Over the first three weeks of free agency, the Seahawks put a ton of work into their offensive line. They kicked things off with a bang, landing veteran guard Gabe Jackson in a trade with the Raiders. Additionally, they retained interior linemen Kyle Fuller, Jordan Simmons, and Ethan Pocic, as well as swing tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.
While their moves have been rich in quantity, some have questioned the quality of bringing back three reserves and a struggling center from a line that became one of the team's biggest weaknesses at the end of 2020. Aside from Jackson - which is a big addition, to be fair - their offensive line unit has remained relatively intact from the year prior, putting doubt in the minds of those that have sided with quarterback Russell Wilson, in his campaign for better support from Seattle's front office, about the improvement of the group as a whole.
The biggest gripe many have had with the Seahawks' work thus far revolves around the re-signing of Pocic, who was arguably the most obvious culprit in the line's woes. The now thinned-out free agency market for centers still boasted some quality options when Seattle reunited with Pocic on a one-year, $3 million contract, which irked fans of the team who were holding out hope for a different solution at the position.
I've written about this ad nauseam, arguing that, while Pocic is currently penciled in as the team's starting center in 2021, his contract doesn't guarantee him the role, nor does it prevent Seattle from doing anything else. It's still early April as of this writing—some 156 days until the scheduled start of the NFL season and a few weeks out from the draft at the end of this month.
Given the Seahawks' financial situation this offseason, it always felt like they would ultimately address one of their offensive line needs in free agency or via the trade market and the other in the draft. The first part of that is now checked off the list, with the team filling out left guard—vacated by the retired Mike Iupati. The second part is still undetermined; perhaps Pocic is the starter, at least in Week 1, but this is a fairly deep draft class for the center position and it would seem as if the Seahawks have purposely set themselves up to take advantage of that.
If that is indeed the case, then there are plenty of options to comb over. Seattle, of course, only has three picks as of now, with just one in the top-100. If they address another position of need with their first selection, perhaps at receiver or cornerback, then a center like Stanford's Drew Dalman could be a solid get for them at pick No. 129 or somewhere in that range depending on trades.
Dalman is one of the more athletically-gifted centers in this class, providing impressive quickness and burst off the line of scrimmage and into his blocks. Working in a pro-style zone blocking scheme at Stanford, the two-year starter, stylistically, should be more than capable of successfully transitioning to the NFL.
The son of Chris Dalman, a Super Bowl champion and longtime starting interior lineman for the 49ers, Dalman makes the name on the back of his uniform proud. From a technical standpoint, he offers nearly all the tools you want from a center prospect: brains, athleticism, and fundamental fluidity.
In the run game, Dalman excels at getting to the second level with ease and in a timely fashion. He stays well-balanced and puts his body in ideal positions to get leverage in one-on-one battles. While he's not a mauler necessarily, he's solid at working within his size limitations to pave the way on the ground.
As a pass blocker, Dalman has good pre-snap recognition and post-snap awareness. He's quick on his feet, giving him the ability to move laterally with defenders and help his guards out. He very rarely gets too low or too high, taking on blocks with superb technique and stature.
Dalman often has to use his burst to generate explosiveness and power in his blocks, putting him at a great disadvantage against any defenders coming at him downhill. With his size, he cannot afford to plant himself with hopes of winning on pure strength alone. Unless he significantly beefs up before the fall, he constantly needs to be on the move to really get the most out of him.
Weighing in at just a pound under 300 at his pro day, the 6-foot-3 center is going to struggle against the heavier, more powerful defensive linemen of the NFL. While he has eye-catching tools and intangibles, the physicality just isn't there and that may be enough to diminish his chances of surviving football's highest level.
If more weight and strength do come, then it's all about putting an exclamation point on his blocks. It also stands to question how he would adapt to a potential weight gain from an athletic standpoint; would he lose a step in the areas that make him most intriguing?
Fit in Seattle
Looking at his profile, it's not hard to see a fit with the Seahawks. The scheme experience and athleticism is going to check off a lot of boxes for general manager John Schneider and company, but you do have to wonder if his size ends up putting him on a similar career path to another former Seahawk center: Joey Hunt.
Against the daunting interior pass rushers of the NFC West, namely Aaron Donald, Dalman would be dominated at his current build. He has to get bigger because he simply hasn't shown the ability to play above his restrictions in college.
While this class of centers is talented, it does get a bit sketchy after the first few big names of Creed Humphrey, Quinn Meinerz, Michael Menet, Josh Myers, Landon Dickerson, and Trey Hill. Therefore, it would seem wise for the Seahawks to use their earliest pick on the position if they're serious about adding competition for Pocic. But if they do go elsewhere, there's at least something to dream on with Dalman at their next selection if they feel confident in their ability to get him ready for the NFL.