Seahawks take OT Germain Ifedi from Texas A&M after moving back in first round
RENTON – Not for a few years will we be able to fairly judge Seattle’s 2016 draft as a whole or any selection from it.
But after a first round in which the Seahawks addressed their biggest need while also acquiring an additional pick, it seems at least on paper that they made out pretty well.
“It’s huge,” general manager John Schneider said Thursday night after the Seahawks chose Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi following a trade from No. 26 to 31. He was referring specifically to the extra third-round pick – No. 94 overall – that Seattle obtained from Denver by moving back five spots, which leaves the team with nine more selections over the final six rounds. But he might as well have been talking about the addition of Ifedi, which gives Seattle one of the top prospects at a position that badly needed an infusion of blue-chip talent.
Ifedi himself is huge, listed at 6-6 and 335 pounds with a seven-foot wingspan, measurables that make him a prototypically-sized tackle.
“He’s got big hands, big arms. He’s really big,” coach Pete Carroll said. “The way he plays is what was really important. He’s really physical and he likes to get after it and he mixes it up with you. That style is right at home with us.”
Schneider expressed the same thought with different language, calling Ifedi an “ass-kicker.”
The Seahawks will use Ifedi at right tackle, which is the position he played during his final two seasons in college and where he will have a chance to start right away even though Seattle signed J’Marcus Webb in free agency to play there. The Seahawks favor offensive linemen who can play more than one position, so they consider it a bonus that Ifedi has experience at guard, having started on the right side as a freshman in 2013.
The Seahawks’ selection of Ifedi marks the first time since 2012 that they have used their first-round pick, having given it up in each of the past three years either in a pre-draft trade or to acquire additional picks. Schneider said taking a defensive lineman was a consideration in the first round and that Seattle thought about trading back again from 31 before deciding instead to take Ifedi.
“I don’t think I could have landed in a better place than Seattle,” Ifedi said, noting that one of his mentors is Seahawks center Patrick Lewis, a teammate during his redshirt freshman season at Texas A&M. “This is amazing.”
Like any selection, this one is not without its risks. Scouting reports note inconsistency in Ifedi’s technique, which Seahawks offensive-line coach Tom Cable acknowledged. And Ifedi faces a significant adjustment coming from a spread offense at Texas A&M, where he played exclusively from a two-point stance and wasn’t asked to come off the ball the way he’ll have to in the NFL.
“What they do is kind of a retreat set, back up, catch and hold on,” Cable explained. “In this league, that won’t do it. You have to close face on people and use your strength and your power and size. He’s going to have to learn how to do that. He’s going to have to learn how to play with leverage. It’s not a system where he’s coming from that they come off the ball and try to knock you back and all those things. The cool thing is he’s wired to do that. It’s a matter of teaching him and getting him the rest of it. Very excited about that.”
Cable said Ifedi is more NFL-ready than other offensive linemen in one respect, which is that he was challenged on a weekly basis by the premier pass rushers in the SEC. And he likes the way Ifedi works. Cable talks about the willingness to strain, something he saw from Ifedi when he worked him out during his pro day.
“One of the things I tried to do in the workout was to press him, to see how far I can take him,” Cable said. “He never backed down. He handled the workout beautifully. … I knew there was a toughness about him. Since he’d become a starter, he hadn’t missed a day, whether it was a game or practice.”
Ifedi is from Houston, where he watched the draft from his home along with several family members, friends and his agent. They were seen jumping for joy after Ifedi got off the phone with Schneider. He called it one of the greatest moments of his life.
“It was 10, 12 years of hard work coming to roost,” he said. “I know it’s not my ultimate goal of being a great player, but it’s another step. It’s a huge step. The long wait, 30 picks, and you get that call. You don’t know who it’s from. It could be a bill collector – you don’t know. You don’t know who’s calling you, and if it’s the wrong person you might lose it. But it was the right person. I heard ‘John’ and I jumped out of my seat.”
The selection of Ifedi raises a question about the Seahawks’ plans for Webb, whom they have penciled in at right tackle. The money Seattle gave him – $5.75 million over two seasons – suggests that the team views him as a starter, but he can also play guard. Carroll was vague when asked if Seattle may move Webb inside.
“We’ll figure that out,” he said. “These guys are really similar. They’re both very, very big guys. Really gifted big men, so we’ll figure it out. It’s a great situation for us. We expect these guys to play.”