Pete Carroll: Luke Joeckel adds versatility on O-line; Seahawks just missed on signing T.J. Lang

Mar 16, 2017, 6:00 AM
Pete Carroll: Luke Joeckel's experience at both tackle and guard is what "makes him really valuable...
Pete Carroll: Luke Joeckel's experience at both tackle and guard is what "makes him really valuable to us." (AP)

The attention early this week was on the Seahawks’ addition of running back Eddie Lacy, but it wasn’t long ago that Pete Carroll’s team brought on a new offensive lineman that will help clear the way for Lacy and the rest of Seattle’s runners out of the backfield.

Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Tuesday, and while he talked at length about Lacy, he also took some time to discuss that newest lineman, Luke Joeckel, as well as how the Seahawks just missed on getting another veteran OL in free agency.

Here’s a look at what Carroll had to say about matters of the offensive line:

Seahawks like Joeckel’s versatility. The second overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Joeckel was taken that high thanks to a 6-foot-6, 300-plus-pound frame that makes him the prototypical left tackle. He didn’t last there in his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, though, and eventually was moved inside to left guard last season before a knee injury ended his 2016 season prematurely. It was his performance before the injury that Carroll said stood out to the Seahawks, though. “Because of all of his measureables he’s perfectly suited to be a left tackle, but he played left guard last year (and) that’s what makes him really valuable to us,” Carroll said. The Seahawks have long valued linemen who can play multiple positions under Carroll and offensive-line coach Tom Cable, and Joeckel will be another piece that Seattle can move around to find the best configuration at the line of scrimmage. “We think that this gives us an opportunity to work it out with the best of our other players, as well,” Carroll said. “He can play both spots and we’ll see how that works. … (Jacksonville) picked up a guy in free agency that could play left tackle last year and that worked out for them, but it really showed Luke’s flexibility. He played really well inside, in our opinion, and that’s really the only opinion that counts.”

Clayton: Thoughts on Joeckel, Lang and first wave of Seahawks free agency

Injury shouldn’t limit Joeckel. Though Joeckel underwent surgery in October to reconstruct his left ACL and repair his MCL and lateral meniscus, Carroll said he’s “way ahead of schedule” in his recovery and that he’s expected to participate in offseason workouts. “He’s five months into rehab and he’s doing great. … Hasn’t had one day of setback. He’s on a great track to make it back and be ready to go during this offseason. He’ll be active and be able to be on the field. He’s already on the ground running and all of that. Looks to be making a great recovery.”

What Seattle likes about Joeckel. “He’s physical, he’s smart, he’s got great flexibility for a big man, he’s really determined,” Carroll said. “He had two injuries over the time that cost him some, but he’s played a lot of good football and we think he’s got a great upside, and he’s young, too, so we think we have a big future with him on the left side.”

Seahawks were close to getting T.J. Lang. While Seattle was able to bring Joeckel to town, it wasn’t successful in its pursuit of another offensive lineman, former Packer T.J. Lang, who decided to return to his native Michigan and sign with Detroit. “Ultimately it really didn’t matter because they chose to stay home. … Big family connections right there,” Carroll said of Lang. “We thought we had him and he was thinking really seriously about it. He had a great visit and fit in really well and all that, but when it came right down to it he had a chance to play at home and stay close to the family and that won out. I couldn’t do much about that other than just try to keep selling him on it and we got as far as we could.”

Starting OL talent almost all off the market. In a league where quality offensive linemen are at a premium, there aren’t many to go around. In a response to a question from Gee Scott, Carroll said that has resulted in a shelf that it almost bare as far as starting talent goes, both in free agency and next month’s draft. “There aren’t very many players that are starting players that haven’t already been swept (up) through the first run of (free agency),” Carroll said. “Very few guys in this draft also in that regard, so this is an important time to try to nail a player if you can get one and that’s what everyone’s battling. … There’s not a lot of players in the offensive line area.”

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Pete Carroll: Luke Joeckel adds versatility on O-line; Seahawks just missed on signing T.J. Lang