With the Jaguars set to go on the clock with the first overall selection on April 29, the 2021 NFL Draft is less than three weeks away as a new class of players will be ushered into the league.
Due to a series of trades, including acquiring safety Jamal Adams from the Jets for a pair of first-round picks and a third-round pick, the Seahawks will enter the festivities with only three total selections. Making the situation worse, only one of those picks falls in the first 120 selections, limiting the possibility of landing a blue chip talent.
Based on general manager John Schneider's history, it would be an absolute stunner if Seattle doesn't add multiple picks during the draft by trading down and/or sending future draft picks to get back into the draft. But for this exercise, I will be searching for viable alternatives for the Seahawks to pick at each position group with their three native selections.
In part four of the series, the Seahawks have both Duane Brown and Brandon Shell under contract in 2021. But with both players set to become free agents next March, tackle remains a long-term need. Seeking a successor for Brown and/or Shell, which prospects could the team consider to fortify the offensive line for the future?
Second Round - Pick No. 56
Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
After playing in only one game in 2020, Radunz performed well against top-tier talent at the Senior Bowl. He then further bolstered his stock with an impressive pro day, running the 40-yard dash in 5.11 seconds while posting a 33-inch vertical jump and 9-foot, 4-inch broad jump. At 6-foot-5, 301 pounds, he offers above average athletic traits, including excellent lateral quickness, which should translate well to a zone-oriented run game and blocking against speed rushers in pass protection. He also has consistently played with a mean streak on film, overpowering opposing defenders and showing he may also be able to hold his own in a power scheme as well. While adding muscle will be pivotal, he may have one of the higher ceilings for any tackle prospect in this class.
Liam Eichenburg, Notre Dame
One of the more polished tackles in this draft class, Eichenburg didn't allow a single sack during his final two seasons for the Fighting Irish. At 6-foot-6, 306 pounds, he plays stronger than his size and consistently wins the leverage battle at the point of attack. He's shown himself to be equally adept at man/gap and zone blocking in the run game. Though he's not the most fluid athlete at his position and can occasionally have issues with lengthy defenders getting into his pads, he's technically refined with pass sets that are smooth as silk and does a superb job of staying square with athletic rushers. From Seattle's perspective, the team may be more inclined to draft a player with a higher ceiling who needs time to develop, but if the team wants an NFL-ready tackle who can push for playing time sooner rather than later, Eichenburg fits the bill.
Walker Little, Stanford
Back in 2017, Little became the first true freshman to start at left tackle for Stanford in nearly two decades and was named the Pac-12's Offensive Freshman of the Year. Possessing outstanding size and length, he's a fluid athlete who exhibits sound technique in his pass sets and plays light on his feet to help mirror explosive pass rushers off the edge as well as pick up twists and stunts. As a run blocker, while he isn't necessarily a physically imposing presence who will drive defenders off the line of scrimmage and will need to add strength, his mobility makes him well-suited for a zone-heavy run scheme. Injuries have been a concern and he hasn't played since early in the 2019 season, but if he returns to form, he still has the upside to be a very good NFL starter protecting the blindside.
Brady Christensen, BYU
Turning in one of the most impressive pro day workouts in the entire country, Christensen ran the 40-yard dash in a speedy 4.89 seconds, repped 225 pounds 30 times on bench press, and established a new record for the longest broad jump (124 inches) by an offensive lineman. This performance put to rest some lingering questions about his athleticism, though stiff hips remain a potential concern watching his film. Nonetheless, few tackles compared to him in pass protection over the last couple of seasons, as he allowed three combined sacks on over 1,300 pass blocking snaps since 2018. There will be a significant step up in competition for the technician, but his flexibility to play guard and tackle coupled with his proficiency as a zone blocker in the run game could make him a prime target for Seattle.
Fourth Round - Pick No. 129
Stone Forsythe, Florida
Standing 6-foot-9 and weighing 315 pounds, Forsythe somehow makes other tackle prospects look tiny. But while his length allows him to get hands on defenders quickly, his height can create substantial problems for him, particularly in the run game. Even when he's playing low, defenders often can still get underneath him and he will have to get stronger to compensate because he isn't going to get shorter overnight. That will always be an issue for him. What makes him extremely intriguing, however, is his immaculate footwork at his size. He's so light on his feet and effortlessly mirrors defenders in pass protection, showing a more-refined overall game than expected. This fluidity should also play well in a zone-centric run blocking scheme where his athleticism is best accentuated, making Seattle a possible landing spot on day two.
D'Ante Smith, East Carolina
A relative unknown entering the Senior Bowl, Smith surprised many by weighing 294 pounds after playing most of his college career in the 270s. The extra weight proved to be extremely beneficial, as he held his own throughout the week in Mobile and looked the part of a rising NFL tackle prospect. He will need to continue filling out his 6-foot-5 frame and embrace the weight room to become a starter at the next level, but he offers plus-lateral movement skills, outstanding length (35 1/4-inch arms, 85 1/4-inch wingspan), and an immense amount of untapped potential overall. Given time with coach Mike Solari to harness his technique and continue getting stronger while learning under Brown for a year or two, he could emerge as the long-term answer at the position for Seattle.
Alaric Jackson, Iowa
Plugged into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman, Jackson started each of the past four seasons at left tackle for the Hawkeyes. Unfortunately, the Detroit product never developed quite as envisioned, continuing to struggle marrying hand usage with footwork both in pass sets and as a run blocker. His pro day testing numbers don't stack up favorably against most of his peers either, though he did post a respectable 1.78-second 10-yard split on the 40-yard dash. This burst can be seen on film, as he flies out of his stance and excels at climbing off combo blocks to the second level. His ability to block in space will be a plus and when his technique is on point, he looks like a potential NFL starter. The key will be establishing consistency, as there still appears to be a lot of untapped upside here if a team like Seattle can get it out of him.
Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan
The Broncos have a surprisingly good track record developing quality NFL tackle prospects and Moore should be next in line to find his way onto an NFL roster. Previously recruited as a tight end, he emerged as a multi-year starter at left tackle, consistently burying opponents at the line of scrimmage in the run department due to his impressive power, quickness, and explosiveness. He does a quality job keeping athletic speed rushers at bay in his pass sets and keeps his head on a swivel picking up stunts as well as blitzes. Footwork has been a chronic issue for him, as he doesn't play with a consistent base and can have his share of issues falling off of blocks and winding up on the ground. He's a raw talent requiring technical refinement, but his physical gifts should merit an early day three selection and could make him a stellar fit in Seattle's scheme to groom behind Brown.
Seventh Round - Pick No. 250
Tommy Doyle, Miami (OH)
A grinder who loves to do the dirty work in the trenches, the 6-foot-8, 320-pound Doyle started games at both tackle spots for the Red Hawks over his final three seasons on campus. Towering over his MAC opponents, he excelled opening up run lanes by driving defenders off the ball and rarely was tested by bull rushers in pass protection. His fluid hips can be seen on display transitioning into his pass sets, as he does a good job of sliding his feet and preventing rushers from getting the corner on him. He will get caught lunging frequently and whoever drafts him will need to focus on eradicating this glaring technical flaw before he's ready to see the field, but given his athletic tools, size, and tenacity, he's one of the more intriguing day three options for Seattle to consider.
Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin
The latest in a long line of Badger tackles aiming to make an impact in the NFL, Van Lanen most likely projects as a right tackle at the next level and may even have a future sliding inside to guard. At 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, he's a body mover who plays at his best when he can fire off the ball and bully defenders in man/gap blocking schemes, though he has proven himself capable of blocking in space as well. Pass protection remains an overall area of concern, as his lack of flexibility and stiff hips can be problematic against athletic rushers. A better-than-expected pro day performance that included a 1.69-second 10-yard split on the 40-yard dash should set him up to hear his name called at some point on day three and he would present an intriguing developmental project on the right side.
Josh Ball, Marshall
Once a top recruit for Florida State, off-field issues led to Ball's dismissal from the program and he wound up at Marshall, where he started at left tackle during his final two collegiate seasons. At 6-foot-7, 308 pounds, he exhibits light feet and has rare movement skills for a player of his size, which bodes well for his potential in a zone blocking scheme. He badly needs to be coached up fundamentals-wise, particularly in his pass sets, to make it at the next level. He also needs to improve his strength in the weight room before he will be ready to take on NFL defensive ends as a run blocker, but there's plenty of untapped potential here to take a late-round flier in a deep tackle class and a situation like Seattle where he wouldn't have to play right away would be ideal.