a year ago he was listed on PFF’s second-team All-Pac12 preseason roster. Jake will have to continue to battle to prove himself, and he should have at least one more game to do so when the Seahawks take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night.