O’Neil: Seahawks rookie Ethan Pocic gets a long look at right tackle
RENTON – Ethan Pocic’s first weekend as a Seahawk was all right.
All right tackle, more specifically.
That’s where the second-round pick out of LSU spent the first few days of rookie minicamp in Seattle. This is surprising since that was the offensive line spot he played the least in college, having started 29 games at center, nine at guard and just one at tackle.
Then again, this is the Seahawks we’re talking about, and maybe the most surprising thing is that Pocic had played any offensive line prior to arriving in the NFL given the team’s history of converting defensive lineman like J.R. Sweezy, or last year’s transition game with former basketball power forward George Fant.
With Pocic, Seattle was just testing how much the rookie could actually do.
“We know we have flexibility,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “That’s why he was our favorite guy in the draft because he could play anywhere.”
On Sunday morning, Pocic and Seattle’s other 10 draft picks wrapped up three days of workouts alongside the team’s undrafted free agents and players auditioning for spots in what was as much an orientation for new employees as it was an audition.
As far as first impressions go, defensive lineman Malik McDowell – the first player the Seahawks chose in this year’s draft – is an impressive looking athlete at 6 feet 6 inches tall, with impossibly long arms and great quickness. Third-round Nazair Jones is thicker, more of a run-plugging defensive tackle. Then there are the four defensive backs the Seahawks drafted to become Generation Next in the secondary: Shaquill Griffin, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson and Mike Tyson.
But it’s Pocic who is an additional piece to the team’s biggest puzzle: What’s the offensive line going to look like?
Center is the one spot most settled, with Justin Britt playing his way to a Pro Bowl alternate at that position last year. Of course, center is where Pocic had the most experience in college.
Beyond that, there are tons of possibilities but not much in the way of certainty.
Germain Ifedi, a first-round pick in 2016, started last season at right guard but could be moving out to right tackle. Mark Glowinski started at left guard last season but could be moving to right guard. Luke Joeckel was signed in free agency and is a consideration at left guard or perhaps left tackle, where Fant returns after being forced into the starting job at that spot last season.
Then there’s Pocic, whom Seattle evaluated to be the most versatile offensive lineman available in this year’s draft.
“That’s definitely an important trait of mine,” Pocic said when asked about his familiarity with multiple positions. “Just to know what everyone is doing. It just started in college, playing at center and getting to know the whole offensive line. It kind of grew on me over the years.”
And if history is any indication, the position where Pocic starts his Seahawks career is no certainty for where he’ll finish it. Britt played right tackle and then left guard before settling at center last season.
For now, Seattle’s newest offensive lineman looks all right at the edge of the line.
“He looked very comfortable at right tackle,” Carroll said. “So we’ll see how this goes.”
• The Seahawks haven’t chosen a quarterback in any of the previous five drafts, but they did take a look at a couple of undrafted rookies this weekend in addition to local product Jake Heaps. While Skyler Howard of West Virginia may have been the bigger name, it was Michael Birdsong of Tennessee Tech who may have had a better weekend as Carroll said Birdsong likely graded out the best over the weekend. “He threw some really good footballs,” Carroll said.
• One of the best players at Seattle’s so-called rookie minicamp wasn’t a rookie at all. Receiver Kenny Lawler was drafted out of Cal in 2016, but he was eligible for the minicamp because he was not part of Seattle’s 53-man roster at any point last season. Lawler is notably bigger, having gained as much as 17 pounds from last season, and he stood out over the three days of workouts. “He just has worked out really hard,” Carroll said. “He’s more powerful coming off the football and running. He has always had great catching range and skill catching the football.”
• McDowell began his Seahawks career on the right foot with three days of practice. It was his left foot that became a problem late in Sunday’s workout after he was stepped on toward the end of practice. McDowell had the foot looked at on the sideline, and Carroll indicated he was expected to be OK.