BRADY HENDERSON

Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 16, G Germain Ifedi

Jul 14, 2016, 9:14 AM
Seahawks rookie right guard Germain Ifedi did not practice a day after suffering a reported high-an...
Seahawks rookie right guard Germain Ifedi did not practice a day after suffering a reported high-ankle sprain. (AP)
(AP)
LISTEN: Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 16, G Germain Ifedi

Each day until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is talking with an NFL analyst and counting down the 25 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. “Two-a-days” continued with Michael Robinson of the NFL Network as the guest and Germain Ifedi as the 16th-most intriguing Seahawk. The segment on Ifedi is embedded above. My thoughts are below.

Position: G
Height/Weight: 6-5, 325
Experience: Rookie
Acquired: First-round pick, 2016

Overview: As unpredictable as they have been in the draft, there wasn’t much doubt that the Seahawks would make it a priority this year to restock an offensive line that had lost two more starters and had at times in recent seasons been the team’s Achilles heel. That process began in the first round, when Seattle moved back five spots and used the 31st pick on Ifedi, a mountain of a man whose size and style fit what the Seahawks look for in offensive linemen. “He’s got big hands, big arms. He’s really big,” coach Pete Carroll said at the time. “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.” Ifedi had been considered a strong possibility for Seattle in the first round despite the belief among some that he was a second-round talent. The surprise came a few days after the draft when the Seahawks made it known that Ifedi will at least begin his career at right guard despite initial indications that the team views him as a right tackle. Ifedi played right guard as a freshman in college and right tackle for the next two seasons. “His weakness, and why maybe some would feel it’s a little bit of a reach, is you take a guy in the first round that can’t come in and play out in space,” said Brock Huard, who also works as a college football analyst for ESPN. “He was a right tackle at Texas A&M. They tried to play him at left tackle. Athletically, you’d think he could do it; he didn’t, and he couldn’t. Even this year, you’re projecting him not as a right tackle – a position of need – you’re going to slide him in and he’s going to play guard because you’re going to try to protect him in space. There’s technique issues, he’s going to have his head down, he’s going to get beat, he’s not going to be clean all the time, and he’s a work in progress with every little inch of real estate that is so critical.”

The intrigue: Ifedi represents perhaps the best hope to become the stud offensive-line mainstay that Seattle hasn’t had in years. It’s not as though the Seahawks have completely lacked talent. Max Unger and Russell Okung were both Pro Bowl-caliber players, but they struggled with injuries. Like Okung, James Carpenter was a first-round pick, but he had durability issues of his own. J.R. Sweezy played well enough to get a massive payday in free agency, but his transition from a college defensive tackle wasn’t smooth at first and he was never great in pass-protection. The Seahawks traded Unger and let Okung, Carpenter and Sweezy leave in free agency once their rookie deals expired. Those players were good, but by definition they weren’t good enough that Seattle felt they were necessary to keep. In fact, none of the offensive linemen that Seattle has drafted under Carroll and general manager John Schneider have gotten a second contract from the Seahawks. Can Ifedi be the first? The Seahawks like his prospects. “I’m so excited about Germain,” Carroll said. “He’s a monster of a guy. He’s got a great attitude and he’s smart, he’s just big, bulky, thick, long, hard, tough. He’s just all of that stuff. So we’re really hoping that he can become a real factor. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t.”

2016 outlook: Of Seattle’s rookies, Ifedi and defensive tackle Jarran Reed have the best chance to make the biggest impact this season. Evaluating individual offensive linemen or the group as a whole is difficult during non-contact practices, which is all the Seahawks have had to this point in the offseason. But Ifedi has been working with the first team at right guard, and the starting job appears to be his to lose. If he holds onto it, Ifedi will be part of an offensive line that could have a new starter at each position from last year. He’ll have his hands full right off the bat and throughout the season as Seattle’s schedule will pit him against some of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen: Miami’s Ndamukong Suh in Week 1, the Rams’ Aaron Donald in Weeks 2 and 15, the Jets’ Sheldon Richardson in Week 4, Buffalo’s Marcell Dareus in Week 9, Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox in Week 11, Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy in Week 12 and Carolina’s Kawann Short in Week 13.

Most Intriguing Seahawks: 25, DL Quinton Jefferson; 24, WR Kasen Williams; 23, WR Paul Richardson; 22, G Mark Glowinski; 21, TE Nick Vannett; 20, CB Jeremy Lane; 19, DT Jordan Hill; 18, RB Alex Collins; 17, S Tyvis Powell.

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Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 16, G Germain Ifedi