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2023 Seahawks Draft Preview: Will Seattle Bolster The Interior Offensive Line?

A look at where the Seahawks stand on the offensive line heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, as well as draft analyst Rob Rang’s top-ranked prospects at that position.

(AP Photo/Erin Hooley)
(AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off later this month, and for the Seahawks, this year's draft represents a big opportunity to improve upon a team that reached the playoffs last season. After hitting a home run in the 2022 draft, the Seahawks have even more draft capital this year, including extra first and second-round picks (No. 5 and 37 overall) that were part of the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver last year.

The fifth overall pick is the highest the Seahawks have had since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010, and this is just the second time in the Carroll-Schneider era that Seattle has had a pair of first-rounders in one draft, having selected Russell Okung and Earl Thomas in 2010.

"This is really an exciting opportunity for us," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL Scouting combine. "We have not been in this situation, we have not felt like this ever. So all of the build up to it has been exciting, and we're hoping to obviously max out everything we can with it… We know that the opportunity is something special, so we're looking forward to it and we'll see how it goes."

With the draft coming up soon, 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 13 drafts under Schneider and Carroll.

So far we’ve covered quarterback and the defensive line/outside linebacker, and today we turn our attention to the offensive line. Check back tomorrow for a look at linebacker.

Seattle's 2023 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 5 overall (from Denver); Round 1, No. 20 overall; Round 2, No. 37 overall (from Denver); Round 2, No. 52 overall; Round 3, No. 83 overall; Round 4, No. 123 overall; Round 5, No. 151 overall (from Pittsburgh); Round 5, No. 154 overall; Round 6, No. 198 overall; Round 7, No. 237 overall.

Offensive Line Draft History Under John Schneider and Pete Carroll: 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); T Charles Cross (No. 9 overall, 2022); T Abraham Lucas (No. 72 overall, 2022).

Where the Seahawks Stand

The Seahawks came into last year's draft with a need at tackle, and they hit a home run in the draft, selecting left tackle Charles Cross in the first round and right tackle Abraham Lucas in the third, giving them a pair of season-long starters who both played at a very high level.

This year there aren't such obvious holes at any offensive line spot, but that doesn't mean the Seahawks won't look to add to this group, having selected at least one offensive lineman in every draft under Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

The Seahawks will have at least two new starters from last season, having released guard Gabe Jackson in a salary-cap related move, and with center Austin Blythe retiring, but they have already made moves to address those two spots, re-signing guard Phil Haynes, who split time with Jackson at right guard last season, and signing center Evan Brown in free agency.

And while the Seahawks like both of those players a lot, that shouldn't stop them from looking for interior line help that can either push for starting jobs or provide depth and long-term options with Brown, Haynes and starting left guard Damien Lewis all only under contract through 2023.

"The position of the offensive line I think is very secure right now," Carroll said last month. "It's not as deep as we need it to be, but it is very solidly situated. We'll have as much continuity, save losing the center, but if we can get that transition to fit well with the guards, really counting on Phil to do a big job for us. (Damien Lewis) and the tackles, they're going to grow enormously, probably as much as anybody in our program. So it feels very connected and so I'm really looking forward to it."


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Rob Rang's Top 5 Offensive Tackles

Overview: Overshadowed by the splashy play of running back Ken Walker III and cornerback Tariq Woolen, the success of Seattle's first-year duo of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas quietly served as the foundation for one of the great rookie classes in recent league history. Only a few times in modern league history had a club ventured into the regular season with rookies at the bookends and the Seahawks destroyed preseason expectations and qualified for the playoffs in "large" part due to the play of their tackles. As such, it seems unlikely that Seattle would invest an early pick at this position, though the Seahawks reportedly reserved a Top 30 visit with Ohio State's behemoth right tackle Dawand Jones. This suggests that Seattle might consider moving Lucas inside to guard. Four of the five top-rated prospects listed below are left tackle candidates and unlikely to be in Seattle's plans. Some middle or later round candidates with swing potential who might be better fits for the Seahawks include Alabama's Tyler Steen, Pittsburgh's Carter Warren, Utah's Braeden Daniels, Kansas' Earl Bostick, Jr. and a couple of small schoolers who turned heads at the Senior Bowl in Old Dominion's Nick Saldiveri.

1. Paris Johnson, Ohio State, 6-6, 313, First Round

Seemingly born to play left tackle in the NFL, Johnson sports a "body beautiful" frame from a scouting perspective with an evenly proportioned frame, light feet and absolute vines (36 1/8") arms. Johnson allowed just two sacks last season, his first at left tackle.

2. Darnell Wright, Tennessee, 6-5, 333, First Round

If the Seahawks were to invest a first-round pick in a tackle, Wright would seemingly be the right choice, as he plays with the brawling mentality and strength Seattle has always prioritized up front. Wright was the only blocker the past two years I saw who consistently frustrated Alabama superstar Will Anderson, Jr.

3. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma, 6-4, 315, First-Second Round

Harrison started the past 24 games at left tackle for the Sooners and ran well enough at the Combine (4.98 seconds in the 40-yard dash) to suggest that he possesses the athleticism to stay outside but his short, squatty frame could have some looking to move him inside. Regardless, his agility and football I.Q. make him an intriguing candidate for Seattle.

4. Broderick Jones, Georgia, 6-5, 313, First-Second Round

Jones will be an interesting evaluation for the NFL because he offers an exceptional combination of size, natural power and athleticism but he entered the draft after just one full season as a starting left tackle and has little experience, elsewhere. The upside is tantalizing but there will be some growing pains.

5. Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse, 6-5, 318, Second Round

The polar opposite of the relative neophyte, Jones, listed ahead of him, Bergeron started 39 games over his time at Syracuse, beginning at right tackle and switching over to the critical blindside position the past two and a half years. He's more of a bully in the running game than a dancing bear but his savvy and strength, frankly, project well anywhere up front.

NFL Draft expert Rob Rang identifies the top offensive tackle prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Rob Rang's Top 5 Interior Offensive Linemen

Overview: Bringing in free agent Evan Brown and re-signing Phil Haynes gives Seattle potential starters at center and right guard, but with both inking just one-year deals and left guard Damien Lewis' rookie contract also good through just next season, the Seahawks could make the interior of the offensive line as much as a priority in this draft as tackle was a year ago – when the club invested the No. 9 and No. 72 overall picks in Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. Fortunately, this is a solid class for interior offensive linemen with a handful of legitimate plug-and-play candidates at both center and guard and a few versatile enough to play either role. While I believe it is quite possible – perhaps even probable – that Seattle selects one of the five players listed below, there are several worthy Day Two and early Day Three candidates that also make sense including North Dakota State's Cody Mauch, Arkansas' Ricky Stromberg, Alabama's Emil Ekiyor, Jr. (all projecting best at guard), as well as Ohio State and Michigan's rival centers, Luke Wypler and Olusegun Oluwatimi.

1. Pete Skoronski, Northwestern, 6-4, 313, First Round

Skoronski is the most polished blocker in this class, but he is a college left tackle whose short arms (32 ¼") will almost surely push him inside to left guard. He's more quick and smart than a mauler, projecting nicely to Andy Dickerson's scheme, should Seattle choose to make such a big investment.

2. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota, 6-4, 301, First-Second Round

At Minnesota, head coach PJ Fleck has popularized the expression "row the boat" to describe the camaraderie and commitment necessary to build a true team. Schmitz, 24, was very udder of that boat, demonstrating the quickness, strength, toughness and smarts to project as a plug and play and long-time starting center.

3. Joe Tippman, Wisconsin, 6-6, 313, First-Second Round

While the aforementioned Schmitz may be the "safest" of this year's center class, his Big Ten rival, Tippman, arguably offers the most upside, blending rare size for the position with terrific initial quickness and agility to block on the move. Though he has "just" two years of starting experience, Tippman practiced head up against one of the better defensive tackles (Keeanu Benton) in this class every day, theoretically easing his transition to the NFL.

4. Steve Avila, TCU, 6-4, 332, Second Round

As the only player on this list with high-caliber starts at both guard and center, Avila immediately qualifies as an intriguing fit for the Seahawks, especially when you take into account his square-ish frame, shockingly lateral quickness and the tenacity he showed in TCU's run to the championship game, as well as at the Senior Bowl.

5. O'Cyrus Torrence, Florida, 6-5, 330, Florida, Second Round

In a class rich with jaw-dropping statistics for the so-called skill positions, perhaps the most impressive one is owned by the massive Torrence, who transferred to Florida for his final season of college football, following head coach Billy Napier in a massive leap in competition from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. While proving the bulldozing one might expect given his frame, Torrence also proved a virtual wall in pass protection, not allowing a single sack in four starting seasons at guard.

NFL Draft expert Rob Rang identifies the top interior offensive line prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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