To kick off our 2016 training camp preview series, we begin with the position group that will be the subject of more intrigue and scrutiny than perhaps any other group on the roster. Left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy left in free agency, Garry Gilliam is moving from right tackle to left tackle, and Justin Britt is moving from guard to compete at center. Put all of that together, and there's a real chance the Seahawks will have a different starter at all five positions from what they had on the field last season.
|Returning starters:||Justin Britt|
J'Marcus Webb (free agent)
Bradley Sowell (free agent)
Germain Ifedi (first-round pick)
Rees Odhiambo (third-round pick)
Joey Hunt (sixth-round pick)
George Fant (UDFA)
Lene Maiava (UDFA)
Russell Okung (free agency)
J.R. Sweezy (free agency)
Alvin Bailey (free agency)
The initial 53-man roster included nine offensive linemen: Russell Okung, Justin Britt, Drew Nowak, J.R. Sweezy, Garry Gilliam, Alvin Bailey, Patrick Lewis, Mark Glowinski, Kristjan Sokoli.
What's At Stake In Training Camp
Based off of what we've seen so far, it looks like the starting line has a good chance of being, from left to right, Garry Gilliam, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt or Patrick Lewis or Joey Hunt, Germain Ifedi and J'Marcus Webb. Then again, based off of what we had seen at this point last year, it looked like Britt was the right tackle, Bailey was a starting guard and Gilliam was a backup, so it's way too early to consider any battle settled.
Gilliam has ideal athleticism for a left tackle, but he'll have to beat out Sowell for that job, while Glowinski, who started one game as a rookie, will have to show through camp and the preseason he's ready for a starting job. At right guard, Ifedi looks to be the starter, while Webb is the likely right tackle, but in both of those cases, they too need to earn those spots throughout camp. Rees Odhiambo and Kristjan Sokoli, to name a couple of options, both will want to show they too belong in the discussion for starting jobs even if as of now they're behind other players on the depth chart.
The most wide-open battle as of now appears to be at center, where Lewis, the starter for nine games last season after taking over the job from Drew Nowak, will compete with Britt and Hunt, and perhaps Sokoli. Lewis has experience on his side, Britt has been in the system the longest, while Hunt is a natural center having played there in college. Sokoli plays both guard and center, and is arguably the most athletic linemen on the team, so if the former D-lineman can take a step forward in his development as an offensive lineman, he could be a factor in one of the position battles, be it center or guard.
The Seahawks will take their time making sure they get the right combination of linemen on the field, but they also want to make sure they make those decisions in time for that group to come together as a unit. Last season's line struggled to get going early in the season, then eventually turned things around to help spark a second-half offensive surge. If this year's line can get off to a better start, that would go a long ways toward the entire offense performing well right out of the gate.
"For the course of the season we weren't consistent enough," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of his line at the end of last season. "We found a real good rhythm, but we can't start and go through that again. We don't want to have to experience that if we can avoid it. I think that's a real area of focus again, so we'll be talking about it... But we are young, and we are athletic, and we do like our guys."
Take a look at the best photos of each Seahawks offensive lineman to come from the team's 2016 offseason program.