During each show until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is counting down the 20 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. The countdown continued with left tackle George Fant. The segment on Fant is embedded above. Brady Henderson’s thoughts are below.
The Seahawks believe George Fant has the potential to a Pro Bowl left tackle. They felt that way when they signed him as an undrafted free agent last year and they still feel that way after his rough rookie season. There was nothing surprising about how Fant struggled last year when pressed into an impossible situation. That he found his way into the starting lineup in the first place was entirely improbable. You know his backstory by now. Fant played only one season of college football – as a backup tight end, no less – and somehow became Seattle’s starting left tackle midway through the year. When Fant took over for an injured Bradley Sowell in Week 8, he hadn’t started a football game since junior high. Fant hung onto that job even when Sowell returned. And while it initially appeared that the Seahawks signed Luke Joeckel to replace him in 2017, it now seems like Fant is in line to start at left tackle again while Joeckel plays next to him at left guard.
By the numbers
7 or 8. The number of plays (excluding special teams) that Fant estimated he played during his one season on the football team at Western Kentucky, where he played basketball for four years. That helps put into perspective the unlikelihood of him becoming an NFL starting left tackle as a rookie. It also puts into perspective how much room he should have to improve. With his athleticism and capacity to learn, the Seahawks believe he will. “He should grow more than anybody can possibly grow,” coach Pete Carroll said earlier this offseason. “He has played less than anybody.”
24. Roughly the number of pounds Fant gained over the offseason with some help from his mom. She moved in with Fant and his wife to lend a hand after their second child was born. That included cooking for Fant, who said in June that he’s up to 320 pounds after playing at around 296 as a rookie. Fant said the added weight should be of particular help with anchoring against the bull rush, something he felt he struggled with at his playing weight last year. Said Brock Huard: “When you’re 320, you can absorb a little bit more. You can take on some of that bull rush. You don’t have to have your hands perfectly, you don’t have to be in perfect leverage position. If you’ve just got that extra weight, that extra strength, sometimes that can compensate just as much as anything.”
$1.64 million. The total value of Fant’s three-year rookie contract. That includes a 2017 salary of $540,000, the NFL’s minimum for a second-year player. For context, the league’s 20 highest-paid left tackles based on annual average make between $6.48 million and $13.6 million, according to Spotrac.com. The Seahawks are spending relatively little at a position that tends to command a premium in the NFL. If Fant can give them even serviceable play, that will equate to a tremendous value.
While the Seahawks believe Fant has Pro Bowl potential, he shouldn’t be expected to make that leap in 2017. I agree with a point that Huard and Mike Salk made in their segment on Fant, which is that Seattle’s offensive line would be considerably better if Fant merely plays like a league average left tackle in 2017. And, as Salk noted, whatever mistakes he does make could be mitigated by Russell Wilson’s mobility and Eddie Lacy’s ability to break tackles, two things Seattle didn’t have last season.
Carroll, earlier this offseason, on whether Fant has shown enough to have a shot at holding onto the left tackle job: “There’s no question. There’s no question he has because he’s improved. His awareness, his communication, as it should, as we talked about that one-year to year-two jump has already happened. But more than that, he had a phenomenal offseason in terms of getting stronger and he maintained his quickness and his mobility. But this is the first offseason he’s ever had as a football player, and it shows. He made great advancements and he worked really hard at it and he’s really fired up to come on back with what he knows now, how he sees things, and with his body, it might be a 25-pound swing on body right now. And he looks great.”
Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 20, WR Jermaine Kearse; No. 19, K Blair Walsh; No. 18, S Bradley McDougald; No. 17, RB Thomas Rawls; No. 16, DT Jarran Reed; No. 15, DE Frank Clark; No. 14, WR/KR Tyler Lockett; No. 13, WR Amara Darboh; No. 12, RB C.J. Prosise; No. 11, RT Germain Ifedi; No. 10, S Kam Chancellor; No. 9, TE Jimmy Graham; No. 8, DL Michael Bennett.