Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 10, LT Garry Gilliam
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 Phil Simms of CBS as the guest and Garry Gilliam as the 10th-most intriguing Seahawk. The segment on Gilliam is embedded above. My thoughts are below.
• Position: LT
• Height/Weight: 6-5, 315
• Experience: Third season
• Acquired: Signed as undrafted free agent, 2014
Overview: Over the past 20 years, no position has had less turnover in Seattle than left tackle. Walter Jones occupied the spot from the moment he was drafted No. 6 overall in 1997 through his season-ending knee injury in 2008. After a one-year interim in which Jones remained on the payroll but didn’t play, the Seahawks picked his successor, Russell Okung, sixth overall in 2010. Now it’s Gilliam, who was not only undrafted, but he started on the other side of the line last season. Seattle moved him this offseason to left tackle, where he’ll be responsible for protecting Russell Wilson’s blindside. Turning the page on Okung might not be that easy, said Ross Tucker, a former NFL offensive lineman who hosts the “Ross Tucker Football Podcast” in addition to appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “He’s also clearly the best pass protector they had,” Tucker said of Okung on 710 ESPN Seattle. “So to move on from him and replace him with Gilliam and then bring in J’Marcus Webb, that’s a big drop-off. I’d be very concerned about the number of hits that Russell Wilson takes. I expect him to take a lot again this year. At some point, he’s not going to get up. At some point, he’s not going to be able to keep playing.”
The intrigue: The Seahawks like Gilliam’s athleticism. In fact, he was agile enough that he was a blocking tight end to begin his college career at Penn State. His feet have made him a good fit for Tom Cable’s system even though he’s a leaner athlete than your typical NFL offensive tackle. In fact, Gilliam might be a rarity for a Cable lineman in that he’s more adept at pass blocking than he is at being a road-grader of a run blocker. Now, he’s going to be asked to occupy the most important pass-protecting position along the line after moving from right tackle. On the one hand, Seattle has shown an ability to make the most out of offensive linemen. In four years, J.R. Sweezy went from a college defensive tackle to an guard with a top-10 paycheck. “There’s a lot that I personally like about Tom Cable’s philosophies,” Tucker said, “but I’m not sure that it’s necessarily what’s always been in the best interest of the team. I think maybe he’s convinced that he can accomplish more than he really can. I think he’s kind of bit off more than he can chew a little bit.”
2016 outlook: None of Seattle’s offensive linemen are going to face a bigger challenge than Gilliam to start the season, but none will improve as much as him over the course of the year. In other words, expect some rocky moments early that will even out over the course of the season. Gilliam played left tackle in college, but there’s going to be a learning curve for him that will be accentuated by the reality that the left tackle is the player most often left on an island against an elite pass rusher. Gilliam learned to trust his feet last year, his single biggest improvement. Early on, he was so worried about keeping a defensive end from getting around the edge that he would react as soon as the end made a move. That left him vulnerable to a feint, opening the door for the end to first step outside and then beat Gilliam with an inside move. Over the course of the season, Gilliam learned he was quick enough to keep an end from running around him without over-committing to the outside speed rush. Gilliam is going to be a good NFL offensive lineman. In fact, he may wind up being great, but there might be some rocky moments early as he feels his way through.
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; 16, G Germain Ifedi; 15, QB Russell Wilson; 14, FS Earl Thomas; 13, CB Tharold Simon; 12, WR Doug Baldwin; 11, WR/KR Tyler Lockett.