Expectations and Predictions For the Seahawks' O-Line

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Expectations and Predictions For the Seahawks' O-Line
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Who will start at right guard for the Seahawks? Will Walter Jones' health prevent him from starting a 13th season?

There are plenty of questions that remain unanswered ahead of the 2009 season.

Here's a breakdown for each position on the offensive line and some expectations and predictions as to what we might see in each given scenario.

 

Left tackle

Walter Jones is the obvious starter, health permitting.

Micro-fracture knee surgery has led to some concerns about Jones' long term prospects.

At 35 years of age, Jones' illustrious career is approaching its twilight.

The team is hopeful Jones will be ready for the new season and reports have suggested he's on schedule for a return.

In the worst case scenario, Seattle is confident Sean Locklear can move over to the left side.

The $32 million contract signed last year by the former North Carolina State lineman suggested a future at LT, something GM Tim Ruskell has hinted towards.

Undrafted free agent Kyle Williams started two games at left tackle in 2008 and remains on the roster. He could be kept for depth purposes.

Expected starter: Walter Jones

Primary Back-up: Sean Locklear

Alternative: Kyle Williams

 

Left Guard

Mike Wahle started 10 games at left guard in 2008 and remains the early favorite to maintain that role next season.

An athletic veteran lineman with solid technique, Wahle represents a good fit for the zone blocking scheme.

Only injury is likely to prevent Wahle keeping his job.

Rob Sims endured a difficult season at LG in 2008 and is likely to be used on the right as he approaches a contract year.

Recently drafted Max Unger has been working at left guard at mini-camp, but will need to stand out in order to displace Wahle.

Indeed, the Seahawks may simply be introducing Unger to the kind of roles he may have to master for the new season as a primary backup at any position in the interior.

Expected starter: Mike Wahle

Primary back-up: Max Unger

Alternative: Rob Sims

 

Center

Starter Chris Spencer is a free agent in 2010 and approaches a make or break year.

A first round draft pick in 2005, Spencer's time in Seattle has been hampered by injury and inconsistency.

His combination of strength and athleticism would appear to be a good match for the zone blocking scheme.

If he can stay healthy, he will undoubtedly get the chance to start in 2009.

Should he fail, it's hard to predict which team would be prepared to give him a starting role elsewhere upon the expiration of his current contract.

The Seahawks have covered their bases by drafting Unger.

A potential replacement at center in 2010, the former Oregon Duck also provides the kind of interior flexibility Seattle lost when Floyd Womack signed for Cleveland.

If Spencer performs and earns a new contract, Unger could still feature at guard in the long term.

Steve Vallosstarted five games in Spencer's absence last year with mixed results, but remains on the roster and offers further options to the Seahawks as a flex G/C.

Expected starter: Chris Spencer

Primary back-up: Max Unger

Alternative: Steve Vallos

 

Right Guard

Rob Sims began the 2008 season as the starting right guard but was placed on I.R. after week one with a torn pectoral muscle.

Another lineman who will be a free agent in 2010, GM Tim Ruskell has spoken favorably of Sims on many occasions.

Although not living up to expectations thus far, Sims will likely get a chance to start at RG in 2009.

There are other options.

The Seahawks re-signed Ray Willis to a two year deal this offseason and he's previously spent time at guard and tackle.

If Walter Jones and Sean Locklear are used as starting tackles, Seattle may be tempted to use Willis at guard to get him involved.

Mansfield Wrotto is entering his third season with the team and flashed potential in four starts last year.

Expected starter: Rob Sims

Primary back-up: Ray Willis

Alternative: Mansfield Wrotto

 

Right Tackle

Sean Locklear is expected to remain the starting right tackle.

Should Walter Jones become unavailable, Locklearalmost certainly moves over to the left hand side with Ray Willis taking over the RT duties.

The heavy investment in Locklear last year seemingly makes him a lock to start.

However, Willis' impressed sufficiently in Locklear's absence last year leading some to question whether there should be a position battle in training camp.

Indeed Locklear has missed 11 games through injury during the last three seasons, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Willis feature at some stage.

In the unappealing scenario that both Locklear and Willis suffer injuries, it wouldn't be a total shock to see Max Unger used at right tackle.

He spent some time at tackle with Oregon and has the skill set needed to start at the position in an emergency.

Expected starter: Sean Locklear

Primary back-up: Ray Willis

Alternative: Max Unger

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