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Seattle's offensive line is the biggest question mark on the team. They are very talented, particularly up the middle, but they have struggled with injuries going back as far as 2006.
If the unit can stay healthy and find some continuity they could grow into a dominant unit.
If they lose three starters to injured reserve again in 2012, their backfield could suffer.
Russell Okung, LT: A-
When Okung is on the field and healthy, he is one of the better left tackles in the NFL. Few defensive linemen know this better than Trent Cole who tired of being manhandled by Okung when the Philadelphia Eagles visited Seattle last December.
Cole gave Okung a judo hip-toss, tearing the tackle's pectoral muscle. It was his third injury in two seasons; Okung has also dealt with a pair of high-ankle sprains.
Okung needs an injury-free season to prove he can become an elite left tackle in the NFL. Staying healthy may seem like a stretch, but Okung didn't miss any time due to injury in college.
Paul McQuistan, LG: B
McQuistan is the current starter at left guard but that will likely change as soon as John Moffitt or James Carpenter are back on the field. The true role for McQuistan will be depth for every position except center.
McQuistan is solid in pass and run blocking but not spectacular. The Seahawks made him a priority over the summer and were able to release veteran Robert Gallery when McQuistan re-signed.
Max Unger, C: A
Unger was due to become a free agent in 2013. I listed him as the No. 2 priority for the Seahawks relative to signing a contract extension.
Chris Clemons was first and Seattle has made it clear how highly they think of both players.
Pro Football Focus agrees, rating Unger as the second-best pass-blocking center in 2011 with a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) of 99.0. He surrendered no sacks and seven quarterback pressures in 547 pass-blocking snaps.
John Moffitt, RG: C+
As well as Unger rated in pass-blocking, Moffitt wasn't treated nearly so kind. His PBE of 93.9 was in the bottom 10 of starting guards. Moffitt showed improvement over the course of the season but it is still unclear if he's lost his starting spot to rookie sensation J.R. Sweezy.
J.R. Sweezy, RG: B-
Sweezy took over for Moffitt while the incumbent starter recovered from a minor surgical procedure on his elbow. Moffitt was able to play against the Oakland Raiders but did so with the second team.
Carroll said at a recent press conference that he expects Sweezy to start in Arizona.
Sweezy has made an amazing transition from defensive line in college to offensive guard in the NFL. His preseason play was better than a B-, but he has yet to see the complex fronts and schemes of a regular-season defensive line.
It looks like he will get a chance to face a formidable challenge against a solid Cardinal defense before his final fate is determined.
James Carpenter, LG: B+
It may seem premature to give Carpenter this high of a grade for a position some will say is new to him, but Carpenter started the 2011 season replacing Robert Gallery who missed the first game due to injury. It was Carpener's best game of the season and the best performance Seattle had at left guard in 2011.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com spoke with Carpenter after his first practice over Labor Day weekend:
“I’m going to be happy playing guard," Carpenter said. "I feel that’s where I should be playing.”
The original plan for Seattle was to start Carpenter off on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. They would then reevaluate his ability to return in October.
However, he made great strides in August and is expected to be on the field later in the month. He said it was obvious when he was ready (via Seahawks.com):
It just stopped hurting. So I just kept working as hard as I wanted to, so I can come back.
I wanted it real bad. I never missed any games until now, so it was rough. But I made it back and I’m happy to be back.
I’ve been waiting for 10 months to be back, so I’m happy.
Beno Giacomini, RT: B-
Seattle made re-signing Giacomini a priority, as they didn't want to lost their new right tackle in free agency. He was given the nod after Carpenter's injury and proved to be a quality replacement.
Giacomini won't be confused with one of the elite front-side blockers in the NFL, but he plays with a nasty streak and will be a key component of Seattle's offense.
Lemuel Jeanpierre, C/G: C+
Jeanpierre is a solid depth option for the Seahawks but they are a much better offense with him on the sidelines.
Frank Omiyale, G/T: D
Omiyale will have a roster spot as an emergency tackle until Allen Barbre returns from the reserve (suspended) list. McQuistan will likely be moved from his guard spot to fill in before Omiyale's number is called.
If one of the starters is lost prior to Barbre returning, expect Seattle to look for a free agent to fill the backup role.