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2022 NFL Draft Preview: How Early Do The Seahawks Address The Need At Tackle

A look at where the Seahawks stand at offensive line heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as Rob Rang’s top-ranked prospects at that position.

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North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) sets up to block Mississippi State defenders during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Mississippi State won 24-10. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The 2022 NFL Draft kicks off next week, and due to the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver, the Seahawks are loaded with the most draft capital they've had in the last decade, including the ninth overall pick, their first Top 10 pick since 2010, John Schneider and Pete Carroll's first draft in Seattle.

With eight total picks, including three in the top 41 and four in the top 72, the Seahawks are looking to use this year's draft to help reach Carroll's stated goal of building "the most competitive roster in the NFL."

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to help our franchise, which is what we're here to do," Carroll said of the 2022 and 2023 draft capital acquired in the Wilson trade. "We're doing everything we can to make it as good as we can possibly make it.

"We've got to make this the most competitive roster in the NFL, that's what we're out to do, and that means all the way through the ranks. That means you're going to get young, but we're going to mix it with a group of experienced players as well. That's the chemistry we have to create."

With the draft coming up soon, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Seahawks, as well as the top draft prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position over the past 12 drafts under Schneider and Carroll.

So far, we've covered quarterbacksafetyreceivercornerbacktight end,  linebackerrunning back and defensive line, and today we wrap things up with a look at the offensive line.

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Seattle's 2022 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 9 overall; Round 2, No. 40 overall; Round 2, No. 41 overall; Round 3, No. 72 overall; Round 4, No. 109 overall; Round 5, No. 145 overall; Round 5, No. 153 overall; Round 7, No. 229 overall.

Offensive Line Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider:  T Russell Okung (No. 6 overall, 2010); G James Carpenter (No. 25, 2011); G John Moffitt (No. 75, 2011); G J.R. Sweezy (No. 225, 2012); G Ryan Seymour (No. 220, 2013); G Jared Smith (No. 241, 2013); T Michael Bowie (No. 242, 2013); T/G/C Justin Britt (No. 64, 2014); T Garrett Scott (No. 199, 2014); T Terry Poole (No. 130, 2015); G Mark Glowinski (No. 134, 2015); G/C Kristjan Sokoli (No. 214, 2015); G/T Germain Ifedi (No. 31, 2016); G/T Rees Odhiambo (No. 97, 2016); C Joey Hunt (No. 215, 2016); C/G Ethan Pocic (No. 58, 2017); T Justin Senior (No. 210, 2017); T Jamarco Jones (No. 168, 2018); G Phil Haynes (No. 124, 2019); G Damien Lewis (No. 69, 2020); T Stone Forsythe (No. 208, 2021).

Where The Seahawks Stand

It's still April and the Seahawks have a number of ways to address the position, but as of now, tackle stands out as one of the most clear needs on the roster. Both of last year's starters, Duane Brown and Brandon Shell, are currently free agents, and while Carroll said both could still be re-signed, if one or both does end up signing elsewhere, the Seahawks definitely will need to add to the position. As of now, the Seahawks only have three tackles on the roster, all of whom joined the team last year—Stone Forsythe, a sixth-round pick, Jake Curhan, an undrafted free agent who made the team out of camp and who started late last season at right tackle, and Greg Eiland, another undrafted free agent who spent last season on the practice squad. At Florida, Forsythe was one of the best pass-blocking left tackles in a loaded SEC, and Curhan played well taking over for an injured Shell late last season, so the Seahawks like their young talent, but regardless of how highly they regard those players, the Seahawks need more depth and in all likelihood, they'll want players who can compete for the starting spots.

All of that adds up to the Seahawks very likely adding a tackle at some point in the draft, and perhaps doing so in the first couple of rounds. There are other ways the Seahawks could add to that group, including re-signing last year's starters or adding a different veteran free agent, but bring in some young talent at tackle would appear to be a priority in the draft for a team that currently only has three on the roster.

When it comes to the interior line, the Seahawks could certainly look to add more depth and talent to compete, but they head into the draft feeling pretty good about their situation at guard. Both of last year's starting guards, Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson, are back, as is Phil Haynes, who played well starting at both guard spots late in the season. At center, the Seahawks did lose last year's starter, Ethan Pocic, but added former Rams starter Austin Blythe, who played under Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and offensive line coach Andy Dickerson in Los Angeles, and they also return Kyle Fuller, who opened last season as the starter, and Dakoda Shepley, who was claimed off waivers last year. Shepley has yet to see game action at center with the Seahawks but he is a player about whom general manager John Schneider has spoken very highly on a couple of occasions.

Rob Rang's Top 5 Offensive Tackles

The Seahawks' proven track record of unearthing diamonds in the rough was proven again last year with the ascension of undrafted free agent Jake Curhan at right tackle but with last year's opening day starters Duane Brown and Brandon Shell currently on the open market, Seattle may be in the market for more help in 2022. This year's class offers a couple of special talents in Alabama's Evan Neal and North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu who would likely rank among the best players available on Schneider's short list should either slip to No. 9 overall. If searching for a true dancing bear as a plug and play rookie left tackle, the Seahawks may have to use one of their top three picks, as the position thins out quickly.

1. Evan Neal, Alabama, 6-8, 337, 4.95 (est.), First Round

A dancing bear worthy of No. 1 overall consideration, Neal is the rare prospect that stands out even amongst all of the talent at Alabama. He is an exceptional athlete for a man of his size, easily carrying his weight with room to add more muscle mass. He's started at both left and right tackle and has the long of a longtime blindside blocker with Pro Bowls in his future.

2. Ikem "Ickey" Ekwonu, North Carolina State, 6-4, 310, 4.93, First Round

Shorter, stockier and nastier than Neal, Ekwonu is currently the more consistent run blocker than his massive counterpart, regularly dealing out highlight-reel worthy blocks. Due to his length (34" arms) and physical nature, Ekwonu plays bigger than his weight class, really seeming to enjoy the physical nature of the sport. He allowed just two sacks in 2021 but needs to learn to mirror pass rushers rather than attempting to maul them on every snap.

3. Charles Cross, Mississippi State, 6-5, 307, 4.95, First/Second Round

Cross excelled protecting the blindside for Mike Leach's Aid Raid Mississippi State squad, demonstrating the quick feet, balance and long arms every team is looking for in a pass blocker. He is coordinated and controlled, pairing his feet nicely with active, accurate hands to pester pass rushers. Perhaps picking nits, but Cross sports a relatively narrow-hipped frame for the position, raising concerns for some about his ability to add more strength.

4. Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa, 6-7, 325, 4.89, First Round

The Seahawks have largely ignored small-school prospects during the Carroll-Schneider era but Penning could be one of the few to warrant a closer look. Combining prototypical size with eye-popping athleticism and the nasty playing demeanor that made him an enemy of virtually all of the defensive linemen in Mobile, Ala. for this year's Senior Bowl, Penning has the look of a longtime building block. He started the past three years at left tackle for Northern Iowa and was the best this class had to offer in Mobile, where the Seahawks have often drafted heavy.

5. Abraham Lucas, Washington State, 6-6, 315, 4.92, First-Second Round

While Penning was starring on the left side, it was the former Coug, Lucas, capably manning the right side in Mobile. Like Penning, Lucas is a brawler who wins with a heavy punch and his mass, but don't overlook their athleticism – which ranks among the best among big men in this entire class. Lucas is a four-year starter who is a better, more reliable player right now than his former WSU teammate and Philadelphia Eagles' 2019 first round draft pick, Andre Dillard.

NFL Draft expert Rob Rang identifies interior offensive lineman prospects the Seahawks could target in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Rob Rang's Top Interior Offensive Linemen

Given the steady play of guards Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson a year ago, as well as the reuniting of offensive line coach Andy Dickerson with his former pupil, Austin Blythe, at center, the Seahawks are not expected to invest an early selection on this group in the 2022 NFL draft. There are, however, a trio of burly interior blockers talented enough to warrant consideration in the first two rounds and the depth is good throughout Days Two and Three should the Seahawks be looking to develop a future starter.

1. Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa, Center, 6-2, 296, 4.85 (est.), First Round

A pinball in the pivot, Linderbaum is a unique athlete at center, deservedly winning the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top snapper as a junior before giving up his remaining eligibility to enter the draft. He's shockingly quick off the ball, taking direct angles to secondary assignments and beating them with positioning and tenacity. Linderbaum isn't the most intimidating center, offering below-average size but his athleticism and technique would make him an intriguing fit in the zone-blocking scheme Seattle is expected to feature with new offensive line coach Andy Dickerson in 2022.

2. Kenyon Green, Texas A&M, Guard, 6-4, 323, 5.24, First Round

A classic mauler, Green uses his size and strength to overwhelm opponents at the point of attack. He starred at guard but was asked to play outside at tackle, at times, in 2021 due to injuries and inconsistency from teammates and was not as effective. Green has plenty of lateral agility and balance for handling pass protection back inside, however.

3. Zion Johnson, Boston College, Center/Guard, 6-3, 312, 5.18, First/Second Round

Johnson began his college career at tiny Davidson but bet on himself transferring into the ACC and emerging as one of the better and more versatile offensive linemen in the conference and a possible first round NFL draft pick. Johnson has a short stubby frame perfectly suited to winning the leverage battles at the line of scrimmage with a punch Mike Tyson would admire. A two-time team captain who scouts raved about at the Senior Bowl, Johnson is viewed as a plug and play candidate who should cement an interior for a decade.

4. Sean Rhyan, UCLA, Guard, 6-5, 321, First/Second Round

Rhyan starred at left tackle for Chip Kelly's Bruins but his relatively short arms (32 ¼") and average foot quickness make him a move inside to guard likely. He is well-built to handle this transition, however, playing with the physicality necessary for playing inside and possessing some of the biggest, strongest hands (11 1/8") of this year's class. Seattle appears well stocked at guard but Rhyan's experience at tackle could make him a sneaky "swing" candidate.

5. Cam Jurgens, Nebraska, Center, 6-3, 303, 4.92 Second/Third Round

A three-year starter who signed with the Nebraska as the crown jewel of their 2018 recruiting class, Jurgens overcame the recent struggles in Lincoln to steadily climb up draft boards this season, standing out in Mobile and Indianapolis, alike. The barrel-chested Jurgens is much quicker than his frame suggests, dancing off the line of scrimmage to the second level and on screens and showing good pop to latch on and sustain blocks.

One of the most recognized names in the industry, Rob Rang has been covering the NFL Draft for more than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports Illustrated, CBSSports.com, USA Today, Yahoo, NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com, among others. Rang's opinions and evaluations are his own and do not reflect those of the Seahawks.

NFL Draft expert Rob Rang identifies offensive tackles prospects the Seahawks could target in the 2022 NFL Draft.

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