Monday, May 16, 2011

SEAHAWKS: State of the Offensive Tackles

Russell Okung
2009 starting offensive tackles: 27 year old Sean Locklear (right), 35 year old Walter Jones (left)

2011 projected starting offensive tackles: 22 year old James Carpenter (right), 23 year old Russell Okung (left)

What a difference two years make.

When Pete Carroll took the Seahawks' head coaching position 16 months ago, he stated it was one of his goals to fix the Seahawks' dead running game. He hasn't gotten away from that goal, as his top picks in each draft have been offensive tackles (Okung and Carpenter).

To Continue...

But here's the question: Are these two guys any good? Will they help out whoever the Hawks quarterback will be this fall?

Well, we already know the answer for one of our tackles. Russell Okung last year, when healthy, shut down elite defensive players such as Chicago's Julius Peppers and St. Louis' Jake Long. Okung's feet are very quick - kind of like Walter Jones in his prime - which makes it easier for him to stay in front of speedy defensive ends. Expect Okung - if he stays healthy - to be the staple of the Seahawks offensive line for years to come.

James Carpenter is a bit different story. While Okung was hailed has a solid pick at no. 6 overall in last year's draft, Carpenter being selected at no. 25 overall was faced with with scrutiny. Some analysts projected him to be a second or even third round pick, so it surprised some people that the Hawks picked him so early.

Carpenter is a solid athlete with above average pass protection skills, and like Okung, possesses quick feet. James has very good balance, and didn't have too many epic blocking fails in his time at Alabama... something we've grown accustomed to with the Seahawks offensive line. Oh, and he did block for 2009 Heisman trophy winner running back Mark Ingram, so I have to give him props for that.

The knocks on him are for his lack of power and explosion off the line. He's not going to pulverize a D-linemen into smithereens every play if that's what you want.

So, now that we have the starters out of the way, let's get to the backups. Or lack thereof to be specific.

I don't expect Chester Pitts and Sean Locklear to be back next season, so that really only leaves the Seahawks with Tyler Polumbus and Will Robinson.

When Okung was injured for a couple games last year due to a high ankle sprain, the 6-8, 300 pounds Polumbus actually filled in quite nicely. There's nothing spectacular about Tyler, but for an undrafted free agent out of Colorado, he's been a nice surprise.

As for Will Robinson... I don't know what to tell you. He didn't play at all in 2010, so that's got to tell you something.

So really, my only concern is the depth. Okung was injured off and on last year, and with Carpenter being a rookie, you would think Pete Carroll would want to look for a veteran to back these guys up.

Projected starting lineup

Left Tackle: Russell Okung
Right Tackle: James Carpenter
Backups: Tyler Polumbus, a veteran or two (hopefully), and Will Robinson

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