The Seattle Seahawks have the majority of their starters decided on, but there are some positions that will require some figuring out. Right tackle is one of the major ones, and they're in a pretty favorable predicament in this case.
On the one hand is sophomore lineman Michael Bowie who was shuffled in and out of the starting rotation last season before taking over full-time at the tail end of the season. He's a former seventh-round pick, but he sure didn't play like it last year—he had instances of being a pretty great player, and he was an integral part of the team's top-ranked rushing attack.
The other leading option is rookie lineman Justin Britt, a monster-sized blocker who's often praised for his physicality. Britt showed his value in college against the country's top talent, but can he handle the level of competition at the NFL level?
Right now, who knows?
What we do know is that Britt and Bowie both deserve a shot to earn a starting role, and they will be locked in a heated battle throughout camp. Bowie did a tremendous job down the stretch for Seattle last season after he joined the Carroll’s rotation along the offensive line. He played guard as well as tackle in 2013, and could fit into the team’s line at either position.
Bowie also has pretty good size for a tackle at 6’4”, 335 pounds, but Britt does beat him by a smidgen at a towering 6’6”, 325 pounds.
Given how well Bowie performed as a guard last season and the Seahawks’ apparent need for some help inside, he might help the team more on the interior instead of as a tackle.
In looking at Britt's performance through mini-camp, he's shown that he can hold his own so far as an NFL player and could likely do well as their right tackle—which would allow Bowie to kick inside. Britt’s exactly the type of mauling blocker that Cable’s scheme requires to be successful, and will become an important part of their running game.
Britt is obviously the one that has some catching up to do considering Bowie already has a year in the NFL under his belt, but he seems to be picking things up well. Pete Carroll had this to say about the former Missouri Tiger following the team’s recent rookie mini-camp (via Bob Condotta, Seattle Times):
He picked everything up, he’s very well prepared technique wise, he has real good footwork, his base is real good, his balance is real good for a big man, he moved well off of the line of scrimmage, he won’t have any trouble learning, it’s going to take some time of course, but he won’t any trouble picking stuff up. He’s a real serious, mature kid and I think he would jump right into the competition exactly like we had planned.
He will learn a lot from Seattle’s offensive line coach, Tom Cable, whose system favors gritty, physical blockers such as Britt. There were some concerns about his technique coming out of college, but it’s evident from Carroll’s notes that he’s doing just fine.
Realistically, this is a great problem to have. No matter which player ends up as Seattle's starting tackle, it could likely use the other as an interior lineman as Britt has a good amount of experience at guard, just like Bowie.
In my eyes, Britt is in the driver seat. If he continues to impress and picks up Cable's system as he's expected to, then it's hard not to see him as the starter. Bowie was great for Seattle at guard last season, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep him there if Britt can come in and perform well.