Wednesday Spotlight - The Offensive Line Prospects

In his ongoing study of the best college prospects, .NET's Ryan Rigmaiden answers reader questions and takes an in-depth look at the best offensive linemen who are ready to break into the NFL next year.

There were a few questions this week, so we’ll get right to those first.

With so many Free Agents currently on the roster, who are we going to target this year on Draft day? - Steve - Spokane, WA

This is the million-dollar question, Steve. You can bank on the fact that QB Matt Hasselbeck will be re-signed, but as almost everyone else isn’t quite a sure thing.

As of right now, I think Shaun Alexander will be given the franchise tag and CB Ken Lucas will be re-signed. Both have had tremendous years and deserve new contracts, but I think the front office will try to move Alexander, if possible. If not, they’ll give him a new deal next year. Make no mistake, Alexander’s earned a new contract from the Seahawks, but the front office may decide that because they have so many Free Agents and that RBs can be found more easily than other positions, that Alexander may not be in this team’s long-term plans.

LT Walter Jones is the other question. Everyone knows the constant contract battles that have occurred with him the past three years, but this year may be different. Though he’s still an elite player, the ‘Hawks may choose not to tag him or offer him a contract this year because his asking price is too high.

I think G/T Floyd Womack, TE Itula Mili, DE Chike Okeafor, and DT Rocky Bernard will be playing for new teams next year, simply because we won’t be able to afford them.

With all these holes to fill, Seattle will have a ton of choices and will probably operate under the “BPA - Best Player Available” theory. Unlike last year where everyone knew where we were looking to upgrade (D-line), this year will be a complete mystery. Here’s a short list of players I think we may be looking at if still drafting at around #20.

OT Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (Rd. 1)
DE David Pollack, Georgia (Rd. 1)
LB Ahmad Brooks, Virginia (top-20)* hasn’t declared
WR Mark Clayton, Oklahoma (Rd. 1)
RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn (Rd. 1)
DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College (Borderline Rd. 1 / 2)
DE Dan Cody, Oklahoma (Rd. 1)
ILB Channing Crowder, Florida (Borderline Rd. 1 / 2) *hasn’t declared
OT Adam Terry, Syracuse (Borderline Rd. 1 / 2)
DE Matt Roth, Iowa (Borderline Rd. 1 / 2)

Any chance we have a complete overhaul of linebackers this season? Who could we Draft? -
Raul- Ephrata, WA

As much blame as I put on Defensive Coordinator Ray Rhodes’ shoulders this year for our disappointing defense, we have seen some serious injuries along the defense, specifically to our linebackers. It seems OLBs Anthony Simmons and Chad Brown haven’t even played together in two years and MLB is always platooned by Day-2 Draft picks that can’t get it done. It was the same story this year. Simmons and Brown were basically lost for the season and the trio of Koutouvides, Huff and Bates haven’t done anything special. But where Seattle really took a blow was losing D.D. Lewis and Tracy White to injury this year. Lewis is a solid LB that could’ve replaced Simmons or Brown without taking a dramatic drop-off in talent. White would certainly be better than Bates, who’s shown absolutely nothing in action this year.

Seattle’s first order of business at LB this offseason will be to find out what they want to do with OLB Chad Brown. Injuries have taken there toll on him and he just isn’t the same player we all grew to love. If he feels he can come back healthy and play, I think the ‘Hawks will ask him to re-structure his contract and make it more of an incentive-based one. If Brown’s done playing or unwilling to re-structure, I don’t think we’ll see him next year. Should that be the case, D.D. Lewis could be penciled in as a starter.

Simmons will definitely be back, so we shouldn’t have to worry about him. MLB Orlando Huff is a Free Agent and I can’t see him coming back, except in a backup role and for little money. Niko Koutouvides will probably be given the chance to start, but this is an extremely uncertain area for the ‘Hawks. Backup jobs will probably go to White, Kaz, Bates and another player, either a FA or a Draft pick.

Looking at this projected squad isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Adding another player that’s started in this league or is a Draft pick with legitimate starting potential will be crucial for the defense.

Here’s a short list of LBs that meet that criteria:

OLB Derrick Johnson, Texas (a top-10 lock)
ILB Ahmad Brooks, Virginia (top-20) *hasn’t declared
OLB Daryl Blackstock, Virginia (Rd. 2) *hasn’t declared
ILB Barrett Ruud, Nebraska (Rd. 2)
OLB Kevin Burnett, Tennessee (Borderline Rd. 1 / 2)
ILB Lance Mitchell, Oklahoma (Rd. 2)
OLB Michael Boley, Souther Miss. (Rd. 2)

Shaun Alexander has said he wants to have more of a spotlight on him and wouldn’t mind playing in a bigger market next year. Any chance we take a RB early on Draft day? - Tim- Tacoma, WA

Rumors have been swirling around Alexander for over a year now about his desire to be in a bigger market, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in quotes like that. Every player wants the ball more and wants more attention, and Alexander’s no different. But in this offense, this isn’t the case. Holmgren wants to pass the ball and that’s what he’s going to do. Alexander’s getting his pub, on Fox Sports, NFL Network and is constantly being mentioned on SportsCenter. His face is well-known and he IS getting attention. For the record, I do think Alexander wants to stay in Seattle, the question is whether or not the ‘Hawks want to pay him what he wants.

What Alexander, and Alexander’s fans need to understand is that while he does good things on and off the field, he plays a position that very replaceable, league-wide, and even more so in this offense. Alexander fans argue that he puts up huge numbers, scores TDs and is the reason Seattle has had success on offense. But others, including former NFL GM Randy Mueller (via an email that he posted on ESPN) see a RB that gets easy goal-line TDs, doesn’t break tackles and doesn’t avoid contact downfield, is inconsistent with his running and doesn’t block well in pass protection. You can make an argument for each case, but my opinion is that Alexander is a good, not elite, RB that’s done well in our system. But while I appreciate everything Alexander’s done for our franchise, I do think that he could be replaced, especially if it meant that we could keep some of our other Free Agents.

Here’s a short list of RBs that the ‘Hawks could be interested in on Draft day.

RB Cedrick Benson, Texas (top-10 lock)
RB Cadillac Williams, Auburn (top-20)
RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn ( Rd. 1)
RB DeAngelo Williams, Memphis (Rd. 2) (Recently broke leg)
RB Ciatrick Fason, Florida (Rd. 2)
RB T.A. Mclendon, N.C. State (Rd. 3)
RB J.J. Arrington, Cal (Rd. 3)
RB Cedric Houston, Tenneseee (Rd. 3)

If Walter Jones leaves, will the ‘Hawks be forced to draft another OT this year? What’s the latest with Chris Terry? - Jim- Medford, OR

I haven’t heard anything about Terry’s injury being career-threatening, so I think RT isn’t a hole for us next year. But if we’re unable to hang onto Jones and also lose Pork Chop Womack, we’d not only be losing our best lineman but our top backup as well- not something any team wants. This would leave us incredibly thin at virtually every position, creating the need for a Draft pick or a Free Agent acquisition.

Here’s a short list of O-linemen that could make an impact:

OT Alex Barron, Florida State (top-10)
OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (top-20) *hasn’t declared
OT Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (Rd. 1)
OT Adam Terry, Syracuse (Borderline Round 1 / 2)
RG Elton Brown, Virginia (Borderline Round 1 / 2)
OT Jon Scott, Texas (Borderline, Round 1 / 2) *hasn’t declared
G David Baas, Michigan (Rd. 2)
G/T Adam Snyder, Oregon (Rd. 2)
OT Mike Munoz, Tennessee (Rd. 2)

Thanks for writing in, fellas. I’ll get to more questions next week.

Seattle’s current offensive line is undoubtedly the deepest and most talented it’s ever been. The left side is solidly manned by LT Walter Jones and LG Steve Hutchinson, both among the Top-3 at their positions. Center Robbie Tobeck and RG Chris Gray aren’t spectacular, but are solid. RT Chris Terry continues to be one of the most underrated tackles in the game, but has struggled as of late. The starting five are solidly backed up by Floyd Womack, Jerry Wunsch, Sean Locklear and Wayne Hunter, giving the ‘Hawks enviable depth across the board.

But while the current lineup is very solid, questions about next year’s squad loom. Jones’ contract demands are so high that the team’s been forced to slap the franchise tag on him for the past three years. Because of the way the franchise tag works, it’ll actually be more expensive to tag him again this year, meaning the possibility of him leaving via Free Agency has never been more probable. Losing an All-Pro left tackle isn’t something the ‘Hawks want to allow, but with Hasselbeck, Alexander, Lucas and Okeafor also able to test the Free Agent waters this year, GM Bob Ferguson may let Jones walk in favor of re-signing some of the others. Seattle’s top backup at guard and tackle, Floyd Womack, is also a free agent. Because he’s young and incredibly versatile, Womack’s sure to land a big payday somewhere outside Seattle, leaving the ‘Hawks’ depth weak. Veteran OT Jerry Wunsch is a decent backup, but his age and declining ability are cause for worry. Athletic LT Wayne Hunter hasn’t developed quite as quickly as the team would’ve liked and may be in danger of losing his roster spot next year if he doesn’t show significant improvement. The combination of these factors may lead to a shaky unit in 2005 unless some changes are made or player development improved dramatically.

2005 Offensive Line Prospects

Alex Barron, OT Florida State

6' 6" 330

NFL Comparison- Tra Thomas, Philadelphia

Plays RT for the ‘Noles, but has the feet to play on the left side. Solid athlete and thrives in pass protection. Isn’t as mean as you’d like vs. the run and needs better coaching, but he’s easily the best OT prospect in the Draft. Is a lock for a Top-10 pick.

Draft Projection- Top-10

Roster Impact for Seattle- Has the talent to start right away for Jones if Jones departs.

D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT Virginia
6'5" 290

NFL Comparison- Mike Pearson, Jacksonville

Underclassmen has the potential to be the first OT taken if he can gain some weight. Is an incredible athlete and can mirror extremely well. Plays the run well, but his lack of weight will hurt him vs. NFL DE's. If he declares, Ferguson will make some team very happy.

Draft Projection- Round 1

Roster Impact for Seattle- Has the talent to start as a rookie.

Jammal Brown, RT Oklahoma
6'4" 300

NFL Comparison- Chris Terry, Seattle
Awesome pass protector and a decent athlete. A bit undersized and not dominant in the running game, but he can add weight. Has the feet to play the left side. Brown’s been a very solid OT for a dominant program and has gone up against some of the best D-lineman in practice every day. With added weight and good personal workouts, Brown had the ability to skyrocket up draft boards.

Draft Projection- Round 1

Roster Impact for Seattle- Has talent to start as a rookie.

Mike Munoz, OT Tennessee
6'6" 315

NFL Comparison- Luke Petigout, New York Giants

For the record, I wouldn’t touch this kid because of his injury history (Knee in ‘01 and nagging injuries throughout his career). It’s my belief that because of who his Dad is (HOFer Anthony Munoz) he gets more attention than he deserves. However, despite this, Munoz is a decent prospect and will probably be taken by the end of Round 2. He’s a decent athlete that’s very technically sound and if he can prove he’s healthy he’ll move up boards.

Draft Projection- Round 2

Roster Impact for Seattle- Backup with the opportunity to start later.

Adam Terry, OT Syracuse
6'7" 310

NFL Comparison- Levi Jones, Cincinnati

Awesome athlete with solid experience. Needs to add some weight to his impressive frame, but his fluid movement will have scouts in awe of him, especially if he does it in All Star games. Look for Terry to keep moving up boards as the year moves on.

Draft Projection- Borderline Round 1 / 2

Roster Impact for Seattle- Possible starter.

Rob Petitti, OT Pittsburgh
6'5" 340

NFL Comparison- Jason Fabini, New York Jets

I love this guy. He’s huge, powerful and while he’s not the best athlete, he gets it done. Petitti’s got quick feet and gets in position in pass protection quickly. Needs work on 2nd and 3rd level blocking. Has to get quicker vs. the run.

Draft Projection- Round 2 or 3

Roster Impact for Seattle- Backup with the opportunity to start later.

Marcus McNeil, OT Auburn

6'8" 340

NFL Comparison- Jon Runyan, Philadlphia

A mountain of a man, McNeil throws his weight around well in the running game. He isn’t the best athlete, but can usually handle his own in the passing game. McNeil’s a huge reason Auburn’s RB duo consistently do well. If he can prove his worth as a pass protector and shine in Bowl games, McNeil is a Day 1 lock.

Draft Projection- Round 2 or 3

Roster Impact for Seattle- Backup with the chance to start later.

Elton Brown, G Virginia
6'5" 335

NFL Comparison- Randy Thomas, Washington

Amazing athlete for a guy his size. Brown can get to the 2nd and 3rd tier better than anyone in this class. He can pull and trap and could probably play OT if he had to. Despite his awesome skills, his consistency is a problem. Isn’t all-out all the time.

Draft Projection- Round 1

Roster Impact for Seattle- Possible Starter

Marcus Johnson, G Mississippi

6'4" 320

NFL Comparison- Floyd Womack, Seattle

Versatile player is playing OT this year, but will play G at the next level. Isn’t a great athlete, but has dominated the past 3 years. Sets up nicely in pass protection and is one of the smartest players on the field. If he can play a bit tougher and show more athleticism, Johnson could be a Day 1 pick.

Draft Projection- Round 2 or 3

Roster Impact for Seattle- Backup with the possibility to start later.

Ben Wilkerson, C LSU
6'3" 290

NFL Comparison- Jeff Mitchell, Carolina

Veteran center has held his own against some of the best DT's in the country, and has excelled. Wilkerson has solid technique and can move well, both laterally and upfield. Had season ending leg injury and will drop because of it. But if he can regain his pre-Draft form, Wilkerson will be a beast.

Draft Projection- Round 2 or 3

Roster Impact for Seattle- Has talent to start as a rookie, but may need a season to get healthy.

Vince Carter, C Oklahoma
6'2" 280

NFL Comparison- Tom Nalen, Denver

Like Wilkerson, Carter's had injury questions that will affect his Draft stock. However, he's started for three years and has played some of the best athletes in the country- his teammates in Norman. Carter's only other knock is his lack of weight, which may be a problem in the NFL. Despite this, expect Carter to be starting in the NFL soon.

Draft Projection- Round 2

Roster Impact for Seattle- Has talent to start as a rookie.

Others to keep an eye on . . .

David Baas, G Michigan
Davin Joseph, G Oklahoma
Chris Colmer, OT N.C. State
Adam Snyder, G/T Oregon

Please send any questions or comments to Thanks for writing in. Top Stories