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Competition brewing for Seahawks’ offensive line at center and right tackle

Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Shortly after the Super Bowl, there was some, um ... “drama” ... with Russell Wilson maybe “tossing his O-line under the bus” (a little bit).

John and Pete responded with public silence.

Then, on March 17th, aka the first day of free agency, the Seahawks traded a 5th round pick to the Raiders for Guard Gabe Jackson.

The following day, March 18th, Seattle re-signed last year’s starting Center, Ethan Pocic, to a 1-year, $3M contract.

And then ... nothing. Outside of redoing Jackson’s contract, that is.

Then the NFL Draft rolled around and the Seahawks selected OT Stone Forsythe on Day 3 (Round 6) ... with the idea presumably being that he might compete for a starting spot in 2022 ... maybe?

Somewhere in there, Pete Carroll decided to move last year’s 3rd-round pick, Damien Lewis to Left Guard so newly-acquired Gabe Jackson could stay at his preferred Right Guard position.

But that was basically it.

After 5-ish months, Seattle’s “response” to their quarterback’s complaints about the O-line getting hit too much amounted to nothing more than bringing back 4/5th of last year’s starting O-line, re-signing a couple depth pieces, moving their Guards around, and calling it good.

As 53-man roster predictions started rolling in, there seemed to be universal consensus regarding the starters on the offensive line:

Duane Brown | Damien Lewis | Ethan Pocic | Gabe Jackson | Brandon Shell

Case closed. End of discussion. Feel free to write that on the whiteboard with a Sharpie. Buy your preferred O-line jerseys now to avoid the rush.

Um ... maybe not so fast.

Lost in the midst of the a busier-than-usual (or at least “filled with more ‘noise’ than usual”) offseason, this quote from Pete Carroll went by with very little fanfare:

“I didn’t feel like, because of the format of last camp where we didn’t have the offseason and we didn’t have preseason games and the evaluations of players were so uniquely different than its ever been ... I didn’t feel like I gave our roster - throughout the depth of the roster - the best opportunity I could have for their statement for where they fit into this club. That’s something I’ve already told our guys. That’s happening. Guys that are starting are going to get guys battling for their spots and everybody’s gotta battle. It’s going to make the guys who are starters get better or get beat and guys deserve that opportunity and I want to make sure I do a better job of that.”

At the time, those of us that noted the comment from Pete naturally assumed that meant other positions, NOT the offensive line.

I mean, no one here is all that “enamored” with Ethan Pocic, but we all saw how dreadful Kyle Fuller did in his one start against the Rams; surely Fuller has zero chance of winning the starting spot.

But ...

Pocic started training camp on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and, per reports, Kyle Fuller has looked good taking reps with the first team.

Per Pete Carroll, courtesy of Seahawk Maven:

“It gives Kyle Fuller a fantastic opportunity to show what he’s gonna do, which, you know, competitively, we want that Wally Pipp thing to happen,” assessed Carroll.

And from the same Seahawk Maven article (although the author is quoting himself here):

“Pocic is a solid center. However, his weaknesses are consistent and cap certain elements of the offense. For instance: he struggles one-on-one in pass protection or in the run game, which could really frustrate Waldron as he tries to get his center to reach block dudes one-on-one on outside zone runs.”

So it seems at least reasonable to assume that Fuller could end up being Seattle’s Week 1 starter with Pocic becoming a somewhat-expensive backup.

Then there’s the right tackle position where Brandon Shell (2016, R5.158) is the presumed starter, but ... he missed 5 games last season, has never started all 16 games in a season, and could be facing a serious challenge from Cedric Ogbuehi (2015, R1.21).

From a recent Pete Carroll presser:

“We don’t have any doubt about Cedric’s movement, ability, strength, all of that; he’s got all that. He just has to grow and develop as the player that you can count on out there on a regular basis. Which he hasn’t had the chance to do that yet. I’m going to tell you something flat out, I messed up last year. Cedric looks like a Left Tackle, he was drafted in the first round, has played left and right and all that, but I wanted him to develop as a Left Tackle. But he wanted to be a right tackle to tell you the truth. He said that and I didn’t give him enough credit for how important it was for him to compete at that spot. And so when we talked at the exit interview at the end of the season, he made mention of it, we talked right about it, and I just felt like I didn’t do a good enough job of knowing what was important to him, to give him a good shot at it, and I promised him I’m going to give him every chance.”

There is more to that press conference, of course, including Pete talking up “B-Shell” as “a terrific right tackle” and saying that the team is completely comfortable with him (B-Shell) in that role.

Taken at face value, it would appear that the battle at right tackle is wide-open.

Which brings me to the question I have right now ...

Could Seattle start the 2021 season with a “new” starter at 4 of the 5 positions on the offensive line?

And, when you also factor in a new offensive scheme, courtesy of new Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron ...

How the heck does that possibility make us, the 12s, feel?

And how does it make Russell Wilson feel?

Excited? Nervous? Scared?

Me, I’m going with “D”: All of the above.