Why Ray Roberts is impressed by Seahawks’ O-line additions

Apr 7, 2020, 12:21 PM | Updated: 12:43 pm
Seahawks OL B.J. Finey...
B.J. Finney could start at guard or center for the Seahawks in 2020. (Getty)

The Seahawks have added a handful of players this offseason through free agency and through trade, but no position group has seen more additions than the offensive line.

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Seattle has added nine players thus far, and four of them have been offensive linemen. While none of those four signings are big or household names, former Seahawks offensive lineman Ray Roberts thinks Seattle did a good job adding to that area this offseason.

“If you look at the four guys, there’s a combined 225 games played and there’s 129 starts and they’re all under the age of 30,” Roberts told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore. “The learning curve and the ability to gel a lot faster with these veteran guys versus bringing in a bunch of rookie dudes that are having to learn the NFL, earn the system, learn how to play with all these brand-new dudes. From that perspective, I like what they’ve done.”

The best signing of the four, Roberts said, is interior offensive lineman B.J. Finney, who last played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Finney has the ability to play at both guard and center, which could be useful as 2019 starting left guard Mike Iupati is a free agent and starting center Justin Britt is seen as a potential cut candidate due to his high cap number and that he tore his ACL midway through last year.

“He’s a bigger, probably more athletic (Seahawks backup center) Joey Hunt,” Roberts said. “I don’t know that he’s better than a healthy Justin Britt, but I think he upgrades that position whether or not he has to play or he’s going to back up Britt or Britt isn’t going to be back and (Finney) can be the starter.”

Roberts said Finneey is an “anchor” in the middle of the line and doesn’t get pushed around too much by opponents. He’s also athletic enough to regularly get to the second level in the run game.

The Seahawks also added tackles Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi on shorter deals. Shell, who signed a two-year contract, is expected to replace Germain Ifedi as the team’s starting right tackle while Ogbuehi, a former first-round pick, will fight for a backup spot or sub in as an extra blocker.

Roberts thinks the two initially will fight to start at right tackle.

“They have an opportunity to really compete for the right tackle spot and then either one of those guys has the chance to be the (extra blocking) tight end,” he said. “The kid, Cedric, is a little bit more athletic, I think. He’s taller, a little leaner, moves pretty good … Shell has really good effort. He works really hard to finish his blocks and I like what they have in him”

The last lineman the Seahawks reportedly agreed to terms with was Chance Warmack, a guard who sat out all of 2019. Warmack is also a former first-round pick. Roberts called him the “wild card” of the Seahawks’ offensive linemen signings.

“To me, he looks like a smaller version of (Seahawks starting right guard) D.J. Fluker because he’s more of a mauler than he is a technician,” he said.

Overall, Roberts is impressed with Seattle’s free-agent haul.

“I think they have some dudes that they can put into the rotation with Jamarco Jones and Phil Haynes and with the rest of the group, I think they’ve upgraded the overall athleticism of the group and they have some interchangeable parts.”

How to handle the draft

This year’s NFL Draft will look awfully different than we’re accustomed to due to the coronavirus pandemic. Teams will be drafting more remotely with club personnel working from home.

This draft is heavy in terms of receivers and has some top-tier quarterbacks that could see three or four go in the first half of the draft, but Roberts said the offensive linemen in this draft is pretty good as well, and that the talent pool is deep there. Because of that, and because of the Seahawks’ offensive linemen signings already, Roberts doesn’t think Seattle needs to take an offensive lineman with their first pick (27th overall).

“I think if you draft a lineman at that point, I don’t know if he would be as big of a contributor right away even though you’d probably be forced to play him,” he said. “There’s too much to learn. The team is at a place where they’re really close to being real Super Bowl contenders, and then to break in a rookie offensive lineman right off the bat I think would be difficult versus having some other guys that can add to the depth that you already have and you gave a chance to develop them over the next couple years and then they have a chance to be real players and real starters.”

You can listen to Roberts’ full conversation with Bob, Dave and Moore at this link or in the player below at the top of the hour.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Twitter.

More Seahawks offseason coverage

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Why Ray Roberts is impressed by Seahawks’ O-line additions