The Seattle Seahawks made significant strides in rebuilding its offensive line last season with the immediate success of rookie tackles Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. With veteran guard Gabe Jackson no longer on the roster and center Austin Blythe retired, there are two starting roles up for grabs that very likely will go to Seahawks draft picks.
2019 pick Phil Haynes and rookie Anthony Bradford will be vying for the right guard spot, whereas rookie Olusegun Oluwatimi will be in competition with former Detroit Lions starter Evan Brown. If Brown doesn’t win the starting job at center, his versatility allows him to be a viable backup at either center or guard.
If the starting quintet is Charles Cross | Damien Lewis | Olusegun Oluwatimi | Phil Haynes or Anthony Bradford | Abe Lucas, it will be the first time since 2014 that the Seahawks will have exclusively started their own drafted offensive linemen on opening day. In case you’re curious, that 2014 group was Russell Okung-James Carpenter-Max Unger-J.R. Sweezy-Justin Britt. Put another way, the Seahawks would have two third-rounders (Lewis and Lucas), a top-10 pick (Cross), a fourth-rounder (Haynes or Bradford), and a fifth-rounder (Oluwatimi). I don’t consider that to be insignificant investment.
The last time the Seahawks had an offensive line comprised of their own draft picks and/or UDFAs was the bulk of 2016, when George Fant, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, and Garry Gilliam were the primary starters. Fant, of course, got the job after Bradley Sowell suffered an injury and frankly was not justifying his starting spot to begin with.
Unlike the 2014 group with the ill-fated Britt at right tackle move, the 2023 potential starting offensive line would not be playing anyone out of position. Cross and Lucas are natural tackles, Lewis can play at either guard position (ditto Haynes and Bradford), and Oluwatimi just won the Dave Rimington Trophy for college football’s best center. Recent award winners have been more successful than not in the NFL, regardless of round selected.
There’s no guarantee that this will mean the Seahawks will have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, but it does speak to a renewed investment in the OL that’s both very young but collectively has a high ceiling. Lest we forget that the Seahawks had the most expensive offensive line in 2013 due to the contracts of Okung (whose rookie deal was pre-current CBA) and Unger (top-five highest paid center), but those two missed a large chunk of the Super Bowl winning season with injury and we were “treated” to a lot more of Paul McQuistan, Michael Bowie, Alvin Bailey, etc. than necessary.
If the youth movement along the OL is a success, there won’t be a need to revert back to the patchwork horror shows that were Bradley Sowell, Luke Joeckel, Drew Nowak, J’Marcus Webb, and others who pretty much formed the backbone of the reputation that Pete Carroll and John Schneider didn’t value the offensive line enough while Russell Wilson was here. The hope is that this can be the primary group for Geno Smith and whomever Geno’s successor is down the line.
For once, there is reason for optimism that the Seahawks offensive line won’t be the butt of jokes, and it’s about damn time.