The Seattle Seahawks remain hopeful that an extension can be made with pending free agent left tackle Russell Okung but after allocating much of its salary cap to defenders and quarterback Russell Wilson over the past few years, it might up to general manager John Schneider and his scouting staff to find a replacement.
Seattle has internally discussed several options if forced to replace Okung, including the possibility of moving last year's starting right tackle, Garry Gilliam, to the blindside, SeahawkFootball.com has confirmed.
The nearly 6-6, 306 pound Gilliam started all 16 games at right tackle for the Seahawks in 2015 after originally signing with Seattle in May of 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State. That's four times as many games as he started on the offensive line throughout his entire career with the Nittany Lions, only making the switch from tight end prior to the 2013 season, his redshirt senior campaign.
While Gilliam isn't as powerful as Okung, he's a terrific athlete, showing the light feet and balance to mirror rushers in pass protection as well as the burst off the ball and coordination to handle run blocking at the second level. His April 8 Pro Day numbers speak to Gilliam's raw athleticism. After measuring in at 6-5 (and 5/8") and 306 pounds, Gilliam was twice clocked at 5.03 seconds in the 40-yard dash, recorded an eye-popping 35" vertical jump and was came in at 4.56 seconds in the short shuttle and 7.59 seconds in the 3-cone drill - results which compare favorably to even the top tackles drafted in 2014.
Sliding Gilliam from right to left tackle could be just the beginning of a musical chairs rotation along Seattle's offensive line this season.
Current left guard Justin Britt could be asked to switch back to right tackle if Gilliam were to vacate the position. Britt's size and power make him an effective run blocker but he struggled with quick penetrating defensive tackles - like Rams star Aaron Donald and the Panthers' Kawann Short - in his first season inside.
The 2016 draft class is stronger at tackle than guard but Seattle could be in position to nab one of the top prospects at this position at No. 26 overall. The top tackles - Mississippi's Laremy Tunsil and Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley - will be long off the board by the time the Seahawks are on the clock. Road-grading guards who fit Seattle's scheme like LSU's Vadal Alexander and Stanford's Josh Garnett, however could be plug and play options should Seattle prioritize the interior over tackle on draft day.