Luke Joeckel? Rees Odhiambo? A look at the Seahawks’ LT options with George Fant out for the season
Last week, Pete Carroll and Tom Cable all but declared that the left side of the Seahawks’ offensive line was set with George Fant and Luke Joeckel.
Seattle needs a new plan at left tackle – and potentially at left guard, too – following the season-ending knee injury Fant suffered in Friday night’s preseason game against Minnesota.
The Seahawks on Sunday agreed to terms with free agent Tyrus Thompson, but his background suggests he’s more of a depth player as opposed to someone the team considers a starter.
Here are three thoughts about Seattle’s options at left tackle:
Moving Joeckel would make sense. It might actually make the most sense. As unfortunate as it is for a team to lose its starting left tackle in a preseason game, the Seahawks consider themselves fortunate in this case to have a player with Joeckel’s flexibility. Remember, he spent his first three seasons at left tackle after entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick by Jacksonville in 2013. He played left guard last year and has been slated to play for there for Seattle this year, so moving him to tackle would create a ripple effect on Seattle’s line. Mark Glowinski and Oday Aboushi have been competing to start at right guard. The Seahawks could move one of them to left guard – Glowinski started there last year – if they decide to kick Joeckel out to tackle. Joeckel had been rotating with Fant there until last week. Carroll didn’t commit to any plan at left tackle when asked about it Friday night, but it was telling, I thought, that Joeckel was the first and only name thing he mentioned. “I don’t know. We’ll see,” Carroll said. “We’re very fortunate that Luke Joeckel is on our team. Luke can start at left tackle or left guard. We’re just fortunate that he’s with us. We have some choices and we’ll figure that out in time.”
Odhiambo would be a leap of faith. Another of Seattle’s in-house options is Rees Odhiambo, a 2016 third-round pick who played only 33 offensive snaps as a rookie. The book on Odhiambo is that he’s powerful and athletic but can’t seem to put it all together and cut it loose when the ball is snapped. He replaced Fant when he went down in the second quarter and finished out the game. He had some issues in pass protection and was called for holding twice then seemed to settle in as the game went on, albeit against backups by that point. Trusting Odhiambo with Russell Wilson’s blindside would require a massive leap of faith by the Seahawks, one that I’m not sure they’re willing to take. Carroll’s assessment of what he’s seen from Odhiambo this summer didn’t exactly come off as a vote of confidence. “He’s been a little bit up and down,” Carroll said Friday night. “He’s been playing both spots, guard and tackle on the left side. We like his physicality. He’s a good athlete, he’s strong and tough and all that. Just cleaning up his game and being really consistent is what we’re concerned about. How soon will that come? And will he be able to clean it all up in time to try to win one of these spots? So we’ll see what happens.” Rookie second-round pick Ethan Pocic is known for his versatility, but he doesn’t have any meaningful experience at left tackle. None of his 37 college starts were at left tackle and he hasn’t worked there at all so far with Seattle.
What about Branden Albert? The Seahawks leave no stone unturned when it comes to potential personnel moves, so it seems like a safe bet that they’ll at least place a call to gauge Albert’s interest in coming out of retirement. He’s 32 years old and made the Pro Bowl twice over his nine years in the NFL. This would have been Albert’s first season in Jacksonville, which acquired him in a trade from Miami, but he abruptly retired three days into training camp and then said he wanted to return. The Jaguars instead released him, which means he’s available. But there’s the obvious question of whether or not he even wants to play football. There’s also a question of how much he has left; the reviews of his three training camp practices weren’t pretty.