BROCK AND SALK

Huard’s Seahawks Draft Profile: Potential OL starter on Day 3

Apr 10, 2024, 11:54 AM | Updated: 12:01 pm

The offensive line is once again a position the Seattle Seahawks are thought to be looking to improve in the NFL Draft, but Seattle sits in a peculiar position this year with no second-round picks and just two in the top 100.

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The lack of picks in the first half of the draft means the Seahawks very well could do what they’ve been known for during general manager John Schneider’s tenure. That’s trading back with their first-round pick. But could the team still get an impact interior lineman if they pass up a chance at the likes of UW’s Troy Fautanu or Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson at No. 16 overall?

According to former NFL quarterback Brock Huard, the Seahawks may be able to find a starting-caliber interior lineman as late as the fourth of the draft. The lineman Huard eluded to was Michigan guard Zak Zinter, who was the subject of Huard’s Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile on Wednesday during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“The identity of (Michigan) and why they won a national title was built on the line of scrimmage,” Huard said, “and, Zach Zinter, he was the cornerstone.”

Michigan’s anchor up front

If Michigan was playing, chances are the 6-foot-6, 309-pound Zinter was on the field. He was immediately thrust into a starting role for the Wolverines and started four of team’s six games as a true freshman during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. The Wolverines went just 2-4 that year, but Zinter and the team only got better after former Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s only losing season in Ann Arbor.

Zinter started 12 of the team’s 13 games the following year – 11 of those at right guard – and helped an O-line that won the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the top offensive line in college football. He then started all 14 games at right guard as a junior, helping the unit up front to a second straight Joe Moore Award and College Football Playoff appearance. Zinter’s senior season was cut short after he suffered a broken tibia and fibula during Michigan’s rivalry clash with Ohio State, which kept him off the field in the postseason as the Wolverines completed their run to the national title.

Zinter was a first-team All-Big 10 selection the past two seasons and a first-team Associated Press All-America pick as a senior.

“If (the Seahawks) end up drafting one of these Michigan guys, and maybe it’s the left guard Trevor Keegan, but you know what they’re both really good at?  Strain,” Huard said. “(I) love that word: strain. You’ll hear Harbaugh say it all the time. It’s not grit. It’s not toughness. It’s what being a lineman is – you gotta strain for everything, for every last inch of grass.”

How Zinter fits with the Seahawks

Drafting Zinter, who was a sophomore at Michigan when current Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald was the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator, could allow the Seahawks to focus on the defense with their pick at No. 16 overall or with whatever early picks they can obtain by trading back. The North Andover, Massachusetts, native has ideal size and a track record of production that seems to warrant early-round consideration, but his major leg injury has impacted his draft stock.

“He couldn’t go workout (at the combine) and I was talking to some scouts over the last couple of days, he may be a day-three pick,” Huard said. “He may be one of these (guys) that I’m talking about and telling you (he’s a fourth-round pick). … There’s starters into the fourth round.”

With a 6-6, 309-pound from and 33 1/2-inch arms, Zinter also brings an aspect to the interior of the offensive line that Huard believes the Seahawks have been missing.

“You know what we’ve seen a guard for the Seahawks too often?” Huard asked. “(Guys who are) short and stumpy and broad with big doors. I want length. I want power. I want size. This guy’s got a bunch of it. And if he’s sitting there because of that lower broken leg, and if he’s sitting there in the late third round or into that fourth round and they add that guy to this, O-line, I’d be excited.”

Listen to Brock Huard’s full Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile on Michigan guard Zak Zinter at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Listen to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6-10 a.m. or on the Seattle Sports App.

More on the Seattle Seahawks and NFL Draft prospects

The UW Huskies draft prospect that will surprise people in NFL
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Bumpus: To Seahawks, No. 16 pick is ‘really like a top-10 pick’
Huard’s Seahawks Draft Profile: DT with pedigree

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