The 2021 NFL Draft is officially less than two weeks away and while the Seahawks currently have only three selections, they will still have a chance to address a number of needs on the roster.
Earlier in the offseason, Seattle opted to re-sign fifth-year center Ethan Pocic on a one-year contract worth up to $3 million. But even with his return for a fifth season in the Pacific Northwest, the pivot position remains one of the team's most glaring long-term concerns, as only journeyman Kyle Fuller sits behind him on the depth chart currently.
Interestingly, since the arrival of John Schneider and Pete Carroll in 2010, the Seahawks have generally sought after similar body types and athletes at the guard and center positions. Unlike the cornerback spot, however, there have been a few unique exceptions from a testing and size standpoint that altered these thresholds significantly.
Most notably, this has been the case with defensive tackles who were converted to guards during Tom Cable's reign as offensive line coach. Seattle used a seventh-round pick on North Carolina State defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy in 2012 as well as a sixth-round pick on Buffalo defensive tackle Kristjan Sokoli in 2015. Both players turned in elite combine workouts, producing 36-plus inch vertical jumps and running sub-4.41-second short shuttles at over 290 pounds.
Undersized center Joey Hunt was also an outlier on a number of fronts when Seattle picked him in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. His 30-inch arms were easily the shortest for an offensive lineman picked by the Schneider/Carroll regime, but he offset that deficiency with large 10-plus inch hands.
Here's a look at all of the size/athletic thresholds Seattle has abided by at both the center and guard spots with Schneider and Carroll calling the shots.
Seattle has minimal draft capital at its disposal, but if there's a silver lining, this year's draft class is oozing with talent in the interior offensive line. As many as five centers could hear their names called in the first two rounds, while six or seven guards could be in the mix to go in the first 64 picks depending on how the draft board shakes out. A number of these players - including Wisconsin Whitewater's Quinn Meinerz and Illinois' Kendrick Green - are position-versatile and could play either guard or center at the next level, which is even better news for the Seahawks.
Based on past precedent, which guards and centers from this year's class could be potential targets for the Seahawks based on athletic testing and size thresholds? Based off of numbers coming out of pro days around the country, Schneider should have no shortage of options even going into day three, though injuries muddy this data a bit with numerous players only doing partial workouts or not participating at all.
There isn't a single player on the above list who doesn't check off Seattle's weight or arm length threshold and the vast majority of them meet requirements on the 40-yard dash (with an emphasis on the 10-yard split), 3-cone drill, and bench press. There are a handful of noteworthy prospects such as Georgia's Trey Hill who turned in poor workouts that could take them off of the team's draft board entirely.
Of course, athletic testing and measurables are only part of the equation, especially with pro days replacing the NFL combine this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Evaluating character off the field along with football skills will be key aspects of whether or not the player fits what the organization wants.
What should be encouraging for Schneider and the Seahawks scouting staff is that there are several quality centers who could slip into the fourth round if the team wants to address another position at pick No. 56. Drew Dalman and Jimmy Morrisey each passes the team's size/athletic thresholds with flying colors and after starting multiple seasons for Stanford and Pittsburgh respectively, they could be plug-and-play options available on day three who are well-equipped for coordinator Shane Waldron's zone-centric scheme.
There's also the possibility Schneider could draft a guard and slide 2020 third-round pick Damien Lewis over to center, something that Carroll hinted at as a possibility back in January. With plenty of alternatives to consider, Seattle will have flexibility in regard to how it plans to build its offensive line for the future.
To read more on several Seahawk-y center prospects, check out my "Finding Seahawks" primer evaluating several players who could receive a call from Schneider during the draft.