WYMAN AND BOB

Seahawks Draft: Ray Roberts breaks down potential O-line picks

Apr 9, 2022, 8:42 AM
Seahawks draft Ickey Ekwonu...
Offensive lineman Ickey Ekwonu of North Carolina State speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Another year, another offseason with plenty of questions with the Seahawks on the offensive line.

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Who better to help discuss the current state of the line and what the Seahawks can do going forward than former NFL offensive lineman Ray Roberts?

Roberts joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob Tuesday afternoon to break that down, particularly when it comes to the two offensive tackle spots.

“I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit nervous,” Roberts said. “And part of that is maybe they have a plan, but we just haven’t seen it yet. The worry was that down the stretch, you had some success with the offensive line, and then they would find some comfort in that and just be like, ‘OK, we’re set with the offensive line.’ But obviously at center, you let Ethan Pocic go elsewhere and bring in the center that was formerly with the Rams (Austin Blythe).”

As far as offensive tackles, though, the Seahawks’ two 2021 starters – Duane Brown and Brandon Shell – are free agents. Seattle does have one tackle who played a bit last year who Roberts is fairly high on.

“On the right tackle side, I love Jake Curhan, but I just think that athletically he has some limitations and I think teams can exploit that,” he said. “But I love his grit, I love his his tenacity, his desire to finish blocks, all that kind of stuff. But I think that it could become an issue if (defenses) were able to isolate him in space with some more athletic defense ends.”

Brown, a longtime NFL left tackle who has been a Pro Bowl caliber player with the Seahawks since joining the team in 2017, turns 37 in August. Whether he comes back to Seattle or not, though, Roberts doesn’t think the Seahawks have their left tackle of the future on the roster.

“It’d be great if they could have (Brown return) and then be able to groom a guy that can replace him in a couple years or after this next season,” he said.

Well, the Seahawks are in a spot where they could get a good offensive tackle prospect as they hold the No. 9 pick in this month’s NFL Draft.

Roberts said he’s defended how Seattle has built the offensive line in recent years, but he thinks the Seahawks need to “truly invest” by adding impact players rather than “a quantity of players.”

“You need to find dudes that are dudes,” Roberts said.

There are three top offensive tackle prospects in this draft who could be in play when the Seahawks pick at No. 9: Alabama’s Evan Neal, North Carolina State’s Ikem “Icky” Ekwonu and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross.

Of those three, who does Roberts like the best?

“The kid from NC State, Ekwonu. I like him,” he said. ” … To me, they all have size, they have power, they have athleticism, they have all these different attributes that they can bring to the table. But if you could get one, the one that I like the most is the kid from NC State. I think he has the best combination of power, the ability to run block and to pass block… Not only does he block people, he has the nastiness to drag dudes into the dirt and then get off the dirt and find another guy to drive into the dirt in the same place. And the other two are good players, but they don’t have that piece. And that piece is important to me. And I think if you could get one of those three, (Ekwonu) would be the guy that I would try to get.”

Roberts believes Neal will be a top-10 pick as he’s a phenomenal athlete despite weighing 350 pounds. Cross, however, is not viewed as highly by Roberts.

“The Cross kid, he’s more of a technical player. He doesn’t seem to play with a whole lot of power and he’s in a two point stance a lot, so it doesn’t really warrant itself to be a good run blocker the way that they’d like to run the ball here,” he said. “So to me, that would be a bit of a stretch to take the Cross kid at nine. I think Neal or Ekwonu would be would be comfortable nice picks.”

Listen to the full discussion at this link or in the player below.

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