Huard: Ethan Pocic won Seahawks’ center job, B.J. Finney didn’t lose it
For the first time since 2015, the Seahawks will have a center not named Justin Britt starting at the position in Week 1. Instead the job now belongs to 2017 second-round pick Ethan Pocic, who head coach Pete Carroll confirmed Monday has won the starting job after an offseason battle with free-agent acquisition B.J. Finney.
Finney was seen as the favorite for the Seahawks’ starting center job entering camp as he signed a two-year deal worth up to $8 million with $4.5 million already guaranteed. But Finney reportedly didn’t grasp the job from the start like many expected, and Carroll said a few weeks ago that Pocic was getting reps with the starters in part because Finney was still learning the system and Pocic’s experience helped with the development of the rest of the offensive line and quarterback Russell Wilson.
Pocic, who is entering his fourth NFL season, has appeared in games at guard and now will be playing his main position of center, where he a First-Team All-American at LSU. He has dealt with injuries while in the NFL, including last season when he was placed on injured reserve twice.
One question is whether Pocic won the job outright with his play during practice or if Finney flat-out lost the job and essentially handed it to Pocic, especially considering the team mulled re-signing Britt, who had recent two tryouts with the Seahawks. Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard shared his thoughts with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Tuesday, the day after Pocic officially was named the starting center.
“Ethan Pocic won this job,” said Huard, who is entering his first week as an NFL on FOX color commentator. “Ethan Pocic has been here a few years and in an offseason that was shortened and that was limited for so many of these players and even B.J. Finney, while he has some NFL experience elsewhere, I think there was a relationship and trust going in and I think for Ethan Pocic you knew it’s now or never. That I’ve got to win this job here or I could be cut and be out on the street and not be part of this … and if you’re Pocic, you just get to that point and that realization your family and your friends and your agent and your loved ones make it pretty clear that you’ve got to go win this thing and you’ve got to go take it and if you do, you have a chance to be a starting center in this league, which frankly is where he should have been all the way through this.”
Huard said he’s glad that Pocic’s time at guard is seemingly over, as it’s more of a benefit to him and the team if he is a center.
“I think they felt like they could slide him into that guard spot, but I don’t think he can anchor, I don’t think that is the strength of his game,” Huard said. “He’s not a big, powerful guy, but at 6-foot-6-plus (and 320 pounds), he is athletic and he can get to the second level. He was dominant at (center) at LSU and I think he’s set up for some success and I would absolutely say … that he went out and took that job from a guy guaranteed nearly $5 million going in, thinking he had it in his hands.”
During preseason games over the last few years, Pocic has impressed Huard, who said the young offensive lineman looked competent and confident at center compared to when he plays guard, where defensive tackles “just lined up on his shoulder” and Pocic has to “win with power right off the snap.”
“Ethan is 6-foot-6, he’s long, he’s athletic, he’s got pretty good bend, but he’s not what (rookie right guard) Damien Lewis is and that’s just an unbelievable, powerful squat of 650 pounds, or (former starting right tackle) D.J. Fluker or (starting left guard Mike) Iupati, those guys who can anchor and just handle that bull rush,” Huard said. “But he’s not going to have to do a ton of that. He’s not going to have someone sitting on his nose play in and play out that he’s got to move. Instead he’s got to communicate.”
And even if Pocic isn’t beating defensive linemen with power off of the snap, Huard said he likes to get physical with the opposing defense.
“He’s kind of a nasty dude and you’re going to see this,” he said. “He likes to play to and through the whistle and he doesn’t mind as a center when someone’s engaged of sticking his neck and shoulder and helmet right into the ribs and sucking the oxygen out of the lungs of said defensive tackles. I think he has some of that spirit and grit and fortunately for him, he took this job and has got a heck of an opportunity here in 2020.”
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