'Very Versatile' Jamarco Jones Will Compete to Start for Seahawks in 2020
INDIANAPOLIS - When starting right guard D.J. Fluker went down with a hamstring injury in a Week 5 victory over the Rams, the Seahawks were put in a bit of a bind.
Despite only being a quarter of the way through the regular season, depth already had been severely compromised in the interior of Seattle's offensive line. Third-year guard Jordan Simmons landed on injured reserve with recurrent knee issues in the preseason, while promising fourth round pick Phil Haynes remained on the PUP list recovering from sports hernia surgery.
In addition, versatile lineman Ethan Pocic was battling through back and neck issues, preventing him from replacing Fluker in the lineup. He eventually landed on injured reserve twice in 2019.
With few alternatives, the Seahawks decided to plug backup tackle Jamarco Jones into the lineup, throwing him into the fire at a position he had never played at any prior level. He earned his first career start against the Browns in Week 6, surpassing any reasonable expectations in a comeback road win.
"Jamarco did a nice job for us, he really did," Carroll said. "He surprised us a little bit that he would be so comfortable playing guard, particularly on the right side cause he’d been a left side guy and left tackle for most of his playing time."
Upon his arrival as a fifth round pick out of Ohio State in the 2018 NFL Draft, Jones immediately impressed line coach Mike Solari with his football savvy. Following a strong offseason program, he looked poised to push Germain Ifedi for the starting right tackle job before succumbing to a season-ending ankle injury in Seattle's preseason opener.
With Ifedi making significant strides in his third season and Duane Brown remaining entrenched as the starter at left tackle, Jones returned to the field without an opportunity to start. But he picked up where he left off pre-injury, beginning to add guard to his resume to improve his odds at eventual playing time.
By the time the season concluded, Jones had earned four starts at left and right guard, including replacing Mike Iupati for both of Seattle's playoff games. He also started in place of Brown at left tackle in Week 16, providing plenty of tape for the coaching staff to evaluate.
Injuries took a bit of a toll on Jones late in the season, as he was listed on the injury report with shoulder issues on and off throughout the year and exited the divisional round with a concussion. According to Carroll, he underwent surgery recently on his shoulder but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
Once he's back in action, Carroll expects Jones will be in the mix for a starting role on Seattle's front line, though it remains to be seen where. After handling the move to guard far more swimmingly than anticipated, his improved versatility could make him a big part of the team's future plans.
"I guess we should’ve realized that he could make that transition and do it better, but he really did surprise us unfortunately," Carroll commented. "We’re counting on him to be very versatile and very much a part of the competition for all the play time. He’s worthy of that and he deserves that shot."
With free agency slated to kick off on March 18, Ifedi, Iupati, and key reserve George Fant will all be unrestricted free agents. Though Carroll has preached continuity, there's a decent chance all three of those players could be playing elsewhere next season.
Depending how free agency plays out next month, there's a strong possibility Jones could be competing at both guard and tackle this summer, providing his best chance at breaking into the starting lineup yet.