Heading into the 2016 season, no team invested less in their offensive line than the Seahawks did. And the outcome was very noticeable. The main five starters were all age 26 or younger. The total cost of the contracts for those five starters came out around $3 million.
According to Pro Football Focus’ end of season rankings, the Seahawks ranked as the worst offensive line in the NFL. The Seattle front office went ahead and tried to correct that this offseason.
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The Seahawks signed Luke Joeckel, a second overall pick in the 2013 Draft, from Jacksonville in free agency. They also drafted versatile LSU lineman Ethan Pocic in the second round of this year’s draft.
Joeckel will most likely be the man that protects Russel Wilson’s blind side for the Seahawks in 2017. He will be replacing George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie. Fant was arguably the worst player on the line, playing at the one of the most important positions on the field. Fant ended the season with a PFF grade of 27.6.
Joeckel will look to come in and have some redemption in Seattle. Signing a 1 year, $8 million deal this offseason, which is almost three times as much the entire line cost last year. He is coming off a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee that he suffered in Week 4 of the 2016 season.
Starting his career at left tackle, Joeckel struggled to get accustomed to NFL style of play. He was possibly one of the worst left tackles in the NFL when he played there. But maybe getting moved out of the position was a wake-up call for him.
Joeckel was moved to left guard in 2016, but only played three of his four games at the position. Only giving up one sack last year, PFF gave him a grade of 68.3 for his four games. If Joeckel can play like an average left tackle in 2017 and help keep Wilson upright, he will give the Seahawks a boost at the position.
Pocic could be a swiss-army knife for the Seahawks. Starting most of his career at LSU at center, he also started games at left tackle, right tackle and right guard. Pocic did not give up a single sack or quarterback hit during the 2016 season, according to PFF. That is why he received a grade of 82.5 for the season. Since 2014, Pocic has only given up two sacks and three quarterback hits.
Pocic will see his first year with the Seahawks either at right guard or right tackle. He will enter a competition with Germain Ifedi during training camp to see who plays where on the right side of the line. Whoever plays right tackle will be replacing Garry Gilliam, who scored a poor PFF grade of 38.0.
With the help of Joeckel and Pocic, the Seahawks front office will also hope that the young guys on the line will take a step forward this year. Ifedi, a first round pick just a year ago, is the main guy needing to take that leap forward.
Ifedi has the prototypical NFL lineman size, but his technique was very poor. Scoring a PFF grade of 35.9 last year, there is plenty room of improvement for Ifedi. With another year under highly-esteemed offensive line coach Tom Cable, Ifedi could make steps forward in his development. Also, with better lineman around him to hide his mistakes, his play might not hurt the Seahawks as much as it did last year.
Returning this year is the best player on the line from a year ago. Justin Britt was kicked in to center from left guard, and was the only bright spot on the line. He played well in both the run game and passing game. With a center able to get the line adjusted to the defense and play very well himself is a major plus for any team.
Britt is heading into a contract year as well. With players going into contract years, they will tend to put max effort into their game so they can cash in during the offseason. If Britt is motivated for the money in the future, it will be very beneficial for the Seahawks during the season.
The last part of this line is the left guard. Mark Glowinski was a player that was not a complete sore spot for the Seahawks. However, he may not be the starter coming into this season. With the Seahawks trying to improve the line, they will give everyone a look. That is where Rees Odhiambo comes into the picture.
Odhiambo was a third round pick last year out of Boise State. Playing in only spot duty throughout last season, Odhiambo may be ready to take the next step forward. He is very athletic and uses his technique well. However, he does come with durability issues. If he is able to stay healthy, do not be surprised to see him win the competition with Glowinski and start at left guard.
With a young line and a great offensive line coach in Cable, the offensive line could develop into a strong unit. Wilson needs to be healthy for a potential Super Bowl run. This year’s offensive line may be able to do just that.