Seahawks 2010 Draft Preview: Offensive Line
In the Fold: Walter Jones, Sean Locklear, Ray Willis, Max Unger, Chris Spencer, Ben Hamilton, Steve Vallos, Mansfield Wrotto, Mike Gibson, Mitch Erickson
Draft need: 5 (scale of 1-5)
The Seahawks great offensive line of 2005 always had an expiration date. Steve Hutchinson was in the final year of his contract, Robbie Tobeck and Chris Gray were on the last legs of their underrated careers, and the Great Walter Jones turned 32 years old a few weeks before Super Bowl XL.
To his credit, Tim Ruskell seemed to recognize this. Ruskell used his first pick on Chris Spencer, a center with Pro Bowl potential to eventually replace Tobeck, and later used a fifth-round pick on Ray Willis, a left tackle prospect from Jones' alma mater.
Then, however, Ruskell inexplicably stopped addressing the tackle position on draft day, operating under the failed assumptions that Jones simply would not show signs of his advancing age, and if that does happen, Sean Locklear is a viable option at the second-most important position on the offense.
Sure, he used a late-round pick in 2007 on Steve Vallos, an offensive tackle from Wake Forest. But in order to see the last great 6-2 offensive tackle in NFL history, we'll have to fire up the reel-to-reel projector and do so over a pack of Lucky Strikes and a couple of bottles of Moxie. For the good that Ruskell did as a general manager, his failure to address the offensive tackle position was a fireable offense.
Armed with two first-round picks, the Seahawks should have their left tackle of the future when the first day of the draft ends. The addition of offensive line coaching legend Alex Gibbs has plenty of fans and media suggesting that the Seahawks cannot bargain hunt for a left tackle. I'd remind those people that Gibbs is 69 years old, and whoever the Seahawks draft for the position is guaranteed to be with the organization a lot longer than Gibbs will.
Besides, I'm sure Wolfgang Puck can reach into the toilet, pluck the goldfish before it swirls down the drain, and prepare the finest seafood dinner you've ever experienced. But imagine what he could do with a freshly caught Alaskan salmon.
Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) and Trent Williams (Oklahoma) are the premier tackles in this year's class, and could be available with the sixth pick, while Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) and Anthony Davis (Rutgers) are two first-round options with some reddish-colored flags who would present better "value" in the middle portion of round.
The Seahawks would prefer to trade down from the 14th pick to acquire an additional second-day selection, and could do so and still choose Charles Brown, who has a prototype left tackle build and the athleticism that Gibbs' zone-blocking system calls for. Brown also played for Pete Carroll at USC.
Waiting until the second round to select an offensive tackle carries an additional level of risk in this year's three-day draft format. Not only is there a disparity in terms of talent level, but teams will have nearly a full day between the first and second rounds to re-evaluate their draft boards, their draft needs, and make trades to move up and acquire players that may have fallen through the cracks.
Seattle appears well-stocked at center, with Chris Spencer, Max Unger, and Steve Vallos capable of playing the position, and the addition of Ben Hamilton reduces the need to use an early-round pick on an interior offensive lineman, as does the very real prospect that with a premier tackle starting at left tackle, either Sean Locklear or Ray Willis could move inside and play guard.
If the Seahawks do draft an interior linemen, expect it to happen late in the draft, with Eric Olsen (Notre Dame), Charlie Tanner (Texas), and Shelley Smith (Colorado State) potential picks.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.
Seahawks 2010 Draft Preview: OL
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