Well, it’s official: Rob Sims is gone, and the Seahawks now need to fill the entire left side of their offensive line.
So how do they go about it?
Well, guards Ben Hamilton and Chester Pitts are still unsigned. But it’s looking like the Hawks will rely on the draft to bring in reinforcements.
Everyone knows they must use one of their two first-round picks on a left tackle. Some people think the zone-blocking scheme means you don’t need an elite left tackle, but those folks obviously forget that NFL teams tend to throw the ball a lot. So, yes, with Walter Jones headed for retirement and Sean Locklear not the answer, left tackle is the Seahawks’ greatest need.
The top two candidates are Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung and Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga. And if you believe SI’s Peter King, Seattle general manager John Schneider loves Bulaga.
Wrote King: “I think if the Seahawks have a chance, they'll be hard-pressed to pass on Bryan Bulaga. The GM, John Schneider, loves him.”
Bulaga’s stock has climbed from the 10-15 range up to the point where he might even be gone by the time the Hawks pick at six.
King thinks the Seahawks might trade up with Washington to No. 4 to get Okung or Bulaga, but that kind of move seems implausible considering the Seahawks’ multiple needs. They have to get maximum mileage out of their two first-round picks. Plus, the Redskins figure to draft Okung themselves.
Kansas City, picking fifth, is also likely to draft a tackle (although John Clayton reports that the Chiefs are also looking closely at Tennessee safety Eric Berry). The question is whether the Chiefs would take Bulaga or Oklahoma’s Trent Williams.
Like Bulaga, Williams has climbed much higher in the rankings recently. Ideally, the Chiefs would take Williams, leaving Bulaga for the Seahawks.
But if the Chiefs take Bulaga, Seattle would have to decide between Berry, the best safety, and Williams, the No. 3 tackle. That might present a favorable scenario to trade down if Seattle could find someone who wanted to snag Berry, or even quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
Of course, the Seahawks could do a double dip on the line, ending up with Bulaga and Idaho’s Mike Iupati and making them their new bookends.
Think it’s foolish to consider drafting two linemen in the first round?
The Jets did it in 2006, and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold are both Pro Bowl players. The Hawks could do worse than use that strategy to fortify their line with two rookies and second-year center Max Unger.
Of course, that is pretty unlikely to happen.
However, if the Hawks don’t take a tackle with the sixth pick, they probably won’t get one at 14 either. Anthony Davis of Rutgers might be there; he is often mentioned as having the most upside of any tackle in this draft, but he also has great potential to be a major bust. Besides, at 325 pounds, he doesn’t fit the style of lineman the Seahawks now prefer.
With Seattle’s second-round pick likely reserved for Denver receiver Brandon Marshall, that probably rules out a lineman until no sooner than the third round. The Hawks don’t have a third-round pick, but with two fourths and two fifths they now have ammo to move up if they want to.
Unlike the last regime, which had problems developing fourth-round linemenSims, Ray Willis and Mansfield Wrotto new line coach Alex Gibbs is a specialist in turning mid-round picks into solid starters.
In Denver, he did it with Dan Neil (third round), Trey Teague (seventh), Lennie Friedman (second), Cooper Carlisle (fourth) and Hamilton (fourth).
The key is getting versatile linemen who can move in Gibbs’ zone scheme. Sims did not fit that profile, which is why the Seahawks traded him.
In this draft, there are a number of versatile interior linemen Gibbs might like:
Matt Tennant, Boston College, 6'5, 300
Tennant is an athletic, durable worker with good technique. He is a solid pass blocker who needs to improve his strength in the run game, although that would not be as big a concern for the Seahawks, who favor agility over strength. Tennant played center at BC but could easily move to guard.
Projected round: Second.
John Asamoah, Illinois, 6'4, 305
A three-year starter at right guard, Asamoah has the size, strength and mobility to play either side in the NFL.
Projected round: Second.
J.D. Walton, Baylor, 6'3, 300
Walton is a tough, smart, durable leader who played center at Baylor. He’s not overly athletic, but he’s quick enough in the box and a tenacious mauler.
Projected round: Third.
Mitch Petrus, Arkansas, 6'3, 310
Petrus has excellent athleticism and quickness, which make him a great pass protector and pulling guard. Although he tied a Combine record with 45 bench presses, his lower-body strength is a weakness, as he struggles in power-blocking schemes. But he might be a great fit in the zone scheme.
Projected round: Late third or early fourth.
Mike Johnson, Alabama, 6'5, 312
Johnson is a smart, quick, durable and versatile lineman who plays with high effort. He started 41 straight games for the Tide, including 26 at left guard and 10 at right tackle.
Projected round: Third or fourth.
Zane Beadles, Utah, 6'5, 310
Beadles played left tackle at Utah but is expected to play inside in the NFL. He is a durable leader with a good work ethic and good movement who would need to be coached up on playing with his hand on the ground.
Projected round: Fourth.
Marshall Newhouse, TCU, 6'4, 319
Newhouse played left tackle at TCU, but he will probably play guard in the league. He plays with good strength and leverage but would need to work on his technique, particularly in run blocking.
Projected round: Fourth or fifth.
HAWKS GOT WHAT THEY COULD FOR SIMS
The Sims deal is the fourth trade made in a month by Seattle’s new power duo, Pete Carroll and Schneider.
As we previously documented, they have not fared very well in the first three from a pure value standpoint. They didn’t make out like bandits here either, but they got decent value for a guy they didn’t want, so this trade will go down with the Darryl Tapp deal as a push.
The Seahawks kind of backed themselves into a corner by making it known they didn’t want Sims, so interested teams knew they could get the four-year veteran for less than his fourth-round tender price.
The Hawks were lucky there was so much interest in Sims, or they would have gotten much less for him.
When no team signed him to an offer sheet, the absolute best the Hawks could do in a trade was a fifth-rounder, and that’s what they got. But it’s the second pick in the round, which is almost as good as a fourth.
Not a bad deal for a marginal starter who didn’t fit the new offense.
Sims continues the odd exodus from Seattle to Detroit, becoming the fifth Seahawk in the last year to end up in the Motor City.
Linebacker Julian Peterson was traded for Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick last March, while running back Maurice Morris and tight end Will Heller signed with the Lions in free agency. Then receiver Nate Burleson signed a $25 million deal on the first day of free agency this year.
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