BUMP AND STACY

Ray Roberts: How Seahawks rookie OTs debuted, why OL could be among NFL’s best

Sep 16, 2022, 9:18 AM
Seahawks Abraham Lucas...
Abraham Lucas of the Seattle Seahawks in action against the Denver Broncos at Lumen Field on September 12, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

All eyes were on the quarterbacks when the Seahawks and Broncos faced off, but one position group for Seattle was also being watched very closely in Week 1. That was the offensive line.

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The Seahawks’ starting offensive line not only was using a new center in Austin Blythe while missing starting left guard Damien Lewis, who was out with knee and ankle injuries, but the team rolled out rookie tackles in first-round pick Charles Cross and third-rounder Abraham Lucas.

The play of those two rookies is something to keep an eye on all season long, but as far as their debuts, how did Cross and Lucas look against Denver on Monday? Who better to help break it down than longtime NFL offensive tackle “Big” Ray Roberts, an analyst on the Seahawks Radio Network for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage.

Roberts joined Stacy Rost and former Seahawks players Michael Bumpus and Dave Wyman for The Huddle on Seattle Sports 710 AM on Thursday and shared his review of the Hawks’ two rookie tackles, as well as a long-term prediction for the team’s offensive line in 2022.

“I thought they did pretty good for the first game,” Roberts said. “And the places where they didn’t show as well, I think are all coachable, correctable things. It wasn’t a matter of their ability.”

What exactly did Roberts see from those two?

“For instance, Charles Cross, I think, was kind of a little bit weary of speed, so he in his pass protection was trying to get back so fast that he ended up being head up with a defender. And when you’re head up with the defender, you give him inside leverage, or he can have outside leverage,” Roberts said. “So I always tell guys, ‘If you’re even, they’re leaving.’ So they’re either gonna go inside or they’re gonna get you around the corner. So I think he just needs to trust that he can play a little bit behind on the inside shoulder, and then be able to run the guy around the corner. And then in the running game, I just think that Charles just needs to get his pads down a little lower and then be a little bit more violent with his hands.”

And Lucas?

“And then Big Abe just kept building on his resume, man,” Roberts said. “I think the first run and play a game, he had a pancake. A lot of people were saying that he was doing his stuff against backups in the preseason, but it doesn’t seem like the starters are gonna be any more safe from getting flat backed than anyone else. And then I thought he did a pretty good job in pass protection.”

“I still think that those two dudes are going to be around for a long time,” Roberts added. “The things that they struggled with – if you want to call it that – in the game are all things that can be corrected, literally in like two days of practice.”

Armed with the two rookie tackles, a new center and two veteran guards, can this be the Seahawks’ best offensive line in some time?

“Absolutely,” Roberts said.

Roberts thinks Seattle’s top-seven linemen – Cross, Lewis, Blythe, Gabe Jackson, Lucas, Phil Haynes and Jake Curhan – is the best top seven the Seahawks have had in years. And he thinks there’s a simple reason why.

“I’m telling you, the reason that it’s that way – and I’ve said this before – is they went out and got dudes that have PhDs in what they do,” he said.

The Seahawks have often signed or drafted players and moved them to different spots, be it from one O-line spot to another or in some cases, defensive line to the offensive line. That’s not the case with this group.

“They went out and found tackles that have played tackle for a long time and so they know all the little nuances and all the little things you have to learn to be able to play offensive tackle effectively,” Roberts said. “And then they have guards that have played guard their entire life and they have a center who might be a little bit undersized, but he’s been a center, and he’s been in this system and he’s a great communicator.”

Many outlets ranked the Seahawks’ offensive line as one of the league’s worst entering the season. Roberts isn’t buying that.

“I think by the third quarter of the season, you may be looking at one of the better offensive lines in the league, whether they’re top 10 or 12 or 13. But they will not be at the bottom the way some of the people had them starting the season,” he said. “I think that was just based on them starting two rookie tackles. I really like what they have up there. I like the pocket they were creating for (quarterback Geno Smith) to throw from, I liked some of the (running) lanes they had. I felt the running game got a little bit too horizontal at times – I think is better when when they’re getting downhill like they were at the last five games of the season. But I think that this offensive line is going to do really well as the season goes on.”

Listen to the second and final hour of The Huddle at this link or in the player below.

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Ray Roberts: How Seahawks rookie OTs debuted, why OL could be among NFL’s best