Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider fielded questions Tuesday from the annual NFL Owners Meetings, providing insight into the current depth chart at several positions and - by doing so - perhaps giving clues as to which direction the club will be focusing in next month's draft.
According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Schneider said that "We've signed two guys in '[Bradley] Sowell and [J'Marcus] Webb. They're unique signings, kind of prove-it signings. That's kind of the stage we're at right now. You always hate losing people in free agency-that's the worst part of our job, really-but you have to have a plan in place. We love Russell, we love Sweez and we wish them all the best, but we've got to keep moving forward."
Schneider indicated that among the players on the current roster, Garry Gilliam and Sowell would be "a good battle at left tackle" with Webb ticketed to replace Gilliam on the right side. Second-year pro Mark Glowinski is expected to jump up and replace J.R. Sweezy at right guard - something the former fifth round pick did reasonably well as a rookie a year ago when Sweezy missed the regular season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.
Gilliam has the length and agility to make the transition to left tackle, a position he played a bit at Penn State. Frankly, he's better suited to a position which often takes on lighter speed rushers than right tackle where some of the shorter, more powerful left defensive ends of the NFL - including the St. Louis Rams' William Hayes - caused him problems in his first season as a starter.
The Seahawks could opt to invest an early pick in a tackle but it may not make a lot of sense to do so given Gilliam's youth and upside. The club may instead see guard and/or center as a higher priority - something I tried to reflect (given this news) in my latest mock draft at CBSSports.com.
Whereas there are multiple intriguing tackle candidates potentially available at No. 26 overall, there are significantly fewer interior linemen viewed as value picks this early. Among them is Alabama center Ryan Kelly, Kansas State guard Cody Whitehair, Stanford guard Joshua Garnett and perhaps Texas A&M's Germain Ifedi and Auburn's Shon Coleman - each of whom may project best inside in Seattle's scheme.
Carroll acknowledged in an interview with Pro Football Talk that "up front we have to figure out some things on the O-line," seemingly indicating that while work has been done in free agency, there are more changes coming.
That didn't necessarily seem to be the case at strongside linebacker and defensive end, however, which Schneider pointed out would be taken care of by holdovers Mike Morgan and Cassius Marsh and Frank Clark, respectively.
Some had speculated that Clark would be making the switch to outside linebacker, himself - a theory which was only inflamed when the second-year pro shared a picture of a scale indicating that he weighed 257.2 pounds.
While Clark possesses the athleticism to drop into coverage, what makes him special is his combination of initial burst, lateral agility and power as a rusher. Rushing off the edge in Bruce Irvin's old nickel role fits in better with what he does well than dropping him back - which is where Morgan, Marsh and potentially a rookie could help Seattle most.