BUMP AND STACY

Could Oregon center be the Seattle Seahawks’ next Max Unger?

Apr 10, 2024, 8:16 AM

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft Profile: Jackson Powers-Johnson...

Jackson Powers-Johnson of the Oregon Ducks during a 2023 game. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have been searching a long-term answer at center since Justin Britt left in free agency following the 2019 season.

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The Seahawks have tried different solutions since: Ethan Pocic, Kyle Fuller, Austin Blythe and most recently Evan Brown. None have stuck at the position, which has been a bit of a revolving door in recent seasons. This comes after Seattle was largely stable at the spot thanks to Britt and Max Unger holding it down for most of the 2011-19 seasons.

What if the Seahawks could bring a Max Unger-type back in the fold? Former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington told Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Monday that type of player resides in the 2024 NFL Draft. That would be Jackson Powers-Johnson, who’s an Oregon product just like Unger and Harrington.

“I think he’s phenomenal. He was absolutely the linchpin of that, of arguably the best offensive line in the country this year,” Harrington said. “… He’s going to be a valuable piece to whatever offensive line he goes to. He’s that solid of a player. He reminds me actually of another former Seahawk in Max Unger. He’s just a guy who can absolutely anchor an offensive line. He’s smart, he’s strong, he’s athletic and he loves playing the game.”

Powers-Johnson emerged as the starter at center for the Ducks last season and parlayed his role into massive breakout season. After two years as a backup, Powers-Johnson won the Rimington Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top center, and was a first-team selection to the Associated Press All-America and Pac-12 teams.

He was a consensus top-five center in the nation coming out of high school and is still just 21 years old. He won’t turn 22 until the end of next season.

Seattle Sports’ Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost further examined Powers-Johnson’s fit with the Seahawks on Tuesday.

“The first thing I see with with Jackson Powers-Johnson is that first step,” Bumpus said. “… You have to get the snap off first and he played in a primarily shotgun offense over there with the Oregon Ducks, and there was no panic. You know how many times I’ve seen centers snap the ball over a quarterback’s head, put in the dirt left or right because you got a zero or one (technique defensive lineman) right in front of you, and you’re so concerned about getting your head up and making that contact. He’s done a great job of just holding his water, (that’s) what football coaches like to say, ‘Hold your water.’ He does a good job of holding his water. When he engages with you, he typically wins the battle. I haven’t seen too many times where he gets thrown off of his spot.”

Powers-Johnson is most often projected as a late first-round pick with the potential of falling to the second round, so the Seahawks could still have a shot at the center if they move back from No. 16 overall. But would Seattle take a center after drafting Olu Oluwatimi in the fifth round last season and signing Nick Harris during the offseason?

“There’s no need for them to get a center, but you never know,” Bumpus said.

Powers-Johnson did make three starts at guard during his first two seasons at Oregon and took some reps at guard during the Senior Bowl.

“Obviously, he’s got over with 700 snaps at the center spot. You want to keep him there,” Bumpus said. “But if you have to, you can move him around. (He’s) a very versatile player. The only knock I would say sometimes is that he gets a little upright. That’s where you lose your battles.”

List to the full conversation with Joey Harrington at this link or in the audio player above. Listen to Bump and Stacy weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. or on the Seattle Sports app.

More on NFL Draft prospects

Huard’s Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile: DT with pedigree
Huard’s Seahawks Draft Profile: A ‘ninja’ on the edge
• Is this the reason NFL Draft stock for Penix is all over the place?
• Seahawks Draft: A versatile WSU Cougars standout on defense

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