When camp opened, I figured the only competition along the Seahawks offensive line was at left guard.
I was wrong. Mike Iupati has a stranglehold on that job, and it’s his to lose. That’s especially true now that Phil Haynes has some sort of injury and missed practice on Tuesday.
Instead, the best position battle is at center. I incorrectly assumed that B.J. Finney, given he signed a two-year, $8 million deal and the team cut Justin Britt shortly thereafter, would be a lock to start there.
I didn’t expect Ethan Pocic’s name to be so prominent this summer. Even on Monday, when Carroll sung Pocic’s praises, I took that as a vote of confidence for the backup job. But Carroll doubled down on Tuesday saying that it’s anybody’s game at center, and the coach included Kyle Fuller in that conversation.
“It’s going to be a wide-open competition,” Carroll said. “We’re going to let those guys go. We’ll try to settle this sooner than later for the continuity purposes. The center spot is rotating right now as the starter.”
What we saw at practice on Tuesday backs up Carroll’s quotes. Pocic earned every first-team rep. There’s no way he’d be getting those snaps if he wasn’t truly a contender to start there. Without OTAs or minicamps in the offseason, every training camp practice is absolutely vital to building chemistry along the offensive line, especially when you consider that 60% of it will be brand new.
“He played everything in college, but mostly at center – where I thought he looked the best,” Carroll said of Pocic on Monday. “He had a fantastic offseason. He’s as primed as he’s been. He’s had a couple good days to get us started. The competition is on.”
Health has been Pocic’s biggest bugaboo since being taken in the second-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2019, it was a neck issue that limited him to just four games. He also bounced around between guard and center. That won’t happen anymore as he’s found a permanent home at center.
It will be interesting to see if Russell Wilson has any say on who will be snapping him the ball in 2020. If he’s unable to build quick chemistry with Finney, he may pine for Pocic.
If I had to guess, I’d still say that Finney ends up being Seattle’s Week 1 starting center against the Falcons. However, whoever wins the competition could have a short leash, meaning it’s possible that we see both players sat some point this season.
There are a few ways of looking at this: a) camp is only one week old, and it’s too soon to come to any conclusions, or, b) the regular season is only 3.5 weeks away, and Seattle doesn’t have the benefit of time to let this competition linger for too long.
Make sure you keep tabs on this situation regardless of which lens you choose.