Seahawks rookie profile: Damien Lewis may be new version of an old favorite
In his final press conference to close out the 2019 season, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said it was important to him to keep continuity on Seattle’s offensive line. It was always going to be a tough feat.
Guard Mike Iupati and tackles Germain Ifedi and George Fant were set to become unrestricted free agents. Center Justin Britt was not only facing a road back from a torn ACL, but also carried an $11 million cap hit in the final year of his deal.
The Seahawks still had four of last year’s starting five offensive linemen under contract when they selected LSU guard Damien Lewis in the third round of April’s NFL Draft. But with two of those players having since been released – Britt and right guard D.J. Fluker – the selection of Lewis makes even more sense. So, what kind of player is Seattle getting in Lewis, and how soon is he expected to contribute? Turns out he reminds 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps of someone Seahawks fans are plenty familiar with.
Heaps broke down Lewis as part of Tom, Jake and Stacy’s Offseason Player Spotlight series. You can listen to the full segment here. Let’s take a closer look at Lewis.
What you need to know about Damien Lewis
“At 6-2, 327 pounds, Damien Lewis to me is D.J. Fluker 2.0,” Heaps said. “Now, that’s not just because of his size and his build – look, this guy squats 635 pounds. You wanna talk about strength? He’s got a whole lot of strength to him.
“But the other qualities that are reminiscent of Fluker are that Lewis is a big body, a guy who can get after it in the run game, and he’s a guy who has an unbelievable personality. This kid has overcome a lot.”
Coming out of high school, Lewis had zero football scholarship offers. So instead he took the junior college route, where he earned second-team JUCO All-American honors. His performance brought offers from several schools, including Ole Miss and LSU. Lewis ultimately chose the Tigers, who he helped win the 2019 national title.
“On that LSU offensive line, he was the tone setter, the guy who brought physicality and toughness to the national champs on that O-line,” Heaps said. “On his NFL.com scouting report, one of the first things I saw was: ‘The run-blocking tape shows a forklift dressed as a right guard with the power and leverage to move some of the best interior defenders in the SEC.’ That is the style and fit you want for the Seahawks. In particular, their downhill run scheme… he’s able to get to the second level in the run game, which is very important and something I think was lost when Fluker was just unfortunately getting hurt and wasn’t able to be the same version of himself.”
The big question
Can Lewis beat out the competition in a packed offensive line room and contribute right away?
Head coach Pete Carroll said Lewis would compete immediately with Fluker (obviously, this was prior to the latter’s release).
“Hopefully (he’s a fit) and the Seahawks are able to have an interior piece of their offensive line who isn’t just there for one year,” Heaps said. “Who isn’t just part of a patchwork (line) but is going to be there for the next three or four years and can be a guy you can build around.”
Assuming that role will be a challenge not just because of the Seahawks’ guards who have a year or more of experience over him, but also because Lewis will be trying to make his case for a starting role in an offseason shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. If there’s one thing that could help it, it’s his play with a national championship team.
“I think the Seahawks feel really good about the system that he came from, his background, the smarts he possesses, the type of competitor,” Heaps said, “and that’s why they feel confident he can come in and compete to start right out of the gate.”