O’Neil: Seahawks’ selection of Ethan Pocic is another sign they don’t value continuity along their O-line
There’s no problem with the player the Seahawks chose at the end of the second round.
It’s the position that Ethan Pocic plays that’s the red flag.
He was a center at LSU, which just so happens to be the one position that’s fairly well settled along Seattle’s offensive line. That means that one way or another, Pocic is going to be part of the seasonal uprooting that takes place along Seattle’s offensive line.
It’s what happened to Justin Britt, who played three different positions in his first three seasons with the Seahawks before settling in at center last season. It’s what is currently happening with Germain Ifedi, last year’s first-round pick who was drafted as a tackle, spent last season at right guard and now may be moving back to tackle. It’s what very well may happen to Pocic, whose versatility may be more like a temptation than an asset in the eyes of the switch-happy Seahawks.
And for as many complaints as there have been about Seattle’s unwillingness to spend on veteran offensive linemen, it’s this annual positional carousel – and the half season of learning on the job that comes with it – that is the single most puzzling element of the way the Seahawks build their team.
I get the decisions not to pay the veteran premium for average linemen. Heck, I was glad the Seahawks didn’t sign T.J. Lang.
I even understood what the Seahawks were doing last year when they decided to rebuild up front, choosing to use two picks in the first three rounds on offensive linemen instead of paying to keep J.R. Sweezy and/or Russell Okung.
That made sense to me. Seattle has so many talented players that it’s best served re-signing and extending only its best ones regardless of position. The Seahawks weren’t going to pay a veteran premium to keep offensive linemen at the expense of retaining other players.
What I can’t understand is Seattle’s tendency to not let players grow roots at a position along the offensive line. I didn’t understand why Britt was moved to guard a week into training camp in 2015 after starting as a rookie at right tackle, and I don’t get why Ifedi spent last season at guard if he’s now moving back to tackle, the position he played in college. I don’t know where the Seahawks are planning to play free-agent addition Luke Joeckel nor what that might mean for Mark Glowinski if Joeckel winds up left guard.
That brings us back to Pocic, the fourth offensive lineman that the Seahawks have chosen in the first three rounds since 2014. Where’s he going to play?
“He’s played everything, so we’re going to see where it fits,” coach Pete Carroll said, “see where he fits in best for us. We’ve got some spots we’re trying to work out as we move guys around here a little bit.”
Carroll called second-round pick Ethan Pocic the most flexible OL in the draft. pic.twitter.com/IuglgWtrL3
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) April 29, 2017
In other words, the Seahawks are going to figure it out as they go just like everything else along their offensive line, which would be fine if it always worked.
But it hasn’t. At least it didn’t last year. And it didn’t in 2015 when the Seahawks were a mess up front for the first half of the season after putting Britt at guard and beginning the year with Drew Nowak starting at center.
At some point you have to ask yourself if Seattle would be better off making a commitment on a player at a position and letting him grow there. It’s got to be better than deciding that Garry Gilliam might be the left tackle of the future while letting Okung walk only to double back a year later and decide that Gilliam isn’t even good enough to be the right tackle.
Maybe Carroll will be right. Pocic could turn out to be the single most versatile offensive lineman available in this year’s NFL draft, and we’ll look back at his selection as the stabilizing influence the Seahawks needed up front.
Perhaps Pocic will turn out to be worth the wait as general manager John Schneider not-so-jokingly referred to sweating out most of the second round, waiting to see if Pocic would still be available when Seattle picked at No. 58.
“Seriously,” Schneider said after Seattle picked Pocic on Friday night, “I changed my shirt.”
But even if Pocic turns out to be everything that Seattle hopes, his selection points not just to the Seahawks’ difficulty in establishing continuity along the offensive line, but how they can seem to utterly disregard it.