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Geoff Schwartz: Seahawks’ O-line mistakes start with draft approach

The Seahawks and offensive line coach Tom Cable parted ways earlier this week. (AP)

The Seahawks’ firing of offensive line coach Tom Cable didn’t come as much of a surprise to former NFL lineman and current ESPN radio host and SB Nation writer Geoff Schwartz, who believes part of the blame lies in Seattle’s draft approach for blockers.

Schwartz explained his reasoning during an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Gee Scott Friday.

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“I think releasing Tom Cable was the right move,” Schwartz told Scott. “That offensive line has not gotten any better over many years. I know people like to say that he picked those players, and while he might have input, the front office picks players. I’ve asked offensive line coaches many times; they have input, some more than others. But in the end, it’s the front office.

“I know that Tom Cable did sign off on trying to transition these defensive lineman to offensive lineman, which he loved to do. I don’t get that philosophy, especially nowadays when you have less practice time. And ultimately, the offensive line play falls on the coach no matter what guys you bring in. He’s got to do a job of getting them ready, and you saw how Russell Wilson routinely gets killed (and) how the rushing game has gotten worse over the past couple years, so it didn’t surprise me to see them let him go.”

The Seahawks’ starting lineup on its Super Bowl-winning squad in 2013, from left to right, was Paul McQuistan (filling in for an injured Russell Okung), James Carpenter, Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy and Breno Giacomini.

Since 2014, though, there’s been plenty of turnover. Current center Justin Britt is the only starter who has been on the line since then; all other positions have since seen not just one, but several new faces. Seattle lost Okung to free agency in 2015, replacing him at left tackle with George Fant in 2016, then Rees Odhiambo and Duane Brown in 2017.

By the end of 2017, just two of Seattle’s five starting lineman had played for the Seahawks the year before. Those two starters – Britt and Germain Ifedi – were also playing a different position than the one they assumed in their rookie season.

“That’s what happens when you draft guys you don’t have a plan for,” Schwartz said. “You draft these guys with high upside instead of drafting guys who are ready to play now. This is a league now where unless you want to wait two or three years to play a player, you better draft an offensive lineman who’s ready to play now … when you draft guys who are these projects and they struggle, you’re trying to find a place to play them. So if a guy struggles at left tackle, well, let’s put him at right tackle, the right tackle struggles, let’s put him at guard …

“If you’re an offensive line evaluator, you should be drafting the guys who can do (in college) some of the things that you’re going to require of them, because you don’t have the practice time anymore to hone in your skills. So, I think it’s on Seattle for just not drafting guys that are ready to play now.”

Listen to Schwartz’s entire conversation with Scott